Tuning in and the Static, Between Centuries

I’m searching for an interlude to a classic Radio Tarifa song… it’s a moment in which the recording moves through the radio dial. The static between channels resounds as the different stations–some in Arabic, some in Spanish, some pulling in sounds of the oud, the flute, a guitar, a flamenco voice–start pulling in.

The dial moves between centuries, too. That fuzzy static is a search for reception, a search for sound, and a search for music that is there but needs some adjusting to hear…

It reminds me of the immensely powerful sound in the silence of Andalucía’s streets at night — the presence of silence. The presence of what is underneath the streets, or that which walks around invisible. Sevilla is built on top of Roman cities, but it’s not that literal…

Radio Tarifa is the name of the “imaginary radio station that would pick up and disseminate sounds and rhythms from all around the Mediterranean” (worldcircuit)…

In the words of Faín Sánchez Dueñas, one of the three founding members of the group: “If you turn the dial of a radio there you can pick up sounds from North Africa, you hear the Arabic early morning call-to-prayer, from there you reach out into the whole of Mediterranean Europe, to the Middle East and beyond to the Americas. And that’s us and our music – a meeting point between all the cultures that have passed through and continue to come through that part of Spain.”

I’m pasting in a collage of comments about the group here. It helps me identify this static and radio dial metaphor — something I want to keep drawing from as a way to understand the silence of Sevilla at night, the experience of presence in that silence, and the sound of flamenco coming through on radio reloj, time beeping in, pure and powerful through the FM dial…

“Their name derives from the town of Tarifa, which is the part of Spain nearest to Morocco. The group’s mixture of Spanish and Arabic music is not itself new (see Juan Peña Lebrijano. for example). What is new is that instead of simply fusing musical styles as they currently exist, Radio Tarifa goes back in time to the common past of those styles, back to before 1492 when the Moors and Jews were exiled from Spain, and imagines a shared style that might have evolved had history been different, including not just elements of Spanish and Arabic music but also other musics of the Mediterranean, of the Middle Ages, of the Caribbean. This invented style is not only fascinating in its own right, but sheds light upon the real styles of Spain, most notably flamenco.” (Kurt Keefner).

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