Wednesday, May 31, 2023 | Dhu al-Qaadah 10, 1444 H
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The musical and creative ingenuity of Ziyad al Harbi


People always connect over music. It is a universally understood language that doesn't require explanation or translation. Despite the fact that music and musicians don't receive much publicity in conservative settings, young Omani talents are making an effort to showcase their abilities to the entire world.

The persistence of young people in the music industry is demonstrated by numerous examples of diverse Omani artists who have achieved public recognition.

Young Omani oud player, composer, and producer Ziyad al Harbi has achieved success in music and the arts despite majoring in maritime business and logistics management.

"My introduction to music came from both school and home because I was raised in a musical and artistic family and I went to my brothers' rehearsals," Ziyad shared, recalling the fond memory he has of when he began venturing into the world of music.

"My brother assisted me in building a strong foundation, developing my musical and auditory senses, and memorizing when I first began playing at the age of six. I started out with the piano," he shared.

"As with the oud, I began playing it almost in 2001, and I got my professional start by performing with the General Authority for Cultural and Youth. I also learned oriental scales and playing at the level of integrated bands during that phase," he shared.

Below is the rest of the interview with Ziad.

Which aspect of the creative process do you enjoy more—singing, playing, or composing?

I see myself more in composing and playing music than singing. Of course, singing is still occasionally possible depending on the nature of the job, but I believe that musical composition and playing are the most closely related. The lack of workers in these two fields presents a challenge, but it also gives us a chance to contribute more to enhancing the Omani artistic scene with fresh works that contribute to the harmony of the Omani artistic and creative production.

How do you feel about the national song, and what does it mean for your artistic career?

The national song holds a special place in my heart, especially since the first melody I wrote that made me known to the public as a composer is a melody for the national anthem "Li Maqamak al Sami," which was written and directed by Dr. Saleh Al Fahdi and orchestrated by the musician Raed Al Farsi. Then came a string of widely popular and well-received pieces, including Ya Bin Abadi, Shatfat Fuwadi, and Raiyat al-Lisu, which marked an important turning point in my artistic development and are among the pieces of which I'm most proud.

Given the quality of the patriotic songs in the Omani art archive, wasn't exploring this topic a significant challenge?

Of course, and because there was so much production and spread, I eventually stopped presenting national works. I was careful to only present noteworthy and innovative works, and this is a general principle in which I firmly believe.

I made an effort to shed light on the Omani national art archive in the "Al Watan" Medley, which combined a significant number of patriotic songs from various eras and stages into one piece.

I felt proud during the implementation of this work, because we felt the musical and artistic value of the Omani national songs, which were presented by elite Omani artists and composers, whether from the previous generation, such as Shadi Oman, Ibn al Sahel, Salem Ali Saeed, and Abdullah al Safrawi, or from the artists and composers of the current generation, such as Sayyid Khalid bin Hamad, Sayyid Shabib bin al Mardas, Fathi Mohsen, and Salah al Zadjali.

What about an audience with high taste and standards for musical arts, particularly occasion songs, wasn't that a challenge?

Satisfying the tastes of the audience is always the most difficult challenge for any artist, especially given the various segments of society and their tastes. The Omani audience has high taste and has advanced to a high level of musical awareness, and it is difficult to please them except with distinguished works.

We target a specific segment of the audience in some works, which is a matter of specialization or diversification in the arts and highlighting cultural richness, However, sometimes the audience does not understand the orientation of a particular work, and the audience is not to blame because it is thirsty and eager to hear anything new, which is a legitimate right.

Bin Abadi Group strives to diversify its operations in order to serve the broadest possible segment of the public.

Concerning "Bin Abadi" song, did you expect it to be so successful?

I did not anticipate the regional spread of the song, but I did anticipate its success locally, and we felt this from the beginnings of establishing the idea and throughout the work's implementation stages.

Is it the birthplace of the "Bin Abadi Group"?

Yes. The success of Bin Abadi's work inspired us as a team to continue researching the heritage, and it reinforced our belief in Omani folk arts as having a distinct identity and spreading throughout the Gulf, Arab, and international regions. As a result, the Bin Abadi Group was formed.

Of course, the existence of common main goals and principles between me and my dear colleagues, poet and journalist Humaid Al Balushi, and artist friend Nibras Al Mullahi, contributed to the formation of the group, and this is very important, because, while our artistic relationship is an old relationship and we gathered previous works before the launch of the group, we also decided to frame our principles and create an identity that reflects our approach in the group. The next step is to cultivate and promote Omani folk art.

What about a contemporary patriotic song, was it successful in communicating its message and establishing its presence, especially in light of social media?

I believe that the modern Omani national song has evolved significantly in recent years, and that competition and expectations have risen, not only at the level of audio production, but also visually. We also saw the formation of an Omani musical identity, particularly for national acts, which was lacking in the past, and there is anticipation on the part of Gulf and Arab audiences, which we are proud of. Without a doubt, social media has aided in this spread.

Where do you see yourself in the future?

In addition to composing, I will continue to develop Omani folk arts and present them with a modern template.

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