Between theory, representation and practice of maqām: rethinking the representation of the Arabic maqāmāt

Brent Keogh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Traditionally, students learning the maqāmātare taught aurally, in the master-student paradigm, where phrase-by-phrase they acquire knowledge of the maqāmāt, which forms the building blocks of taqsīmand composition. While Western forms of notation for the representation of Arabic maqāmāt have increasingly been used to represent these modes, many scholars have questioned their effectiveness within these traditions. Criticism of Western notation has raised issues concerning the fixing of the notes of a maqām to a fixed pitch, being unable to account for regional differences in articulation, and not accounting for crucial information such as the breaking up of a maqām into its distinct ajnās. This paper proposes a new system of representation for the organization of the maqāmāt and the interrelationships within these scales, used for modulation both in composition and improvised settings. Additionally, this paper argues that this system is more useful than existing forms of Western notation for addressing the problems mentioned above when articulating the maqāmāt.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalAnalytical approaches to world music
Volume3
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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