MUSICA ELECTRONICA

Halim El-Dabh (1921-2017) was an Egyptian and American composer, ethnomusicologist, and educator. He is especially known as an early pioneer of electronic music.

 

As a student in Cairo in the early 1940's, he began experimenting with tape music using tape recorders. In 1944 he composed one of the earliest known pieces of music for tape or concrete music, entitled The Expression of Zaar, four years prior to the work of Pierre Schaeffer.

 

El-Dabh recorded the sounds of the ancient zaar ceremony and then processed the material in Middle East Radio studios by experimenting with the station's equipment: reverb, echo, voltage control, and re-recording room that had movable walls to create reverberation of varying intensities.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The result was a 20-25 minutes long composition for tape, which was presented in an art gallery in Cairo. El-Dabh described his initial activities as an attempt to release the "inner sound".
In 1950, he moved to the United States, where he studied music, and from the late 1950s he worked at the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center.