The Spinozas: Group History

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Concert History

Composer Dave Soldier's group, the Spinozas, explores the very beginning of the European pop and art song traditions. This is from medieval Andalusia (c 800-1300), when the country was run by North African and later Arabic Muslims, and during much of which Muslims, Jews, and Christians lived under the Cordoba Caliphate. This saw the birth of song form with verses and choruses - the Arabic names for these lyrics was muwashshaha and zajal - different than the rhymed couplets in previous lyrics from all three traditions. These poems, hundreds of which survive, were sung, and imitated by the singers up north in Provence. This became the Provencal poetry, while the Andalusian oud (imported via Baghad from Iran) became the lute and guitar - and the poetry directly became the troubador and mesitersinger traditions.

This "Golden Age of Hebrew Poetry" AND "Golden Age of Arabic Poetry" initiated virtually the entire Western song repertoire, meaning Schubert, the Beatles, Hank Williams, opera, and most of the other art and pop music of our world.

In addition to the most popular present day song forms, the guitar and lute, the European horse riding tradition (another story), European sheep herding and the wool industry (also another story), the Kabala and contemporary Jewish theology (OK, another story), the acknowleged beginning of the ongoing European poetry tradition, the novel (re: Don Quixote), knighthood, the European rediscovery of the ancient Greek scientific tradtion, the importation of algebra and the concept of zero to Europe... this period in Andalusia was also the start of the western orchestra, a term that came from the sitara, the cloth separating the audience and dancers from the musicians behind. The Andalusian dance crazes that spread throughout the new and old world, such as sarabandes, bourees, to becomethe rennaisance baroque dance suites and eventually the sonata and symphony, and many of the dances still used in salsa and ballroom dancing.

We rediscovered the old poetry in Arabic, Hebrew, Farsi, and ancient Spanish or Romance, some of them in Soldier's visit to Andalusian bookstores and libraries. We combine it with Soldier's music which freely adapts flamenco, middle eastern music, along with salsa, and electronica (although the instruments are acoustic and it can all be performed outdoors - we're calling it acoustica). Florid and emotional, and dance music, also part of the old tradtion.

In 2019, we recorded much of the Spinoza's pices under the album title ZAJAL.