January 1, 2011

the Voices of Paul Bowles #Tellus 23

Till the age of 40, Paul Bowles (1910-1999) was a composer and music critic, composing for Broadway musicals, Hollywood movie scores, incidental music for ballet. He once acknowledged to be a composer of ‘hotel music’, though his serious music calls to mind that of Copland, Virgil Thomson, Francis Poulenc or Satie. It is actually when he get tired of writing easy music that he turned to writing literature.
Curated by Claudia Gould and Stephen Frailey, ‘The Voices of Paul Bowles’ is an audio portrait combining some of the composer’s music with readings from his own texts, morrocan traditional music and location recordings from Tangier and Morroco where he lived from 1947. The most striking device is the handsome and warm voice of Bowles reading through his writings. Also notable are the lively field recordings of folk local music Bowles made himself in 1959 (tracks #01, 03, 06 & 09). The simoon (my conjecture) heard at the end of ‘The Garden’, track #08, is a short but evocative recording of a North Africa typical wind. Bowles own compositions are exquisite vignettes full of humour and wit.

Side One
Le Coran Cheikh: Sourat Yassine (performed by Abdel Samad) Library of Congress/Music Division/AFSL63-L64 (01:15)
"Allal" (Paul Bowles, narrator) (26.38)
Reh Dial Beni Bouhiya (played by Cheikh Hamed bel Hadj Hamadi ben Allal and ensemble, in Segangan) Library of Congress/Music Division/AFSL63-L64 (03:00)
Side Two
Music for a Farce I (Paul Bowles, 1936) (performed by Chicago Pro Musica)
Courtesy of Reference Recordings, San Francisco, CA (01:10)
"Points in Time IV" (Paul Bowles, narrator) (05:40)
Oukha Dial Kheir (sung and played by Cheikh Ayyad ou Haddou and ensemble, in Tahala) Library of Congress/Music Division/AFSL63-L64 (03:10)
Interlude (conversations at Hotel Rif) and (Prelude #2) from six preludes for piano 1934-45 recorded on American Piano Music, performed by Bennett Lerner, Etcetera (02:00)
"The Garden" (Paul Bowles, narrator) (07:45)
Aouda Trio (Played by Rais Mahamad ben Mohammed and ensemble, in Tamanar) Library of Congress/Music Division/AFSL63-L64 (02:55)
Secret Words (Paul Bowles, 1943) William Sharp, Baritone; Steven Blier, Piano ©1989 recorded Anthology of American Music, Inc., Courtesy New World Records NW369-2 (02:30)
"Points in Time XI" (Paul Bowles, narrator) (01:20)

Thanks to Ubuweb

Tellus 23



  1. some more of bowles morocco stuff... i'm really glad for your post, b/c it helped me add a few more tracks to my incomplete "library of congress" paul bowles morocco collection... he's a fine composer & poet, too!!!