Radiodiffusion Internasionaal Annexe

Damascus Music Group
July 25, 2010, 5:42 am
Filed under: Syria

Raksat Al Mindill

When I set the geographic parameters for the scope of Radiodiffusion Internasionaal, I inadvertently came up with the nice even number of 100 countries. So far, we’ve covered music from 62 [Update: 70] of them, listed there on the left hand side of this webpage. Actually, if you count them there’s 63 there, but the one record that was been posted from Republic of the Congo was most likely not from there. But we have yet to hit the other 37 [Update: 29] : Afghanistan, Bahrain, Bhutan, Botswana, Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Djibouti, East Timor, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lesotho, Malawi, Maldives, Mauritania, Mongolia, Mozambique, Namibia, Nepal, Niger, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Swaziland, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Uganda, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.

Now I know that for many of these countries, I know that am not going to find what I am looking for. It’s for that very reason China is not even on the list. But for so many other countries on that list, I know there is some amazing music to be found – I just haven’t found it yet!

If you have any interesting records or cassettes that you wish to share from one or more of the countries that we have yet to hear from – or countries that we need to hear more from, like Laos, Sudan or Zambia, to name a few – please get in touch.

For what little information that is available on the Damascus Music Group, please see their previous post HERE.

Catalog number BL 904 on Byblos Records of Damascus, Syria, released 1977.

Assa’d Khoury with his Oriental Electronic Organ & Band
September 12, 2009, 9:23 pm
Filed under: Syria

title unknown

Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night, thinking “I gotta get that record!”? No? Then you are what they call sane. What’s that like? Really. I would like to know.

I’ve often joked that record collecting is a type of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. It completely takes over every other train of thought. According to Dr. Louann Brizendine, the average male thinks about sex every 52 seconds. Well, I’d be willing to bet that record junkies beat that.

This album – as you may have figured out by now – is a record that I do not have (Yet!). But man, do I want it. Baaaaad. And for other collectors, um, I mean researchers, we all have “the one that got away”. Well, actually there’s always more than just one. But for some reason, this record is one that haunts me not only in my waking hours, but in my dreams as well. I must possess it!

I can’t tell you how many people I’ve pestered for a copy of this. I’ve accosted anyone who has told me that they were going to – or anywhere even remotely near – Syria. I have even tried to contact Mozart Chahine, who used to run the label and now lives in Beirut… But nothing.

The source for this sound clip, as is the picture, is from the listing on eBay. When the person who transferred the vinyl lifts up the needle, it rips out my heart every time.

Catalog number BL912 on Byblos of Syria, pressed in Greece. Released 1978.


Update: April 17, 2010

I got it! Oh man, the tingly sensation of pulling the cover of what had been the top of my Want List out of the cardboard packaging…

The name of the song is Al Ghaba. You can here it in its entirety HERE.

The liner notes on the back of the album cover read (typos and all):

The organ adapted for Oriental music

Assad Khoury plays an electronic organ adapted for oriental music, according to the system invented by the late Abdallah Chahin, who was the pioneer in this field, when he adapted the piano for oriental music, in addition to western music.

This converted electronic organ has been accepted by authorities on music such as Father Xavier Collengate: Father Louis Al-Haj: Prof. Louis Haba: and Marius Schneider, in addition to famous Arab composrs, such as Mohammad Abdul Wahab: Farid Al Atrach: Father Joseph Khoury: Tawfik Sukkar: and Rahbani Broters. They all have praised the sound quality of this organ.

It is noteworthy that, for the last 5 years, Farfisa Company has been using Chahin’s System in building musical instruments for Oriental music, among which, the electronic organ takes the lead.

Damascus Music Group
June 24, 2008, 8:30 pm
Filed under: Syria


Damascus Music Group were from Damascus, Syria.

Officially known as the Syrian Arab Republic (Arabic: الجمهورية العربية السورية ), Syria (Arabic: سوريا) is a country in Southwest Asia, bordering Lebanon, the Mediterranean Sea to the west, Israel to the southwest, Jordan to the south, Iraq to the east, and Turkey to the north. The modern state of Syria was formerly a French mandate and attained independence in 1946, but can trace its roots to the fourth millennium BC. Its capital city, Damascus, was the seat of the Umayyad Empire and a provincial capital of the Mamluk Empire.

There is not a whole lot of information available about the music of Syria. The country has been fairly alienated by The West for quite sometime. Only recently has some music outside of the scope of traditional Classical Arab music is only just now beginning to show up on the Western radar with artists such as Hal Asmar Ellon and Omar Souleyman.

I have not been able to find any information about the Damascus Music Group, or their conductor Selim Sarwat. I do know that they released at least one other album. I was able to find a brief article on the label – Byblos:

Founded in 1966 by Mozart Chahine, the company Byblos Records specializes in traditional music of the World Near East. Long before the advent of World Music and enthusiasm of the public for this style, Byblos Records distributed throughout the world for the vocal and instrumental works by artists whose fame was largely beyond the borders, such as Munir Bashir, the teacher the oud or Nidaa Abu Mrad, the champion of Sufi music. Byblos Records do not forget the new generation less and produces regularly young composers who brings a touch of modernism to the repertoire of their elders, as Nabiha Yazbeck, Guy Manoukian or Omar Bashir. Byblos Records also continues to repeat beautiful recordings, originally on vinyl, which are moving testimony to the diversity of musical genres that prevail in Lebanon and the Arab world (classic hymns, dancing and mouachahat). Result, thirty CD, which are an invitation to discover the various facets of musical creation of the region.

If you have any information, please contact me.

Catalog number BL 904 on Byblos Records of Damascus, Syria, released 1977.