I love hearing different music when I travel, and often it’s the music I remember the most. One of my clearest memories of Bulgaria, for example, is an elderly woman on the streets of Sofia singing a folk song. Even though I didn’t know the words, the song stuck with me.
Here’s a video of another chance encounter with traditional music, this time in Iran. Youtube poster bornainspain was hiking in the mountains outside Iran’s capital Tehran and came across this old gentleman playing a catchy tune on a bright red violin. The caption says it’s a very old Persian melody. It sounds familiar, though, and I don’t think I heard it when I went to Iran back in 1994. Can anyone tell me the name of this tune?
Whatever it is, he plays it well and this video points out one of the best things about travel – the chance encounters that make lasting memories. Do you have any fond musical memories from your travels? Tell us about them in the comments section!
I always feel like a trip isn’t over until I’ve stopped writing about it. My wife feels the same way. So we were a bit down when I finished my series on our visit to the Orkney Islands.
To cheer ourselves up, I decided to share a video with all of you of an excellent cafe/pub/music venue in Kirkwall called The Reel. In summers they have three or more concerts a week of traditional Scottish music. While it’s certainly not the only such place in Orkney, The Reel has become justly famous for its atmosphere and the talent it attracts.
When I trolled Youtube for a video to share, I discovered this one. The concert looked familiar, and when the camera panned to the left, lo and behold there I was in my yellow sweatshirt with a pint of Orkney beer! I don’t remember anyone filming that concert, not that I was paying much attention to the crowd.
My wife isn’t in this shot. She was nice enough to take our son back to our rental apartment and put him to bed while I stayed until the end. Yep, despite the light streaming through the windows it’s actually nighttime, at least 9 p.m. Orkney summer days are wonderfully long!
I’ve recently moved to Santander, a port in northern Spain. While leaving a major European capital for a small provincial city was quite a leap, Santander has an international feel to it that I like. Being a port, it gets immigrants from all over the world, mostly China, South America, and West Africa.
The West Africans are especially numerous. They man most of the Cantabrian fishing fleet and work on the docks and in industry as well. Sadly I haven’t found any suya restaurants, but I did get to hear some great African music. Last weekend there was an African jam session at a local bar. The band was made up of guys from Senegal and the Ivory Coast playing drums, a xylophone, and the kora, with a Chilean saxophonist thrown in because. . .why not?
If you’ve never heard a kora player, try to go to a concert. The kora is a stringed instrument from Western Africa. With 21 strings it’s got quite a range and sounds like a cross between a harp and a guitar. Check out this video from kora master Toumani Diabate explaining how it works.
As I downed a generously poured rum and coke while speaking Spanish with a bunch of South Americans and listening to West African music, I got to thinking just how mixed together we’re getting. This mid-sized bar in a mid-sized city after the tourist season had people from at least half a dozen countries and four continents. Everyone drinking, dancing, talking, and listening to music. Nice. Later I stepped out for a smoke (Spain started a smoking ban this year) with a guy from the Ivory Coast and another from Cantabria. We all shivered in the cold rain of autumn and complained about the weather. Well, two of us did. The Cantabrian didn’t grow up in Arizona or West Africa, so he didn’t see what was wrong about the weather.
It was the only disagreement I heard the entire night. I can live with that.