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If you have ever gone on an obsessive search of a sound or song whose name and origin you didn’t know, you might relate to Keith Terry, the director of the International Body Music Festival, which returns for its second year to the San Francisco Bay Area, December 1-6, 2009. In fact, his obsession runs so deep that last year he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, the first to go to a body musician, someone who makes music purely with their body. This year the Festival director has tracked down human beatboxers, a flamenco duo, a highly rhythmic Cuban a capella group, Peruvian zapateo , and a sound Terry has heard for years and will spotlight.

“There’s a distinctive clapping style from North Africa to the Persian Gulf ,” Terry says. “You get a high popping sound when you spread your fingers and keep your hands parallel. And they clap intricate interlocking rhythms.” The Festival brings together a group of performers of this style, using contacts within the Arab music community to scour for performers of this form. The ensemble will perform back to back with Silvia Moreno Gil and Fátima Moreno González, two well-known Spanish flamenco dancers who dance, sing, and perform the distinctive flamenco clapping style known as palmas . By putting the two groups side-by-side, the Festival invites listeners to ponder the Moorish connection between Arabic clapping and  flamenco’s palmas. (more…)

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