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Orient Express

sat 7 apr 2007 07:02 

De Iraki Maqâm (1). A music genre from Iraq, which is becoming extinct.

The word maqâm (translated as mode) in Arabic and Ottoman classical music traditions, usually indicates the tones of a tone scale and how a certain melody should be developed.However, this word has a different meaning in Irak – the Iraki Maqâm is the most important classical singing form of the country. The origin of these traditions are to be found in the Abbasid period from the 8th till the 13th century. They are around 50 semi-improvised pieces, in which different modulations and instrumental pieces are classified. Traditionally, they were played as parts of a suite (named Fasl, Radif in Persian). Each Maqâm has a certain rhythm and structure. The Maqâm starts after a short prelude, which is usually a Tahrir: songs with words like Amaan, Amaan Weelah Yabaa, Yadoos, and so on. In the lowest basic tones of a certain mode. The melody then changes into the Qita (parts in different modes), in which a poem is being sung. Afterwards comes usually a Djalsa: the melody makes a dive into the lower tones, followed by singing in a very high register Mayyanat. Eventually, the singer goes back to the lower regions of the mode to end the singing (Al-Taslim). The Maqâm is usually followed by a simple song called Besta, which is sang together with all the musicians.
The vocalist needs a very flexible and strong voice. Additionally, a lot of knowledge is acquired of many details and of the different variations of modulations. And also a proper repertoire knowledge. This is why the Iraqi Maqâm is seen as a high form of art. The executers are called Qarï, the same word that is being used for those who professionally recite the Holy Quran.
The Arabian classical poems are chosen for most Maqâms. For some Maqâms, there are poems in the Iraqi dialect, Kurdish, Turkish or Persian (foreign languages are hardly used in the second half of the 20th century). The singer is accompanied by the ensemble Tsjalghi Baghdadi, consisting of the santur, a dumbak tabla (drum) and a djoza (Iraqi kamandja) or by a Tècht Sjarki, consisting of the ‘ud, violin, qanun and drum.This tradition has endured some difficulties because of the instable political and social conditions in the country, which still continues. The first blow came when the Iraqi-Jewish musicians left for Israel around 1950. The second blow came with the emigration or passing away of musicians like the brothers Jamil and Munir Bashir. The death of the last master Yusuf Omar (1918-1987) has also been a great loss.Since 2003, the Iraki Maqâm tradition has been on the UNESCO list: Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity, click here for more information.
The Iraki Maqâm in Irak is seen as a typical tradition from Bagdag, but is also performed in simple forms in Mosul and Kerkouk. This tradition has also been influenced by different cultures in Irak and neighbouring countries, and even from India. We will be broadcasting examples of 3 generations of this tradition from Bagdad in two parts of the Orient Express.
The Iraki Maqâm in Irak is seen as a typical tradition from Bagdag, but is also performed in simple forms in Mosul and Kerkouk. This tradition has also been influenced by different cultures in Irak and neighbouring countries, and even from India. We will be broadcasting examples of 3 generations of this tradition from Bagdad in two parts of the Orient Express.  
playlist: 1. 78 rpm record by the Cairo Arabic Music Conference (March1932).49:00 The first official presentation of this tradition outside of Iraq was at the first Arabian music conference in Cairo in 1932, with the master singer Mohammad Al-Qubandji (1901 -1989) and his ensemble with Iraqi top musicians from that time: Yusif Hugi Pataw (Santur), Salih Shumayyil Shmuli (Djoza/viool), ‘Azouri Harun (‘ud), Yusif Meir Za’rour (Qanun), Ibrahim Salih (Riqq drum), Yahuda Shamas (Tabla). – Instrumental improvisations – Maqâm Rast – Maqâm Al-Ibrahimi – Baste – Abuzia (a free vocal form)  
2- 78 rpm recordings of Rasheed Al-Qundardji (1887-1945) who is known for his falsetto voice. His school is known for his falsetto voice. His school is now less known than that of  Al-Qubandji, but he did have a great impact and was very loved. He worked as the expert of Iraki Maqâm for Radio Bagdad between 1936 till 1945. 67:00  
– Maqâm Rast – Maqâm Bayyati -Basta (song)  
3- Yusuf Omar (1918 – 1987) (picture) is seen as the last master (after Al-Qubandji had stopped in the early seventies), with Tsjalghi Baghdadi Ensemble (Shaoubi Ibrahim 1925-1991 (Djoza) and Abdallah Ali (Santur) recordings Bagdad 1972. Unesco CD.  
– Maqâm Bayyati – Maqâm Rast  
4- Maqâm Awdj Nazem Al-Ghazali from the fifties with virtuosos : Jamil Bashir, viool; Munir Bashir ‘ud) en Awj. Instrumental music.

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