Project status:


Lead organisation:

University of Exeter, Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies


The University of Exeter is running this project in partnership with the American University of Iraq Sulaimani (AUIS), Division or Department: Kashkul centre for arts and culture; University of Mosul; and Volunteer with Us Foundation for Relief and Development NGO (Mosul Branch).

Grant award:


Project summary:

The Iraqi Maqam is a musical tradition with a highly structured system of melody, poetry and vocal technique. It is recognised as a symbolic and identity-forming cultural practice.

Maqam became a target of conflict and extremism in recent years during the Iraq War and is currently at risk of total loss due to conflict and instability.

Since Maqam was shared orally between generations, there is little existing documentation of it and the few surviving Maqam experts and pioneers are mostly elderly.

The project will focus on the musical and lyrical heritage of the city of Mosul, where Maqam is uniquely precious to the local population in the form of folk tales, love stories and spiritual ceremonies.

A training programme in metadata and media techniques will support the creation of an online archive and efforts to collate, document and digitise records of authentic Maqam practices. This collection will also inspire the creation of new musical artworks.

Training and mentoring opportunities in associated crafts, in addition to a closing festival, will further support efforts to connect current and future generations in and beyond Mosul with this significant element of Iraq’s cultural heritage.