maqam music, which is the classical music of the islamic east, has its name from arabic word maqam, which means place, rank and here: a tonalitiy with a basic groundtone, a special skill and a special melodic development.
The roots of maqam music
Developed through different cultural influences maqam music is in short the classical music of the east spread out in the whole islamic world. Its theoretical startingpoints are fixed by the works of the ancient greek siences, which separeted the natural octave into two parts of 4 tones. Pythagoras recovered the microtonal steps of a ninth part of a whole tone, and in the great time of bayt al-hiqma in Basra, Iraq, the islamic sciences reached the whole heritage of the ancient greek. They translated it into arabic and developed further aspects in music too. Under the persian courtyard influence and the strong turkish instrumental wealth the maqam music showed special marks in this: microtones like a ninth part of a whole tone and tetra and pentachords, also typical melodical features in each maqam. Enriched through the centuries the maqam music reached its high point in the ottoman epoch, when over 400 maqam tonalities had been created. In the middle of the 18. century the perisan style started to go in another direction and in the 19.century the arabic style too. But in all it is the same tradition and is today in an underrestimate condition in east and west. It is a strong worldheritage of beauty and diversity in its styles, and brings people from all over the world in the mood of sensitive feelings.
Today we distinguish five different styles of maqam music:
the ottoman maqam music, the arabic maqam music, the persian dastgah music, the uzbekian shash maqam and the azerbajan muqam music.
The instruments used to depend on the different style, but most common are the tanbur, the ney, the oud, the kanun, rebab, santur, tar, and others.