Dave Soldier

The Spinozas

Ancient roots of the popular song

THE SPINOZAS take lyrics from medieval Arabic, Persian, Hebrew, and Romance poetry and combine it with music by Dave Solider influenced by the Mid East, Flamenco, and "acoustica".



Lyrics in Farsi by Jalal Ad-Din Rumi in Farsi

No me mordas
Lyrics in Arabic, Hebrew, and Early Spanish as spoken in medieval Andalusia


Neli Tirado, Richard Khuzami, and Dave Soldier of the Spinozas


"Grab-bag pop music of the medieval variety. Well, the Andalusian tradition from which Soldier's new group draws actually predates the Christain conquest, so the reliably weird composer's outfit will collapse upwards of 500 years and more than a couple major culture clashes into a flurry of clappers, flamenco guitar, Middle Eastern percussion and multilingual wailing."
- Provan, Village Voice, Jan 4-10, 2006.

"Over the years, Dave Soldier has poked into all sorts of adventurous corners, frrom ferocious contemporary classical fare with the Soldier String Quartet to blues rock with the Kropotkins. Tonight, he picks up a flamenco guitar to explore Andalusian folk-song traditions."
-Time Out, February 2-8,2 2006

Artists Include:

DAVE SOLDIER: Composer and Flamenco Guitar: credits include the Soldier String Quartet, Thai Elephant Orchestra, John Cale, Kurt Vonnegut, Kropotkins, etc.

ANA NIMOUZi: Israeli vocalist of Moroccan and Iranian parents. She did most of the translations of the lyrics (see below).

RACHID HALIHAL: Oud and violin: Fine Moroccan Instrumentalist who recently toured with Rachid Taha

MAURICE CHEDID: Oud and voice: New York's top oud virtuoso and one of it's best singers of the Mideastern repertoire.

RICHARD KHUZAMI: Lebanese American Middle Eastern percussionist: Composer, producer and performer of music combining both Eastern and Western elements. Richard's website

NELIDA TIRADO, LILLIANA MORALES, MAYA DaSILVA: Palmas (handclaps) and Andalusian rhythms from NYC's two top flamencas

PAUL FRAZIER: Bass: Longtime and current bass with David Byrne and many others

REBECCA CHERRY : Violin, from London and Berlin Philharmonics

SATOSHI TAKESHI: Unique mixture of Latino and Mideastern percussion, conguero with Ray Barretto

ALBY ROBLEJO : Cajon (box) and assorted percussion: Unique combination of latin and middle eastern beats

TIYE' GIRAUD: Dumbek, from Urban Bushwomen, Soldier String Quartet, and her own groups


The Spinozas explore the very beginning of the European pop and art song traditions. This occurred medieval Andalusia (c 800-1300) , when the country was run by North African and later Arabic Muslims, and during much of which Muslims, Jews, and Christians lived under the Cordoba Caliphate and developed many new art forms. This was the birth of song form with verses and choruses - the Arabic names for these lyrics was muwashshaha and zajal - which were different than the rhymed couplets in previous lyrics from all three traditions. These poems, hundreds of which survive, were always sung, and imitated by the singers up north in Provence. That became Provencal poetry, while the Andalusian oud (imported via Baghad from Iran) became the lute and guitar - the poetry directly began the troubador and mesitersinger traditions.

This "Golden Age of Hebrew Poetry" AND "Golden Age of Arabic Poetry" initiated virtually the entire Western song repertoire, meaning Schubert, the Beatles, Hank Williams, opera, and most of the other art and pop music of our world.

In addition to the most popular present day song forms, the guitar and lute, the European horse riding tradition (another story), European sheep herding and the wool industry (also another story), the Kabala and contemporary Jewish theology (OK, another story), the acknowleged start of the European poetry tradition, the novel (re: Don Quixote), knighthood, the European rediscovery of the ancient Greek scientific tradition, the importation of algebra and the concept of zero to Europe... this period in Andalusia was the start of the western orchestra, a term that came from the sitara, the cloth separating the audience and dancers from the musicians behind. The Andalusian dance crazes that spread throughout the new and old world, such as sarabandes, bourees, to become the rennaisance baroque dance suite and eventually the sonata and symphony, and many of the dances still used in salsa and ballroom dancing.

We rediscovered the old poetry in Arabic, Hebrew, Farsi, and ancient Spanish or Romance, some of them in Soldier's visit to Andalusian bookstores and libraries. We combine it with Soldier's music which freely adapts flamenco, middle eastern music, along with salsa, and electronica (although the instruments are acoustic and it can all be performed outdoors - we're calling it acoustica). Florid and emotional, and dance music, also part of the old tradtion.

Concert history

June 16, 2007
Taller Latinoamericano, NYC
with Dave, Ana, Rebecca, Paul, Satoshi Takeshi, Neli, Richard

June 12, 2006
Pete's Candy Store, Williamsburg, Brooklyn
with Dave, Ana, Paul, Alby, Lilliana, and Rebecca

March 24 2006 , Friday @ TONIC (10 bucks) , midnight
Norfolk Street between Delancey and Rivington, Lower East Side, NYC
With Dave, Ana, Maurice, Paul, Maya, Lilliana , Satoshi, Tom, Richard and Tiye'.

Feb 8, 2006 ,Wednesday @ THE STONE , 8 pm
located at the corner of avenue C and 2nd street
The"concert" side of this music, and for the first time we perform two classical versions of this medieval lyric poetry (known as muwashahat), "Ya Zah'eri fil Duha" and "Lamma Bada Yatathanna" associated with the great Lebanese singer, Fairouz, as interpreted by the great Lebanese oudist, Maurice Chedid.
With Dave, Ana, Alby, Maurice, Paul, Rebecca, Tom, and Tiye'.

Thursday, January 5 2006 10 pm: The SPINOZAS @ TONIC (10 bucks)
Tonic is located at 107 Norfolk Street between Delancey and Rivington Streets in Manhattan's Lower East Side.
with Dave, Ana, Richard, Alby, Lilliana, Natalia, Paul, Maurice
and Chris Washburne on trombone and Tiye' Giraud on dumbek sitting in

December 9, 2005 Cooper Union
"The Spinoza's will open ...
Dave Soldier on Guitar, Ana; Vocals, Richard Khuzami; Percussion and Lilliana Morales; Palmas.
The Cooper Union, Humanities Gallery 51 Astor Place b/w Third and Fourth Aves.

Sat, Nov 26 2005 @ Tonic 107 Norfolk Street
Midnight $5
with Dave, Ana, Richard, Mal Stein on drums, Lilliana, Natalia, Paul, Rachid, Rebecca

Sunday, Aug.7 2005 Cornelia Street Cafe 29 Cornelia Street, NYC
Roald Hoffmann, host
FROM SAMARKAND TO CORDOBA There was a time when science, music, and art in Islamic lands represented high culture to Europe. These cultural strands continue to influence the world today. Elaheh Kheirandish of Harvard University will tell us about mathematics and science in the medieval Islamic world. Dave Soldier, a leading improvisational musician and composer on the New York scene, will play with his new group, The Spinozas (including Ana Nimouz, Richard Khuzami, and Nelida Tirado), who mix contemporary gypsy/flamenco style with Middle Eastern traditions and the lyrics of Al Andalus. Islamic art historian Carol Bier will bring two contemporary carpets from Turkey, woven using traditional methods with natural dyes. Comparing patterns and the uses of color, she will explore symmetry and symmetry-breaking in what we call Oriental carpets.

Thursday, April 14, 2005 at the Stone 10 pm
with Dave, Ana, Richard, Neli

And prior to the concerts above, a few public rehearsals at Gorgio Gomelski's, an ASCAP production at the Cutting Room, and two shows at an ethnic festival in Queens

Lyrics from the Spinozas

With the exception of The Stars of Country Music Greet the Spring, all lyrics are from medieval Andalusia, found in old Diwan collections in libraries in Spain and New York


by Samuel ha Nagid

Krav Dome Berosho Leyefeyfiya
Asher Kol Eesh Lesachek Ba Ye-ave
Vesofo Kazkena Hameusa
Asher Kol Shochara Yivke Veyidve


translated from Hebrew by Ana

At the start, a battle is like a very beautiful woman
That every man will desire to play with…
And when the battle is over… it is like a
repulsive old woman
And all of her advocates will mourn cry and ache.

Rendered in modern Hebrew:
Beethila Krav Dome Le-eesha Yafa
Shkol Ehad Haya Rotze Ba Ve-eeta Lesahek
Vekol Mee Shetamach Ba Mitabel Veboche.

Water and Fire

by Al-A Ma At Tutili

Beesa Laomri Marada El-adul
Umrun Kasiron Wa-eenaun Tawil
Yazafaratin Natakat Alil
Waya Dumuan Kad Aanat Masil

Dam-un Maspuch Wadulu-un Chirar
Maun Wanar
Ma-ajtama Ela Amrin Kubar

Yakaban Hajat Eliya Elkulub
Bayna Hawan Dayin Washawkin Mujib
Hanna Awahin Alayha Munib

Labayka Lialwee Likawlee Elrakib
Maw El-habib Anfarmo thi-amar
Kanna Dashtar
Nunfis Amibi Kasadi Nul Yigar

Water and Fire

translated from Arabic by Ana

According to my life, it's sad to hear their (censorious) words
that life is short & labor of love is long…
(I sing) to the groans that betray the one who loves…
and to the tears that flow like a stream.

Flowing tears and a burning chest
water and fire
if you can't get together, leave the moment you can…

All hearts are wandering to Kaba.
I am torn by the passion who calls to everyone who believes in love.
you called the sinner to come back to you.

Here I am! Pay attention to me!! Not to the spy's words…
my lover, he is tired of loving me
and why wouldn’t he?
cant you see our love is forbidden?

Beautiful Boy


Beautiful Boy
Ehi Kofer Tzvi Hefer Briti
Veahavato Betoch Libi Shmura
Asher Amar Lasahar Bealoto
"Hatireh Et Meor Panay Vatera"
Umareh Halevana Baafela
Kevareket Bechaf Alma Shchora

Ehee Kofer Laofer Kam Balayil
Lekol Kinor Veugavim Meytivim
Asher Ra-ah Beyadi Kos Veamar
“Shte meebeyn Sfatay Dam Anavim”
Veyareach Kmo Yod Nichteva Al
Ksut Sachar Bemeymey Hazehavim

Beautiful Boy
translated from Hebrew by Ana
I will be a ransom to the deer (even though) he betrayed me,
his love , in my heart is guarded.
he said to the rising moon:
"When youll see my radiant face- will you be afraid?"
and the sight of the moon in the darkness
was like an emerald stone in the palm of a black girl

I will be a ransom to the fawn (lover), (who is) rising at night
to the sound of violins and melodious harps.
he saw a cup in my hand and said
“will you drink from between my lips grape's blood”?
and the moon is like ink that was written on
robes of dawn on the golden water

alternate translation of last 2 lines: And the moon was like a yod (the letter C)
written in golden ink on the robes of night.


by Ibn Sahl

Haldara thabyu elhema, An Kad Hama
Kalba Sabin Chalahu, An Maknisi
Fahawa Fee Haren, Wachafkin Mitlama
Laebath Reeyachu, Alsabaa Bilkabsi

Ma Likalbi Filhawa, Thambin Seewa
Minkum Elchusnu, Wamin Awnee Elnathar.


translated from Arabic by Ana

Does the little fawn from Al-Hema  knows that
he kindled his lover heart (when he lived with him)?
so that is why it's (his love) burning & pounding
like the flame was teased by the west wind…

is my heart a sinner because I am in love?
all the beauty comes from you, and the sparkle is coming from my eyes.



B-abi Ee-lku
Bil-nafsi Aliku   
Hawaytu Hilalan Fil-husni Farida
A-aara El-razala Al-hadan waggida
Zanahu Rashku
Wa-ilkadu Rashiku
Badrun Yatharalab Bilsachri Almubini.

Etharun Muakrab Ala Yasmini
Falahu Mashku
Wa-ilkalbu Mashuku
Wataha Gamalan Lam Yanbor Mazida
Badrun Yatallala Fi-chusni Aatidali.

My Father

translated from Farsi by Ana

I would pay a ransom for my father
Even with the most precious property my soul holds on to
I loved a new moon so special and unique in its beauty
He loaned his sparkle and thin neck from the deer
blessing adorn him
his figure was graceful
a full moon that is captivating with his recognized charm.

His cheeks directed towards the ground, curving on the jasmine
his figure is tall and attractive
from now on my heart is enslaved to passion
He asks (the moon) not to grow old
a full moon that appears with is fullness glory, proud of his beauty.



Ke adame filiolo alieno del amibe,
keredlo de mi betare su a raqibe!

Lo eshkach yemey cheldee
Leyl shachvo eley tzeedee
Al arsee u-marvadee
Ad boker neshakanee
ve-asses peev heneekanee


translated from Romance (early Spanish) by James DenBoer

I loved a sweet boy from another clan, and he loved me
but his chaperone (spy) wants to keep us apart!

Rendered in modern Spanish:
Amé a un hijito ajeno y él a mi
lo quiere apartar de mi su espía!


Jalal Ad-Din Rumi

Mora safari fitad bi-moa 
Onje delema goshad bi-moa
Onma-ch-ke zema nehan hami shud.

Ru-ch-ber ru-che-ma nehad bi-moa.   
Chun-dar rameduuz Jan bedawdim  
Mora kame-ouh bizad bi-moa.

Mow-eem hami shemas bi-moa
Mow-eem hami she-shad bi-moa.

Mora makonid yad hargezz
Ma-chod hastym yad bi-moa.

Bi-moa shode eem shad gu-yim  
Eyma kehami-shehbad bi-moa.

darha hame baste bud barma
Bokshud churah-tab bi-moa.

Mow-eem zenidu bad rehide
Az-ta-aatu az fassad bi-moa.

Devoid of self

Translated from Farsi by Ana

Devoid of self I traveled to a place
There, in the absence of I, joy filled my heart.

Without I, his obscured face, like the moon
  Came forth and kissed my cheek.

In longing for my love I perished
And from that longing, birth was given to me.

I am eternally drunk, without wine.
My joy is endless, without I.

Do not remember me, ever.
For I am memory itself, without I.

I am ecstatic without myself, so I say
O me, may you always be without I.

All the doors were shut to me, and
All opened when he let me in, without I.

Me, I am the one, free of good and evil,
Free from obedience and corruption, without I.

The stars of country music greet the spring  

Sevillianas     Dave Soldier

Her eyes glow with trouble like the end of a cigarette
like the end of a cigarillio, her eyes glow in trouble
burning in trouble like the tip of a cigarillio in the back in the dark
in a honkytonk whiskey with rank cigarillios
a whipoorwill’s crying in a Hank Williams number that she can’t forget

tears for the clear falling true harmony
til the dead looking trees dress in leaves
and the stars of country music greet the spring

Shake the rain from your hat and walk inside a silhouette
deep back in the shadows, shake rain from your hat
then fade into black in the back of a barroom in Montaña in the rain
Always Late in the barroom a jukebox is sighing a Lefty Frizzell song
with a steel guitar whine I’ll never forget

tears for the clear falling true harmony
til the dead looking trees put on leaves
and the stars of country music greet the spring

So long Triana ya tarde Montaña
clouds in that country get lost in the canyons
they pass the horizon to dissolve in Montaña so dry and far away
letters from daughters from old mother countries
say Patsy Cline’s sighing for an old love who faded she couldn’t forget

tears for the clear falling true harmony
til the dead looking trees put on leaves
and the stars of country music greet the spring

Land of Spain

by the wife of Dunah ben Labrat“Ha-Yeezkor Ye-alat Ha-chen Yedeedah”

Ha-Yeezkor Ye-alat Ha-chen Yedeedah
Be-yom Peirud Wu-vizroaah Yechidah
Ve-sam Chotam Yemino Aal Smolah
Wu-vizroo Halo Samah Tzmidah
Beyom Lak-chah Lezeekaron Redido
Ve-hu Lakach Lezeekaron Redidah
Ha-yeeshaer Be-khol Eretz Sfarad
Velu Lakach Chatzee Malchut  Negeedah?

Will her love remember his graceful doe,
her only son in his arms as he parted?
On her left hand he placed a ring from his right,
on his wrist she placed her bracelet.
As a keepsake she took his mantle from him,
and he in turn took hers from her.
Would he settle, now, in the land of Spain,
if its prince gave him half his kingdom?

for bookings, contact Dave Soldier at ds43@columbia.edu