English Text [Solo/Adel salameh]

The charm of the 'ud (fretless lute), especially as a solo instrument, has gained increasing recognition in the 20th century. Sherif Muhieddine, a Turkish musician who was active in Istanbul and in Baghdad in the first half of the century, was one of those who played the most important role in renovating its performance style. People called him "the Paganini of the 'ud " to express his virtuosity.

It is indispensable to refer to the art of the taqsim in order to speak of the essence of the 'ud. The taqsim is an improvisation which presents various characteristics of the maqams (modes) of Arab music. It was originally an attempt to produce sound by an instrumentalist before playing a piece. In this attempt, he produced the typical melody types and feelings of the mode of the piece.
Today, the taqsim is an independent form of performance. It is performed without any accompaniment, or often accompanied by another instrument which produces a long duration of the tonic. It is also sometimes done with a rhythmic accompaniment.

Cairo knew its golden age of Arab music in the first half of the century.
For Egyptians, the 'ud has been the normative instrument which represents modes and melodies. The audiences admire mainly the musician's tarab (traditional sense of beauty), his profound understanding of the modes and lucidity of the musical language.
A 'ud taqsim is usually performed before songs or included in a musical suite, and its style is concise. The player acts "as if he sang," according to the Arab tradition in which the instrumental music was originally an imitation of the vocal music.
The sound of the 'ud must be voluminous and constant, with its plectrum assuring as if in a rhymed verse. To show his knowledge of the modes, the musician repeats the smooth and skillful modulations.

In Baghdad, by contrast, a large number of 'ud players who studied under Sherif Muhieddine have appeared and have developed an original style for solo performances since the middle of the century. We today call this tradition "Iraqi Style."
Largely without an accompaniment, the musicians pursue sheer instrumental techniques. As a result their performances tend to be longer; they are faithful to the same mode for a long time and create a massive and meditative sound space. The dynamic range has been widely enlarged, the tuning heightened. Keen attention has been paid to establishing the status of 'ud as a solo recital instrument.

Adel Salameh started from the "Iraqi Style." A Palestinian born in Nablus in 1966, he learned the 'ud largely by himself but also studied in the Music Institute in Baghdad under Professor Mu'taz Mohammed Bayati.
He now lives in Bristol, England(in 1996. Now in France) and devotes his time to performances on the international scene.
In addition to many recitals as a soloist, he has also played and recorded with musicians from other genres, such as Indian or Spanish music. As a result of these cooperative efforts, he has developed a profound sense of value in music, which is positively projected in his art.
It is as though the traditional spirit and a modern spirit which willingly accepts a new sense of value coexist within him. We have adopted primarily Adel Salameh's taqsims in the program of this CD.

Taqsim Bayati (track1) is an improvisation based on maqam Bayati [D-E-F-G-A-B(Bb)-C-D] that has the microtone and is one of the principal modes in Arab music. Adel Salameh creates a rhythmical teslim (refrain) at the end of the improvisation.

Taqsim Ajam (track2) is an improvisation based on maqam Ajam [C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C], of which the tonic is Bb in principle. The mode is comparable to the major scale in Western music. Here too there is an ample refrain with an occidental flavor at the end.

Samai Nahawand (track3) is a well-known composition by a Turkish performer-composer Mas'ud Jamil(1902-1963). Samai is a traditional musical form of Turkish origin with four movements and a teslim. The first three movements use a ten-beat rhythmic pattern. The fourth section is usually written in a duple or triple meter, though Mas'ud Jamil used a seven-beat rhythmic pattern in this piece.
Maqam Nahawand [C-D-Eb-F-G-Ab-B(Bb)-C] is comparable to the minor scale in Western music.

Taqsim Nahawand (track4) is an improvisation based on maqam Nahawand. However, Adel Salameh begins with the maqam Bayati Nawa (Bayati mode in G), a related mode of Nahawand, and returns to the tonic mode eventually.

The suite of Nahawand mode ends in Musica Nahawand (track5), Adel Salameh's latest composition. Musica is a free musical form that uses basically a duple meter, though Adel Salameh adopts an improvised and experimental element especially in rhythm. In the middle part, he develops the mode Ajam which reminds us of the style of Sherif Muhieddine whom Adel Salameh respects.

The last and the longest improvisation is Taqsim Shudaraban (track6) based on the mode Shudaraban [G-Ab-B-C-D-Eb-F#-G]. Maqam Shudaraban is a mode of Turkish origin. Adel Salameh improvises in a solemn and meditative mood. His repetitive approach to the tonic seems to be infinite and invites us to enter an imaginative, "meta-musical" world.

June Chiki Chikuma & Yoshiko Matsuda

Pastorale Records Page Index