BEIRUT: ‘Cedars: The Remix’ may not be topping the charts yet, but a new initiative hopes tracks produced using the rhythm of the ancient trees will raise awareness about the need to preserve conifers.
“3,000 Years' is the first track in history created using a rhythm extracted from inside a Lebanese cedar tree. Composed by Beirut-based DJ ESC (Ribal Rayess), the track is the focal point of the 'Save the Music' campaign for cedar conservation in Lebanon,” reads the information on the website where three tracks, the original mix and two remixes, are available for download. The tracks were released by VL Records.
The Lebanese Ministry of Environment, in cooperation with the Education Ministry, is credited with this novel initiative which extracted the cedar trees’ rhythm and handed it over to some of Beirut’s top DJs who then added a beat and vocals.
Rayess was initially approached by Jad Hazim, stage named Jad Jazzy Jay, to collaborate on the project, which is intended to raise awareness, as well as money, to preserve the endangered cedar tree.
The cedar tree's rhythm was extracted by Derek Shirley, a Canadian bio-acoustics engineer based in Germany. Shirley assembled a synthesizer reading mechanism sensitive to electric movement in living organisms and hooked it up to the Lebanese cedar tree. By embedding special bio-electric sensors in the tree, he extracted the audio data.
“We’ve recently discovered that each tree species creates its own rhythm,” Shirley said in a Youtube video entitled Save the Music – Save the Cedars.
“As it turns out the Lebanese cedars are especially rhythmic,” he says.
After Shirley extracted the raw, rhythmic beat, he handed it over to Rayess who turned it into "something commercial and radio friendly".
"At the beginning of the [original] track you can hear about 20 seconds of raw footage that make base sounds," Rayess told The Daily Star. "It blew my mind."
Rayess said the lyrics, sang by Marlene Jaber, were "simple" with the intent to unite Lebanese, regardless of sect, under the symbolic cedar tree. "The words reminisce 3000 years of the cedars," he said.
"The track is housy and groovy, I hope people like it."
In addition to the original track, Rayess also made a radio edit and a dub mix. The tracks can be purchased for a dollar each or $3 for all three and all proceeds contribute to cedar conservation. The track is now out for download and will be available on iTunes, Beatport and other online music stores after the official release later this month.
Following the official release, Rayess hopes the song will be played and remixed by other Lebanese DJs.
"These are the sounds from the symbol of a nation and it makes music for people to enjoy it," he said.