Babylonian Fingers

New release
My new CD , it is available in Amazon new, also in more than 51 countries and music websites from March 2015, the CD by ARC international music company, contains 11 musical pieces of my compositions and one traditional Iraqi song,
This album presents new ideas based on Iraqi heritage and Middle

Eastern music. My new CD coverMost of the pieces are new musical visions of the heritage of the oud. Based on maqams, rhythms and music of the Middle East from Babylon to the present, some pieces present a modern aspect, such as the piece “Iraqi jazz” – jazz, by improvisation
and syncopations, belongs to Iraqi and Middle Eastern music. There are ancient forms like Sama’ai but with contemporary themes. The instruments accompanying the oud are mostly Eastern. Some of the Western ones, though, play quarter tones, e.g. the saxophone in maqam Rast. The album also contains heritage from the music of Babylonian civilization 5200 years ago, interacting with contemporary oud music, such as the piece “Babylonian Fingers” using the old Babylonian way of playing the instrument, based on the ancient maqam Nahawand
Ahmed Mukhtar – oud | Hassan Falih – qanun | Wasam Khasaf – saxophone
Shaher Nay – clarinet | Hikamtov – violin | Hussain Abbas & Julia Ana Katarina – cello
Daood Rayn – double bass | Hassan Hassan & Ahmed Mukhtar – percussion

Produced by Ahmed Mukhtar
Licensed from Ahmed Mukhtar , 2014
Musical Director: Anis Mohammed
Engineer: Nihad Jemsher and Asraf Almasri
Mixer: Nihad Jemsher
Recorded at Dobai Binona Studio, Noor Istanbul
& NJ Studio, London
Mastering: Diz Heller
Cover design: Sarah Ash
Cover photography by Ali Rashid
Liner notes: Ahmed Mukhtar and Diz Heller
Typesetting / layout: Sarah

The Road to Baghdad

The Road to Baghdad not only takes Mukhtar home, it hopefully brings a great talent onto a wider global stage.

Cover of Road to BaghdadOudist Mukhtar has had quite a glittering career for one not yet 40-years-old, with praise from many parts of the globe. For this release he’s turned his thoughts back to his native Iraq and its maqams. In Arab classical music the maqam is a mode; in Iraqi classical music it also refers to a suite, which is an improvisation within certain rules, and that is what’s presented here. The ensemble–oud, ney flute, percussion, qanun (a type of hammered dulcimer) and joza (spike fiddle) interact beautifully on a series of Mukhtar compositions mostly based around old maqams, but frequently updated, as on “Doulab Mukhtar,” where the circular feel and use of only four or five notes from the mode gives a near-Greek feel. Mukhtar himself is both an effective leader and superb player as he shows on the atmospheric “Motherly,” where his instrument teases out the emotion of the music. The album ends with taqsims–free improvisations–for oud, qanun, and joza that act as showcases for the musicians’ skill, and these guys are among the best, as both “Segah” and “Moments in the Mosque” show. The Road to Baghdad not only takes Mukhtar home, it hopefully brings a great talent onto a wider global stage. The only fault is the rather empty, sterile production (by Mukhtar) which actually works against the group feel of the players. However, with luck he’ll have someone else behind the board next time around.

COPYRIGHT 2006 Sing Out Corporation
COPYRIGHT 2005 Gale Group

Track List

    1. The Two Rivers (3:31)
    1. Childhood (3:10)
    1. Iraqi Cafe (5:15)
    1. The Road to Baghdad (3:07)
    1. Sufi Moments (6:54)
    1. Dance of War (6:03)
    1. After the War (3:48)
    1. Sama’i Baghdadi (5:28)
    1. Doulab Mukhtar (4:35)
    1. Motherly (2:59)
    1. Iraqi Kurdish Dance (4:05)
    1. Arab Marshes (2:24)
    1. Horizon (2:05)
    1. Segah (3:59)
    1. Moments in the Mosque (1:57)
    1. Taqsim Joza (2:06)

An intriguing album mixing traditional and contemporary music, The Road to Baghdad makes an attempt to present the many facets of Iraqi music, old and new. The album makes use of traditional maqamat primarily, but in the contemporary compositions created by Ahmed Mukhtar, the normal aesthetics of Arabic music are occasionally put aside in favor of something different. In “Iraqi Café,” the sound is almost Hindustani. In “Childhood,” the sound is lilting and almost European. In the title track, there are elements of flamenco guitar in Mukhtar’s oud playing. Throughout the album, Mukhtar’s oud playing is exceptional. His ear for a nice composition makes Road to Baghdad a particularly nice collection of songs. This isn’t your usual traditional set of maqamat and Kurdish dance fare (though those are certainly present). There’s more here to hear, and it’s worth a listen for those entrenched in the usual Middle Eastern instrumental systems. ~ Adam Greenberg, All Music Guide


1. Two Rivers
(Ahmed Mukhtar)

This piece is based on the ancient Maqam Jaharga and the rhythm is called Jorjena. It describes the life along the river Tigris and Ephrata and its banks lined with palm trees

2. Childhood
(Ahmed Mukhtar)

This piece depicts an innocent childhood and life in peace free of disputes. It is based on Maqam Ajam, which was widely used in the Abbasid period (750–1258 AD).

3. Iraqi Café
(arr. Ahmed Mukhtar)

In Iraq the café is a calm and safe place central to social life and social interaction. In the café traditional music (maqam) is performed and being listened to and appreciated. This piece is based on Maqam Bayat (C, Db, Eb (microtone), F, G, Ab ,Bb, C) in a rhythm called Sangil Sama’i.

4. Road to Baghdad
(Ahmed Mukhtar)

This piece based on Maqam Nahawand (an ancient Iraqi maqam) expresses the feelings of the composer while he is travelling back to Baghdad after long years of absence. He experiences mixed feelings of sadness and apprehension of not finding Baghdad the same as when he left, and at the same time anticipation and happiness about returning to this beautiful city

5. Sufi Moments
(Ahmed Mukhtar)

This piece is based on Aqsak, an ancient Sufi rhythm, and on the maqams Nagreez and Rest. It represents Sufi moments the player has lived

6. Dance of War
(Ahmed Mukhtar)

This piece describes individuals who cause war and how they ‘pose’, and ‘dance’ and ‘celebrate’ their war without caring about consequences. It is based on Maqam Nowaather played in a very ancient, pre-Islamic marshal rhythm.

7. After the War
(Ahmed Mukhtar)

This piece is based on Maqam Ajam with many accidental notes (sharps, double sharps, flats, double flats or naturals prefixed to a note). The very old rhythm is derived from percussion instruments and rhythms from pre-Islamic time. The music expresses a mixture of sadness about the massive destruction cause by war, and relief and happiness felt about the end of that destruction. You can observe these feelings most clearly on the faces of the children

8. Sama’ai Baghdad
(Ahmed Mukhtar)

This piece tells about ancient Baghdad during the Ottoman period (1299-1923 AD), the time of classical form and music. The composition is based on Maqam Kurd (D, Eb, F, G, A, Bb, C, D) and there are many modulations to other maqams. The rhythm Sama’ai thaqil (10/8) is very old and comes from the Abbasid period (750-1258 AD). It actually represents one of the very important periods in the history of Baghdad. Usually the introduction – four bars in 10/8 rhythm – should be composed, but in this instance I left the player to improvise these four bars, to allow him to be part of the composition. It is customary that every movement should contain one maqam, but in this piece I play two maqams in every movement. I composed a special rhythm for the fourth movement and called it ‘Mukhtar Rhythm’.
9. Doulab Mukhtar
(Ahmed Mukhtar)

Doulab literally means “wheel” or “circle”. This is a short introductory instrumental composition. The doulab sets the mood for a maqam and is intended to establish its special character such as its structure of intervals and the emotion or atmosphere attached to it.

Usually a doulab is very slow-paced and uses only four or five of the seven notes of an octave. In this piece Mukhtar presents a modern view of this composition by using all fourteen notes of two octaves and by increasing the tempo to make it more accessible for listeners

10. Motherly
(Oud & Joza) (arr. Ahmed Mukhtar)

This piece expresses the composer’s feelings about the death of Margaret Hassan. It is also a gift to his mother and every Iraqi mother

11. Iraqu Kurdish Dance
(Ahmed Mukhtar)

This piece is based on a Kurdish rhythm and on Maqam Muhaier, which is widely used in the Kurdish area in northern Iraq. It is an optimistic outlook on Kurdish everyday life.

12. Arab Marshes [Saba]
(Ahmed Mukhtar)

This piece is about the marshes in the south of Iraq, with their incredibly rich plant and wildlife. Many songs and pieces of music have been written about them. The scale I am playing is called Mahmadawi: C, Db, Eb (microtone), Fb, G, Ab , Bb, C.

13. Horizon [Oud & Qanun]
(arr. Ahmed Mukhtar)

This improvised piece is a conversation between two instruments. It tries to reflect the musician’s horizons while playing and how they ‘meet’. It is based on Maqam Al Hujaz, an ancient maqam, from C (C, Db, E, F, G, Ab, Bb, C) and also takes excursions into “branches” of Maqam Al Hujaz, such as Hujaz Carr and Negreez.

14. Segah [Rhythmic Taqsim]
(pronounce: tak’seem]) (arr. Ahmed Mukhtar)

A taqsim (usually a free improvisation without a specific rhythm) on Maqam Segah and its branches such as Huzam and Segah Iraq. This particular Taqasim has a specific rhythm to it

15. Moments in the Mosque [Taqsim Qanun]
(arr. Ahmed Mukhtar)

This piece played on the qanun ([ka’noon] depicts beautiful moments in an old mosque.

16. Taqsim Joza
(arr. Ahmed Mukhtar)

An improvisation played on the joza, an Iraqi spike fiddle

Ahmed Mukhtar having settled in London after a hair-raising flight from Saddam, Ahmed Mukhtar is now our resident Iraqi oud-master, and with this new disc he puts into practice what he teaches his students at SOAS. It’s a blend of timeless maqam virtuosity, traditional Arabic unison refrains, and more experimental numbers with his colleagues on the ney flute, qanun zither, and percussion.
His finger-picking is ultra- delicate, and underpins a lovely melodic gift; the prevailing emotion is nostalgia for the peace which Iraq has lost, plus a celebration of its refined musical heritage.

Independent on Sunday, The, May 29, 2005 by Michael Church

Notes:Buy online at ARC

Rhythms Of Baghdad

Ahmed Mukhtar & Sattar al-Saadi

Cover of Rhythms of Baghdad

Track List

    1. Souq Baghdadi (6:06)
    1. Mantasf al-Lil (6:23)
    1. Raqsat al-Bedoi (5:25)
    1. Raqsat al-Shara (5:35)
    1. Khashabah (3:18)
    1. Espania (4:01)
    1. Baghdad al-Kadima (3:51)
    1. Raqsat al-Janoub (5:41)
    1. ada’a al-Bahr (10:52)
    1. orse Dance (4:02)
    1. Fingers and Sambales (2:57)
    1. Kasor (1:58)
    1. Sufi Rhythm (3:37)

Ahmed Mukhtar and Sattar Al-Saadi live outside Iraq-a reflection on the situation in their home country but have collected traditional music from older style Baghdad ancestral musical lines.
Ahmed performs on the Oud (pear shaped, short lute, and Sattar is a percussionist, using the tabla, riqq, khishba, tar and other drums, and also plays the nay (Arab reed flute). An album of homage to Iraq’s ancient traditions-, which we pray won’t be bombed into oblivion in the future

Words from Eden

Oud music from Iraq


Track list

    1. Words
    1. Maqam Penjgah
    1. Nuroose
    1. Beginning of Love
    1. Maqam Awj
  1. Elegy to Anakhil

Live Recital on Oud

Cover of Recital on Oud

Track List

    1. Maqam Oriental Rast
    1. Song – Variation
    1. Dayhat
    1. Maqam Hijaz Madmi
    1. Maqam Asheran
    1. Arabian Dance
    1. Maqam Lami
    1. Hewar
    1. Maqam Awshar
    1. Atar

Notes:Recorded live on 10th April 1997 at Rudolph Steiner House – London