Saturday, December 05, 2009

Sain Zahoor

I bet you've never heard of this guy – I know I hadn't before I went to see him. He was playing in the Dun Laoghaire Festival of World Culture, heading a bill of Sufi action. The openers were originally meant to be the Master Musicians of Jajouka, but they did not make it, so we got these Dhouad Gypsies of Rajasthan instead. You will have to forgive me if I remember little about them, it was a long time ago – the day after the last Frank's APA collation, the day after I went to a wedding*, the day before we went on holiday.

They were followed, somewhat bizarrely, by Gabriel Rosenstock reciting translated Sufi Persian poetry to us. I am well-known for my dislike of poetry, in particular for unsolicited poetry, but I found this surprisingly enjoyable. And why? Well, the Persian poetry was translated not into English but into Irish, so I still could not understand any of it. This meant that I was able to just listen to it as a series of sounds, which was rather enjoyable.

And then there was Sain Zahoor, who is a Pakistani fellow. He seemed quite severe, maybe coming from the ascetic devotional end of Sufism, as opposed to the party end people in the West are often more drawn to. He sang while being accompanied by musicians and accompanying himself on an ektara, a lute-like instrument. The ektara seemed to be being played as much for his benefit as ours, as it was not very loud. And he seemed to be wearing a bright colourful outfit that was covered in jingly bells that rang as he moved. But the big instrument was voice, which allowed us to join him in his communion with the divine.

*relax ladies - it was not mine.

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