So the party’s over and the circus has left town. joburg feels emptier without the 40+ foreign musicians who joined local musicians and electro-accoustic enthusiasts in four days of sound experimentation. Without exception everyone (South African and foreign) has been overwhelmingly positive about the experience. Students and those teachers who did attend have been buzzing with energies and ideas transmitted by the performances and workshops that Festival Director, Dimitri Voudouris, packed into the four short days of the Festival.
It was four days of continuous highlights. For a detailed and insightful review of the broader programme see Nathaniel Stern’s piece on Unyazi in www.rhizome.org. But I’ll just enthuse about Prof Halim El-Dabh and the way that he used the sine wave generator that we sourced for him from the workshop of the Wits School of Electrical Engineering. I presumed he would use it at some point in his performance; never realising that it was his instrument, and that he would play it for entire pieces, like during his awesome duet with the trombonist, George Lewis. Before he caught his plane back to the USA, I asked him if he would kindly autograph the machine before we returned it to the Engineering store. So now the machine is now back in its place on a shelf of lab equipment; nobody except you (dear reader) aware of the inscription under its belly. And nobody, except those lucky enough to hear Halim play the machine, are aware of what sonic worlds have been explored with this piece of technology.
Halim’s inscription. In English and Arabic: To the sine wave generation.
Halim El-Dabh playing the sine wave generator at the first African electronic music festival in Johannesburg, 2 September 2005.