Spirited drumbeats from the Middle East will come alive this month at three performances by musician Ma Chun-jen (馬?人) to promote the launch of his new book, Essential Guidebook of Rhythmic Intelligence Beyond Middle Eastern Music and Dance (中東樂舞節奏聖典).
Ma, a former war reporter, first set foot in the Middle East in the summer of 1996, at the height of the Iraqi Kurdish Civil War. He was on his way back from the battlefield one day when he heard the sounds of music and singing drifting from the Tigris River.
Journalism brought Ma back to the Middle East several more times. But amid violent conflict, it was his discovery of musical traditions that inspired a deeper engagement with the region.
Since 2007, Ma has traveled through Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey and other Middle Eastern countries to study percussion. In Essential Guidebook, he translates those experiences into the first Chinese-language book about Middle Eastern musical and dance rhythms.
These rhythms are moving, complex and culturally unique. Aside from being a technical guide to musical theory and instruments such as the goblet-shaped doumbek and tar frame drum, Essential Guidebook also discusses the development of Middle Eastern musical and dance rhyhms from an anthropological perspective.
Over the next three Saturdays in Taipei, Ma will combine his book promotions with rare live performances. Tomorrow’s event is at the Art Focus Salon (新月藝文沙龍) while the event on August 17 is at Cafe Doux (敦南朵爾). Both have a registration fee of NT$100.
On August 24, Ma will join forces with French musician Alban Coueffe, who plays a lute instrument called the oud, at the Art Reading Cafe (青田藝集). The registration fee is NT$150.
■ Tomorrow, 4pm at Art Focus Salon (新月藝文沙龍), 25, Tianjin St, Taipei City (台北市天津街25號). Register at: pse.is/KRMRE
■ August 17, 4pm at Cafe Doux (敦南朵爾), 13, Lane 63, Dunhua S Rd Sec 2, Taipei City (台北市敦化南路二段63巷13號). Register at:forms.gle/rjxZ2o8Jo7HGfLtq6
■ August 24, 3pm at Art Reading Cafe (青田藝集), 4-1, Qingtian St, Taipei City (台北市青田街4-1號). Register at: reurl.cc/EAYNa