Chicago Arabic Music Workshop

After receiving an invitation from the Chicago based pianist/bassoonist/composer Angela Salvaggionne to give a workshop about Arabic music, and meet her students and listen to them perform selections from the two books “Longa and Sama’i” and “Arabic Folk Tunes“, and to guide them through the pieces, a workshop with the Lebanese composer Wajdi Abou Diab was hold via ZOOM on 30 January 2021 for almost 5 hours, that included three main parts.

In the first part, Wajdi gave a lecture titled “Music of Al Mashriq Al Arabi”, in which he discussed, after a historical introduction, many topics including the Arabic music alphabet, the Arabic music structures, the Maqams families (composition, scales, “Sayr”…), the Arabic instrumental and vocal traditional forms, and Arabic traditional Rhythms.

The second part was dedicated to the students’ performances, through which Wajdi listened to 12 selections from his two book “Longa and Sama’i” and “Arabic Folk Tunes” performed by the workshop participants, and presented a detailed review about every performance, including the story behind every piece, information about the composer, and advice on Arabic music performance technique.

In the third part, Wajdi met 3 composition students, shared with them his ideas about composition, instrumentation and orchestration, and talked in details on “how to benefit from Arabic music elements in our contemporary compositions”, then listened to the students’ compositions and gave them his feedback, after sharing with them some resources and material that can help develop their musicianship as composers.

This workshop was a part of a many other workshops and activities that aim to spread the Arabic music knowledge, and to present the Arabic traditional music for non Arabic musicians, and help Arabic music take a bigger part in the worldwide music scene.

You can download the Workshop Materials for free from the Free Scores Page

and we are delighted to share with you Angela’s words about the workshop

“Dear Wajdi, 

Thank you so very much for the workshop and master class you presented to my students and colleagues on January 30, 2021. It was delightful to meet you, learn from you, and watch you work with my students.

 The theory information you presented was exactly what we all needed and met us where we were at, as complete beginners with Arabic music theory. The worksheets you created were well done and very informative. That discussion gave us good information to help us all begin understanding how the music is constructed, which will help us all in our performances and become more informed listeners.

 I loved how you were able to work very well with the wide variety of students, both in age level and in experience. Your comments were excellent and well received. Students are now beginning to see how to make their performances more effective and musical.

 The time you spent with the composers was also excellent. They are each happy to have met you and appreciated your critique and insights in composing. We’re thankful you were willing to take time with each of them and give positive comments and excellent suggestions to help them grow and improve.

 Again, thank you very much for being willing to work with us all. You presented an excellent musical experience for us all. Your musical and teacher’s heart and expertise are amazing, as are your breadth and depth of knowledge. Each of us is a better musician now because of the time you spent with us. I’m very hopeful we have another opportunity to work together again.

 Wishing you continued success and excellent in all your musical endeavors! 

Angela Salvaggione”

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