Damascene band ‘Nabad’ thriving despite war

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The Syrian band Nabad playing an outdoor concert. Al-Akhbar

Published Friday, November 21, 2014

Syrian music band “Nabad” was meeting at their practice space in Bab Touma, near Burj al-Rous when a car bomb hit the area. The building was severely damaged and the sheet music was stained by the injured musicians’ blood.

This grave attack failed to discourage the band members. They continued to write songs that described the current situation in Syria, like “Damoua’a Sourya” (Syria’s tear), “Tahya Sourya” (Long Live Syria), “Rah Tebiqa Baladna” (Our Country Will Remain), and other songs dealing with contemporary social issues like civil marriage. And until this day, Nabad remains determined to defy war, death, and blood with music, songs, and concerts.

The name Nabad, which translates to “pulse” in English, “is an expression of life in a time of death. It mirrors the pulse of the Syrian people who face terrifying deaths, but continue to live life to the fullest,” the band manager Hussam Abdel Khalek told Al-Akhbar.

Abdel Khalek said the band is formed “by amateur musicians and singers, along with volunteer engineers, lawyers, and employees.”

“They all came together in June 2013 and started to sing and play music. They decided to form a cultural association as an expression of a firm will to break the state of despair and frustration that had crept into the souls of Syrian youths at the time,” he explained.

“Nehna” cultural association was soon established, and within a relatively short period of time, managed to attract 30 musicians and singers eager to spread joy and cheer.

The band Nabad was the first initiative launched by the association, which later founded “Khebez” (Bread) theater group, “Khotwa” (Step) dance group, and “Shazaya” (shrapnel) group for fine arts.

Nabad has so far produced 10 original songs, with lyrics and melodies written by the band members, except for two songs that sampled melodies.

The band made an appearance at Mustafa Ali Gallery in old Damascus, and was amazed by the large turnout that filled the yards, verandas, and stairs of the Arabian-style home.

The concert was the initial motivation for the band to go on, and indeed it held more concerts in Damascus, Homs, and Beirut.

Commenting on the importance of such artistic and cultural activities in a time when bullets speak louder than music, Abdel Khalek said “communities generate valuable arts to contribute in the rise of society; this is called a positive cycle. In times of war, artists depart and arts fade away or even vanish, which fuels the decline of society, and this is called a vicious cycle; Damascus was at that stage in early 2013.”

“The band’s initiative was meant to break this cycle and to seek positivity and optimism, then various initiatives followed,” he added

Asked about the security situation, Nabad members echoed the position shared by the people who have stayed in Damascus, “We are in Damascus and what hits its people, will hit us as well.”

It should be noted that the security situation has improved in the capital; explosions, kidnappings, and thefts have abated, and the number of mortar shells coming from opposition controlled regions have subsided.

What about the band’s new plans? Abdel Khalek said, “[The band] is euphoric about the success it has accomplished so far, and the reputable name it has established; it has been receiving invitations [to play] from all secured areas.”

However, Nabad “is taking some time to choose the locations of its upcoming concerts until they finish their new album, which is now in its final stages.”

The band promised that “the new album will constitute a major artistic shift, considering the simple music production, and the spontaneous lyrics used in the songs.”

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

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