Munir Bashir

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About Munir Bashir

A master of the mode-based, raga-like Arabic Taqsim, Munir Bashir transformed the oud (Arabic lute) into an important solo instrument. His improvisations inspired comparison to jazz's most inventive players. According to, Bashir's "improvisations (were) elegantly melodic. He (tended) to favor short phrases and certain moments remind me of the kind of development one might find in unaccompanied saxophone solos by Anthony Braxton and Roscoe Mitchell." Descended from a long line of musicians, Bashir was shown the basics of the Arab lute, by his father, as a child. He continued his musical training at the Baghdad Institute of Music, which he entered at the age of six. Bashir's musical career was balanced by his experiences as an educator. Receiving a doctorate in musicology in 1955, he began lecturing for the folk arts department of Budapest's Academy of Sciences. He eventually rose to directorial positions at the Higher Institute of Music in Baghdad and the Music Service of Iraqi Public Radio. Previously unreleased recordings found by Bashir's children shortly after his death in October 1997 were released as Raga Roots. Bashir's musical legacy is continued by his son, Omar. ~ Craig Harris


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