These CD's are specifically designed to accompany my book, Harmonic Secrets of Arabic Music Scales: Fine Tuning the Maqams. It is my hope that musicians in the Indigenous Middle East, especially the Arab world, will benefit from knowing that their ancient music can be in tune in a mathematically perfect way that Western equal-tempered music is not. It is also my hope that English-speaking Western-world musicians and composers will awaken to the vast powerful musical universe which awaits them if they are ready to take a look.
There are 18 basic maqamat, or musical modes, which are presented on these cd's. These are the first ones for a musician to learn to gain control of the vast pallet of musical colors presented in the rest of the book.
I have had some fun composing short melodies in these 18 modes. I have used the ancient fretless Middle Eastern stringed lute, or oud as my primary instrument for composition. I have added tracks which also feature the sound of the ancient Middle Eastern cane flute known as the ney or nay. I have also added the sound from the Turkish fretless banjo known as the cumbus, the sound from the Syrian buzuk and occasionally the sound of my voice. And I have used modern electronic tuning technology and have produced tracks with mathematically perfect tuning from a keyboard. I have also built rhythm tracks from the sounds of modern tunable frame drums. Although I have added short improvisations, or "taqasims" to most of these 18 short melodies, I have refrained from modulating away from the maqam I am demonstrating. I do this for the sake of clarity for the student. But in normal artistic improvisation modulations into related maqamat are usually included. One of the cd's which accompanies my first book, Arabic Musical Scales, is devoted to explaining and demonstrating some of the basic patterns of traditional cross-maqam modulation in Arabic music. Hopefully you will enjoy my 18 short compositions which illustrate how much fun we Westerners can have when we give ourselves access to these ancient universal mathematically perfect and justly intonated musical modes. These mathematically perfect intervals of course underlie all of the great carefully preserved world musical traditions. These have been especially well-documented in India, China, Persia, Greece and Turkey as well as in Egypt, Syria and Iraq. Happily, many modern electronic applications for creating music include dozens of justly intonated scales associated with ancient music traditions as something easily selectable for composition. Younger musicians are rapidly being exposed to these rich possibilities.
To add a more authentic feel I have added tracks of various improvisations or "taqasims" created in many of these maqamat which I have recorded personally from three indigenous Middle Eastern oud players.
Hopefully these CD's will inspire musicians and composers to sharpen their listening and performance skills so we can all enjoy a renewal of justly intonated perfectly harmonious music and experience the way it refreshes the soul to allow these musical vibrations to enter into us. Of course all of these recordings which involve playing on acoustic instruments have a fair share of imperfection and human error. But certain moments of perfect harmony will hopefully stand out all the more clearly and provide inspiration to the world musicians and composers of the future.