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World On Your Street: The Global Music Challenge
Ahmed Mukhtar
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Musician: Ahmed Mukhtar

Location: London

Instruments: Oud / percussion

Music: Iraqi

Listen  Listen (5'21) to Ahmed Mukhtar play 'The Dance of the Bedouin' from 'Rhythms of Baghdad', ARC Music EUCD 1781

Listen to Ahmed Mukhtar in the World on Your Street tent at WOMAD 2003

'Muwashshah is a very old style of singing which dates from the golden age of Arabic and Oriental music'

How I came to this music:

Iraq has a very rich musical culture and as a child there I always used to listen to famous oud players and singers on TV and radio. I felt that the sound of the oud was very close to me and I was inspired by the great masters such as Munir Bashir to do something similar. I started to learn oud in 1979 and later attended the School of Fine Arts and Music in Baghdad, where I started with a very great oud teacher (Ganam Hadad). He encouraged me to become a soloist and recommended different teachers to me. This was in the early '80s.

Eventually I appeared on a TV programme showcasing the younger generation of players and singers and as a result, people invited me to play some festivals and concerts for various institutes. I had started to work as a soloist but I didn't compose anything at that time.

Ahmed MukhtarAfter that I began to play with The Arabic Orchestra of Music and Muwashshah. Muwashshah is a very old style of singing which dates from the 'golden age of Arabic and Oriental music' and we still consider it as the basic thing you have to start with to be a singer or player. I started to play with them as a soloist and to accompany singers.

After I finished my studies I worked in TV as a freelancer playing and doing some research and eventually I left Iraq in 1990, arriving in Britain after a very long journey. At present I play as a soloist and sometimes I do experimental trials with other instruments. I play the traditional style of doing improvisations (taqsim) on Arabic scales (maqams). Some of the pieces I play were composed by the greatest oud players of Iraq, Egypt and Morocco, and some are my own.

Where I play:

I play fairly regularly in London, Europe and parts of the Middle East, usually when I'm invited by organisations interested Arabic, Oriental and Iraqi music. I also play at various music festivals, sometimes those entirely devoted to Arabic music or at others in multi-cultural festivals. I've played festivals in Germany and France, and this summer I have a series of private concerts in Scandinavia. I haven't played in North America yet. I was invited once to play in Canada but it was too difficult for me to go.

A favourite song:

The Dance of the Bedouin is taken from my last CD Rhythms of Baghdad which consists entirely of my own compositions. On this CD, I'm accompanied by my percussionist Sattar Al Saadi . I chose this one because it really shows the style of the original Arabic/Oriental music, which actually comes from the Bedouin style of singing, chanting and dancing, as well as their poetry.
Click here for Hande Domac's storyClick here for Mosi Conde's storyClick here for Rachel McLeod's story

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