Local Music Scenes and Globalization – Transnational Platforms in Beirut

 Local Music Scenes and Globalization – Transnational Platforms in Beirut

Transnational Platforms in Beirut - This book offers the first in-depth study of experimental and popular music scenes in Beirut. 2014 finally out as Paperback and Kindle Edition. Buy via Routledge, Amazon, or the Norient Shop.


This book offers the first in-depth study of experimental and popular music scenes in Beirut, looking at musicians working towards a new understanding of musical creativity and music culture in a country that is dominated by mass-mediated pop music, and propaganda. Burkhalter studies the generation of musicians born at the beginning of the Civil War in the Lebanese capital, an urban and cosmopolitan center with a long tradition of cultural activities and exchanges with the Arab world, Europe, the US, and the former Soviet Union. These Lebanese rappers, rockers, death-metal, jazz, and electro-acoustic musicians and free improvisers choose local and transnational forms to express their connection to the broader musical, cultural, social, and political environment. Burkhalter explores how these musicians organize their own small concerts for «insider» audiences, set up music labels, and network with like-minded musicians in Europe, the US, and the Arab world. Several key tracks are analyzed with methods from ethnomusicology, and popular music studies, and contextualized through interviews with the musicians. Discussing key references from belly dance culture (1960s), psychedelic rock in Beirut (1970s), the noises of the Lebanese Civil war (1975-1990), and transnational Pop-Avant-Gardes and World Music 2.0 networks, this book contributes to the study of localization and globalization processes in music in an increasingly digitalized and transnational world. At the core, this music from Beirut challenges «ethnocentric» perceptions of «locality» in music. It attacks both «Orientalist» readings of the Arab world, the Middle East, and Lebanon, and the focus on musical «difference» in Euro-American music and culture markets. On theoretical grounds, this music is a small, but passionate attempt to re-shape the world into a place where «modernity» is not «euro-modernity» or «euro-american modernity», but where possible new configurations of modernity exist next to each other.

 Local Music Scenes and Globalization – Transnational Platforms in Beirut

Chapter Summaries


Part I – Theory and Methodology – Music Making in a Digitalized World – offers an overview on the effects of globalization and digitalization processes for musicians in the Arab world, Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Ethnomusicology, popular music studies, and musicology find it hard to research the rapid developments in these and similar musics and music circles. This part puts forward a methodological approach and a mix of theories that analyzes music and music making from miscellaneous perspectives. The approach is inductive, built on my many years of practice and participant observation in music and cultural markets. It involves «dialogical editing», «internet ethnography», and an international «reception test».


Part II – Ethnography – Musicians from Beirut born during the Lebanese Civil War – offers close descriptions of alternative music circles in Beirut. The focus lies on «experimental music», «urban music», «rap» and «metal and classic rock». The part includes discussions of music, video clips, lyrics, and cover art. It presents these musicians’ local and transnational networks, ranging from musicians, bloggers, journalists and academics, concert organizers, arts curators, arts councils, embassies, and non-governmental organizations (NGO).


Part III – Analysis – Six Key Tracks from Beirut – looks at six key musicians and their music closely. By analyzing the trumpet playing of Mazen Kerbaj, it discusses links between free improvised music and sonic memories from the Lebanese Civil War. The discussion of Raed Yassin’s sound collage «Civil War Tapes» observes strategies to perform and manipulate propaganda music, politician speeches, and 1980s pop music. Zeid Hamdan’s track «Aranis» serves as an example of how musicians in Lebanon look both ways: back to the history of protest singing in Lebanon, and outwards to recent trends in transnational niche genres. “Remains of a Bloodbath” shows how death metal musician Garo Gdanian fights with traumatic memories and anger and uses his music to try to find paths forward and release stress. Punk and indie rock singer and guitarist Charbel Haber from the band Scrambled Eggs discusses with «Track 5» his fascination for coincidence and chaos and argues that he is not at all a «revolutionary» musician. Rapper Rayess Bek shows in “Schizophrenia” how he positions himself between Paris and Beirut, rap music, and the arts, and non-government organization (NGO) work.


Tracks Discussed

(Rayess Bek: Newer version than the version discussed in the book)



Part IV – Sonic Traces from the Past and Present – offers a history of Beirut through music and noise. The part discusses, with time witnesses, the Europeanization of Arabic music, the creation of a Lebanese music (with Fairuz and the Rahbani brothers), transnational belly dance and «holiday» music from the 1950s and 1960s, leftist protest music from 1967 onwards, and Lebanese rock bands of the 1960 and 1970s – for instance in a rare interview with Raymond Azoury from The Sea-ders. It observes major and minor music and sonic phenomena within the Lebanese Civil war (1975-1990): rock and protest music, and the noises and sounds of bombs, radio, and propaganda. It further discusses pan-Arabic pop music of the 1990s, and propaganda music of the 2006 war between Israel and Hizbullah.


Part V – Meaning – Reading Lebanese Music Making from Different Perspectives – analyzes music and key musicians in Beirut from historical, socio-political, geo-political, psychological, aesthetical, and Euro-American perspectives. From an artistic perspective, we see these musicians manipulating material with techniques of avant-garde and pop avant-garde. From the Euro-American perspective we hear them attacking «exoticism» and «war» with parody. From a political and historical perspective, we trace feedbacks from the conjunctions between music, warfare and the Middle East. And from a psychological perspective, some musicians use music as self-therapy for dealing with their personal traumatic war memories. The part further inserts examples from musicians and music in Africa, Asia, and Latin America and leads back to one of the main questions of this book: To what extent do these musicians from Beirut challenge concepts of «euro-modernity» and «euro-american modernity»? To what extent do they suggest possible new multi-sited modernities?

 Local Music Scenes and Globalization – Transnational Platforms in Beirut

Book Info

Local Music Scenes and Globalization - Transnational Platforms in Beirut
By Thomas Burkhalter
New York, Routledge, 304 pages
Series: Routledge Studies in Ethnomusicology
Hardback ISBN: 978-0-415-80813-2



Journal of World Popular Music, UK, 2/2015, Review Beirut Book (Link) (PDF)
Ethnomusicology Forum, 13.05.2014, «Local Music Scenes and Globalization» (PDF) (Link)
Jahrbuch des Zentrums für Populäre Kultur und Musik, Waxmann Verlag, 59/2014 (PDF)
psychemusic, Belgien, 18.04.2014, «Arab Avant-Garde» (Link)



(Updated 20.12.2012)

«A» Trio. Music to Our Ears. Al Maslakh. 2011: Lebanon
Aksser. Aksser. EMI Music Arabia. 2006: Lebanon
Aksser. Ahla Bil Chabeb. Self-Released. 2000: Lebanon
Arcane, The. Rivers of Endless Sorrow. Self-Released. 2010: Lebanon
Atoui, Tarek. Mort aux Vaches. Staalplaat. 2008: Netherlands
Ayat. Six Years of Dormant Hatred. Moribund Records. 2008: US
Blaakyum. Lord of the Night. Self-Released. 2012: Lebanon
Blend. Act One. EMI Music Arabia. 2004: Lebanon
Ceasar K. Flea Market Sounds. VL Records. 2012: Lebanon
Cerebral Mutilation. Inhuman Gore Holocaust. Bulldozer Records. 2006: Italy
Codsi Marc. Faded Postcards. Experimedia. 2010: US
DJ Lethal Skillz. Karmageddon. Forward Music. 2012: Lebanon
DJ Lethal Skillz. New World Disorder. Nasjota Records. 2008: US
Fareeq el Atrash. Fareeq el Atrash. Forward Music. 2010: Lebanon
Farroukh, Toufic. Drabzeen. Chill Island. 2002: Lebanon
Farroukh, Toufic, Tootya. Chill Island 2006: Lebanon
Ghossoub, Rana. Moon Breeze. Luna Records. 2011: Canada
Ghossoub, Rana. I Belong. Luna Records. 2006: Canada
Grappe, Laurent. Le Luxe de la Réflexion. Métamkine. 1996: France
Habre, Khaled EL. Hayda Zamanak. Soundvision. 2008: Lebanon
Hamdan Yasmine, Yasmine Hamdan. Kwaidan Records. 2012: France
Incompetents, The. More Songs from the Victorious City. Incognito. 2008: Lebanon
Incompetents, The. Live in Tunefork. Self-Released. 2011: Lebanon
Incompetents, The. We’re Really Important Back Home. Self-Released. 2011: Lebanon
Incompetents, The. Honor Your Mistake as a Hidden Intention. Self-Released. 2012: Lebanon
Jubran, Kamilya, and Werner Hasler. Wameedd. Unit Records W&K 001. 2005: Switzerland
Kafan. Injecting Evil in Thy Veins. Full Moon. 2006: Lebanon
Kaoteon. Veni Vidi Vomui. Osmose Productions. 2011: France
Katibeh Khamseh. Ahla fik bil moukhayyamat. Incognito. 2008: Lebanon
Kerbaj, Mazen. BRT VRT ZRT KRT. Al Maslakh MSLKH 01. 2005: Lebanon
Kerbaj, Mazen, and Franz Hautzinger. Abu Tarek. Creative Sources Recordings 025. 2005: Portugal
Kerbaj, Mazen, Sharif Sehnaoui, and Raed Yassine. A Trio. La CD-Thèque. 2003: Lebanon
Kerbaj, Sehnaoui, and Zach Sehnaoui. Rouba315. Al Maslakh MSLKH 02. 2005: Lebanon
Khalife, Marcel. Ahmad Al Arabi. Nagam Records CC19983. 1984: US
Khatchadourian, Eileen. Midan. CBK. 2008: Lebanon
Khcheich, Rima. Yalalalli, Chill Island. 2006: Lebanon
Khcheich, Rima. Falak. Chill Island 2008:Lebanon
Khcheich, Rima. Min Sihr Oyounak. Self-Released. 2012: Lebanon
Khoury, Joelle. Music & Poetry. La CD-Thèque. 2003: Lebanon Khoury, Joelle. In-Version. Self-Released. 2004: Lebanon
Khoury, Joelle. Dream She Is—Arabic Opera Monodrama for Woman’s Voice. Eka3. 2008: Lebanon
Kimaera. Ebony Veiled. Stygian Crypt Productions. 2006: Russia Kordz, The. Last Call. Mass Records. 2004:Lebanon
Kordz, The. Beatuy & the East. Mass Records. 2011: Lebanon
Lethal Skillz. Karmageddon. Forward Music. 2012: Lebanon
Meen. Qamlo L 7arb. Banadoura. 2006: Lebanon
Meen. 3arousit Bkeseen. Banadoura. 2011: Lebanon
Moultaka, Zad. Anashid. Network Medien. 2001: Germany
Moultaka, Zad. Zajal. L’Empreinte Digitale. 2010: France
Mashrou Leila. Mashrou Leila. Self-Released. 2009: Lebanon
Mashrou Leila. El Hal Romancy (EP). Self-Released. 2011: Lebanon
Munma. 34 Days. Incognito. 2006: Lebanon
Munma. Black Tuesday. Incognito. 2007: Lebanon
Munma. Unholy Republic. Incognito. 2008: Lebanon Munma. Previews and Premises. Ruptured. 2010: Lebanon
Muslimgauze. Infidel. Extreme XEP 026. 1994: Germany
New Government, The. The New Government Strikes. Mooz Records. 2006: Lebanon
New Government, The. Party Animals. Incognito. 2008: Lebanon
Nightchains. Metal to the Bone. Dead Master’s Beat. 2010: Germany
Oath to Vanquish. Applied Schizophrenic Science. Grindethic Records 2006: UK
Osloob. Fasl. Self-Released. 2012: Lebanon
Osman Arabi. Beat Mutation Rituals. Kalpamantra. 2011: UK
Praed. Muesli Man. Creative Source Recordings. 2008: Lebanon
Praed. Made in Japan. Annihaya Records. 2011: Lebanon
Rahbany, Ziad. Ana Moush Kafer. Relaz-In International. 1985: Lebanon
Ramez. Leich Heik Baladi. Acid Production 2007: Lebanon
Ramez. Canvas. Ramez Productions. 2010: Lebanon
Rass, El & Munma. Kachf el Mahjoub/Unveiling the Hidden. Ruptured. 2012: Lebanon
Rayess Bek. 3am Behke Bil Soukout. Chich Productions. 2003: Lebanon
Rayess Bek. Nuit Gravement à la Santé. Chich Productions. 2005: Lebanon
Rayess Bek. Khartech Aa Zamann. Forward Music. 2010: Lebanon
Rayess Bek. Hip Hop Republic. Forward Music. 2011: Lebanon
Rouhana, Charbel. Dangerous. Forward Music. 2007: Lebanon
Saba Youmna. Hal Bent Aabalha Tghanni. Self-Released. 2011: Lebanon
Saleh, Tania. Wehde. Forward Music. 2011: Lebanon
Sahhab, Ziyad. Ouyoun El Bakar. Forward Productions. 2004: Lebanon
Sahhab, Ziyad. Keep on Singing. Forward Music. 2007: Lebanon
Sandmoon. raW. Self-Released. 2012: Lebanon
Scrambled Eggs. Human Friendly Noises. La CD-Theque. 2004: Lebanon
Scrambled Eggs. No Special Date nor Deity to Venerate. La CD-Theque. 2005: Lebanon
Scrambled Eggs. Happy Together Filthy Forever. Incognito. 2006: Lebanon
Scrambled Eggs. Dedicated to Foes, Celebrating Friends. Self-Released. 2008: Lebanon
Scrambled Eggs. Peace Is Overrated &War Misunderstood. Ruptured. 2010: Lebanon
Scrambled Eggs. Scrambled Eggs and Friends. Johnny Kafta. 2010: Lebanon
Scrambled Eggs and “A” Trio. Beach Party at Mirna el Chalouhi. Johnny Kafta. 2010: Lebanon
Sehnaoui, Christina. Solo. Olof Bright 2007: Sweden Sehnaoui, Sharif. Old & New Acoustics. Al-Maslakh 2010: Lebanon
Shbeir, Ghada. Al Muwashahat. Forward Music. 2006: Lebanon
Slutterhouse. Made in Dance. Self-Released. 2009: Lebanon
Soap Kills. Lost. Self-Released. 1997: Lebanon
Soap Kills. Live at Circus. Self-Released. 1999: Lebanon
Soap Kills. Bater. La CD-Thèque. 2000: Lebanon
Soap Kills. Cheftak. Incognito. 2002: Lebanon
Soap Kills. Enta Fen. Mooz Records. 2005: Lebanon
Staalplaat Soundsystem. Yokonomo-pro. Alga Marghen. 2011: Italy
Turkmani, Mahmoud. Zakira. Enja 9475. 2004: Germany
Turkmani, Mahmoud. Ya Sharr Mout. Enja Records ENJ-9530. 2008: Germany
Various Artists. Beirut Incognito. La CD-Thèque. 2001: Lebanon
Various Artists. Les 1e rencontres musicales SHAMS des jeunes. La CD-Thèque. 2002: Lebanon
Various Artists. Choubi Choubi! Folk & Pop Sounds from Iraq. Sublime Frequencies 025. 2005: US
Various Artists. Beirut—Ystad. Olof Bright. 2006:Sweden Various Artists. Lebanese Underground. Mooz Records. 2006: Lebanon
Various Artists. We Live.... Forward Music. 2006: Lebanon
Various Artists. Waking Up Scheherazade. Grey Past Records ABA 001. 2007: Netherlands
Various Artists. The Ruptured Sessions (Vol. 1–4). Ruptured. 2009–2012: Lebanon
Various Artists. Beirut Hotel—Original Motion Soundtrack. Les Films Pelléas. 2011: France
Various Artists. Golden Beirut—New Sounds from Lebanon. Outhere Records. 2011: Germany
Various Artist. Moyen Orient—Paléo Festival Nyon 2012. Disques Office. 2012: Switzerland
Various Artists. Radio Beirut—Sounds from the 21st Century. Galileo Records. 2012: Germany
Weeping Willow. Garden of Misery. Self-Released. 2001: Lebanon
Weeping Willow. Mentally Decayed. Self-Released. 2004: Lebanon
Weeping Willow. The 3rd Portal. Self-Released. 2007: Lebanon
Yassin, Raed, and Gene Coleman. The Adventures of Nabil Fawzi. Al Maslakh Recordings 04. 2006: Lebanon
Yassin, Raed. The New Album. Annihaya. 2009: Lebanon

 Local Music Scenes and Globalization – Transnational Platforms in Beirut