Maqam Class Series: Class 6 – March 24, 2014

Dear Class,

It’s great to be back! After a long break, it is wonderful to see everyone still so quickly grasping the concepts presented, and being able to participate in the singing.

Below the media files are a few highlights of the material we covered during the technical portion of our class with my PowerPoint presentation, specifically the transition from Bayat (on D / note 1) to Ajam (on B flat / note 6).

As well, and thanks to our dear friend, musician, and hazan Victor Esses, we introduced a new exercise to help us learn how to navigate all 8 notes in the Bayat scale while reading through “Ashrei”. This is also a great way to practice and develop your own signature style. You can watch this at 39:00 into the first video.




Class 6 Recording (Part 1)

Class 6 Recording (Part 2)


Bayat Individual Notes: Sung on “D” as 1-4, 1-5 (Husseini), 1-6 (Ajam B-flat), 1-7, and 1-8 (Mhayyar note) as we did together in class. Pay attention to the Vibrato we discussed.


Bayat Transition into Ajam on B Flat using the portion following Nishmat.


Zay El Hawa by Abdel Halim Hafez (short version). Pay attention to his transition into Ajam as we learned on B Flat / note 6. The first word of the chorus “Zay” is the B Flat.


Zay El Hawa by Abdel Halim Hafez (full version)

iTunes link (too large to upload to blog at 38:00):


Fun Facts (from Wikipedia

It is sometimes said that each maqam evokes a specific emotion or set of emotions determined by the tone row and the nucleus, with different maqams sharing the same tone row but differing in nucleus and thus emotion. Maqam Rast is said to evoke pride, power, soundness of mind, and masculinity; Maqam Bayati: vitality, joy, and feminity; Sikah: love; Saba: sadness and pain; Hijaz: distant desert.

In an experiment where maqam Saba was played to an equal number of Arabs and non-Arabs who were asked to record their emotions in concentric circles with the weakest emotions in the outer circles, Arab subjects reported experiencing Saba as “sad”, “tragic”, and “lamenting,” while only 48 percent of the non-Arabs described it thus with 28 percent of non-Arabs describing feelings such as “seriousness”, “longing”, and tension,” and 6 percent experienced feelings such as “happy”, “active”, and “very lively” and 10 percent identified no feelings.


Detailed Technical Review:

Terms P1

Terms P2

Ajam – The tonal structure (which we refer to as the Jins “DNA”) of an Ajam trichord Ajnas is 1,1 (See below). As such, there are two different Ajam Ajnas subsumed in the Bayat scale: one on F, and one on B Flat. For the purpose of this class, we have been focusing on the B Flat Ajam, which is also the starting note in the chorus of Zay El Hawa, above.

Jins Ajam

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