My interview with Syrian pianist and composer Malek Jandali

My music is dedicated to you, the listener. May you find Harmony!

Is it possible to create music compiled between melody based on the oldest music notation in the world, discovered in the ancient city of Ugarit, Syria dating back to 3400 B.C. and modern classical tunes? Yes, of course…when the creator is Malek Jandali!

February 5, i did an interview with the famous Syrian composer and pianist Malek Jandali. I was very impressed by him. This man introduced me with a whole new world for me – the world of classical music mixed with eastern rhythms.

This project is an attempt to present the rich musical heritage of Syria. I have always felt that music eloquently expresses the inherent connection between the past the the present. In all cultures throughout history it has served as a humanizing force, which is common to all.

Malek Jandali

His album Echoes from Ugarit is great and i recommend it to all who love classical music and piano performances. The only thing that can lose is the boredom of the typical music.

On February 6, I published my interview in the Bulgarian translation. The original interview is in English and you can read, click on the link that I pointed out below the publication.

“The touch of the hand on the piano is the purest expression of the soul. At least this is how I feel.” Malek Jandali

My love for my homeland and its rich culture and heritage was the greatest inspiration for my album “Echoes from Ugarit” Malek Jandali

Award-winning composer & pianist Malek Jandali at Damascus Opera House with the Syrian National Symphony Orchestra after The Cairo Opera House!

I publish some parts of the interview, which you can download and read by the link in bottom.

Ruslan Trad:What is the meaning of music for you?

Mr. Jandali: Music is magic performing its tricks with love. Music makes me look deeper in search of beauty and truth. All you really have that really matters are feelings. That’s what music is to me…I believe that the soul can’t live without music.

Ruslan Trad: “Pristine clarity and logic wrote the Observer, USA fStrong words and very true. What do you feel in your own music? What is your philosophy?

Mr. Jandali: I search deep into my heart to feel love and peace.  My philosophy is to love what you do and do what you love. It is as simple as that.

Ruslan Trad:What is the story behind your album “Echoes from Ugarit”? Could you please share some details on the clay tablet and the importance of this project for you?

Mr. Jandali: I have been composing for years, and lately, I have been greatly inspired by the folk and ancient music of Syria.  Since its inception in our great land, music has become a cultural phenomenon; it is something people relate to on emotional, instinctive, intellectual and many other levels. Syria is the birthplace of alphabet and music notation. The interpretation of the music notation of Ugarit is a challenge and several “reconstructions” have been published. The evidence that both the 7-note diatonic scale as well as harmony existed 3400 years ago flies in the face of most musicologists’ views that ancient harmony was virtually non-existent or even impossible. This has revolutionized the whole concept of the origin of Western music.

This work is founded on the oldest music notation in the world discovered in the ancient Syrian city of Ugarit. The clay tablets contain a hymn to the moon god’s wife, Nikkal. Although hundreds of such tablets were discovered over the years, these very tablets contain words and notation of a song all composed in the same “maqam” or mode (called n?d qabli). Further, they contained instructions for a singer accompanied by musicians, as well as instructions on tuning the strings of the instrument.

I arranged the hymn into a melancholic piano work preserving its rhythmic structure and building a musical bridge to the past. The song of this woman’s marriage was filled with pain at not having children for her husband and her family.  Apparently, the song is a lament, “the plaintive cry of an infertile woman” seeking the answer to her barrenness from the moon goddess.

The main goal of my project “Echoes from Ugarit” is to shed the light on this very important historical fact to tell the world that Syria has the oldest music notation in the world!

Ruslan Trad:Yafa, one of your musical compositions, is dedicated to the Iraqi and the Palestinian people who face war everyday. How is music different from expressing such concerns through art or literature?

Mr.Jandali: Music, like literature and the other forms of art you mention, is an expression of individual thought and feeling achieved through the creative process.  Artists seek to share their experiences, observations, and understanding (their “truths”) through the medium that most effectively lends itself to their personal skills and abilities. Whether artists are writing stories, composing music, or painting pictures, they are expressing their relationship to the world around them at that moment. Their works share certain expressive elements, such as structure, theme, and tone. Art connects human beings to each other in a way that it allows us to share each other’s perceptions, emotions, and experiences. A gifted artist may capture creatively what we feel but cannot express ourselves.


Whether music has the power to express something beyond the work itself such as non-musical idea or emotion has been the central question of musical aesthetics. I am in the business of asking for, telling, and creating stories. This is what I try to do with my music. Yafa was an attempt to tell my own story of the people of Palestine, selectively and thoughtfully, but honestly. I listen and then share the ones I know will connect with my audience. I thrive to make connections with my fans throughout the world to promote harmony and peace.

[FULL] Interview with Malek Jandali – By Ruslan Trad [EN]

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