Syrian Music Preservation Initiative – Home

Muwashah Ghazalon

Khalil Haj Hussein

US premiere at SMPI's concert at Roulette, New York on March 12, 2022; supported by Chamber Music America (CMA).


Rahat al-Arwah

Iqa (Rhythm)




غزالٌ زارني أحورْسباني خدُّه ُ الأسـمر

وحيّاني بحاجبــه ِورمش ٍ يشبهُ الخنجر

ومال بقدّه ِ نحويوفيـــــــه فاح كالعنبر

وأسكرني بناظره ِوريق ٍ رشفُهُ سكّـــــر


Composed in a AABA form, the dawr (A section) starts unexpectedly on the upbeat of the murabba’ rhythm (13/4) with the first word, gazāl, synching with the tonic of the maqam; the first extension letter ā, alif, which is the second vowel, is extended over seven beats to depict how the composer is leisurely watching his beloved approach.  Then he expresses the time spent waiting for the opportunity to meet his beloved as the piece progresses to the second 'aqd (tetrachord) of hijaz.

The khanah (B section) is in 'aqd rast delivering a cheerful moment when the lovers finally brush against each other. The climax of the piece is the dramatic layali signifying their union.

The Ghita' (final A section) expresses the enchantment such union brings and the ecstasy from their intimacy.

Khalil Haj Hussein wrote this piece in 2001 for a local competition in Syria. Being both the composer and the poet, he gives us a true masterpiece that fills the gap between the melody and the lyrics where one can only guess that this muwashah is a centuries-old treasure.