I found Stellamara when I was searching for free MP3 world music downloads to use in my video game mod, Mournhold Expanded. The subterranean city district in my mini-expansion had a nightclub, so I needed music for my elven dancers. Stellamara fit the bill, and I included their (no-longer-available) free-download snippets in the mod, figuring that since they were giving the music away anyway, they couldn’t mind too much. Still, I knew in my heart that they had given the music to listen to at home, not to redistribute, so I always felt that pang of guilt.
When Mournhold Expanded was automatically entered into ModDB.com‘s Mod of the Year competition in 2006, I panicked, fearing that if I had won the prize, I might get my butt sued off by certain grumpy musicians – why should I profit from their hard work? I contacted the organisers and found it was too late to withdraw the mod, so they just flagged it as ineligible for the grand prize. It’s unlikely that it would have won, but I had to make sure that it wouldn’t. In the end, I got the kudos of an “honorable mention”, which seemed fair – I’d worked very hard on the mod, and it was great to have the recognition. Still, I wondered many times whether I should try to remove the music from the mod, which would have the added benefit of reducing the download size. I’ve never done so for several reasons, not least because the music gives an instant sense of exoticism that cannot be conveyed by visuals alone. Put simply, Stellamara sounds like music made by elves in some far away world.
The distinctly elven-looking vocalist/producer Sonja Drakulich created Stellamara to develop “devotional music” based in Near Eastern and medieval modal traditions, blending Turkish, Arabic, Balkan, Medieval European and Persian music. To aid her on her quest, multi-instrumentalist Gari Hegedus and cellist Rufus Cappodocia use the makam Middle Eastern modal scales to form Stellamara’s timeless soundscapes.
Kateri tweeted a link earlier to an Angry Black Women blog post about women in rock. It was a great list, with some of my favourite musicians represented, but it was a list of mostly Western-sounding British and American artists. It got me thinking about how you can go pretty much anywhere in the world and hear a pretty racket by a pretty woman …
Aylin Aslım: Gülyabani
This one has a great video, and is just a fantastic song
Kolrassa Krókríðandi: Gammagarg
There’s more to Iceland than Bjoerk, you know