World Music

Greenstar's World Music was digitally recorded live, direct to disk, with local people in the Palestinian village of Al-Kaabneh. Greenstar engaged professional musicians from the US and from Palestine, working together to record the unique musical voice of the community.

An idea of our overall approach to this and other elements of digital culture can be see at

Palestinian musicians who know traditional Bedouin music, with its story-telling, religious, and social elements, worked on this collection. They know the music that children learn in a rural village, their nursery rhymes, game-playing and sports songs, the songs one hears at weddings, births, at work and play: the daily musical sounds of a community that traces its originas back almost 5000 years.

These artists spoke in depth with the people of the village, identifying musical voices and rhythm talent, and drew forth a geniune, heart-felt performance. They are fluent in Arabic, and knowledgeable about Palestinian culture, history and society.

Greenstar provided technical support and equipment, and brought two professional musicians from the United States to assist. Alan Roy Scott, a professional songwriter and producer, was on hand to take part in creative decisions and instrumentation. He was assisted by his engineer and musical accompanist, Rick Cowling.

Click here for details about Alan Roy Scott and his company, Unisong. Click here for details about Rick Cowling and his varied musical career.

Twenty music tracks, in MP3 format, are now available for download. We digitally edited the music on the spot, and improved its sound substantially in post-production, for an audience of millions to hear instantly on the Web. A free demo track is offered, with the additional high-quality MP3 tracks on sale for immediate download, at near-CD quality, for $2.00 per track, and a full-length music CD is offered for $15.95.


Behind the Scenes

Before our recording sessions on the West Bank we knew this would be a challenging environment: a new musical style and tradition, new musicians and instruments, a remote location with no standard electrical power or telephones.

We also grappled with a completely unknown quantity: the degree of musical talent of the village people. It was our goal to engage them in making traditional Bedouin music, an ancient tradition virtually unknown around the world, even locally elsewhere in Palestine.

Fuad Abulfotuh is a Greenstar engineer from Egypt who knows the people well because he directed the installation of the large solar power array there. Fuad did research in Palestine and identified a respected songwriter and teacher, Mohammed Abu-Khater, who lives in the south part of Jerusalem. This master of the oud and tabla is 70 years old and blind...and full of musical fire. When we met him, by his intense dignified manner we immediately thought of him as a Palestinian John Lee Hooker.

We brought a powerful digital recording studio with a briefcase. With today's audio recording technology, all that's needed is a computer with plenty of storage and processing power (a Macintosh G3 laptop), some professional microphones and stands, and a small 8-input mixing board. We would capture sound directly into the Mac's built-in 16-bit digitizing port, using Digital Performer software. We did a test recording session in a livingroom in Los Angeles, and it all worked.

The final ingredient was the talent to set all this up, troubleshoot and operate it all, amply provided by our engineer, Rick Cowling, and supervised by a sklled musician and songwriter, Alan Roy Scott.

Our first visit to Al-Kaabneh, after a long ride into the isolated desert south of Hebron, was a shock.

The people of the village said, in response to our invitation to participate in some music-making, "We don't have music here."

They explained, "Music is for celebration, for happiness. It has been a long time since we had anything to celebrate or be happy about, so we don't make music, we don't hear it. Our young people have never heard music."

This was a potential setback for our recording session plans.

We quietly installed and tested our audio equipment, playing a little music as we worked, as curious people from around the desert gathered to watch in one of the school classrooms. We had solid electrical power from the solar array, and all the equipment worked.

But there was nothing to record.

Behind the scenes, our advisor, Fuad, spoke in earnest to the leaders of the village in Arabic, to understand the message behind the people's words. He came to understand that the people of this community, who have lived in the area for thousands of years, have been unable to maintain a stable, permanent presence there in recent years. Many live in tents, scattered across the desert floor and on the rocky hills; others have corrugated-tin shacks, and a few live in concrete-block buildings. But tensions between the Palestinians and the Israelis, who control the area with security forces, are such that these traditional Bedouin people have not felt at home in their ancestral land for many years.

Fuad explained to them that Greenstar is designed to help change that: to provide the people of the village with a connection to the outside world, a means of producing their own independent income, of building, in their own small local way, the case for a just and lasting peace between Palestinians and Israelis. He explained that here was an opportunity for the people of Al-Kaabneh to find their strong, historically deep voice, and to share it with the world; to demonstrate to everyone that they are proud of their great traditions.

He told them that the world would respond with respect. And this respect could be translated into income to build a future for their village and their families.

The people agreed to listen to the play of our respected visiting musician, Mohammed Abu-Khater. On the second day he sang some traditional songs accompanied by the oud, a guitar-like instrument, and slowly people began to hear it, to enjoy it, to remember the words and tunes. To remember music.

A breakthrough came when a local man walked in from his home across the desert, carrying a hand-made instrument called the rebaba.