Salman Shukur was born in 1921 in Baghdad, Iraq. He studied oud under Sharif Muhyi-ad-Din Haydar Targan, and became Professor of oud and the head of the Oriental Music Department at the Institute founded by Sharif Muhyi ad-Din, and held that post for 30 years. He was also Artistic Advisor for the Iraqi Ministry of Information. He performed frequently for Iraqi radio and television, and performed in concert in China, Iran, Egypt, Germany, England, and the United States. He has performed publicly as recently as 1997. He made only one full-length recording, for Decca Headline, “Salman Shukur – oud”, HEAD 16 PSI, recorded in Rosslyn Hill Chapel in London in 1976 by James Mallinson and Stanley Gooddall, notes by John Haywood, released in 1977, and a brief excerpt of his solo oud performance in Rast Iraq can be heard on the Tangent Record series Music In The World Of Islam: Lutes (re-issued by Topic Records). The Decca recording is presented here.
For this recording, Salman Shukur used an oud built by Ustad ‘Ali. It features six courses, and the lowest single string is in the highest position. It has a traditional glued-to-the-face bridge, to which the strings are tied. It is tuned d-g-a-d’-g’-A. Like many students of Sharif Muhyi ad-Din, Salman Shukur uses a plectrum some of the time, and all four fingers of his right hand some of the time, when playing.
This recording presents four compositions by Salman Shukur that are based in traditional maqamat of Arab-Turcic music:
Improvisations on a theme by Hajji ‘Abd al-Ghaffar from a takiya (Sufi lodge) in Tikrit (prelude, taqsim, and sama’i in Rast) 16:30
A ghazal or romantic piece, composed in 1975, in the equivalent of D-minor with frequent shifts in mood, 8:10
Mahrajan fi Baghdad / Festival in Baghdad, premiered at the Durham Festival of Oriental Music in 1976. The piece is conceived with an opening theme, repeated later, that is based on the fajr adhan or dawn call to prayer. This piece and the one following it were originally written as a quintet for oud and various instruments. 16:30
Huriyyat al-Jabal / Mountain Fairy, composed 1965, originally based on an Iraqi folk song and developed into an extended suite for oud and string quartet, opening in the equivalent of G-major. 16:30