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‘Hanin: Field Recordings in Syria' Flies Flag of Syrian Heritage

Recorded across the country in 2008 and 2009, the new collection tells another story of Syria.

The human loss of life is always the biggest devastation in any armed conflict, but the destruction of culture is, too, an immeasurable tragedy. A new collection released by Worlds Within Worlds alongside documentary filmmaker and musician Michel Gasco seeks to preserve as a cultural artefact classical, religious, and folk performances by Syrian musicians, to spare their art from being condemned to disappear.

With all profits from the release going directly to the musicians featured, Hanin: Field Recordings in Syria 2008/09 presents a snapshot into the diversity of music and culture of pre-war Syria which features a range of the Levant’s endemic instruments including the oud, the ney, the electric Buzuq and the qanun. Symbolically, however, the collection acts as a statement against resignation, one which demonstrates the enduring resistance of the Syrian people’s cultural heritage.The album is intimate, transporting listeners to a lucid night. Cultural heritage is largely an intangible legacy, but the string instrument vibrations, soft percussions, and haunting flutes expressing an unconfined joy heighten the intense palpability of the scene to the brink of materiality.

Improvisations feature in the album, and while they may have occurred as spontaneous performances in Aleppo and Damascus, the customs which birthed them have been present for generations. Essentially, the collection’s central endeavour is to stamp these otherwise-fleeting moments into permanence to tell a worthy story of Syria.