Thursday, March 26, 2009 - An audio-visual collection from the Iraqui Jewish music scene

Tuning Baghdad brings together a growing archive of rare video footage, audio clips and historical information on Iraqi Jewish musicians and the music scene that was displaced from Baghdad in the late 1940s and early 1950s. The last generation of Iraqi Jewish musicians who performed in Baghdad, now in their 70s and 80s, represent an era when an unusually large number of the Iraqi-Jews were composing and performing Arabic music. For decades, these musicians were the national teachers and beloved performers of Iraq’s traditional maqams and modern compositions on Iraq’s National Broadcast Station.
Many of these Iraqi musicians and enthusiasts now live in Israel, England or North America where they trade home-made cassettes and organize musical parties at which this international community comes together. The musicians continue to play and produce an Arabic repertoire of Iraqi folk songs, popular Egyptian and Lebanese songs as well as Iraqi-Jewish ceremonial songs at weddings and Bar-Mitzvahs. The video chapters on this website feature intimate performances, conversations in Iraqi-Jewish dialect, and rehearsals with key musicians, fans, historians and ethnomusicologists. They also feature home-movies of ‘Charlghis’ from the 1970s until today. The podcasts and links accompanying each video act as tangents, providing an expanded layer to the performers, the songs, and their lyrics. To accommodate this complex scene, the audio/visual component will be regularly updated with donations of rare cassettes and footage.

Source: Salon Jewish Studies Digest

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