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John Denver :: In a Faraway Land

Shepherd Kids by Jiang Tao
Shepherd Kids, Hand painted on Rice Paper, Jiang Tao (2005)
From XABusiness

Being in Shenzhen, China for over a week now, I have not yet been fully able to realize that I am in that Great Ancient Orient which Marco Polo had traveled and to the Rulers of whom even the Sultan of Bengal had paid tribute. Deng Xiao Ping‘s economic counter-revolution (or rather, progressive revolution) makes Shenzhen stand strong as a global industrial hub in 2012.

Away from home, I immerse myself in that old favorite Chinese song of mine — John Denver’s In a Far Away Land. My Chinese colleague seemed fairly surprised when he caught me humming the tune. So here I sit in my hotel room listening to the song again and again, and writing about it.
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PHP :: Using Session Variables to Store Browser Navigation History

This post is off-topic given the general theme of my blog, but I felt the content useful enough to be posted. I am developing a PHP/MySQL-based database and content management system to catalog my literally h-u-u-u-g-e classic stamps collection. That’s when I faced the problem of tracking browser history, did an awful amount of googling, and found nothing that could help me. I am not a professional web developer, I do it as a hobby. So forgive me for any unintentional errors.

The Problem:

The most popular way to track a user’s browsing history is to use the javascript history object, e.g. something like: javascript:history.go(-1). My problem was that I had multiple frames on the page, and javascript wouldn’t work the way I expected it to. So I was looking for a workaround, something that wouldn’t be client-side.

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Tinariwen :: Amassakoul

Amassakoul

All last week, I’ve been listening to and humming songs by my latest discovery, Tinariwen! They hail from the Southern Sahara or Sahel region of Mali in Western Africa. Tinariwen literally means deserts or empty spaces, and the group formed in 1979, surprisingly early, until they came to the limelight in 1998 in France.

Well, you might simply label theirs as African ethnic music without thinking too much, but several popular artists and musical traditions came to my mind when listening to them. First, the Blues… yes, the Blues! It’s a historical fact that the Blues originated from Western Africa and was carried off to America with the slaves. No wonder Ali Farka Touré became widely popular after being discovered by Westerners and he soon forged a Blues fanbase. Tinariwen follows similar musical trends, except that they have a different ethnic background — they are Tuaregs, desert nomads who are culturally and linguistically closer to Semites rather than their southern descendants of the Songhai Empire. And their music is more akin to Rock ‘n Roll than Blues!

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Tamana by Niyaz :: Lyrics & Translations

Peacocks from Baburnama
Peafowls: Painting from the Babur Nama, National Museum, New Delhi
From Wikimedia Commons

Tamana is featured in Niyaz‘s second double-cd release Nine Heavens. The lyrics is originally based on a ghazal by Khwaja Mir Dard (Urdu: خواجہ میر درد), a 18-th century Indian mystic active in Delhi and a prominent member of the Naqshbandi Sufi sect. He regarded the phenomenal world as a veil of the eternal Reality, and this life as a term of exile from our real home. He was born in 1721 and died in 1785.

I found the following lyrics from allthelyrics.com forum. My sincere thanks to the contributors to the forum.

Azam Ali does an acoustic rendition of the love song in the second CD, featuring traditional Indian percussion, and Persian stringed instruments. The lyrics are very touching, and Azam Ali’s singing style fits perfectly with the deep spirituality embedded in the music as well.

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The Hunt by Niyaz :: Lyrics & Translations

Persian Hunter
Zillah: A Persian Greyhound by Charles Hamilton Smith (1837)
From Encore Editions

The Hunt appears in Niyaz‘s self-titled debut album, and is a Farsi/Persian folk song from Khorasan province of Iran. Two hunters are out hunting; one is very keen on unleashing his greyhound upon preys like rabbits, deer, pigeons, pheasants and eagles, and the other one deters him from doing so, since these creatures keep reminding him of his beloved in one way or another. The chorus repeats again and again, each time picking up a new animal or bird. Azam Ali is particularly fabulous keeping the rhythm, and her vocal smoothness

I found the following transcription and translation on Lathophobic Aphasia: a blog by Vilges Suola. Many thanks, Vilges! I’ve made some changes to the original, and put some of my notes at the end.

Thanks to Evans Knight, here’s the lyrics in original Farsi!
عشق من و تو

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Margaret Davis :: Princess of Flowers

Princess of Flowers

In the Celtic/Medieval genre, Margaret Davis stands out as an exceptional artist, because she strives to compose arrangements that have truly original medieval and Celtic sounds. She has been a solo performer since 1986, and also part of the Celtic group Brocelïande and the Celtic Rock band Avalon Rising. Princess of Flowers is her only solo album that I know of, and in my opinion, it is one of its kind — containing Celtic, Medieval and Renaissance musical performances with Celtic harp, guitar, fiddle, cello, recorders, flute, mandola, hurdy-gurdy, Middle-Eastern percussion, and the medieval vielle; not to mention the celestial voice of Margaret Davis!

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Paban Das Baul & Sam Mills :: Real Sugar

Moving on further east from Persia (see Niyaz) to the province of Bengal in Eastern India and the nation of Bangladesh, one will encounter a rich musical tradition, known as Baul — literally meaning madmen. Baul musicians present an interesting potpourri of Tantric, Buddhist, Baishnavist, and Sufi subject matters, strung together by simple traditional instruments. Leading virtually ascetic lives, very few of these Bauls would aspire for world acclaim. Paban Das Baul is an exception, as he was discovered early on in his career by promoters of the Eastern culture, both from East and West. Sam Mills, while doing avant-garde experiments in London, happened to stumble upon Baul music, traveled to Bengal and met Paban Das Baul. Later collaborations between the two brought Real Sugar critical acclaim as a World Music album.

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Niyaz :: Nine Heavens

Nine Heavens Front Cover

Originally posted on Epinions

Other Niyaz Albums:
Niyaz by Niyaz

Niyaz debuted in 2005 with this self-titled album. The group consists of Azam Ali (ex-vocal from Vas, Loga Ramin Torkian, and DJ Carmen Rizzo. Nine Heavens is their second album. The album has 2 CDs: the first one contains electronically mixed tracks, and the second one repeats the same tracks but they’re purely acoustic renditions.

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Golzar by Niyaz :: Lyrics & Translations

Ali-Jalali-Persian-Miniature
Persian Miniature by Ali Jalali,
From Persian Mirror

Lyrics, Transcriptions & Translations of
Golzar by Niyaz from their Album Niyaz

________________________________

My Transcription

(instrumental refrain)
Biayid biayid, keh golzar damid ast
Biayid biayid, keh deldar rasid ast x 2
Come along, come along, the fields are a-flower
Come along, come along, it’s the lover’s hour.

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Niyaz :: Niyaz

Niyaz Front Cover

Originally posted on Epinions

Other Niyaz Albums:
Nine Heavens by Niyaz

Niyaz is a comparatively new band that I stumbled on on Pandora. They’ve been in the World Music and Trance scene for about 5 years now. This is their self-titled debut album, which established them with a great standing and quite a sizeable fan base.

Niyaz’s repertoire includes songs based on poems by medieval Persian, Turkish, and Indian Sufi philosophers, like Mevlana Rumi and Amir Khosrau Dehlavi. Born of Persian descent, Azam Ali — the lead vocal — grew up in India, and finally settled in the USA. She has been a member of the “alternative world” band Vas, which really established her as a skilled vocal performer. Loga Ramin Torkian, her husband, is a major force behind the formation of Niyaz, and plays multiple instruments, including Persian zither, lute, and guitar.

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