Singer/instrumentalist/composer al-Abash was notable for a deep voice with an evocative quality of poignancy, the fact that within the pop field he sang in styles regarded as "authentic" in both Egypt and the Levant, and above all for his extensive use of the ud. He was born in Syria, but moved to Egypt with his mother, when he was around nine years old. Atrash was part of a musical family: His mother, "Aliyah," supported the family by singing, and his sister, Asmahan, appeared with him in many movies. Aside from his singing prowess, Atrash was a virtuoso ud player: he studied the instrument at Cairo's Institute of Arab Music and in fact began his professional career accompanying and older singer. Atrash revived the dying use in concert of improvised instrumental solos (tagasim) as part of a longer piece, by lengthening the instrumental introductions to his songs and building tagasim into them. Through recordings of his concerts he thus became the most famous ud player in the Arab world and earned the nickname "King of the Ud."
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