Current Listening

02006-02-23 | Uncategorized | 2 comments

In the past weeks I have been listening to a lot of oud music, inspired by Rahim AlHaj’s show at GIG.

Art of the Oud – Munir Bashir
Second Baghdad – Rahim AlHaj
Iraqi Music in a Time of War – Rahim AlHaj
Astrakan Cafe – Anouar Brahem

From Rahim’s bio:

Rahim studied under the renowned Munir Bashir, considered by many to be the greatest oud player ever, and Salim Abdul Kareem, at the Institute of Music in Baghdad, Iraq.

Munir Bashir’s album Art of the Oud is fantastic, but it also shows what an innovative artist Rahim is. Rahim is bringing a lot of new vocabulary to the oud. When we talked before his performance at Gig I commented on his ability to play chords on the fretless oud and he said “Yes, I play a lot of chords”. That is something you won’t find much on traditional oud recordings. At times Rahim’s playing reminds me of a full circle. Flamenco owes a lot of its character to Zyriab. From Wikipedia:

Zyriab was a gifted pupil of Ishaq al-Mawsili. He had to leave Baghdad when his skills as a musician surpassed those of his teacher. He moved to Córdoba in southern Spain and was accepted as court musician in the court of Abd al-Rahman II of the Umayyad Dynasty (822-52).

Abd al-Rahman II was a great patron of the arts and Zyriab was given a great deal of freedom. He established one of the first schools of music, introduced the oud into Europe, and made changes to the structure of the oud adding more strings. He was supposedly a great virtuoso on the oud and an amazing singer.

Besides his musical achievements he also introduced into Europe other elements of Middle Eastern culture, including etiquette, cooking, fashion, and toothpaste among others.

Paco de Lucia even named his album from 1992 Zyryab.

Well, I hear some Flamenco in Rahim’s playing. Full circle.


  1. Borya

    Sounds very thrilling. Especially Anouar Brahem’s. Albums noted for future buy (this year). But first I will travel to Andalucia (Sunday). :)

  2. Mike

    What interesting music. That’s the wonderful thing about music, it has no boundries.


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