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Middle Eastern music of the 13th to 15th centuries serves as a springboard for the improvisations of San Francisco-based Stellamara. The vision of vocalist, percussionist, hammered dulcimer player, recording engineer, and producer Sonia Drakulich and dulcimer player Jeffery Stott, the group was called, "the missing link between goth and new age" by alt-rock magazine Oculus. While Rhythm described the group as "a dreamy, ethereal mix, tackling authentic and undeservedly unexposed Galician, Parisian, Judeo-Spanish, and Croatian songs," Pulse focused on Drakulich's vocals, writing, "within her voice, often layered in chorus, she synthesizes Bulgarian, Middle Eastern, and Gregorian chant styles, entwining them around a percussion bed of frame drums, darbukas, and dumbeks." Taking their name from the Latin word stella, meaning "star," and the Galician word mara, meaning "sea," Stellamara were formed by Drakulich and Stott in 1994. Drakulich, who formally studied classical Indian, Persian, Turkish, and Balkan singing, previously performed with a series of Bulgarian and Turkish bands. A master of linguistics, Drakulich sings in a variety of languages from the Middle Ages. Stellamara's sound was expanded with the addition of multi-instrumentalist Gari Hegedus and percussionist Susu Pampanin. Hegedus, who plays oud, violin, viola, saz, sarod, sitar, yayli tambur, and mandocello, previously studied early European, Celtic, and Bretagne music. Pampanin is the daughter of a dancer.