Variable geometry ensemble :
Fawaz Baker – oud, chant
& guests :
Gülay Hacer Toruk – percussions, chant
Samir Homsi – percussions, chant
Omar Harb – basse
Aurélie Gouze – piano
Claire Gillet – contrebasse
Héléna Récalde – contrebasse, chant
Manon Courtin – guitare, chant
The passing on of music from one musician to another and from one soul to another continues, echoing ancient melodies that used to be heard throughout the city, in churches and cafes; in the mosques and courtyards of stone-carved buildings. These tunes, in Arabic, Syriac, Armenian, Turkish and Kurdish, have been passed down from one generation to the next, their beauty serving as the sole weapon against falling into oblivion.
Their one common denominator is, for Fawaz Baker, their constant innovation within the constraints of traditional structure. Eastern music offers myriad possibilities in terms of rhythm, melody and improvisation. It is what is referred to as modal music: composed of musical phrases, not tones or notes like most compositions in the West since the eighteenth century. Eastern sound is based on improvisation and polyphony; a freedom that allows two melodies to evolve simultaneously within a complex architecture, letting each musician interpret and improvise. How, then, might a balance be struck between written and improvised music, between modal and tonal? The challenge is no small feat, but it does illustrate how music – and art in general – is capable of creating a dialogue between contradictory forces, one where ideology falls short.
War ripped this Oud player away from his native Syria and all he had built there, despite his will to stay in solidarity with the citizens for as long as he could. For several years, Fawaz Baker directed the Aleppo Music Conservatory. From his base in France, Fawaz spends much of his time in Syrian refugee camps in Lebanon. He shares his passion for music with the children, recalling silence, away from the noisy war.
Having always been a musician, he first was an architect before devoting himself exclusively to music. Designing time and space, welcoming silence : for him, it was a natural transition. From playing the accordeon as a singing accompaniment, to the keyboards and then the double bass, he has explored various artistic worlds (hard rock, jazz, blues) and dedicated years to the study of musicology and the multiple influences of Aleppine music (Ottoman, Iranian, Armenian, Indian and Central Asian, including the Sufi tradition).