Listening Session
Thinking Together

Ways of Listening 2

Listening to the Echoes, Reverberations and the Vibrations of Halim El-Dabh

River delta in Island

River delta in Island

© / Oleh_Slobodeniuk

  • In English

Past Dates

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In this session we attempt to bend time, listen to the reverb an echo chamber, urged by traversing early experimentations in electronic music production. We fast-forward, rewind, we are beside time, we pause, and listen together towards a multifaceted history of experimental music and sound arts. This kinship of music, sounds, recordings, which led our way along and across the times of the life of Halim El-Dabh (1921 – 2017), becomes the context of recorded and unrecorded histories which go beyond the Euro-American canon of what we know as the avant-garde. El-Dabh, who composed one of the earliest – known to date – pieces of electroacoustic music (Taabir El Zaar in 1944) and whose artistic oeuvre spans a period of seventy years, has somehow vanished into oblivion and, has been omitted from “virtually all past and current general music history and literature textbooks for music majors and non-music majors alike.” (Denise A. Seachrist: “The Musical World of Halim El-Dabh.” 2003, Kent State University Press.

The motive of this inquiry and listening encounter is to crack the map and rephrase Halim El-Dabh’s lifelong dedication to inventiveness and novelty across various musical genres and traditions. This session will be unscripted and collaged with a series of conversations excerpts that took place between 2016 and early 2017, in a concealed Skype conversation between Halim El-Dabh and Metwaly, shortly before his passing in September 2017 at the age of 96. This listening encounter, about the Egyptian experimentalist, avant-garde musician, electroacoustic composer, creative ethnomusicologist, and pan-Africanist Halim El Dabh, is part of an ongoing retrospective research project “Exploring the Sonic Cosmologies of Halim El Dabh” which debuted in the form of an exhibition in Dak’Art 2018, conducted and curated by Bonaventure Ndikung and Kamila Mohamed Metwaly.


Kamila Metwaly

As part of “Defragmentation – Curating Contemporary Music”
A project of the German Federal Cultural Foundation and Internationales Musikinstitut Darmstadt (IMD) / Darmstädter Ferienkurse, Donaueschinger Musiktage, MaerzMusik – Festival for Time Issues and in cooperation with the Ultima Festival Oslo