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Street Address:

Baghdad, Iraq




Studies in performance of traditional instruments and styles, including the stringed santur, jawza, qanun, the lute-like oud, flute and violin-type kaman in an effort to keep alive a rich musical legacy disrupted by years of violence and unrest.

Institution Notes:

This Centre for Traditional Music of Baghdad and its archival collections, built up largely between 1971 and 1979, had the joint aims of systematically collecting and documenting Iraq's oral musical traditions and of training students to play traditional Iraqi music and the Iraqi maqam, a characteristic musical genre. Earlier collections of traditional and modern Iraqi music had been made since 1936 by Radio Baghdad as the outcomes of studio recordings of musicians, copies of 78 gramophone records, and music played at concerts, life cycle festivities, rituals and ceremonies, recorded in their contexts. Field collection was done by folk and dance ensembles such as the National Ensemble of Folkloric Art, the Folklore Ensemble of Basra working on the popular arts of the southern regions of Iraq, and the Erbil Ensemble of Folkloric Art, representing the music and dance of the 'Kurdish Autonomous Region'. Many private collections were also in existence. At the time of the US invasion in 2003 the archive of the Centre for Traditional Music, then housed at the Ministry of Culture, consisted of 4,000 original master tapes made on field trips to all areas of Iraq, some cylinders, around 600 78-rpm records, and certain copies of radio recordings. Books, manuscripts, documents and the photographic archive were entirely burned. The collection of musical instruments, which comprised some 100 pieces of folk and classical urban instruments, all perished. Later enquiries have elicited that some 3,150 sound archived tapes had been safely transferred out of the building, but numerous displacements and storage conditions had affected the quality of many. However, since 2012 there has been an increase in the number of students interested in preserving the literature and styles of traditional musics of the country.

Last Updated:

February 2022