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The instrumentation used in Cities of Dream, is very complex. Fabio Armani explores “mind lands”, painting a strongly and variegated musical fresco. The tracks richness and complexity, remind the Mahavisnu Orchestra, the British and German symphonic rock, the big Indian and North African ensembles, Miles Davis or Gil Evans experiments.
A rich and unique sound is created by the arrangements of Fabio, the peculiar usage of samples, the deep programming sound quest and his love for bold and rhythmic pulsations.

The ensemble is constituted by Fabio (piano, keyboards and programming), Alessandro (drums and percussion), Abdullah (ethnic flutes and percussion), Flavio and Luca (electric basses), Yasemin, Elisabetta, Houcine, Noemi, and Maria Pia (voices), Miguel (guitars), Marco (saxophones) Carlo (violin and cello) and Cristiano (violin).

Below you can find some information on the more exotic instruments used in the CD tracks.

· Nay
· Duduk
· Darbuka
· Req
· Duff
· Zills
· Tablas
· Flamenco Guitar
· Fretless Guitar
· Oud
· Saz
· Santur

Nay
Nay

Nay

Traditional Arab flute of different size used in the classic and popular music. The sound is evocative and mighty. Abdullah Mohamed plays bamboo nays that he makes by himself. In Cities of Dreams, the nay opens the city doors with a sweet and sad recall, and talks with the intense voices of Yasemine Sannino and Houcine Ata in an essential counterpoint. The Abdullah's art, with his flutes, voices feelings and emotions like love, passion, melting, joy.

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Duduk
Duduk

Duduk

The Duduk has a cylindrical body and a large reed for a warm, velvety sound, with the qualities of both an oboe and a bagpipe and soprano sax or clarinet. The Duduk is capable of producing tones that invoke passion, celebration, or suffering. The Duduk is of Armenian origin. Duduks 4000 years old have been found in Egypt and India. Duduks are often played in pairs. One instrument plays the melody, while the second plays a tonic drone called a "dam". The player of the dam is called a damkash, and s/he uses a special breathing technique to maintain consistency of tone; this involves inhaling through the nose and storing air in puffed up cheeks. This is similar to the technique used by trumpet and bagpipe players. The Duduk, whether played singly or with a dam, is often accompanied by a dhol, an Armenian double-sided drum. Considered by some to be the instrument most capable of expressing the emotions of the Armenian people. Peter Gabriel has featured the Duduk in the movies "The Last Temptation of Christ" and "Us". In Cities of Dreams the duduk was used in Kam ma kam where is in wonderful contrapuntist with the voice of Noemi.

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Darbuka
Darbuka

Darbuka

Darbuka: the principal soloist Arab percussion. It has the shape of a broad calyx of 22-23 cm diameter, made of terra-cotta, wood or metal. The stretched skin, fish or goat made, is attached to the edge with little interlaced threads. Abdullah is well-trained in lashing and carrying away breaking phrases of the darbuka. This percussion is one of most spectacular instrument of the soloist percussions family in the world. In God of Thunder, Abdullah Mohamed creates, where the sound became more tribal, a exciting presence with rare precision and effectiveness phrases. In Kam ma kam, a song of sickening Arab atmosphere, the darbuka voices the great classic tradition of Abdullah's music. The sequencers of Beyond the Dunes introduce the Turkish song of Yasemine Sannino and the primordial recalls of Houcine Ata, and the darbuka contributes to the original, hypnotic sound. In Cities of Dreams the fast modulation is well played by Abdalla's darbuka, wonderfully integrated with the Alessandro D'Aloia drumming, the Fabio Armani programmed grooves of tablas, udo, african percussions and more, the Luca Barberini swinging bass, the hypnotic and mighty sequencers.

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Req
Req

Req

Req or Riqq: Arab soloist frame drum. Is a 22 cm diameter broad frame with a stretched skin. On the same frame there are two lines of little metallic cymbals. The req is related with the tambourine, but in opposite to it, with its refined fingers percussion on the skin, becomes a soloist percussion. In God of Thunder, Kam ma kam, Beyond the Dunes and Cities of Dreams, Abdullah Mohamed plays a fine dialogue with the darbuka and the other percussions. The characteristic fills of the req, played with many different sounds by the Abdullah's hands, emphasizing his deep knowledge of the Arab musical culture.

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Duff
Duff

Duff

Duff o Dof: It is an Arab 30-35 cm diameter broad frame drum used as bass. The duff, as the other frame drums of the world, is played for the main tempo with strong and resolute accents. The percussionist plays the duff with sapient finger hits on the internal and the external skin and on the wood frame too. The use of the duff in the Arab music is often reserved to ritual liturgies with obsessive and hypnotic rhythms. Abdullah Mohamed plays it in Beyond the Dunes, Kam ma kam and Cities of Dreams, integrating the original color and role of the duff in a contaminated musical context. Abdullah is a rare musician, master of the Arab music, with a vision of the "global music" and a clear sensibility for the "weight" of everyone in an instruments ensemble.

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Zills
Zills

Zills

Zills: Fingers cymbals. Widespread from Far East to Africa, the zills are little brass made cymbals that strikes themselves for a pure and mystic but also strong and percussive sound. In the tradition they are associated with the dance and played by dancers. The technique used is similar to the Spanish castanets. The Abdullah's zills rhythms are appreciated in Cities of Dreams and Beyond the Dunes.

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Tablas
Tablas

Tablas

Tablas: Double Indian Percussion. The Bayan is the greatest one and has a deep timbre; the Dayan is smaller and of thinner sound. They are basic elements of the rich classical Indian music. The rhythmic patterns of tablas are complex and exciting, and they are studied with great interest in all the world. Usually the bayan is played with the left hand the dayan with the right hand. The bayan gives a regular rhythm, a bourdon, but with smoothing changes of tuning and expression. The dayan has a wide variety of sounds: tap, slap, overtones and other percussive effects. The drums are finely accorded on the tone's harmonics of the piece played. Fabio Armani is a fan of their sound and he has programmed exciting and complex tablas parts in Kam ma kam, Beyond the Dunes, Love beyond Desert, Flowers of Sorrow and Dance for the Moon.

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Flamenco Guitar
Flamenco Guitar

Flamenco Guitar

Flamenco Guitar: Typical intrument of the Spanish folk tradition, it is a guitar of wide variety of timbres and expressions. The technique and the soul of flamenco guitar have been growing during centuries of history. One thousand of years ago in the area of Mediterranean Sea, under the Islamic domination, its prototype developed into the oud in North Africa and the flamenco guitar in Spain, both instruments voicing the deepness of the poet who wonders about the human condition. Miguel Fernandez deeply knows the flamenco and is a virtuoso of this instrument. In Flower of Sorrow he dialogues with the piano, playing in a mood between jazz and contemporary music. The arpeggios of the first part, the oriental phrases of the second one, the wonderful block chords under the sax solo, the rarefied atmosphere that surround the celestial singing of Elisabetta Antonini, point out the sensitivity and the technique of Miguel. The warm and rich timbre of his wonderful instrument is exploited by the recording fidelity and accuracy. In Beyond the Dunes, Miguel overdubs various flamenco guitar tracks, giving that song a peculiar sound, in an original and complex layer.

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Flamenco Fretless Guitar
Fretless Guitar

Flamenco Fretless Guitar "Cucculelli"

Flamenco fretless guitar: this is unique model guitar designed and patented by Argentinean lutist Rodolfo Cucculelli and by Miguel Fernandez. The guitar has broad less and hollow frets enabling to play particularly tuning and glissato. Also Miguel uses no conventional tuning for the strings, typically to make lower for most comfortable action and best sound. Miguel and Rodolfo inspired by the experiences of artist as John McLaughing and Pat Metheny, have created a guitar able to recall the oud and the sitar sounds, perfect for multi-ethnic modern ensembles. Miguel plays this instrument with sensibility and passion, widening the spirit and the voice of his polyhedral musical soul. The fretless guitar was used in Kam ma kam, Beyond the Dunes and Flowers of Sorrow. The sophisticate and exciting Miguel performances, let we travel in wonderful and exotic mind-lands, between deserts and mosques, passions and sorrows, Earth and sky.

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Oud
Oud

Oud

Oud: it is a lute, direst ancestor of the European instrument. Made of a chest with the form of an half almond and a short fretless neck, it is a basic instrument of classic Arab musical culture. The Arabic people define it, not without reasons, the "sultan" of musical instruments. From Arabic world, the oud has spread until the Middle Asia and the south of Sahara desert, and in the Middle Age it found its way to Europe through the Spain, brought by the Crusaders. Oud literarly means "wood", and it is a descendent of a Persian instrument with four strings called "barbat", used in a pre-islamic age. The ouds of nowadays have five or six couples of strings plus a low string. In Beyond the Dunes is used in conjunction with the Miguel Fernandez guitars creating a rich and quivering sound and recalling the feeling of the great Arabic poetry.

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Saz
Saz

Saz

Saz or Baglama Saz: the name recalls the eastern roots of this kind of lute. It is characterized by a long neck on which the doubled strings, usually made of metal, are bended. This instrument has its origin at the age of Babilonian and Sumeric culture. Over the centuries the saz and its variants, as the kogur and the kopuz, has been used both in the battles and during the mystic ceremonies of Dervishes. Nowadays the saz is the poetic soul of Turkish people and is widely spread in all the Anatolia. We used it in Beyond the Dunes and Flower of Sorrow, in complex and exciting arpeggios. The saz create a fascinating effect of changing and original sounds.

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Santur
Santur

Santur

Santur: is an Iranian stringed instrument. Is a Psaltery with sound chest and movable bridges under each strings; each note is generated by a group of three or four chords. The Santur is played by two little sticks called mezrabs. The origin of santur go back to the Assyrian and Babylonian civilizations, that is six centuries B.C. It was imported in Europe from the Middle East in the XI century, and after in the 1800 it was introduced in Far Orient from Europe. We find his predecessors German (Hackbrett), in France (Tympanon) and England (Dulcimer). In Iran the Santur reach the perfection: a trapezoidal box with 72 or 100 metallic fixed strings on two line formed by nine little stands. The normal extension is of three octaves and the tuning is made for the modal scale performed by use a key on the screw spikes fixed on one side of the santur. The player hit the strings with the walnut, or medlar, or box-wood mezbras that have a end cut for the better catching with the first three fingers of the hand, the other end is lightly raised and also, felt covered sounds like a pianoforte. Fabio Armani loves the fascination evocated by the santur, and uses this instrument in the song Cities of Dreams with others like gamelans and marimbas, to create magic and dreaming plots.

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Gamelan
Gamelan

Gamelan

Gamelan: is a musical ensemble of Indonesian origin typically featuring metallophones, xylophones, drums, and gongs. Traditionally, the term "gamelan" is used to refer to either the set of instruments making up the ensemble, or the players of those instruments at any given time.

Gamelan orchestras are common to the islands of Java, Madura, Bali, and Lombok (and other Sunda Islands) in Indonesia in a wide variety of ensemble sizes and formations.
In Bali and Lombok today, and in Java through the 18th century, the term "gong" is or was preferred to or synonymous with gamelan. Traditions of gamelan have long been established in Malaysia and Suriname due to emigration, trade, or diplomacy, and more recently, through immigration, and local enthusiasm, gamelan ensembles have become active throughout Europe, The Americas, Asia, and Australia.

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Gong
Gong

Gong

Gong: is any one of a wide variety of metal percussion instruments.
The term is Malayu-Javanese in origin but widespread throughout Asia.
The instrument itself appears to have origins in the bronze drums of China,
cymbals of central Asia, and perhaps even in European bell-casting techniques.

Fabio and Alessandro are really enchanted by the possibilities to create shimmering textures of sounds with these ancient instruments in their compositions. You can hear examples of this in the all CD and particularly in Under Moons of Jade.

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