'Made by Your Magic'

Mosul workshop inspires youth to embrace Iraqi maqam music

MOSUL — Abd Al-Rahman Al-Obaidi, who has cherished traditional Iraqi music since childhood, has launched a workshop in Mosul to teach the art of Maqam. His program, “Made by Your Magic,” has drawn considerable interest from the city’s youth.

Al-Obaidi explains that his sessions break down eight different Maqams and seamlessly incorporate traditional Andalusian pieces such as “Al-Hawa Ghallab.” He reflects on how the Maqam tradition was brought to Spain from the East during the Abbasid era by the family of Ibrahim and his son Ishaq.

Al-Obaidi, who developed a passion for music at the age of eight, began his venture into teaching after Mosul’s liberation. He is currently conducting free workshops with six aspiring artists. Previously, he had conducted introductory training sessions where he identified four promising talents. He plans to conduct his third and largest workshop after Eid Al-Adha, with 20 participants, both boys and girls.

Speaking to 964media, Al-Obaidi, 23, shared, “I inherited my family’s beautiful voice and now work as a vocal Maqam trainer after earning recognized certifications in Nineveh and Baghdad.”

He added that his engagement with music deepened about a year ago when he ventured into sound engineering and set up his own fully equipped studio. Tragically, the studio was destroyed in a fire. Despite this setback, Al-Obaidi remains dedicated to his mission of spreading Maqam music.

“There are many Maqam readers in Mosul, but I haven’t heard of any Maqam teaching courses, so I took the initiative to train young people. I might be the youngest reader and trainer in this field,” Al-Obaidi said.

The workshops are hosted at the Art Pioneers Academy near the Fifth Bridge, where participants learn the basics of Maqam reading and exploration, breath control, and vocal ornaments.

Al-Obaidi also emphasized the potential he sees in his students, saying, “Many young men and women have applied to the workshop, but I’ve focused on selecting the voices that deserve development. Their capabilities have truly impressed me.”

Trainees like Dima Sarmad, 17, and Hudhaifa Azzam have expressed their enthusiasm for the program. Dima noted her development since discovering her vocal talent at age eight and participating in school activities. “I always strive to develop my talents, which is why I attended the training sessions,” says Sarmad.

Azzam highlighted the lack of similar opportunities in Mosul and his surprise at the initiative taken by Al-Obaidi: “I discovered that I had a talent for singing and tried to develop it as much as possible, but Mosul lack[ed] this type of center.”