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Weighing the earth

First line:
We decamped Oh homeland
author of text
author of text

In 2017 I heard Assaaleek Band for the first time, a band of Syrian musicians living in Beirut. One song particularly struck me. The singers all strummed wide frame drums as they intoned an old Arabic song. The melody was repetitive and melismatic and the lyrics reflected on the recent loss and destruction of their homeland, Syria.

I asked the band whether I might be able to borrow their song to use it my own composition, they were happy to let me do this. I chose to pair this music with a text by Syrian American activist Amal Kassir, a performance poet brought up in Denver whose poem 'My grandmother’s farm' I had come across. Amal was happy for me to set some extracts which paired well as both texts reflect on the values of ‘home’: Assaaleek Band lament the loss and destruction of their home and Amal Kassir talks about how her grandmother believed that the earth could not be broken by the tyrant, it would not yield to him and eventually he would be returned to it.

Many thanks to Assaleek Band for kindly allowing me to use their version of this traditional Syrian song and thanks also to Amal Kassir for allowing me to use extracts of her poem 'My grandmother’s farm'. Amal is represented by Book A Muslim. To learn more about her, visit bookamuslim.com/amal-kassir.

from notes by Joanna Marsh © 2020


Marsh: Flare & other works
SIGCD644Download only


Track 6 on SIGCD644 [5'12] Download only

Track-specific metadata for SIGCD644 track 6

Recording date
6 June 2019
Recording venue
BBC Broadcasting House, London, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Rosanna Goodall
Recording engineer
Martin Appleby
Hyperion usage
  1. Marsh: Flare & other works (SIGCD644)
    Disc 1 Track 6
    Release date: September 2020
    Download only
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