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Sunday, May 10, 2009

Yusuf Omar - Maqam Husayni and Maqam Seigah يوسف عمر

Maqam Husayni (or Husseini) and peste "Thibni 'Aleihum"
Yusuf Omar and al-Chalghi al-Baghdadi
Studio recording for Iraqi radio
1972, Baghdad, Iraq.

The poem is by the classical Arab poet Abū al-Ṭayyib Aḥmad ibn Ḥusayn al-Mutanabbī (10th century).

مقام حسيني و بسته "ذبني عليهم" من نغم البيات من اداء يوسف عمر و الجالغي البغدادي (عبد الله علي، شعوبي ابراهيم، حسن النقيب، عبد الرزاق مجيد، كنعان صالح) تسجيل للاذاعه العراقيه في عام ١٩٧٢

شعر ابي الطيب المتنبي

مالنا كلنا جوا يا رسول * أنا اهوى وقلبك المتبول
كلما عاد من بعثت اليها * غار مني وخان فيما يقول
نحن ادرى وقد سألنا بنجد * أقصير طريقنا ام يطول
وكثير من السؤال أشتياق * وكثير من رده تعليل
صحبتني على الفلاة فتاة * عادة اللون عندها التبديل

The maqam Husayni is one of the essential maqamat in free rhythm, as its performance goes beyond the rhythmic "control" of the tabla and daf, except right at the end at the pasta. The Husayni is a complex maqam sung to a classical, written Arabic text. This one here is sung to a poem by Abu-l Tayyib al-Mutannabi (tenth century):

How is it, o' messenger, that both of us are grief-stricken,
I, the passionate lover, and you, the heart-sick?
Whenever he whom I send to her returns,
He gets jealous of me and betrays me in what he says.
We knew well indeed, but we enquired in Najd,
Whether our road was short or long.
And many questions are a kind of yearning,
And many replies are a diversion.
A young girl has accompanied me over the desert,
Under whose influence the colour habitually changes.

We find in the tahrir of this maqam the repetition of Persian words, the choice of which varies slightly from one maqam to another: yar (my friend), faryadaman (my cry), jahanam (my universe), yadiman (my memory). The mayana is unique, even though there are usually (though not necessarily) three mayana in the Husayni. After the final taslim which returns to the essential "mode" (husayni), the musician sings a pasta in alternation with the choir, of which the text is from a popular poem in Baghdad dialect: "Take me to their home oh flowing water!" ("Dhibni 'Aleihum")

Dhibni 'Aleihum, traditional Baghdadi peste (author unknown) in husayni mode and 6/4 sengin sama‘i rhythm.

بسته ذبني عليهم اغنيه قديمه من نغم الحسيني و ايقاع سنگين سماعي ٤/٦

د ذبني ذبني عليهم * بالله يا مجرى الماي
حيران عليمن
صاحي لو سكران عليمن آه عليمن آه عليمن
يا رحنه رحنه من ايديهم * ما تنفع الوسفات
حيران عليمن
صاحي لو سكران عليمن آه عليمن آه عليمن
يا ليلي ليلي ما نامه * يشهد عليه غطاي
زعلان عليمن
صاحي لو سكران عليمن آه عليمن آه عليمن
يا ذبني ذبني غرامه * مكَدر اكَومن عاد
سكران عليمن
صاحي لو سكران عليمن آه عليمن آه عليمن
يا كلما اريدك * تبخل عليه ليش
زعلان عليمن
صاحي لو سكران عليمن آه عليمن آه عليمن
يا محد عاد يفيدك * بس الذي يهواك
زعلان عليمن
صاحي لو سكران عليمن آه عليمن آه عليمن

Take me to their home
Take me to their home
Oh flowing water!
For whom would I be so bewildered?
I am clear headed. For whom would I be elated?

Their hands have left us very distant
Their hands have left us very distant
What is the use of regretting?
For whom would I be so bewildered?
I am clear headed. For whom would I be elated?


At night I sleep not at all
At night I sleep not at all
My present state is proof.
For whom would I be so sad?
I am clear headed. For whom would I be elated?

My love for you has destroyed me,
I cannot get up, I cannot relax,
For whom would I be elated?


All your love or nothing.
But you give me nothing!
For whom would I be so sad?
I am clear headed. For whom would I be elated

Oh, let me tell you
That nobody will be worthy of you
Except the one that loves you,
For whom would I be so sad?
I am clear headed. For whom would I be elated



Maqam Seigah (or Sikah) and peste "Ya Bint 'Ainich 'Alayya"
Yusuf Omar and al-Chalghi al-Baghdadi
Studio recording for Iraqi radio
1972, Baghdad, Iraq.

This primary maqam is part of the Bayat suite and is based on the Huzam mode. It is one of the ancient pieces of classical music. The melody formula is in Sikah (third degree in Persian) and its tonic is on the same degree. Sung with classical Arabic poems accompanied by the 36/4 samah up to the first meyana, then the 12/4 yugrug until the end. It includes the following modulating pieces: Jassas, Pestenagar, Seigah Balaban, Sufyan, Mukhalaf Kirkuk, Sunbula, Tiflis, and Jammal.

مقام السيكَاه العراقي هو مقام اساسي نغمته هزام (حجاز على درجه النوى) و ارتكازه على درجه السيكَاه، يقرأ حرآ بالشعر الفصيح و موسيقاه خاضعه لايقاع السماح من التحرير الى الجلسه و ايقاع اليكَرك ٤/١٢ من الميانه الى التسليم. تدخل فيه قطع الجصاص، البستنكَار، البلبان، السفيان، مخالف كركوك، السنبله، تفليس و الجمال.

الشعر من قصيدة للشيخ عبد الرحيم البرعي

عاهدوا الربع ولوعا وغراما * فوفوا للربع بالدمع ذماما
كلما مروا على أطلاله * سفحوا الدمع بذي السفح انسجاما
كلما ناحت حمامات الحمى* في آراك الشعب ناوحت الحماما
يا نداماي فؤادي عندكم * ما فعلتم بفؤادي يا ندامى
ما عليكم سادتي من حرج * لو تردون ليالينا القداما
إن تناءت دارنا عن داركم * فاذكروا العهد وزورونا مناما

The Maqam Segah is one of the seven essential maqamat from which the other maqamat are derived. It is always sung with a classical poetic text in written Arabic. This is a rhythmic maqam in which two formulae follow each other: the first, called 36/4 samah, accompanies the singing from the beginning to the first meyana; then, with the meyana, the formula changes and becomes 12/4 yugrug.

During the tahrir, the first section of the maqam, the singer introduces and repeats several times in the middle of his vocalisation a few Persian words, strong in their lyrical intensity: aman, dalalay, and finally dad, this last word being a sort of call for help.

The text itself starts several lines repeated in the same mode as the tahrir (segah). Then the music develops an infinite succession of sequences on a poem by ‘Abdul Rahim al-Bura‘i al-Yemeni (beginning of the fifteenth century):

At the camp they took an oath of love and passion,
And they kept their promise, crying profusely.
Each time they crossed their beloved tracks
They spilled torrents of burning tears.
When the pigeons coo, in lonely places
Near the branches of Arak, I reply with my plaint.
Oh companions, my heart is with you
What have you done with my heart, my companions?
My beloved, what pain there would be if
You gave back my nights of yesterday.
If our dwelling moves away from yours,
Remember the oath, come to see us in your dreams.

This maqam has two meyana. This part, which we could call central, not only by its position in the maqam, but also by the importance of its expressive function, requires an additional effort to bring the feeling contained in the music and the poem to its climax. In effect, the musician surpasses himself both in vocal technique and emotional involvement. At the climax, near the end of the second meyana, a few words of spoken Arabic and a few elements from popular songs are added as a support for a more intimate atmosphere. In this way, the whole gamut of the Iraqi emotions is covered and reawakened from the past, evoked by the Persian words of the tahrir, to the simplicity of daily life, evoked at the end by fragments of popular songs.

This maqam ends with a peste of which the text is a popular Baghdad poem in spoken Arabic: "Oh young girl, turn your eyes towards me!" (Ya bintu ‘ainich ‘alayya):

Oh young girl, turn your eyes towards me,
Love is charming.

Young girl who sells cardamom,
How much is it? Oh young girl.
Who taught you to stay up at night?
How charming you are!

Young girl who sells myrtle,
Tell me, how much are your flowers?
Who taught you to drink so?
How charming you are!

Young girl who sells prunes,
How much are your prunes?
Who taught you to wear embroidery?
How charming you are!


- Muqadimma, rhythmic instrumental introduction on a 36/4 samah rhythm.
- Tahrir, unmeasured vocal introduction sung to the words "elilay elilay la, aman aman bidadem". (0:54)
- A verse in seigah representing the tahrir melody followed by an improvised piece on the santur. (1:55)
- Several verses in seigah and mansuri mode interspersed with musical interludes. (3:02)
- Meyana in seigah starting with the words "ya dost, aman aman" accompanied by a 12/4 yugrug rhythm. (7:48)
- Musical interlude followed by a piece called "Sufyan" starting with the command "nazenine men". (8:48)
- Musical interlude.
- "Mthaltha", rhythmic piece sung to the words "hey baba baba" accompanied by the 12/4 yugrug. (0:45)
- A piece called "Mukhalaf Kirkuk" sung to the words "aya ya ya ya ya yay". (1:26)
- A piece called "Sunbula" to the words "rumed rumed rumed" and repeated in mukhalaf mode with the words "wa asih toj'anni 'uyuni". (2:07)
- A piece called "Tiflis" ending with the command "aman allah ya hayy". (2:40)
- A piece called "Jammal" ending with the command "''allaw yuba, yuba helak wain shalaw, wain irhalaw, wain wallaw". (3:13)
- Final taslim to the words "aman aman bidadem". (4:47)
- Peste, traditional Baghdadi song, "Ya Bint, 'Ainich 'Alayya" (author unknown) in seigah mode. (5:18)

بسته "يا بنت عينج عليه" اغنيه قديمه من نغم السيكَاه

يا بنت عينج عليه * والله المحبه جلبيه
يا بنت يا اللي تبيع الهيل * هيلج بكم يا صبيه
شعلمج على سهر الليل * و انتي بنيه جلبيه
يا بنت يا اللي تبيع الياس * ياسج بكم يا صبيه
و شعلمج على شرب الكاس * و انتي بنيه جلبيه
يا بنت ياللي تبيع الورد * وردج بكم يا صبيه
و شعلمج على شم الورد * و انتي بنيه جلبيه
يا بنت ياللي تبيع الخوخ * خوخج بكم يا صبيه
و شعلمج على لبس الجوخ * و انتي بنيه جلبيه
يا بنت عينج عليه * والله المحبه جلبيه


Vocals: Yusuf Omar
Santur: Abdallah Ali al-Kadhimi
Joza: Shaoubi Ibrahim al-A'dhami, Hassan Ali al-Naqib
Tabla: Abdul Razzak Majid
Daff: Kan'an Mohammed Salih, Dia 'Mahmoud Ahmed


Record review

Ethnomusicology, Vol. 20, No. 2 (May, 1976), pp. 400-401

Iraq: makamat. Performed by the Ensemble al Tchalghi al Baghdadi and Yusuf Omar, vocalist. Recording and commentary by Scheherezade Qassim Hassan. One 12" 33 1/3 rpm disc. (1974?). OCORA OCR 79. Notes bound into slipcase, 6 pp. (in French and English).

This record is the second to be released in the West including an Iraqi maqam, the first being "Arabian Music: Maqam" Philips 6586006. It is the second in the Ocora series to represent complete musical forms from the Middle East after the record "Musique Persane," Ocora 57. The music to be heard on this record, "Iraq: Makamat," is mainly vocal and is one of the noblest traditional musical forms of the Arabs. In fact its publication is very welcome and necessary not only in the West but also in the Arab World itself, especially outside Iraq, where the Iraqi maqam is almost unknown to the average listener. The Iraqi maqam is still cultivated by those few Iraqi musicians who have not lost their Arabian musical identity. The old traditional vocal style is still preserved, the old authentic musical instruments are still used, and the soft, sensitive, and discreet timbre of the ensemble is not marred by the addition of any foreign instruments. The Iraqi Government supports and patronizes the musicians of the Iraqi maqam, and in the last two years these musicians have been delegated by their government to perform at European festivals in Paris, Berlin, Madrid, Amsterdam, Salzburg, etc.

The two maqamat represented on this record are Segah and Hussayni sung by Yusuf Omar, one of the best maqam singers in Iraq, and accompanied by Chalghi al-Baghdadi, a traditional ensemble consisting of a santur (struck zither), joze (spike fiddle), tablah (goblet drum) and riq (framed hand-drum with jingles). Immediately after each maqam, the ensemble and a group of male singers are joined by the soloist Yusuf Omar, and together they perform a beste (song). On this record Yusuf Omar and the Chalghi al-Baghdadi not only give an excellent performance of the maqam but succeed in realizing the characteristic mood of each maqam and at the same time in awakening a genuine tarab in the listener.

The reader of the commentary, however, will badly miss photographs of the Chalghi al-Baghdadi and its instruments, as well as notations of the maqam rows of Segah and Hussayni and of the rhythmical formulae "samah" and "yugrug," all of which are discussed in the text. A short analysis of the maqam, mentioning when the first "mayane" starts and indicating when the rhythmic formula changes by giving the timing, would have been of great help to those readers who are listening to this musical genre for the first time.

Technically the recording is perfect, although in mono. A stereophonic recording should not have been impossible, especially as the musicians are all first-class professional artists singing and performing regularly for radio and TV. In spite of the few reservations made above, this record is recommended to all those who wish to listen to good Arabian music. Charles Duvelle, the general editor of the Ocora series, and Scheherezade Qassim Hassan are to be congratulated on the publication of these two beautiful and complete Iraqi maqamat.

Berlin, West Germany
Habib Hassan Touma

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