Hamid Al-Saadi

Undergraduate Discipline


Maqam scholar, singer, artist and writer, Al-Saadi learned the art of singing and performing the Iraqi maqam from the legendary Yusuf Omar (1918-1987); Omar's own teacher, Muhammed Al-Gubbenchi (1901-1989)—probably the most influential maqam reciter in history—said that he considered Al-Saadi to be the “ideal link to pass on the maqam to future generations.” Al-Saadi is also author of al-maqam wo buhoor al-angham, a comprehensive text on the Iraqi Maqam and its poetry. SLC, 2019; 2022-

Previous Courses


Iraqi Maqam Ensemble

Open, Seminar—Year

Inscribed by UNESCO on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, the maqam is the classical vocal tradition of Iraq and one of the most refined of the many maqam traditions found throughout the Arab and Muslim world. In Iraq, the term maqam refers to highly structured, semi-improvised compositions that take years of disciplined study under a master to learn fully. Often rhythmically free and meditative, they are sung to classical Arabic and colloquial Iraqi poetry and are followed by lighthearted, rhythmic songs known as pestaat. In this course, students will learn to sing and play melodic phrases of the Iraqi maqam. The class serves as a introduction to the maqam system, vocabulary, and intonation for students wishing to familiarize themselves with Arab and Middle Eastern music. The class will be taught by vocalist Hamid Al-Saadi, currently the world’s foremost practitioner of the maqam and the only living master who knows the entire tradition. Al-Saadi will be assisted in each class by an Arab instrumentalist and, in each session, he will teach singers and instrumentalists to sing/play melodies of the Iraqi maqam. Vocal students will learn to sing the lyrics, which are drawn from the vast body of Arabic poetry—although knowledge of the Arabic language is not required. Each session ends with the students learning a pesteh, or lighthearted rhythmic piece, during which students will learn to sing and tap the rhythms. At the end of each semester, there will be a performance. No previous experience in Arabic music or language is required for this class.