Maqam Class Series: Class 4 – December 14, 2013

Dear Class,

As I mentioned in my email, we knocked the last class out of the park, I am thrilled to see so much progress from the previous class. I’d like to continue practicing notes 1-5 in Bayat.

Below the media files is a recap and highlights of the material we covered during the technical portion of our class on the projector presentation, specifically the breakdown of Bayat into the two Jins and where they each begin and end, and how it compares to Husseini. Again, consider this information extra credit – you don’t need to understand it to succeed in this class. If it seems too complicated, leave it alone and focus on the music. Also, please forgive me for the recording of the class not showing the whiteboard presentation clearly enough to see it, we will try to troubleshoot for next class.

We introduced a new concept to the class Saturday night. This is using the Pizmon as a springboard to jump into vocal improvisation (Mawal), using the structure of the song as a basis for the Mawal. I posted an example of that below. I recommend practicing this way for the coming two weeks to start developing your own “moves” for Maqam Bayat.

As well, remember that the exponential growth some of you are displaying between classes is a direct result of work done on your own, not during the class. The class is a guide but is not enough to reach our goals by itself. The real work takes place in your home or car, listening, singing, and experimenting. Keep up the great work.



PS POST, POST, POST! Questions, thoughts, comments, ideas, struggles.


Class Recording Part 1: (note the embedded clip may not start playing from the beginning, so if that happens just rewind to 0:00)


Class Recording Part 2:


Bayati Taqsim on Oud, Played by: Victor Esses



Bayat Notes 1 – 5

Note: remember that note 1 is “EL” and 5 is the second note of “Me-od”


Pizmon El Me-Od Na’alah (Red Book P. 266) recording courtesty of Sephardic Pizmonim Project

Note: “Moh” in “Ki Me-Moshe” is the note (B half flat) that causes the song to shift from Bayat to Husseini (upper Jins Bayat). “Leh” in “Yovi-leni” goes back to the B flat which gives us the traditional Bayat scale (upper Jins Nahawand).

El Me-Od Na'alah Text


Pizmon El-Meod + Mawal

Note: Around 0:40 I transition on top to the upper Jins Bayat (b half flat) on note 6 to make Maqam Husseini, and around 0:53 I transition back in the upper Jins Nahawand to flow back into Maqam Bayat as we demonstrated in the class. POST ABOUT THIS.


Oum Kaltoum: Ba’eed Anak

Song is 38 minutes long but this is a clip with the Bayat portion. Notice how she goes into an Ajam ending on F (note 3 in Bayat) like we discussed in the class.


Detailed Technical Review:



Pitch = A sound

Note = musical notation representing a pitch

Tone = the interval or space between pitches, creating the DNA of a Maqam or Scale

Key/Tonic = the first note in a scale

Jins/Ajnas (pl.) = A group of tones or intervals (usually resulting in a tetrachord of 4 notes) used a “pant” or “shirt” of a Maqam. For example, the Bayat scale has a lower Jins of Bayat and an upper Jins of Nahawand, while Husseini has a lower Jins Bayat and an upper Jins Bayat (watch the video of the class for more details on these two).

Maqam/Scale = a combination of 2 or more Ajnas (plural of Jins), usually consisting of 8 notes as with Maqam Bayat). [* Important – do not confuse the full scale with the Ajnas. Although they can have the same name, they serve different functions (example Bayat Jins and Bayat scale].


Letter Notes, Keys, and Tonic

We have now started introducing the concept of letters that go with the notes 1-8. As you can read on the blog from our first few classes, no matter what instrument is playing the music (or vocals singing it) there are 7 letters A-G after which it repeats itself, giving you a full Octave with a 7-note (and 6 whole tones) differential.

While a Maqam is primarily defined by its Jins, the individual Jins are defined primarily by the tones in that Jins (spatial distances, for example Bayat Jins having tones of ¾, ¾, 1). Therefore, theoretically any Maqam/Jins can be played on any key (A-G). However, playing it on a different key will many times evoke a different feeling and will sometimes be classified as a different Maqam altogether (for example Nahawand on C is called Nahawand, but the same tones played on G (lower and deeper) is called FarahFaza).

In Arabic music “C” is the traditional base note upon which the Maqamat are built. C is also known as the Rast note and upon which the Rast scale is played. Bayat is played immediately above that note on D (also known at the Bayat Note), so the first note of Bayat during this class will always be D, going up to the higher D on note 8 (one Octave higher). Bayat can be played on most other keys as well like A and C as long as the tonal structure (¾, ¾, 1) is intact, but we will be using D throughout the class.

6 thoughts on “Maqam Class Series: Class 4 – December 14, 2013

  1. If anyone is interested, Chazzan Moshe Chabusha is having a hefle’ at club 100 tomorrow night.
    It should be a nice treat. What do u think Michael. Should it be a class trip? Can we get a big yellow bus going!!
    I will get my mom to sign the forms to let me go! lol

  2. Yes Habusha concert is tonight 8:30 club 100 and $100 entry fee. Supposed to be exclusive not for everyone (only aspiring Maqam experts like you guys). I think it will be a good opportunity to hear incredible music and start implementing what we are learning and trying to identify what it is you are hearing. No school bus Avi, sorry.

  3. Avi and Danny – you are both absolutely correct and I am very proud of you for noticing this and pointing it out. Victor and I actually had a conversation about this after class. We had thought it reverted back to upper Jins Nahawand on Yovi-leni (and at that time did not hear this recording). I stand corrected – Mikol Melameday Hiskalty.

    PS – that doesn’t negate the lesson of the difference between Bayat and Husseini – that point is critical and still applies in this song (albeit not exactly the way I explained in class). Great work both of you.

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