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Arabic music

Arabic music is characterized by an emphasis on melody and rhythm rather than harmony, thus we can see why most Arabic music is homophonic in nature, though there are a few (but significantly increasing) number of pieces which use harmony extensively.

That doesn't mean that arabic music doesn't contain polyphonic pieces, as the instrument Qanoun is based upon the idea of playing two-notes chords, but quintessentially, Arabic music is melodic.

It would be incorrect though to call it modal, for the Arabic system is more complex than that of the Greek modes. The basis of the Arabic music is the Maqam, which looks like the mode, but is not quite the same. The maqam has a "tonal" note which the piece must end with (unless modulation occurs).

The maqam consists of atleast two jins or sentences. A jins is either a tricord, a tetracord, or a pentacord. The tricord is three notes, the tetracord is four notes, and the pentacord is five notes. The maqam usually covers only one octave (two jins), but sometimes it covers more than one octave. Similar to the melodic minor scale, some maqams have different jins while descending or ascending. Because of the continous innovation of jins and because most music scolars don't agree on the existing number anyways, it's hard to give an accurate number of the jins.

The main difference between the western chromatic scale and the Arabic scale is the existence of quarter notes.



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