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Talented composer Zaina Arekat, who suffers from a rare type of muscular dystrophy and lost her vision as a teenager, aims to put a spell on gamers around the world with her medieval melody Mind Journey that will be featured on AudioWizards, an audio game developed for the blind and visually impaired.
The 10-level battle game, that boasts basic visuals and 3D audio, was created by Finnish start-up company MyTrueSound, in which the player is an apprentice in a world of might and magic.
The sound effects were produced by English audio designer Justin Macleod and the music was composed by Finnish musician Mikko Herranen. However, the team wanted to add a twist to its soundtrack by creating a competition that gives blind and visually impaired musicians a chance to showcase their music in the game.
Zaina, a Bahraini who has Palestinian roots, came across the competition online and set out to impress Mikko and his sound squad in the hopes of making her gaming dreams a reality.
Her submission, Mind Journey, a song from her 10-track instrumental album which she launched last year, won over the start-up team out of 40 other song entries from around the world. Her upbeat, medieval music landed her a spot on the soundtrack alongside seven other composers.
“It feels great having my song in an audio game,” said the 29-year-old who lives in Barbar with her mum Majdoleen, an art entrepreneur and business management university senior lecturer, businessman dad, Ziyad, and her sister Sumaya, 22, a hobby illustrator. “I’ve always wanted to have my music featured in games and on TV. This is extremely exciting!”
The game, AudioWizards, will be released on Sunday for iOS and Android with screen reader support and intuitive navigation. It is set in the world of Sondveiw, inhabited by AudioWizards organisation.
The organisation was formed to defend Sondveiw from Distortions, nasty creatures that thrive on noise, adamant on consuming the world in it. According to its developers, the game is easy to learn but hard to master. It is fast-paced, intense and challenging and players need to rely on sounds to keep up.
Zaina is looking forward to hearing and playing the game from her bedroom where she has been bedridden, wheelchair bound and dependent on ventilators to breathe since she was a teenager due to her condition.
She was diagnosed with Nemaline Myopathy, a congenital, hereditary neuromuscular disorder with many symptoms such as hypoventilation, swallowing dysfunction and impaired speech ability. It is caused by a variety of genetic defects, each one affecting one of the filament proteins required for muscle tone and contraction.
The disorder causes weakness throughout the body but it is typically most severe in the muscles of the face, neck, trunk and other muscles close to the centre of the body.
She was able to walk, run and play happily as a child. However, over time, her health deteriorated leaving her to write songs and compose music from the sanctuary of her room.
Her sister Sumaya also has the same condition but can still get around using a wheelchair.
Nonetheless, her disorder never stopped her from making music which she describes as progressive. She is a great fan of legendary guitarist Richie Blackmore of Deep Purple, Rainbow and Blackmore’s Night and has a fondness for several genres including instrumental, Arabic and English pop and classic rock.
Since her story was shared with GulfWeekly last year, after she released her instrumental album, Zaina has launched two music videos on her YouTube channel for The Nautilus and Mind Journey songs, both filmed and directed by Bahraini talents.
Her music was also featured and sold during the Spring of Culture in 2018 and 2019 at the Bahrain Bay events.
She has collaborated with singers as well such as Mariam Tartusy. Zaina said: “I collaborated on a Norwegian song cover with Mariam from Norway. I recorded the guitars and the keyboards while she sang beautifully. Mariam and I met on a Facebook group for visually impaired and blind people. We got to know each other a couple of years ago and now we’re great friends.”
As of late, Zaina has released a new song cover called Running Up That Hill, originally performed by British artist Kate Bush, on her YouTube channel https://youtu.be/-OJHtOOoAcE
Her sister Hiba, 26, an architect and mom of twin boys, filmed and edited the video which has garnered more than 200 views since its release on August 16.
Zaina chose the song because of its powerful meaning. She explained: “This song is about how people fail to understand one another and how if two people could swap roles and experiences, it could lead to greater understanding between them. I loved the meaning behind the song. I was inspired by Within Temptation’s cover of this song.
“The original version by Kate Bush is pop but the cover by Within Temptation is metal. And the style of my cover is completely different from both. It is an instrumental guitar piece where I used four different guitar sounds, recorded them, and mixed them. You can hear one acoustic guitar and three electric guitars. I am not sure how to describe it, but I would say it sounds a bit like indie rock, but without drums.”
It took her two weeks to complete. She is currently composing and recording a couple of new original tracks and hopes to reveal them in the near future. Until then, she welcomes collaborations from artists from around the region.
Those interested in watching her video with Mariam can visit, https://youtu.be/Xkb4CuYJtLI
Find out more about Zaina by following @zainaarekat on Instagram.