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East is east…

September 12, 2016



If you listen to any of Broken Drum Records’ acts, such as Secret Archives of the Vatican or Thousand Yard Prayer, you’ll have noticed that we like to use Middle Eastern scales and modes. One of these scales is known as a maqam in Arabic, a makam in Turkish. Other parts of the Middle East and Central Asia have related musical systems.

This article isn’t the place to go into the traditional rules and applications of these scales – and, quite frankly, we don’t know enough to use them properly. We do, however, love the sound of them.

One of our favourites is maqam Hijaz. If it sounds a little familiar, it’s because it’s what Hollywood uses to approximate oriental music in films set in the eastern world.

Maqam Hijaz is usually played starting on the note D and includes these notes: D Eb F# G A Bb C D.

There are a couple of complications, however. A traditional musician will play the Eb a little sharp and the F# a little flat. Many musicians will also play the Bb as B about a quarter tone flat when ascending the scale but not detuned when descending.

This series of intervals can, of course, be played from notes other than D.

Here are some of our tunes which have used maqam Hijaz.




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Broken Drum Records’ News

September 9, 2016


Hi everyone – here’s some updates from Broken Drum Records

Record labels don’t really exist, at least not since the demise of the old music industry. Broken Drum Records is really just a couple of people (and sometimes a few of their friends) making the music we like. The label is really a brand. It gives you a clue about what to expect musically from the label’s releases.

We’ve had ongoing but significant computer problems in our studio for almost a couple of years now. Well, the PC won’t load up at all some days. It means some projects are a year overdue but we’ve squeezed a small number of releases out. This will hopefully be resolved within a couple of weeks and we’ll be getting back to work as quickly as possible.

Secret Archives of the Vatican have long had a collaborations album in the pipeline. We’ve started on some tunes and have contacted various potential collaborators but it all ground to a halt. That album will be the first priority as we get rolling again. In the meantime, their most recent release, Damascene,  is still available.

One strategic decision we made recently was to separate out the occasional political rant tune from among Secret Archives’ repertoire.  Secret Archives will focus on their core Middle-eEastern, romantic, kung-fu, science fiction orientated output and more political tunes will be released in the name Tyrantbane. The first release, Flame, came out recently.

Thousand Yard Prayer, who are slightly more “acoustic” than Secret Archives of the Vatican and often have a Central Asian or Persian flavour to their tunes, continue to release eclectic and challenging releases. We are particularly happy with their recent album, Golden Section.

We’ve also been developing our admittedly rudimentary video making skills. Check some out here.

We’ve been disappointed at our failure to acquire any reviews or coverage at all lately, despite notifying various outlets about our releases. Even those who promise to write something don’t.

Anyway, we will continue to make music. This is digital resistance to the forces of bland music industry homogeneity and a quiet resistance to the apparently inexorable rise of the political right with its  disdain for culture.


Arabocalypse – Secret Archives of the Vatican Podcast 133

August 19, 2016

It’s been a little while…but here’s a new podcast episode. Two tracks from our own label, Broken Drum Records, and seven more awesome tunes for your delight and delectation. We’ve provided links below so you can buy or download the music for yourself – all of these artists have much more music available.


  1. The Seventeenth Philosopher
    Thousand Yard Prayer
  2. Arabocalypse
  3. Casablanca Art
  4. Sa’alouny-el-Nas – Spy From Cairo Remix
  5. Adventure in Istanbul
    Byzantine Time Machine
  6. Marduk
  7. Dub in Casablanca
  8. Echoes from Marrakech
  9. Conscience


Conan Never Went to Khitai

July 31, 2016

Conan Never Went to Khitai is one of the tracks on Thousand Yard Prayer‘s July 2016 release, Golden Section.

Here’s a  video. It started out as some 15 or 20 second long video clips taken on a DSLR camera of various Conan related books and comics (including issue 1 of Savage Sword of Conan from 1974!).

These were loaded into iSkysoft video editing software and made into a few minute-long clips with almost random transitions between the shorter elements.

These clips were then uploaded to along with the tune and a “style” chosen which did all the messing with colour, chopping to the beat and all the other fancy stuff you see in the video. Once rendered and downloaded, we used iSkysoft again to add all the text overlays.

We hope you like it!

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The Palace of Tears

July 16, 2016

Here’s a video for tune on Thousand Yard Prayer‘s release, Golden Section.

This tune uses a scale (or maqam) called Maqam Yakah.  The notes are: G A B C D E F G. The B is played approximately half a semitone flat and the F is played approximately half a semitone sharp.

The rhythm is Dawr Rawaan Turkii Awwal.  This is in 13/4 time and is divided 3+2+4+4. The track is at 86 or 172 bpm.

The Seventeenth Philosopher – how the video was made

July 15, 2016

Here’s a video for a tune on Thousand Yard Prayer‘s new release, Golden Section.

The film clips were recorded at home on a DLSR and were uploaded to This website/app automatically edits the clips you provide (or there’s a large library of copyright-cleared clips available) in time with your track and applies effects and processing from a wide range of options. You can then download it at various resolutions (for various fees – all quite reasonable). At this time, there isn’t an option to add text or any other transitions between clips, however they have lots of upgrades to the platform planned.

The basic video was then loaded into a programme called iSkysoft, which is a film editing package similar in operating style to Windows Movie Maker or Cyberlink PowerDirector, although we find it easier to carry out some functions. On this occasion, we used it only to add all the text and to output it in our chosen format suitable for upload to YouTube.

Anyway, we hope you like it!


Two new releases for Netlabel Day 2016

July 14, 2016

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Netlabel Day is an annual celebration of netlabels. If you’ve never heard of netlabels, they are labels. On the net. There’s a list of 2016’s participating labels HERE.

They usually release their music under a Creative Commons licence and usually free of charge. Some are dedicated to only one or two artists but some offer many releases.

Netlabel Day sees literally hundreds of releases, from dozens of labels, becoming available on the same day, in every imaginable genre and a few others too. Do yourself a favour, turn off Spotify or the radio and check out some netlabels.

Our label, Broken Drum Records, has two Netlabel Day releases.

Golden Section by Thousand Yard Prayer.

Central Asian and Middle-Eastern rhythms, frame drums, violin, oud, tar, ney, some Croydon electronica and a smattering of frame drum-propelled drum’n’bassy magnificence…

Flame by Tyrantbane.

The militant wing of Broken Drum Records.  Provocative sample-plundering Middle-Eastern inflected hip-hop-ish grooves…

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