Journey to the Heart of the Iraqi Maqam
Hamid Al-Saadi, Artist Protection Fellow
featuring Amir El Saffar, Dena El Saffar, Tim Moore
presented with support from the South Asian Studies Council at Yale and the Yale Council on Middle East Studies.
The Iraqi Maqam
Inscribed in 2003 on UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, the Iraqi Maqam represents one of Iraq’s richest cultural offerings. The maqam’s sophisticated melodies, infectious rhythms, and eloquent poetry are a direct reflection of Iraq’s history, geography, culture, and folklore; in them can be found the essence of all that is Iraq.
Through his powerful and highly ornamented voice and in his comprehensive knowledge of the intricate details of the music and poetry of Iraq, generations and layers of the maqam tradition resonate through Hamid al-Saadi, the only person in his generation to have memorized and mastered all 56 maqamat from the Baghdad repertoire. He is one of the few vocalists keeping the maqam alive today, when so many elements of this profound tradition are in danger of extinction.