Friday, January 30, 2009

Iraqi Maqams

taken from a blog's comment section, attached to the new york times: the blogger had described the love of big SUVs and Brno rifles among Iraq's tribal leaders, and told of a popular song called "the Brno" reflecting longing for Iraqi unity.

Thank you for taking my comment on the Brno rifle. It occurred to me to mention that the song in your article is considered as one in the Iraqi “pop music” genre. Iraq has its own classical music known as the “Iraqi Maqams” which go back to the tenth century and is still meticulously performed till today. It started with al-Ma’moon, 10th century Caliph of Baghdad, who had a Persian mother (or wife) who brought in Persian tunes to the Caliph’s court which were sung with choice Arabic poetry. For a thousand years Iraqis have been singing “Maqams” each of which has its original 10th century Persian name viz ” Panjigah Segah, Restt, etc… There is a “House of Iraqi Maqams” in Baghdad where Maqams are taught by masters to young singers.
What made the Maqams last for so long is not only their evocative tunes, but their unforgettable lyrics: Here are two examples:

“Know you why the Cock crows at dawn?
Repeating his plaintive refrain at break of day?
He cries”You fool!”
You’ve slept yet another night of your life away”.

And another extract:

She said :”There are seas between us”
I said: “I’m a powerful swimmer”
She said: ‘I have seven brothers to protect me”
I said: “I’m ever a victorious slayer”
She said: You’ve wearied me with argument. Wont you desist?
I said: “Never”

— ibrahim al-Mumayiz

No comments: