A native of Morocco, Hicham Chami studied qanun performance and music theory at the Conservatoire National de Musique et de Danse in Rabat before relocating to Chicago in 2000 where he received an MBA from DePaul University’s Kellstadt Graduate School of Business. He is founder of the Arabesque Music Ensemble and has produced three critically-acclaimed CDs of traditional Arabic music.
Before joining Columbia University, Chami earned a Master’s of Music from the University of Florida. His thesis “Deconstructing a Mediæval Legend: Guido D’Arezzo, The ‘Arabian Influence,’ and the Role of ‘Historical Imagination’” explores linkages to solmization systems from the Arab tradition and challenges the designation of 11th-century Benedictine monk Guido d’Arezzo as its “inventor.”
Chami has presented papers on traditional musical genres, hybridity, diaspora, Sufism, post-colonialism, modernization, and cultural policy at North American, European, and North African conferences of the Society for Ethnomusicology, Center of Arab and Mediterranean Music, International Council for Traditional Music, INALCO, Centre Jacques Berque, and Middle East Studies Association. He contributed 20 entries on Arab, Maghrebi, and Andalusian musics for the forthcoming SAGE Encyclopædia of Ethnomusicology and Music Around the World: A Global Encyclopædia. Chami received the T. Temple Tuttle Prize at Kent State University in 2017 for his paper on the Fassi role in privileging Andalusian music in post-independence Morocco.
Chami is past president of the Society for Arab Music Research and is Managing Editor-in-chief of the Journal of Arab Music Research.