Arabic Music History & More

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Jason Mubaslat
Music 110
Mr. Noel

Arabic Music History and More
The tradition of Arabic music has been cultivated throughout Arab regions for thousands of years. Although it has undergone many changes over the centuries, it has retained certain distinctive traits. The Arabic music tradition developed in the courts of dynasties in the Islamic empire from the 5th century to the 7th century. It flourished during the Umayyad dynasty in the 7th century and 8th century in Syria. This era was known as the Jahilliyyah period which actually means the “period of ignorance” because society believed music and poetry was for magicians and exorcists. They believed “Jinn’s” who could be related to present day genies would reveal poems & magicians as a way of them worshipping the devil. Those magicians and exorcists were known as “Jahilli Poets” back in the ancient times. But the Arabic music tradition is not only known for their crazy old school philosophy but they are also awarded major credit for inventing the Arabic Maqam system. Maqam is a framework model that defines the pitches, patterns, and development of a piece of music. There is not only a couple different maqams but dozens which all differ dependent upon which culture one is from. Most often used in Egypt and the Levant cultures. Sometimes people often mistake the maqam being the same thing as a scale but they differ in four distinct areas. First a maqam may include microtonal variations such that tones, half tones and quarter tones. Each model has a different character which conveys a certain mood. Each model also includes rules that define its melodic development. These rules describe which notes should be emphasized, how often and in what order. Also it includes rules that define the starting and ending note of a certain music piece. When melodies draw from a vast array of models of maqam’s it is known an maqamat.

Another interesting trait about Arabic music is that it is characterized by an...
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