Skip to main content

Iraqi musicians fight to revive ancient art of maqam

A handful of enthusiasts are trying to save Iraq's age-old melodic system known as maqam, which was placed on UNESCO's Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2008.
Read in 

Rooted in classical and colloquial Arab poetry and embracing a wide repertoire of melodies, the Iraqi maqam is considered a symbol of the musical history of Iraq and the Middle East. Inscribed in UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2008, the Iraqi maqam is still alive, whereas many Arab musical styles in the region have either disappeared or become Westernized over time.

Yet the future does not look too bright for maqam either, particularly if the Iraqi government does not adopt policies to revive and strengthen this musical style played with traditional Iraqi instruments and strong vocals.

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.