وان يكن في قهوه غناء * و آله ما عنهم غناءلا تجلسوا بالقرب من مكانهم * لتأمنوا العثره من لسانهمو لا تسلهم اعملوا عشاقا * و لا حجازا و لا عراقا
The Chalghi al-Baghdadi is typically a private concert held at night to mark weddings, circumcisions and other joyous occasions. Alcoholic drinks and appetizers are often served at these marathon parties that can go on all night. The maqam perfomer of choice, accompanied by a traditional chalghi band or ensemble, then proceeds to sing a large number of maqamat (pl. of maqam) drawn from a vast repertory of compositions, often until early dawn. In contemporary usage, the word "chalghi" is used as a term for both the ensemble and the concert itself.
The Chalghi was also held publicly in Baghdadi cafes and teahouses during the nights of Ramadan and other seasons, where the singer sings a series of maqamat in five long suites, following an ancient system of set compositions and modulations, which still allow plenty of room for individual improvisation.
The most renowned Iraqi Maqam performers of the last three centuries started their careers singing in Baghdadi teahouses, usually accompanied by the resident chalghi band (with the crowd often joining in the peste chorus, offering encouragement or requesting a repeat). The last qariʼ to follow this tradition was Rashid al-Qundarchi (1889-1945) at the Qaysariyya cafe on Samawʼal Street.
The traditional five fusul (suites) of the maqam al-‘Iraqi:
1- Bayat: Bayat, Nari, Taher, Mahmudi, Sikah, Mukhalaf, Hileilawi and Bajilan.
2- Husayni: Husayni, Dasht ‘Ajam, Bayat ‘Ajam, Arwah and ‘Ali Zubar.
3- Hijaz: Hijaz Diwan, Quriyat, ‘Araybun, Ibrahimi and Hadidi.
4- Rast: Rast, Sharqi Isfahan, Mansuri, Hijaz Shaytani, Khanabat and Juburi.
5- Nawa: Nawa, Mischin, Saba and Qaryabash.
The five chapters of the Chalghi reach their conclusion with the Qaryabash, however, there are many important Iraqi maqamat that are not performed within the historical suites, such as the Awj, Tiflis, Mathnawi, Madmi, Gulguli, ‘Umar Galah, Qatar, Jahargah, Aydin, Sa‘idi Mubarqa‘, Zanburi, ‘Ajam ‘Ushayran, Mukhalaf Kirkuk, Sharqi Dugah, Jammal, Dasht, Khalwati, Panjigah, Hakimi, Biheirzawi, Urfa, Rashidi, Bashiri, and others.
As to singing the maqam in cafes, it was documented earlier by Sheikh Ahmed al-‘Anayati of Damascus (died 1605) in his poem:
If in a cafe there is singing,
Bother not because there is playing.
Do not sit down near their places,
To be spared from their tongues and faces.
And do not ask them to sing 'Ushaq,
Nor Hijaz, nor 'Iraq.
Sheikh Jalal al-Hanafi
Al-Maqam al-'Iraqi wa A'lam al-Ghina' al-Baghdadi,
"The 'Iraqi Maqam and Notable Baghdadi Singers" (1930s).
2nd ed. Beirut, 2000.