Maqam Class Series: Class 2 – November 9th, 2013

Dear Class,

I think we really raised the bar this time. I am deeply gratified to see you quickly identify Bayat and to hear you sing the lower Jins so clearly and confidently. It also seemed that most of you grasped the overall technical and mathematical concepts presented. All of this is a breakthrough – because a true Bayat is actually one of the more difficult Maqamat to sing. Once we move on to other scales you will see how closely related they are and how much easier it is to grasp them.

I’d like to continue focusing on and perfecting the first 4 notes of Bayat, especially note 2 (the quarter tone – see below), where some of you seemed to get lost. In the media attachments below, you can hear them repeated over and over again. In Suite Bayati, he starts on the 3rd note going down to 1st, and around 0:20 goes up to the fourth note. In Noura the first few words of the song “Noura Noura ya Noura” he precisely goes from 1-4 and back down to 1. Similar is the two Pizmonim from our class that you can read and listen to below. Pay attention to the word “ya’adeni” in “Magen Ba’adi” and how it navigates through the lower Jins Bayat.

Below the media files is a recap of some of the key terms and points we covered during the technical presentation. These will be used frequently throughout future classes so take the time to get familiar with them.

A full recording of the first and second half of the class is embedded in the YouTube clips below. I suggesting watching as much as you can, especially if you were not at the last class. I realize this is a lot of material and reviewing it takes time and effort, but I can assure you the investment will pay off. I also encourage all of you to post questions, thoughts, and any challenges you are facing.

See you all on November 23rd @ Kol Israel Youth Building 15 minutes after Havdallah. Class runs for exactly 1 hour 15 minutes.




Suite Bayati w/Taqsim Ney by: Classical Arabic Orchestra of Aleppo 2006


Noura Noura by: Farid al Atrash


Lower Jins Bayat (repeat)




Yahid Ram (pizmon) – source: Sephardic Pizmonim Project

Yahid Ram Text



Magen Ba’adi (pizmon)

Magen Ba'adi Text


Use the follow app to practice our technical lesson from last class. A detailed technical review follows below.

App: “Piano Free With Songs” by: Better Day Wireless (used with projector)

Detailed Technical Review:

Pitch = sound, Note = musical notation representing a pitch, Tone = the interval or space between notes (ex: going from C to D is a whole tone and from E to F is a half tone. 4 notes would have 3 tones in between them), Sharp = moving ½ tone higher (ex: C to C# or E to F), Flat = moving ½ lower (the opposite), Key/Tonic = the first note in a scale (sometimes also the name of the scale like C or Rast), Scale = a series of consecutive notes (usually 8 as with C major) or a group of Ajnas (as in Bayat with two Jins/Tetrachords), Octave = a spatial interval of 6 whole tones between two notes (ex: from C to the next C), Jins –a group of intervals or tones that comprise a Maqam, Tetrachord – 4 consecutive notes comprising a Jins (or in our case 1/2 of Bayat).

Any key on the piano to the next closest key up or down (could be black or white) is a half tone jump (Sharp or Flat). A two-key interval on the piano is a whole tone. A quartertone would be midway between one key and its next half-tone (which cannot be played on Western instruments like the piano). The only quarter note in Bayat is the second note from the beginning, which is why it is hardest to sing.

Scales use Tones as its primary way to identify them (think DNA or barcode). No matter which letter key you begin from, you will always be playing that same scale if you follow the same intervals. For example, a Major Scale has the intervals 1, 1, ½, 1, 1, 1, ½ (totaling 6 whole tones). So starting from C or D and following those intervals will both be a Major Scale. (A Minor Scale follows 1, ½, 1, 1, ½, 1, 1). Try practicing a few major and minor scales at random. (Food for thought: Bayat is in essence a minor with its second note a quarter tone lower than a traditional minor/nahawand).

A Major Scale can be simply played on the piano by starting at C and ending 7 notes higher at C, playing all white keys in between. This is known as a C Major Scale. A Minor Scale can be played similarly with all white keys but starting at A (A Minor Scale).

Post any technical questions you have and we will do our best to answer.

9 thoughts on “Maqam Class Series: Class 2 – November 9th, 2013

  1. Hi Jake/Sam,

    “Qanun” by Volkeman. Once in the app, click on top left button “Makam” and select “Ussak” – a Turkish maqam within which we can play bayat as follows: Start playing from the second string from the bottom. That is note 1 of 8 of Bayat. Keep going up until you get the highest string which is the 8th note.

    They may make this app for non-apple devices you can check the Google Play or Samsung Hub stores. If you have a mac or iPad you can use it there. As well, you can download any piano app and play the “D” note which is note one and “F” and “G” which are notes 3 and 4. note 2 cannot be played on a piano, but the other 3 should point you in the right direction and you can fill in the 4th (just don’t use “E” or “E Flat”.

    If all else fails, use the recordings above that i sang with the 4 notes as a guide. I will be posting the new files this week God willing including a new recording of the first 5 notes including the new one we learned today.

  2. Thanks, Michael.

    Sorry, let me be more specific. Is there anything that can detect whether I am hitting the voice notes I am trying to hit? I found voice metering software but that seems to measure decibels, not notes.

  3. Yes, there is an app call “Pano Tuner” for iphone/ipad. You can sing and it will pinpoint exactly what notes you are hitting. For our Bayat you should be hitting D, E half-flat, F, G, A, for notes 1-5.

    For everyone reading this, unless you are a musician or know how to read notes, i would suggest staying away from this and using my recordings as a guide to making sure you hit the right notes.

  4. I notice on the weekly schedule ,we have added the Maquam of the week under the Parasha of the week-Great -Is it also possible to add some of the Pizmonim that go along with the weekly Maquam -Song Title and Page # would be fine for me. When we have our Saturday morning minyan we all can go to the red book and sing those songs .

  5. Dear Michael,

    That is an interesting idea thank you. As far as our class is concerned, this may be best to revisit down the line when we’ve covered most of the maqamat so that we are able to identify and sing the specific Maqam of the week. At this point i think it would be best to continue focusing our efforts and media files on Bayat.

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