Tuesday, March 22, 2011

I Love Old Traditional Iraqi Songs.

Nathem Al Ghazali, an Iraqi singer, singing Fog il Nakhal Fog
(Over the Palm Trees)

As far as I can remember, I used to listen to beautiful traditional Iraqi music during the time I was growing up at home which meant so much to my father as he loved to listen to and enjoy it! I remember him and my mother taking my brother and I to live concerts by Iraqi singers in Jordan while Iraq was at war with Iran. Every song had such lovely meaning to it and it mostly talked about love; songs about the love of a woman were sung by men and visa versa. 

I loved going with my parents to such concerts. They were actually a change for us from the classical concerts and quartets that they used to take us to. I remember once, they took us to a harp solo concert and we nearly died of laughter when my mother was stuck in the auditorium for an encore when we had all slipped away. Don't get me wrong... it was absolutely beautiful but by the end of two hours every single piece of music the musician played sounded the same to us... and therefore we found it a bit boring by the end of it.

As for traditional Iraqi music, each song had a different and special ring to it. I never came across one that I did not love to sing. We all loved how the music played pictures in our minds and tickled our skins. It just brought such loving feelings and now every time we hear it not one single person stays at the dinner table; everyone claps, cheers and dances. It just brings about so much love and connects people together. The above song is known throughout the Middle East and is sung by the millions. They cover such a wide imaginative description of a loved one and all the strife that comes with love. One of my favorite traditional Iraqi songs talks about how the pomegranate blamed a heartbroken man while a lime defended him... such beautiful descriptions.

There are so many famous singers, be it Iraqi or Arab, who take on some old Iraqi songs and modernize them. One of these people is none other than my dad's relative, Ilham Al Madfai. He brought about the weaving of Western Guitar styling and the Eastern Iraqi traditional songs. He is revered by the people in his native country of Iraq and throughout the Middle East.

The above song first began when a young man, who lived in a traditional two-storied compound with an open courtyard in the middle, fell in love with one inhabitant. These traditional houses comprised of several rooms. It was the norm to have such compounds but they were usually inhabited by a nuclear family, one per room, and therefore, it was very difficult for a single unattached young man to live amongst them. However, this special young man was very polite, respectful, honorable and came from a good family and therefore was allowed to live in the compound.

He used to leave to work early in the morning and come back late at night. One day, he came late and spotted a gorgeous woman standing by her door on the second floor. He began to sing in an enchanting voice about the beautiful face up on the second floor, how her cheek glowed to the light of the lamp she was holding up to her face and how he had no idea that the moon lived there.... The next day he was hoping that he would see her again and he did... he continued singing the song for days and the people living in the compound later began singing with him. These love birds ended up getting married. The first verse of the song slowly changed, due to different accents, from talking about a girl who lived on the top floor to talking about the girl who lived up above all the palm trees. Well this is how the story goes... it is simply beautiful.

If you click on the links below you could hear Adel Mukhtar singing one song with a long traditional introduction and then Ilham Al Madfai doing his weaving and singing a traditional songs in his own delightful style.  I hope you enjoy it!


Birdie said...

What a great post. I have never been anywhere near Iraq and know very little about your country. Thank you for sharing such a beautiful part of your culture and past.

Tabouleh said...

Oh Birdie... thank you... I am glad that I got to share something like this with you... I will be writing similar posts about where my family and I come from...

Tabouleh said...

This comment is from my Dad to me:

I read your article in your blog, I was happily touched...thank you .you still have a touch of IRAQ.I hope one day all of us would be proud of them again.Incidentally, I am very proud of what and how you write in your blog...you certainly have a style of a book writer ...

tabouleh said...

Lana I just saw this post...simply beautiful!