Iraqi Jewish music, culture endures
They still play
A second-generation Iraqi Jewess who grew up listening to her family’s all-night Iraqi-Jewish Arabic music parties has put together an incredible online audio-visual collection of music and stories.
Regine Basha calls the tales of Iraqi Jewish musicians and their creative scene “Tuning Baghdad,” which is now a great radio show, too.
The latest episode premiers on 29 February.
RIGHT: Ever heard of instruments like a hammered dulcimer or an oud?
Regine Basha has collected, and curates, the rare footage and original recordings that were made by Jews in the height of their being part of that cities society.
This music is amazing, not only in a lyrical sense – bringing together instruments and poetry sung in Arabic or Iraqi dialect.
It’s also a kind of anthem to a people that was sadly displaced by the diaspora in the late 1940’s and early 50’s. Iraq was once home to a 2,000-year-old Jewish community.
LEFT: This curious genre of music is known as Iraqi maqam
Many of the musicians who still play this genre – known as Iraqi maqam – are in their last years of life and Basha has arranged their live performances, sometimes in people’s living rooms.
She captures rehearsals, home movies, and intense discussions about how music can transcend time and prejudice.
And as a music-lovers’ bonus, Basha includes “mystery mixtapes” from her own family’s recordings – CLICK HERE to hear some of her stuff.