Dulab Alpaloma

Improvisation of "La Paloma" by Sebastian de Yradier in the form of a rondo for 15 musicians all living in Berlin

See and read more on ARTE Concert

16 Musicians with very different backgrounds compose a piece of music together based on one of the most well known melodies in the world - an achievement in this period of Corona! Witness how every day during several weeks a musician is confronted with a medley of the "La Paloma" melody until finally it has been re-mixed to a completely new composition.

ExplanationVideo with Carolin Widmann
Invitation by Magdalena Kozena
Invitation by Carolin Widmann
Invitation by Gregor Schulenburg
Invitation by Pierre Laurent Aimard
Invitation by Klaus Janek
Invitation by Gebrüder Teichmann

What is Dulab Alpaloma?

Everone has no doubt heard the melody of La Paloma before. Many different versions with many different texts exist. It was written in 1860 in Mexico and has since spread all over the world (Trikont Verlag in Munich published a CD with 140 variations) - indeed making it music of the world.

How - and why - has this melody developed into a Dulab? And what does Dulab Alpaloma mean anyway? It will be seen on ARTE Concert from the middle of April 2021 onwards. The word Dulab is Arabian and means 'musical round dance' or Rondo; a melody is played by one musician and is passed on to the next musician. This musician, using his fantasy, freely develops the melody of the first musician and hands over his version to the next musician who then makes his version.

And so it goes on.

It is a bit like the game 'Chinese Whispers' or 'Telephone': the melody changed into something completely different from what it started out with.

How is Dulab Alpaloma programmed on ARTE Concert?

During a period of three weeks, from Monday to Friday, we get to know the musicians of Dulab Alpaloma. We present every one with her or his version of the melody which he then add to a variation from another musician.
We either recorded a musician by himself, accompanied through headphones or, if at all possible, with a live accompaniment.

Short documentaries of the following musicians are finished:

Michael Schiefel
Bakr Khleifi
Silvia Ocougne
Lucy Zhao
Ravi Srinivasan
Magdalena Kozena
Carolin Widmann
Wu Wei
Gregor Schulenburg
Pierre Laurent Aimard
Klaus Janek
Sören Birke
Jocelyn B Smith
Gebrüder Teichmann

What is so special about our Dulab is that the musicians have totally different musical backgrounds.
From Classic to Jazz to Modern Music and Electro, but also from traditions outside european music: i.e. from China or India. Every musician interprets music in his or her personal fashion - sometimes using instruments that are hardly known in Europe. Many are familiar with improvisation, others less - some don't sound too familiar to European ears. Many of the musicians involved live in Germany, in Berlin - and have a migrant background. No one should be fooled: quite a few names might not mean a lot - yet they are all master of their trade.

Our Dulap Alpaloma is not just a surprise packet of musical languages and expressions, but also proof that musicians can create something new without one musician having to yield musically to another one. It may sound a bit utopian what we have musically attempted here: and it not always went smoothly, yet in the end we achieved a harmonic cooperation of many cultures and nations. Every Clip is structured the same way:
the musician starts off by playing the La Paloma melody, alone or accompanied, and then the variation, i.e. the improvisation. In between we have a short interview with the musician and ask why he or she chose his or her music and how he or she came to Germany. We ask what their instrument and the place, where they particulary wanted to play La Paloma means to them.

We will be at a place chosen by the musicians (taking corona into consideration) - about which they would like to tell a short story. Because of corona we recently have a new situation that has, especially for artists, organizers and culture on the whole, become a problem. It is important to give artists a voice, make them visible. Prominent musicians like Pierre-Laurent Aimard support this project and contribute to it.

However, it is about more than the musicians assembled here. It is about all artists and musicians out there; about the diversity of expressions and cultures that often exist closly together yet is unnoticed - and about our togetherness.

In short: it is about all of us.

PS - Is ARTE unable to count?

It might have been noticed by some people: In the beginning we started with 16 musicians and this text mentions 15. What happened to him or her? The explanation is simple: When all 15 musicians have played their part, number 16 appears. This is composer Cathy Milliken who shall in the end and using all the musical recordings performed by the musicians, compose or re-mix a completely new piece. Also using what we have not heard before.

A harmonious Dulab Lapaloma will transpire - our own composition with not only 2, but 3 or 4 musicians playing together at the same time, like in a proper small orchestra. The composing process takes about 3 to 4 weeks, after which time the finished Dulab will be programmed. If you can't wait that long, you can of course listen to the 'Mix of the Week' again, which will be published every week. (These 2-voiced premixes always include improvisations of 5 or 6 musicians - and can be found on the ARTE Concert page)

Christopher Janssen, ARTE editor

Cast & Crew

Uli Aumüller
Hanne Kaisik
Director of photography
Sebastian Rausch
Associate producer
Elke Moltrecht
Original Score
Cathy Milliken, Dietmar Wiesner
Editorial Jounalist
Christopher Janssen