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A traditional Saudi Arabian welcome

On a trip to Saudi Arabia, we visited the KAUST university complex, about 90 minutes north of Jeddah.

As part of the evening’s entertainment, we were greeted by an hour or so of traditional Saudi music, driven principally by multiple drummers and two interacting singers running through a repertoire of what were apparently well-known songs.

This, the first track, containing the English words “welcome, welcome” in amongst the lyrics, was a ten-minute song that goes through several movements, but with constant drumming and singing in hypnotic loops that became magnetising and trance-like the longer the piece went on.

City version:

For the reimagined piece, I wanted to convey something of the mesmerising aspect of the original track, which had me interested in the first minute, but by the ninth locked into the groove of the drums and singing.

A locked-groove of a drum sample with a lo-pass filter is the rhythmic undercurrent, over which a simple two-note synth line generates head-nodding familiarity.

The drones are created by layer upon layer of effected sitar and tambura, with snippets of both the original song’s “welcome, welcome” refrain and some inserted synthesised singing, spaced at exact intervals, again to lock the groove in place throughout the duration of the track.

Memory version: