Oriënt Express

sat 14 apr 2007 07:02 
Composer: Munir Bashir

Iraqi Maqâm (2). A music genre from Iraq that 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 Iraq– the Iraqi 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. 
1. 78 rpm recordings of the Cairo Arabic Music conference (March 1932) 
master singer Mohammad Al-Qubandji (1901 -1989) and his ensemble with the best Iraqi musicians of 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 (Qanun and ‘Ud)
– Abuzia (a free vocal form) modus Lami 
– Maqâm Sharqi Doka 
– Maqâm Mukhalef
– Baste (a song) in Mukhalef
– Maqâm Bihirzawy
– Maqâm Madmi
2- Maqâm Madmi Nazem Al-Ghazali from the fifties with virtuosos Jamil Bashir violin, Munir Bashir ‘ud ) 13:31
3- Yusuf Omar (1918 – 1987) (Maqâm Adjam) Recordings Bagdad 1971-1972 Unisco CD.
the last master with Tsjalghi Baghdadi Ensemble (Shaoubi Ibrahim 1925-1991 (Djoza) and Abdallah Ali (Santur). 15:30
4- Maqâm HudjazKar of the current Qarï Hamid Al-Saadi and Bayyat instrumental music .