HUZAM is a profound Arab maqam musical scale that starts and ends on a microtone, with no penchant for Western harmonies. It is widely used in Arab traditional music and has a mystifying & ecstatic temper. Karim Nagi composed these pieces all in maqam Huzam, using classic Arab art music forms such as Dulab, Samai, Tahmila, Istihlal & Longa, intended to be performed on traditional instruments. These forms make up the Turath Arabic music legacy, but are infrequently employed in today's musical era. A revival is needed, one that honors both tradition and progression. So rather than rigidly replicating past formulas, Nagi uses a fertile approach to the rhythms, sections, arrangements and modulations.

Arab music is not only an ethnological study, it is a contemporary practice. The music is both regional and cosmopolitan, possessing a depth and delivery that is universally appealing. Through Huzam, one can experience our tradition's connection to the intimate ensemble aesthetic of Chamber Music, the microtonal & hetero-phonic timelessness of Early Music, and the extemporaneous adventurism of Jazz. By making new compositions in traditional styles, we are participating in the continuum of our beloved Arab tradition, and sharing it with the larger listening community. We are asserting that this music is both historic and current.

By choosing maqam huzam we are decolonizing our aesthetics. This Arabic mode defies Occidental musical practices. The Westernisms of harmony and counterpoint are fended, in favor of the endemic intonation and hetero-phonic richness of our Eastern sharqi music. We are indulging in something un-imperial, unoccupied, and distinctly ours.


KARAMA (Arabic for dignity/respect) is an Arab heritage troupe based in Chicago IL. KARIM NAGI composes original music and choreography that authentically engage in the continuum of Arab tradition. With an ensemble of 8 musicians and dancers, the troupe endeavors to represent the diversity of Arab culture within this unique interpretation. The balance between ancestral customs and urban diaspora-based sensibility is vigilantly observed. The goal is to express the culture not as a standard tourist spectacle, but as a living art form created by inspired performers.

Their current program of THE KUFIYA & THE QUFTAAN is a pan-Arab dance excursion set to a live score of both traditional and original Arabic music. The iconic items of regional clothing create the scenes that feature dynamic community dances, along with performances on musical instruments of Arab tradition. The voyage starts with a humble interactive living room party, singing and dancing to traditional songs from various Arab regions. It continues onward to the Arabian Peninsula, North Africa, Egypt and Near East with troupe dances and full ensemble musical accompaniment. Dancer & Musician KARIM NAGI guides the audience with educational oratory and participatory joyfulness.