The music of Jordanian composer Talal Abu Al-Ragheb

Jordanian musician Talal Abu Al-Ragheb is seen in this undated photo. The composer is planning a special concert to mark Jordan’s centenary. (Photo: Handout from Talal Abu Al-Ragheb)
Jordanian musician Talal Abu Al-Ragheb is seen in this undated photo. The composer is planning a special concert to mark Jordan’s centenary. (Photo: Handout from Talal Abu Al-Ragheb)
If you are wondering what prominent Jordanian composer Talal Abu Al-Ragheb is up to these days, you do not have to look any further than May 25, which is the country’s Independence Day and the perfect time to celebrate a very special anniversary — the centenary of the founding of the state of Jordan. Abu Al-Ragheb has been commissioned by the Royal Palace to compose the music for the exceptional occasion. His fans are eagerly awaiting to listen to his new opus.اضافة اعلان

Although he is still in his early 50s, the prolific musician already has an impressive track record of outstanding achievements. One of the very first artists in the country to use digital music technology when it all started years ago, for performing, recording, and producing his works, Abu Al-Ragheb can proudly claim numerous, popular compositions and music videos, most of which are available on Youtube and other social media channels.

His series “Euphoria” consists of inspiring instrumental pieces that showcase Jordan’s various sites and cities. The enchanting melodies are sweet and compelling — the rhythms speak your senses, and the arrangements are refined. Apart from the piano, which is Abu Al-Ragheb’s main instrument, all the other instruments belong to the local tradition, mainly the nay (oriental flute).

Whether it is the charm of the old city of Salt, the magic of Wadi Rum, or that of Petra, the music of the composer blends perfectly with the place and the scenery. The artist manages to instill a smart, subtle dose of modern sound in his works, while preserving an Arabic style. Abu Al-Ragheb keeps it all genuine and never tries to imitate or to blindly follow a trend if he does not believe in it. In the end, his music sounds new, fresh, but still is intimately linked to tradition. Not everyone is able to do the trick.

When producing videos for his music, the Jordanian composer likes to do things properly, regardless of the expense and the effort this may involve. For most of his videos he, along with his impressive logistics team, transport a 500kg grand piano to remote and incredible places, to do the shooting; even if it is Petra or the top of an elevated, rocky hill overlooking the Dead Sea.

“Bloom,” inspired by Jordan’s spring, was filmed in Ajloun and Dibbeen forest reserves, among other places. This is the kind of video that keeps you guessing which is more beautiful, the music or the photography. The musician has understood from the very beginning that it is hard today to release music and to reach large audiences without good images. And yes, they did take the grand piano to the forest too! Abu Al-Ragheb’s piano portion and Firas Hattar’s violin are hauntingly beautiful in the “Bloom” video.

If he confesses to be a fan of Western musicians and bands like Peter Gabriel, Pink Floyd, or film music composer Hans Zimmer, to name a few, Abu Al-Ragheb sticks to purely Arabic music in his works. Essentially they all remains instrumental compositions, and rarely include singing or words.

Over a Zoom video call with Jordan News earlier this week, the Jordanian musician explained that “… whereas Euphoria Seasons 1 and 2 have been out and on the media channels for a while, I am planning to work on and to release Euphoria Season 3, hopefully not long after the celebrations of May 25 this month.”

Interestingly Abu Al-Ragheb sometimes works and collaborates with other well-known Jordanian artists like, for instance, celebrated choreographer and dancer Rania Kamhaoui, or violinists extraordinaire Yarub Smeirat and the above mentioned Firas Hattar. The result is always a very pleasing one and conveys the right message: one of local culture, heritage and, before anything else, of authentic and attractive music.

Abu Al-Ragheb’s talent has been widely, repeatedly recognized. He is Jordan’s Cultural Heritage representative to UNESCO. He has also traveled with His Majesty King Abdullah II as a cultural ambassador of the Kingdom, to Italy or India for instance, and was with him in the US in 2018 — at Washington’s National Cathedral — when the King received the Templeton Prize.

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