Photo: Bob Christy/Kent State University
Halim El-Dabh (1921-2017) حليم الضبع was an Egyptian-American composer and ethnomusicologist, the earliest known to have created music intended to be played back electronically. His work Expressions of Zaar, which premiered in Cairo in 1944, manipulates field recordings of female voices chanting during a zaar (healing or exorcism). Likely the first ever work composed and presented with electronic sound, it pre-dates Pierre Schaeffer’s earliest examples of musique concrète by four years. Thanks to Fari Bradley for her extensive scholarship on El-Dabh.