Abdullah Bakheet: A melodist who stays away from lights

Abdullah Bakheet is a young Sudanese melodist who avoids the media despite his outstanding achievements. He was born in 1972 in the North State and he had his pre-university education there too. He started melodising during his study at the University of Khartoum. In 2000 he migrated to Saudi Arabia and he is still living there. Abdulla worked with many original poets such as Zakaria Ayoob, Mohammed Douro, Ali al-Fahal, and Ali al-Deen Abu Seer. Many singers, both old and young, sing his tunes: Abdulkreem Abu Talib, Abdulraheem Ourgi, Ameer Halfa, and Yagoob Tajalsir are among them.

Melodising is, perhaps, the most important aspect of a song-making. Abdullah sees melodising as “a fabric of emotions, due to accumulation of melodised sentences; it is a higher listening in the mind and the sub-conscious.” He continued “there should be stirring, excitement or at least a commissioning for a new tune to come out.’’ Abdullah thinks that melodising is a gift in the first place, but such a gift should be installed in a sensitive soul and supplemented by a great listening and contact with established melodists. “I used to listen much especially to Sideeq Ahmed - his melodies do not overlap or interlace, each of his songs has special form; Mohammed Wardi and Mustafa Seyd Ahmed have their special schools too,” he added.

The poem goes through many phases until it reaches the audience as a finished product. The first step is the birth of the melody in the mind of the melodist, then the application of the melodist’s tools such as addition or deletion to purify and sharpen the row tune. After that, the melodist shows the tune to ''sensitive listeners'' to give their opinion about the melody: whether it is good, new, unique or otherwise. The listener also give their opinion about the suitable voice for the new melody.  "If the tune goes to the wrong voice it comes out deformed and distorted,” Abdullah highlighted the importance of matching tunes and voices and added, “of course, the singer can make some changes to the tune to fit his voice. If he used 70% or above of my tune, I consider the tune successful.”

Melodising is a sort of interpretation of the poem. However, the melodist uses many techniques so the tune remains closer to the spirit of the poem. A full understanding of the poem and its constituent parts is a pre-condition for a good melody, Abdullah though, and added that the topic of the poem should reincarnate the melodist and the melodist should re-create the poem’s atmosphere. The rhythm is particularly important in this regard for it add the ''shadows'' for the tune. 

Despite the richness and variety of the Sudan contemporary music, Abdullah is still insisting on using Tanbour (a traditional instrument belongs to the lute family). “I am a Tanbour player; I like this instrument; the poems put to it are the prettiest and always relate to the Sudanese life.”

Leaving homeland has always its effects upon artists, and Abdullah is no exception. However, he does not think that living abroad has affected his art that much. “Living abroad has no direct effect upon the way I put my melodies. However, it affects my themes. When I found a subject that concerns the Sudanese expatriate I would like to work on it. I become patriotic too, my country becomes more important to me ... And above all, moving from place to place increate listening ... which is important to the melodist’’.

Abdullah has no absolute commitment to certain melodising school. But he sometimes finds himself between the Popular and Rapture schools. The Rapture School tries to put greater effort on the words to cause effect on the listener. Whereas, the Popular School is simpler and appeal most to the ordinary citizen, so he is trying to reach the ordinary and refine listeners.

Abdullah thinks that there is deterioration in the Sudanese song-making today. “The younger generations of singers do not consult the melodists’ or respect them. “The situation is very bad:  their melodies are colourless; their sentences are incomplete. They are shadows of big works of famous artist. The melody should be reviewed many times to be original,” he bitterly reflected on the current situation.  

Abdulla is open to all; he does not limit himself to certain poets or singers. “Any beautiful poem with a meaningful theme should be chosen. The good melodist works with different poets and singers.’’  

Two poems, of patriotic themes, captured Abdulla’s attention recently and he is working on them. One of them is for the daughters of the Sudan and it is written by Ali-al-Deen Abu Seer. The other is a “son of the country” by Ali al-Fahal. As for the long term, he has no certain plan: “I have no any plan, the melody has no time; it can come today or after 20 years, so you cannot plan for it.”

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