The Gilded Serpent presents...
Concert Review -
Yair Dalal in Boulder, Colorado

By Daune C. Greene
September 27, 2003

Two weeks prior to his Boulder, Colorado concert, Yair Dalal had just finished teaching an Israeli folk song at a picnic table in the middle of the Mendocino Woodlands. "That song is so beautiful, it is a gift from God," he said.

That same attitude of reverence was evident throughout his Colorado concert and workshop on September 6, 2003.

Yair Dalal gave a concert produced by Sheldon Sands of Shalhevet Productions. The concert included traditional Hebrew songs, Iraqi folk music, Bedouin songs and original compositions. Mr. Dalal first played a series of solo pieces on oud and violin and was later joined by several Colorado artists.

He collaborated with local modern dancer, Keren Abrams, to create a visual interpretation of the music different from the more common belly dance style. One particularly outstanding piece was a sama'i, which is a traditional rhythm in 10, with the major accents on the first, sixth, and seventh beats. The song was composed by Salim El Nur and performed as a duet between Mr. Dalal and Ms. Abrams. Ms. Abrams was both dancer and percussionist. As a percussionist, she embellished her rhythms with accents that ranged from strong and foot-stomping to soft and delicate by using a slight change in hand position.

Yair Dalal then performed several pieces with one of Boulder's truly brilliant drummers, Kathleen "Zahara" McLellan, who played darabouka and zarb. One of the songs they played was Ya Ribon Alam, a traditional Jewish Shabbat song sung in Aramaic.

To close the show, Yair teamed up with members of "Saltanah", a Colorado-based Middle Eastern music ensemble. Instrumentation consisted of Yair Dalal on oud, Marc Cornelius on ney, Pete Jacobs on contrabass, and Daune "Sabaah" Greene on riq and tar. The musicians' collective talent and artistry produced a superb set of Iraqi folksongs, traditional Bedouin songs, and Shabbat songs.

The concert received a standing ovation from a packed house.

On Sunday, September 7th, Yair Dalal offered a two-hour workshop on Middle-Eastern music. He defined the music as having two main elements, melody and rhythm, with no intrinsic harmony.

He then divided the melody section into four main categories based on a system of musical scales called maqams. First he described a family of maqams closely related to Western musical scales. Next he described a family of maqams with intervals not normally found in Western scales. The third family included maqams with quarter tones, which are pitches that fall between Western sharps and flats. The last family of maqams included combinations of both quarter tones and unusual intervals. Each family was explained and illustrated with musical examples on the oud.

He also related the rhythmic component in a clear and insightful way. He began with the simplest rhythm, the wahda, or the "one," and moved on to more complicated patterns that included malfuf and sama'i. All of the participants, whether new or familiar with maqam theory, left with a much better understanding of Middle-Eastern music.

To paraphrase Yair Dalal, I would say that his well-attended Boulder concert and workshop were so beautiful, they were "gifts from God."

Yair Dalal's website:
Saltanah Middle Eastern Music Ensemble's website:
Sheldon Sand's website:

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