Posted in For Project 7 Examples

Example 2 Research: Octatonic scale and Orientalism

After writing my first example using the whole-tone scale, I decided to employ octatonic scale for my second example, which results from the alternation of whole and semitone steps. There are two versions, depending on whether the order begins with a whole tone or a semitone. (Fig. 1) Note that there are several other manners to notate the scale, depending on whether sharps or flats are utilized for specific notes. (Fig. 2) With no standardization, all of these notational variants are used, varying from composer to composer, depending on the musical ideas.

octatonic modes

Fig. 1. Two versions of the octatonic scale

octatonic modes 2

Fig. 2. Some notational variations of the octatonic scale

But before I focus on the properties of the octatonic scale, I have to address how puzzled I was as to why it was associated with Middle East in the West. I’ve already started my research on the Middle Eastern modes, which you can read in my three-part research here. As I wrote there, the modern practice of Arabic maqam, Turkish makam and Persian dastgah, and the related Afghanistan, Central Asian and Caucasus systems, actually use heptatonic modes. It is in the older traditions that we see the octatonic modes. Continue reading “Example 2 Research: Octatonic scale and Orientalism”

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Example 3 Research, Part 2: Arabic Maqamat

The previous post introduced the Middle Eastern traditions and their modes with some basic notion. Here I will concentrate on and write specifically about the Arabic system.

I will first start with the building blocks of the modes – jins or ajnas in plural, which I also mentioned in the previous part of my research. The Arabic modes, which are heptatonic, are made of two sets – upper and lower. These can be joined on the same note – conjunct, be separated – disjunct, or overlap. It is based on the lower jins that maqamat are classified into families or branches. (Gu, 2014: 105) While jins are usually defined by tetrachords, there are some reasons to use trichords.

In case of Ajam and Jiharkah, this is because the three of their notes may be enough to convey the mood of maqam. Both of these are similar to the first three notes of the Western major scale. (Fig. 1)

Fig. 1. Ajam and Jiharkah trichords Continue reading “Example 3 Research, Part 2: Arabic Maqamat”

Posted in For Project 7 Examples

Example 3 Research, Part 1: Introduction to the Middle Eastern Modes

I have written a little bit about the Middle Eastern music in terms of rhythm in the previous part of the course, which you can read in the second half of this post. Here, I will explore its melodic and modal system.

middle eastttern.jpg

Fig. 1. Hippolyte Lazerges, The Musician, 1894

There are three major traditions in the Middle Eastern music: Arabic, Turkish, and Persian, and there are also the related traditions in Afghanistan, Central Asia, and the Caucasus. (Randel, 2003: 551) The mode system is called maqam in the Arab world, makam in Turkish, and dastgah in Persian (Iranian), while in the Caucasus the term for the Azerbaijani version is mugam, and in Central Asian Uzbekistan, there is the system called shashmaqam. With the different traditions, there are many variations, where similar or identical modes may have different names, and the same term may have different meanings. Continue reading “Example 3 Research, Part 1: Introduction to the Middle Eastern Modes”