From the liner notes: 

“The recording on this CD represent an initial attempt by Hagai Bilitzky to stretch the traditional boundaries of the way the double bass is used in the music of the Middle East. this is a recording of Hagai’s master degree recital at the Eastern Department of The Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance, on June 30, 2009. During his studies Hagai devised a technique of playing eastern style double bass, under the guidance of Prof. Taiseer Elias and Dr. Michael Klinghoffer, making it possible to bring the double bass into prominence as a solo instrument in this genre.” 

 The first track is a duo with Loay Khlefi on Oud. This beautiful piece is by Turkish composer Tatyos Efendi (1858-1913), and it is called “Sama’i Hussaini“. The “Sama’i” is a Turkish composed genre that got accepted throughout the Arab world in the 20th century. Read about its special form and the 10/8 rhythmic pattern here.

Before the last section of the piece comes an improvised double bass solo (“Taqsim”) by me, in the modal frame (Maqam) of the piece- Maqam “Hussaini”. This Maqam’s notes are D to D, with E half flat and B half flat, with an important modal recitation on the A note. The last section is in a 9/8 rhythmic pattern, and the refrain is played afterwards for the last time, in the original 10/8 pattern.

The next piece is an arrangement of mine to “Ahibak Uinta Fakerni” – a song by the Egyptian composer and singer Mohamed Abdel Wahab (1907-1991).

The Ensemble opens with an introduction, followed by a short improvised “Taqsim” by me. the double bass plays the melodic line originally sang by Abdel Wahab for two verses, with a rather “western” double bass feature interlude. the original third verse is omitted.

The lineup on this track is:

Magal Atar – Flute, Nir Gavrieli – Oboe; Yehiel Lock – Clarinet; Boris Bendikov – Trumpet; Maaya Heymann – Trombone; Itzhak Weissmehl – Alto Sax; Arnan Raz – Tenor Sax; Luay Bishara, Firas Esami, Akram Abdelfattah – Violins; Daniel Tanchelson – Viola; Micha Finkelstein – Cello; Ran Livneh – Double bass; Hillel Amsallem, Haim Peskoff – Percussion.

Ansak Ya Salam” was written by Balighe Hamdi in 1961 for one of the Arab world’s most famous and distinguished singers of the 20th century Umm Kulthum.

Here too, the double bass plays the verses with the melodic line originally sang by the singer. This practice is very common, and is done by oud, qanun or violin players. Here, for the first time I know of, by the double bass. The Makam is “Rast” – one of the most important modal frames of this music, and the notes are C to C, with E half flat and B half flat.
Playing with me are Mahran Moreb, Qanun, and Rami Anton, Daf.

The last piece on the CD is the only one that was not recorded on the same recital.

This is a live recording of the “Watar Ensemble”, made on December 11, 2009. “Lakum” is an original by the Qanun player Mahran Moreb. The rest of the ensemble is: Wassim odeh – Oud, Srour Saliba – Violin, Fadi Hanna – Buzuq, and Lev El’man – Percussion (See more about “Watar” on the “Project” section).

The piece opens with an improvised intro (Taqsim) by me in the “Nahwand” Makam. This is a great example, I think, of the natural way the double bass is being accepted by audiences as an eastern solo instrument.

On the same 2009 recital I have also played the next pieces, which are not on the CD:

Longa Nahawand” and “Taqsim” in “Makam Nahawand”

An arrangement of mine for “Love for Sale” by Cole Porter/

Played on previous recitals:


Samai Nawathar” – Nshdt Yacer

Touchia Ghrib” – Classic Algerian

Taqsim Bayat – Improvised

El Hubi Keda” – Riad Sunbati

Samarkand” – Wassim Odeh

Longa” – Vanis Vartenian

Cha’abi Algerian” by an arrangement by Nino Biton


Sama’i Nawathar” – Jamil Awis

Yah wilfi” – Salim al Nur

Taqsiam Rast – Improvised

Yah msaharni” – Sayed Makawi

Yah Nasini” – Mohamad Qasabji

Sirtu and Longa Sultani Yaka” – Tatios Efendi

Nakhla” – Hagai Bilitzky