Revisiting Tarab

Tarek Atoui
Revisiting Tarab, 2012
Performance still
Calligraphy Square, Sharjah
Photo by ALfredo Rubio


Acclaimed Lebanese sound Artist transports audiences through a lost world of Arabic culture with a trance-inducing, five-hour performance to launch Serpentine Gallery’s Memory Marathon.

For his Park Night, and opening event for Serpentine Gallery’s three-day Memory Marathon, Tarek Atoui will be performing the Sharjah Art Foundation commission La Suite, a five-hour work inspired by classical Arab music, presented by the Serpentine Gallery.

In this work, Atoui explores Tarab both as a traditional form of music and an Arabic word to describe the emotional effect music has on the listener. Atoui’s approach to engaging with Tarab involves inviting sound artists with different musical practices, styles and backgrounds to create a dialogue with the collection of Kamal Kassar’s AMAR Foundation, which houses the largest library of Tarab and classical Arab music in the world.

From diverse genres such as pop, hip hop, electronica, improvisation and noise art, Atoui looks for artists distinguished by their unique performance styles and experimentation with sound techniques, and asks them to utilise Kassar’s library as a body of sound material from which to imagine and design live acts and performances.

The Musicians participating in La Suite include, Uriel Barthelemi, John Butcher, Mira Calix, Susie Ibarra, Hassan Khan, Kazuyuki Kishino, Lukas Ligeti, Robert Lowe, Ikue Mori, Sara Parkins, Zeena Parkins, Ghassan Sahhab and Osama Shalabi.

Atoui has long been captivated by the improvisation inherent in this deeply evocative music, which binds the audience to the performer. Tarab sessions are known to last for hours, facilitating a musically-induced state of ecstasy. As Atoui explains, ''Tarab is not a music genre but a state of ‘melotrance’ that you reach after being exposed to music for a certain amount of time''.

This performance is made possible with the generous support of Badr Jafar.

Tickets £10/8 available from the Serpentine Gallery Lobby Desk (020 7402 6075), or


La Suite

Atoui, Tarek

Atoui is an electro-acoustic musician who initiates and curates multidisciplinary interventions, events, concerts and workshops in the Middle East, Europe and the Americas.

La Suite

Ibarra, Susie

Composer, improviser and percussionist Susie Ibarra combines traditional and avant-garde techniques to create music that draws upon jazz, classical, electronic and world music.

La Suite

Ligeti, Lukas

Ranging from the thoroughly composed to the freely improvised, the music of Lukas Ligeti draws upon downtown New York experimentalism, contemporary classical music, jazz, electronica and traditional world music.