Mustafa Said

Born in Cairo, 1983, Mustafa Said is a musician and musicologist. An Oud virtuoso and singer, whom music education started at very early age accompanying the “Mashayekh” of Tanta (Egypt), and learning from them the art of Inchad. He made a study trip around the mediteranean sea to study music from different areas, within a world music program at many universities started with the American University of Cairo, alongside literature and linguistic studies at Ain Shams University. Later he pursues a Master Degree in Lebanon, from the Antonine University where he focuses his study on the modal system in Mashayekh singing tradition.

Mustafa’s major projects and activity is in the field of performing music and composing new melodies. Taught workshops and gave conferences and lectures in many academic and artistic institutions. He also wrote several musical compositions for theater plays, danse performances and films. He has much participation in international music festival as a solo performer, a guest artist, a collaborator with other musicians, or with the Asil Ensemble (which he found in 2003). Mustafa Said will perform at Elisabeth Kirche for Autism. The Asil Ensemble for Arab Contemporary Classical Music on April 13th.


1: The defeated loves to imitate the victorious, since he thinks that imitating the victorious is the nearest way not to feel defeated. (Ebn Khaldoun)
2: Democracy with no social justice is nothing but an indirect dictatorship. You elect, you sell weapons to support dictators and for people to kill each other! What a democracy.
3: I meet many believers with no religion and I meet many strictly religious people with no belief.


1. What is the biggest inspiration for your music?
Whatever I listen to can be a source of inspiration. From the pure sound of nature, to the guy calling about the fruits he is selling, to very organised performed music. Maybe due to my environment and education, classical Arabic music would be the base which I develop from.

2. How and when did you get into making music?
I started young, I do not even know when exactly it began. Maybe when I was sent to the Sufi singers (Mushedin) to learn Inshad and to recite.

3. What are 5 of your favourite albums of all time?
I have had a close relationship with the phonograph since my childhood, but I will give the answer following the new meaning of album. What I love from current produced music:
I: An album of the Tunisian music style Malouf
II: An album of the music of Hejaz by Mohammad Aman
III: Two albums of the Ajamlar music, one of a Turkish performance by the Bezmara Ensemble and the same music performed by a Persian ensemble, whose name I forget right now
IV: Gagaku music of Japan, 2010
V: (Sharqi) by Ghassan Sahhab and a solo album of Nai music by Mohammad Antar. Both of them are members of the Asil Ensemble.
These are the albums that first came to my mind when answering this question, although I love many more. So these are just the first I thought of, not the definitive Top 5!

4. What do you associate with Berlin?
Whenever I meet a European, they tell me that I am as correct as a German. Germany is the country that I have visited most in Europe.

5. What’s your favourite place in your town?
My home!

6. If there was no music in the world, what would you do instead?
I would search until I created a new art depending on sound. Maybe after my death people would call it music, so it would start to exist! I would also love to be sent on a discovery journey to another planet.

7. What was the last record/music you bought?
A phonograph 78RPM disc from Cairo to Sheikh Ismail Sukkar.

8. Who would you most like to collaborate with?
Anybody teaching me.

9. What was your best gig (as performer or spectator)?
Musically, a Concert with the Asil Ensemble in Beirut 4 years ago. Personally, February 10 2011, when I sang for 2 hours in front of hundred thousands of people listening to me with their souls and not just their ears in Tahrir Square in Cairo.

10. How important is technology to your creative process?
In recording and postproduction, very! For music making and performing, I prefer to be as near as possible to pure nonartificial nature.

11. Do you have siblings and how do they feel about your career/art?
My older brother is a musician, he plays Nai in the Asil Ensemble and has his own work as well. My older sister works far from music, yet she is one of the best listeners a person could find.

To Listen: