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Middle Eastern Music

World Musics Dr. Julia Alford-Fowler

Joel Capperella

on 19 February 2015

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Transcript of Middle Eastern Music

Middle Eastern music - passed down through an oral tradition; therefore hard to find solid evidence of its true ancient history. Comes from many different backgrounds in middle eastern countries.
Evidence of musical instruments dating back to 3000 years ago. Sumerians had complex system of music in around 2000 B.C.E.
Originated with Jewish flavor of music, bible suggests. Influenced by Greek mode system such as maqams and dastgahs. Egyptian and Persian connection and influence very important as well
Islam established in 622 C.E. - Arab, Turkish, Persian empires all contributed to the music.
Music started being accepted and transferred among different cultures with the use of treatises. Rules were kind of laid out.
Finally music being transferred and mixed with Western Culture - especially after establishment of Israel in 1948.

Middle Eastern Music
History of the Middle East and music
More Music History
• Middle Eastern Music spreads across a vast region
• Music is a uniting factor for the entire region
o Egypt to Iran
• Music is a uniting factor for whole region

• Very strict Modes, or Maqam
• Each maqam has a particular scale
o Set of pitches from which composer can use
• Middle Eastern has a high level of improvisation
o Modes can be partnered together
o To play anything within the scale is not enough
• Music is used to enter a trancelike state, or higher experience of life

• Heavy use of microtones
o Music which uses intervals not found in the Western System of 12 equal intervals
• Very melodic
o Chords do not mix well with microtones
• Music varies between metric and nonmetric
o Chanting of the Qur’an is nonmetric
o Singing the Zurkhaneh gives a metric feel.
o Most music falls somewhere between metric and nonmetric
o Performer can change almost unnoticeably

Musical Modal System
Maqam (Makam in turkish), Mugan, and Dastgah (iran/persian)

Collection or group of pitches that composers would use when composing melodies
Tells the performer the scales, identities of the pitches, and typical motif that must be used.

Iranian Music
A collection of old melodies consist of 250 to 300 short pieces using as the basis for improvised performance.
Oral tradition
first published by Dariush Pirniakan in the past 4 decades.
reflects important of their culture values

Arab Music
hip hop


Turkish Music
Belly dancing (Ottoman harem music)
Romani influences
Military music
Western classical
Folk music
Hip hop

Classical Music Concerts:
• Social stigma similar to that of Western concert
• Performers dress in costume
• Begins with a pishdaramad, “Before the Introduction”
• Shur: “Main Musical Motif”
• Avaz: Audience favorite

• More private, intimate concert
• More improvisation based

Turkish Ayin/Sema
• Music and dancing hybrid
• Very spiritual

Middle Eastern Musicians
Value of Musicians
• Musicians' social status varied, but amateur musicians have higher status than professional musicians
◦ Freedom is valued very highly in the Middle East
◦ Improvisation of amateurs shows artistry and knowledge
◦ Society also judged a patron on what musician they listened to
◦ Al-Ghazali named 3 factors that determine respect for musicians:
1. Zaman (time)
2. Makan (place)
3. Ikhwan (associates; or who)

(:20 - :47)
(:45 – 1:20) Kopuz

is an ideology that says “music brings people closer to God”
◦ These “Muslim Mystics” defy those who say music is immoral and goes against puritanism of Islam
◦ Abu Hamid Muhammad al-Ghazali – one of the most famous Sufi's historically, made the argument for Sufism after it helped him regain his religious lore
◦ Most Muslim musicians in Middle East belong to a Sufi sect
◦ Qur’an must be read beautifully, therefore music cannot be anti-religious
◦ http://www.ghazali.org/img/Ghazalli3.gif

Different Types of Musicians

– recited an epic poem called the Shahnameh specifically in teahouses

: epic of Iran from a Persian; tells the history of the Persian Empire
▪ “Professional storytellers” who act out each part of the story
◦ darvish, bakshi, rouzeh-khan, monaqeb-khan, motreb, asheq
◦ Mohammed Abdel Wahab: most influential classical Arab composer of 20th century
▪ Composed the national anthem for Libya
◦ Al-Kindi: first music theorist of Arab-Islamic world, added a string to the Oud
◦ Shahram Nazeri: traditional Iranian musiciain
▪ (1:40)
Famous Musicians
Middle Eastern Music Performances
-Important in Middle East Culture
-Most music is composed
-Musicians perform Taquism
-begin with Maqam, then you play free
Improvisation in Jazz
-Chords and popular tunes are important
-Javi and Bali
*Improvised based on the theme of other instruments
Improvisation & Performing
Predictable form
-Two categories
*Overall Design


-Arab-Turkish, Persian Avaz
-5-10 Minutes
-Performer chooses to move from mode to mode
-The form is set, performer determine details
-6-12 sections

-Repeat Motif two-three times
-Music ornament is important
- Move from low to high scales

Why it sounds
Middle Eastern
Music In Culture
• Music is greatly appreciated
• Music must be kept far from the centers of religion
• Among the philosophical and scientific branches of learning, music played a major part in the Middle East
• The desirability of music and the conditions under which it was socially acceptable were the subjects of many written works
• In Middle Eastern cultures, the definition of music has been narrower and more complex
• In traditional Middle Eastern cultures, musicians were often held in low esteem
• There is no tradition of instrumental religious music and there are no concerts in the mosques
• Middle Eastern societies have a lot of music and they are very good at it. They have found ways to reconcile their religion’s ambivalence toward music and their own desire to have music
• There is a strict hierarchy in the types of music and their “acceptability” to society. The acceptable ones are Qur’an religious chants, chanted poetry, music for family celebrations, such as weddings, occupational folk songs, and military music. An example of unacceptable music is played at nightclubs

Instruments & Sounds of Middle Eastern Music
Habib Hassan Touma. The Music of the Arabs, trans. Laurie Schwartz. Portland, Oregon: Amadeus Press.1996.
Peter van der Merwe . Origins of the Popular Style: The Antecedents of Twentieth-Century Popular Music. Oxford: Clarendon Press.1989.
Shireen Maalouf. History of Arabic Music Theory: Change and Continuity in the Tone Systems, Genres, and Scales. Kaslik, Lebanon: Université Saint-Esprit. 2002.
"Ottoman Military Music". MilitaryMusic.com. Archived from the original on February 22, 2003. Retrieved February 11, 2003.
Bartok, Bela & Suchoff, Benjamin. Turkish Folk Music from Asia Minor (The New York Bartok Archive Studies in Musicology, No. 7). Princeton Univ Pr. 1976.p 50.
"Middle Eastern Music." Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d. Web. 10 Oct. 2013.

Touma, Habib Hassan. "The Maqam Phenomenon: An Improvisation Technique in the Music of the Middle East." Ethnomusicology 15.1 (1971): 38-48. Print.

Nettl, Bruno. Excursions in World Music. 6th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1997. Print. (this is our book)

Guppy, Shusha. The Secret of Laughter: Magical Tales from Classical Persia. New York: I.B. Tauris, 2005. Print.
Ibsen Al Faruqi, Lois. Asian Music. Vol. 17. N.p.: University of Texas, 1985. Web. <http://www.jstor.org/stable/833739>.
Lewisohn, Leonard. British Journal of Ethnomusicology. Vol. 6. N.p.: British Forum for Ethnomusicology, 1997. Web. <http://www.jstor.org/stable/3060828>.
Cedar, Laurance and Schaefer, John P.R. The Rough Guide to the Music of the Sahara. University of Illlonois Press, 2011. Web. <http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5406/ethnomusicology.55.3.0528>
Middle eastern music can be easily identified due to its characteristics which include: monophony, heavy ornamentation, flat sounding notes (no vibrato), heavy solo vocals, and heavy improv

Almost always monophonic, meaning that there is only one melody as opposed to multiple and that there is no harmonic system to guide the melody

Due to the monophony of middle eastern music, vocal improvisation can be challenging

When there is vocal improvisation, it is usually accompanied by a single instrument

When the vocalists improvises, the instrument usually plays a note or 2 behind

In other cases, parallel polyphony is incorporated, which is two melodies being played at once, but at different pitches

When two instruments are playing the same thing but in a different style, it js called heterophony
Middle eastern music has instruments comparable to western: they have versions of drums, clarinets, and guitars. However most of the more popular middle eastern instruments are plucked instruments and drums

is a double-reed woodwind instrument which resembles and sounds alot like a clarinet. Another middle eastern version of a clarinet is the Arab

(also known in western regions as the Doumbec) is a percussion instrument, played by striking palms or fingers on the head of the drum. Produces a low "doum" sound and a short "bec" sound (thus Doumbec)

The most popular of the plucked instruments in middle eastern music is the Arabic
. The out is a guitar style instrument that has a large body, 5 strings typically, and no frets. The Oud pick is often made out of a feather quill
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