Musician Marouf Majidi: “What I had found in Europe I had to rediscover in the Middle East”

Musician Marouf Majidi: “What I had found in Europe I had to rediscover in the Middle East”

Musician and composer Marouf Majidi from Finland will be joining the Dash Art Café with a set of live music. His songs travel between Kurdish, Persian and Scandinavian atmospheres. 

What brings you to London?
I was invited by Jospehine Burton, the artistic director of Dash Arts. The collaboration started when Josephine was visiting Helsinki. We ended up discussing my experience of playing together with local musicians after arriving in Finland for the first time. Not only the instruments but also my way of playing were different compared to the locals. I often ended up taking a role as a soloist and it began to feel uncomfortable. As time passed I found ways to merge in to become a part of the group. However, when I travelled back to the Middle East I noticed that now I was out of tune with them. Therefore, what I had found in Europe I had to rediscover in the Middle East. Josephine got interested in this idea and that’s how our Out of tune project began. 

What kind of instruments do you play?
I play a variety of string instruments similar to guitar. My main instrument is tanbur which I have been playing since my childhood. It’s a long-necked, three-stringed instrument. It’s also an important element to the Yarsan culture and is used for playing religious stories and doctrines. Another long-term instrument of mine is called tar. It is a traditional Iranian instrument used in playing classical Iranian music. I also play Turkish baglama and flamenco music with a guitar. And then there’s singing! I’ve been singing traditional Middle-Eastern songs since my childhood and later began singing Finnish folk songs and rune-singing. These string instruments and singing are my ways to tell stories. 

What kind of a relationship does new and old music have in your compositions? What about different music genres?
I’m not consciously trying to accentuate new or old. However, I do have various musical influences which have become part of me. Some years ago I was travelling in Spain studying flamenco music. Subsequently I’ve noticed references to it in my own music without being conscious about it when composing. Similarly I have influences from music of my own tradition: the rhythms of Kurdish music or scales I’ve absorbed from classical Persian music. 

Are there challenges when dealing with different musical styles and genres?
Combining two different things in itself is not difficult. In theory, anything can be mixed together and putting together musical elements is simple. I would put more emphasis on how the music sounds and how it will live as a composition. It is not enough to combine musical genres at the level of melodies and rhythms. A good composition requires that you know not only your own music and culture but also the backgrounds of the other. That’s why fusion is always a challenge. Fusion music, global music – or however you want to name it – hasn’t completely realised itself to its full potential. 

Dash Arts will be organising an interdisciplinary art event. What shall we expect from the evening and your performance?
I’ll be singing and playing solo. The nature of my solo project has changed through the years. Before all the live performances consisted more or less of traditional Kurdish music which is the musical tradition I come from. Currently I’ve been playing more of my own compositions. The event is dedicated to the French artist Dora Maar. And before that I hope I’ll have a moment before the event to sit down and compose a song for Dora.

Marouf Majidi will be performing live at Dash Arts event Europeans: Dora Maar – The 100th Dash Café
29/01/2020 at 7pm.
Tickets £5
Rich Mix, 35-47 Bethnal Green Rd, Shoreditch, London E1 6LA


Text: Rosaliina Elgland Photo: Marouf Majidi

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