Mohammed Antar (1978- ) an Egyptian musician, Ney player, and founder and conductor of Ensemble Munajah, 2003 and Oriental Secrets Ensemble, 2007. He started his musical educations at the age of four and was exposed to Ney for the first time in 1993. Having mastered the three major Ney schools, Arab, Turkish and Persian, as well as his understanding of the middle-eastern musical theory enabled him to set a variety of meditative and light instrumental and vocal compositions with mixed characteristics taken from these rich musical traditions. He released an improvisational solo Ney album entitled The Arab Maqam in 2008, and an instrumental light musical albums with his group Oriental Secrets Ensemble entitled Oriental Breeze in 2008, and he recorded in a number of albums most of which contain one or more of his compositions. He also participates in national and international musical conferences, symposiums, lectures and conducts musical workshops. Antar presents his compositions and his adaptations of middle-eastern pieces in solo Ney concerts, with percussion, with his groups or through other musical projects in which he participates inside and outside Egypt. His compositions mostly come in typical Middle-eastern forms with a sort of modernisation in the melodies and the forms taken from the origin giving a free space for improvisation.
In Mawlana’s Presence
Ney, amongst the large variety of the open-ended reed flute family in the middle-east, is the only used wind instrument in the middle-eastern classical musical ensembles. It is considered the most advanced and most widely-ranged instrument thanks to its extensive tonal range and its purely natural sound that makes it open for different stylistic attempts. In spite of the fact that its physical appearance is almost the same everywhere with slight modifications from a region to another, people dealt with it in different ways, whether on the blowing or technical levils. On the blowing levil exist the bilabial blowing technique adopted by the Arabs and the Turks and the interdental technique adopted by the Turkmans and the Persians. On the other hand, the difference of the finger techniques and the structure of the musical phrases are a witness of the rich variation in the three major schools: the traditional Arab with its clear sound that sometimes uses double registers, short phrases, and different means of ornamentation; the Turkish with its soft and gusty sound, long phrases, legato notes and much silences; and the Persian with its unusually powerful, rich, and turbulent sound as well as minute ornaments.
Having studied the different blowing and playing Ney traditions, and thanks to lots of listening and following lots of experiments, it was successful, to some extent, for Mohammed Antar to develop a middle-eastern style which breaks all the bariers between these musical traditions. This is why the listenner may feel a mixture of these schools in this style, as there is always a change between the different blowing techniques, the length of the musical phrases, and the method of ornamentation. Notwithstanding this modal variation, the oriental Arab musical theory is still in use here in dealing with the Maqam as the concept of Maqam differs from a Middle-Eastern musical culture to another. In most Arabic musical traditions, however, Maqam refers to the mood created through dividing a certain scale into tetra chords, and on that scale starting and ending points as well as the development mood are marked.
In this recording, this humble experience is being presented through making improvisation in a traditional way on seven of the Maqams used in Egypt, the Levant and Turkey. Despite the fact that this recording made in 2007 preceded the recording of The Arab Maqam, elements from the Turkish and Persian styles are more existent thanks to the fact that in The Arab Maqam Antar tried to present the Arab Maqam in his own style, however, in this prior recording, his intention was to develop a joined middle-eastern Ney style.