The Repertoire of Iraqi Maqam by Rob Simms


The Repertoire of Iraqi Maqam by Rob Simms

The classical music of Iraq, known as Iraqi Maqam, features classical and vernacular poetry sung by a virtuoso soloist and accompanied by a small instrumental ensemble. It is a remarkably cosmopolitan art, sharing many features with neighboring classical traditions, particularly Iranian. Its repertoire consists of orally transmitted, multi-sectioned compositions, performed with some flexibility regarding ornamentation, arrangement and development. Focusing on the period between 1930-1980. This is a reference source that offers the first comprehensive view of the musical contents of the repertoire-scalar structure, melodic materials and overall form-through various tables and musical transcriptions. This reference consolidates information from prominent Iraqi sources and draws upon a selection of recordings by master musicians, including Rashid Qundarchi and Yusuf Omar. An introductory section provides a brief overview of pan-Middle Eastern modal theory along with an outline of the terminology, theory and practices specific to Iraqi Maqam. The main section of the work is a catalog of 40 maqams that constitute the central core of the contemporary repertoire.


...the most complete study in English of the repertoire of Iraqi classical music, with a systematic exposition of scales, transcriptions of performances drawing on a number of Iraqi recorded sources, and descriptions of the structure and history of the scales and maqams, plus an introduction setting them in a wider overview of Middle Eastern modal forms. fRoots

About the Author

Rob Simms subsisted on arts council grants and works as a freelance musician while completing his studies in music at the University of Manitoba, York University, and the University of Toronto. His research interests focus on the performer's perspective and creative processes in West Asian and West African musical traditions. He plays several instruments (including the setar, ney and kora) and is currently Assistant Professor of Music at York University in Toronto.

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Book Info


208 pages


Rob Simms
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Publication date

23rd December 2003



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