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In times of instability, music is how people breathe, says Tunisian artist

By Muath Freij - Aug 04,2015 - Last updated at Aug 04,2015

Jordanians and visitors attend a concert by Dhafer Youssef at the Roman Theatre in Amman on Monday (Photo by Muath Freij)

AMMAN – Music makes a difference in difficult times and plays an important role in easing the pressure, offering an escape from the scenes of instability plaguing the region, a Tunisian composer and performer said on Monday.

Oud player Dhafer Youssef said instability has been in the region for a long time, describing music as the tool that makes people "breathe".

"I think that music remains really important and... also poetry and theatre," he told The Jordan Times after his performance in downtown Amman. 

Youssef, who released his first album "Musafer" in the mid-1990s, was among several Arab and local performers who took part in the fourth Al Balad Music Festival, which concluded on Monday, performing a one-hour musical show at the Roman Theatre, attended by Jordanians and foreigners.  

The musician and vocal artist, who fuses European jazz melodic structures with the Mediterranean groove and a unique musical identity inspired by Sufism, said Arab audiences receive his shows and performances with great excitement.

"In the Arab world, concerts are much more important for me as an Arab compared to cities in Europe because the audience receives the music differently and makes me interact with it in a different way. This show is really important in my artistic career," added Youssef, who has also experimented in combining oud with electric sonorities and collaborated with European artists on his albums.  

"The audience here made me feel something spiritual," he added, noting that he likes to learn from the experiences of fellow musicians.

"I hope that artistic experiments by old and young Arab artists will gain more importance in the Arab world because when there is competition it makes the artist work harder to present the best he has to offer," said the composer, who performed songs from his latest album "Birds requiem".  

Youssef stressed the need to collaborate with other artists, noting that he is planning to collaborate with an Indian drummer and a classical orchestra in his upcoming project.


"The artist has to be surrounded by people whom he can benefit and learn from, because when you are alone your artistic career will be limited."  

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