May 23, 2006 1:38 PM Subscribe
Hamza el Din, hailed as "the father of Nubian music," has died. El Din's death has not yet been reported in the news, but I'm told he passed away from complications of brain surgery. It's a great loss for music lovers all over the world. "Escalay," performed on oud with the Kronos Quartet on their album Pieces of Africa, is probably his best-known work, but "Ollin Arageed," his haunting piece for handclaps and tar -- a goatskin drum -- was played numerous times onstage with the Grateful Dead, who championed el Din's music and jammed with him at the Great Pyramid in 1978. Eclipse provides an excellent introduction to his work, the ethereal sounds of one of the oldest continuously-inhabited regions on the planet. In the 1960s, el Din's own home village in Egypt was drowned underwater by the construction of the Aswan Dam, as archeologists tried to save what they could.
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