A conservatory-trained oud player, Rahim Alhaj has been a professional musician since the age of 14. On his latest solo album, he explores an Arabic musical form called the maqam, in which a set of pitches is prescribed but not laid out in a specific order or rhythm. Instead, certain rules of exposition and variation are indicated: direction of melodic movement and certain chordal relationships between the pitches. As with jazz, Celtic music, and the South Asian raga, performances are judged by the degree to which the performer is able to create interesting variations within the rules set by the particular maqam. The very helpful liner notes lay out the pattern of each maqam on this disc, and also analyze Alhaj's improvisations and interpretations and those of his accompanying percussionist, Souhail Kaspar. Those who simply want to close their eyes and enjoy the gently rippling melodies and exotic tonal characteristics of Alhaj's playing will find themselves effortlessly transported by this music -- but those who go to the extra effort of following along and paying close attention to the structure of his performances will find themselves fascinated as well. Highly recommended. This CD was nominated for a Grammy award in 2007 for Best Traditional World Music Album.
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When the Soul Is Settled: Music of Iraq based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
I purchased this to not only get a flavor of another culture, but to use the music in my yoga classes. It has not disappointed on either count. My students like the change from the more mainstream music (Krishna Das, Deva Premal, etc.).