Leiyla and The Poet (Da lala la ti-ra-ta)

Listening Session, Talk

MIF Talk

Kamila Metwaly with Halim El-Dabh

Kamila Metwaly with Halim El-Dabh: Leiyla and the poet [Da lala la ti-ra-ta]

Listening session and conversation
Saturday September 18th,
Museum of Impossible Form‍

Museum of Impossible Forms is delighted to present the exploration by Kamila Metwaly on the work of Halim El-Dabh.‍“Every human being makes sounds. I am interested in the uniqueness of each person's sounds. Any standard defining the good voice eliminates the availability of a wide range of vocal characteristics.” Liner notes of The Osiris Ritual, Halim El-Dabh.‍

Starting with a focused session on the work “Leiyla And The Poet” (1959 - 1961), an ‘electronic drama’ by Halim El-Dabh loosely based on the 12th-century Persian-language epic poem “Majnun Leiyla” by the Azeri poet Nizami, Kamila Metwaly explores El-Dabh’s electronic works composed with and for voice.

Halim El-Dabh (1921-2017), is an Egyptian composer, electronic musician, pan-africanist, and creative ethnomusicologist, who has been the focus of Metwaly’s work and research for the past five years. Although El-Dabh has received some recognition for his electro-acoustic Taabir El-Zaar (An Expression of Zaar) that he recorded and composed in Cairo in 1944, it feels that his expansive oeuvre that spans over seven decades, is largely overlooked.‍

Over the years, Kamila Metwaly has grown profoundly interested in works of Halim El-Dabh that stem from the use of voice, the human voice in particular, oftentimes as the basis of his electronic, classical contemporary, percussive and opera works. Even though in some of the works, voice is constantly in a state of metamorphosis, he retains to explore, and use voice in its most elemental and unique state, embodied, in relation and unique.‍

This research is a long term collaboration between Kamila Metwaly, Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung and SAVVY Contemporary.‍

Kamila Metwaly is a music journalist, electronic musician and a curator based between Berlin and Cairo. Metwaly founded an independent arts and culture publication in Egypt and worked in radio and the independent film scene, maintaining a strong presence in Cairo’s cultural and activist scenes for many years. In 2017, Metwaly joined SAVVY Contemporary where she is currently curating the sound project Untraining the Ear Listening Sessions. She has been involved with various sound-based exhibition projects in the space, including What Has All This Got To Do With Coconuts And Rice: A Listening Exhibition on José Maceda, We have Delivered Ourselves from the Tonal: Of, With, Towards on Julius Eastman; and has co-curated a retrospective exhibition The Dog Done Gone Deaf: Exploring The Sonic Cosmologies of Halim El-Dabh with Bonaventure Ndikung in the Dak’Art Biennale in Senegal (2018), Here History Began: Tracing the Re/Verberations of Halim El-Dabh. She has been appointed head curator for the 2022 edition of MaerzMusik Festival for Contemporary Music.‍

This presentation has the kind support of Goethe-Institut Finnland.

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