ListN Up: Amino Belyamani (August 5, 2022)

ListN Up is a series of artist-curated playlists that offer an intimate sonic portrait of contemporary artists by showcasing the diverse and stylistically varied music that influences their creative practice. 

Hailing from Casablanca, Morocco, Amino Belyamani reflects a rich diversity of influences in his music: from complex African rhythms and Arabic melodies, to western classical music, electro-acoustic music, and jazz. Amino’s recent projects include the critically acclaimed group Dawn of Midi, which opened for Radiohead at Madison Square Garden; Innov Gnawa, a traditional Moroccan trance ensemble, which was nominated for a Grammy in 2018; and the “surprising and compelling” (PopMatters) microtonal band SSAHHA.

Hi, this is Amino Belyamani. I’ve prepared a playlist for you of my favorite artists and pieces that have inspired me over the years that I keep revisiting over and over, and keep discovering new things each time, with each revisit. At first it might seem like it’s all over the place — a lot of different genres, a lot of different cultures — but they all share one thing in common, and that’s really high-level artistry and great taste. I really encourage you to listen to this music on very loud speakers, because I believe that is truly the only way to listen to music… Headphones will do. Enjoy.

“C-sharp minor Prelude and Fugue” by J.S. Bach, performed by Keith Jarrett

Although it seems pretty redundant to praise an undisputed genius like Bach, what better way to start this playlist than with one of my favorite piano pieces performed, in my opinion, by one of the best pianists of all time?

“Yar Allaho” by Dimi Mint Abba

What a voice. What precise pitch control. What a soul. I’ve had the unforgettable and humbling experience of working and performing with the late Dimi. R.I.P. Dimi Mint Abba.

“Machine Gun” by Portishead

I’ve been a huge fan of Portishead ever since my early teenage years. Try not to see the pessimism in their darkness, rather embrace it. Let it lift you up and make you feel alive.

“String Quartet No. 2 in A Major, Movement III” by Shostakovich, performed by Emerson String Quartet

This movement from Shostakovich’s brilliant anthology of string quartets always seems to make me dance. This is what a waltz should sound like.

“Bouyandi” by Gnawa All Stars

Growing up in Morocco, Gnawa music was one of my first obsessions. After over 30 years of exposure, and over 10 years of performing Gnawa music (Innov Gnawa) in the U.S. and abroad, I am still in awe of its power and healing effects.

“Tariq Ibn Ziyad” by SSAHHA

In the late 2000s, I became obsessed with altering the piano tuning system (equal temperament) into one that incorporated quarter tones. This piece was the result of that obsession.

“Negra Presentuosa” by Susana Baca

A few years ago, I was blessed to watch Susana perform live. On one of the songs, she started so sharp that it was literally in another key. Did it sound off? Not at all: a true master will always convey their message with the same intent.

“Cheikh Anta Diop” by Doudou N’Diaye Rose

Imagine having your own 30 children be part of your band, and having them all play complex rhythmic phrases in unison on loud drums. After over 20 years of listening to Doudou’s compositions, I still find myself surprised by his trickery.

“Blackstar” by David Bowie

Transcending genre, song structures, lyrics and aesthetics, David Bowie spoke one language: music. R.I.P. David Bowie.


I CARE IF YOU LISTEN is an editorially-independent program of the American Composers Forum, funded with generous donor and institutional support. Opinions expressed are solely those of the author and may not represent the views of ICIYL or ACF. 

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