MUSIC COMPOSER | MUSICIAN
An Iraqi-British multi-instrumentalist musician, composer, researcher and founder of Nawa Recordings, Khyam Allami focuses his research on the development of contemporary and experimental practice based on the fundamentals of Arabic music, with a focus on tuning and microtonality.
Born in Damascus, Syria in 1981 to Iraqi parents, and raised in London from the age of 9, Allami began his musical path by studying the violin for a minor role in the Syrian arthouse film Al-Tahaleb (Rimon Butros, 1990). He moved on to Guitar, Bass and Drums during his teens before continuing on as a Drummer and then taking up the Oud – his principal instrument – in his twenties
During the US/UK-led invasion and destruction of Iraq in 2003 Allami found himself to be “out of balance” with himself and his history and in 2004—aged 23—began to study Oud, Arabic and Iraqi music with Iraqi Oud master Ehsan Emam in London. A year later he enrolled himself into the B.A. Ethnomusicology degree at SOAS, University of London and graduated with a distinction in 2008. He then continued his research and Oud studies across Istanbul and Cairo with Mehmet Bitmez, Naseer Shamma at Beit al-Oud, Hazem Shaheen and Abdo Dagher.
Resonance/Dissonance, his first solo album, was widely critically praised and led him to high profile performances across Europe and the Arab world. Following the release of the album, Allami began tirelessly performing and developing projects across the Arab world and Europe. He returned to drumming joining Tamer Abu Ghazaleh’s solo project, co-founded the band Alif—whose debut album Aynama-Rtama (Wherever It Falls) was widely praised—and in 2014 fully launched his independent record label Nawa Recordings.
He has since composed works for film, theatre and dance including the award-winning As I Open My Eyes by Leyla Bouzid (2016), All This Victoryby Ahmad Ghossein (2019) and A Universe not Made for Us (2019) a collaboration with contemporary Flamenco dancer/choreographer Yalda Younes.
His recent commissions include Requiem for the 21st Century, an immersive Oud-based installation for Opera North (Leeds, UK), and an upcoming string quartet for JACK quartet (NYC, USA).
He is currently completing an M4C/AHRC funded PhD in composition at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, Birmingham City University.