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Minnesota Studies in

Early Modern History

Series Editor:
Edward L. Farmer
University of Minnesota

Editorial Board:

University of Hawaii

Thomas A. Brady
University of Califurnia,

Timothy Brook
University of British

University of Minnesota

The Arab Lands in the

Mansur Sefatgol

Ottoman Era

William D. Phillips, |r.

lerry H.



Luca Codignola
Universitd di Genova

University of Tehran
|ames D. Tracy
University of Minnesota
f osefi na Zor aida Visquez
El Colegio de Mdxico

Felipe Ferndndez-Armesto Ann Waltner

University of Minnesota
[Jniversity of Notre Dame
Wang Gungwu

Anthony Grafton
Princeton (lniversity

National University of Singapore

Tamar Herzog
Stanford University

John E. Wills, |r.

University of Southern Califurnia

Carla Rahn Phillips

University of Minnesota

Edited by
|ane Hathaway

Essays in Honor oJ ProJessor Caesar Farab

Titles in Series

l. calvin

B. Kendall,

oliver Nicholson, william D. Phillips, ]r., and Mar-

Christianity from Late Antiquity to the

in Europe, Asia, and the Americas
Ragnow, eds., Conversion to

2.lane Hathaway, ed., The Arab Lands in the Ottoman Era



Ottoman Musical
The Samat, Basbraf and Longa in the
Arab Vorld and Beyond
Koy Hardy Campbell

uring the Ottoman period, musical influences from Persia,

Anatolia, the Balkans, and the Arab world wove themselves
into a rich and varied musical tapestry. The muezzin's
adhan, or call to prayer, rang in tiny villages and cosmopolitan
cities. Sufis from the Mevlevi and Bektashi orders used music to
reach spiritual transformation. Folk musicians played for weddings.
Churches and synagogues borrowed from the music around them to
add to their liturgical music. Court musicians composed and played
sophisticated suites of vocal and instrumental pieces.

Being part of this musical mix, musicians in the Arab world

adopted three Ottoman instrumental genres: the saz semo'1, the
pe;rev, and the longa. By the end of the nineteenth century, Arab
musicians were playing them in their own style, and were composing new pieces in these forms, which they pronounced samdct,
bashraf, and longa. Today, Arab musicians still study and play hundreds of compositions in these forms. They play older, Turkishcomposed pieces from the Ottoman period and selections composed
by Arabs in the twentieth century, as well as newer, more innovative pieces from the twenty-first century. Some ring with a simple,
pristine clarity. Others are so complex that they require multiple

252 _


repetitions and serious study to understand

tAL FoRv5 <r


and appreciate.

Still others are full of startling innovations.

cornpositions in these forms are still played today, having taken
on an additional relevance to new generations of students of Arab
'-and ottoman music. Their very structures are seen as tools with
which to teach the essence of Middle Eastern music: the theory and
practice of maqam, improvisation, and the art of melodic composition.
The sama't, bashraf, and longa are all built in the form of a rondo,
i.e., they have a central musical theme, known as the tasltm, which
is a ritornello that is repeated several times. Introducing each piece

and woven among the repetitions of the tasltm are four sections
called khanat (singular, khana). Each khana explores the maqdm
(plural, maqamat), that is, the mode or scale, in which the piece is
composed. Each of these forms has a rhythm that distinguishes it
from the others.

Many bashraf compositions are documented in the first written collections of music in the central ottoman lands by ,Ali Ufki
Bey in 1650 and Dimitrie cantemir in 1700.' with its stately 4/4based rhythms, the bashraf became an integral part of ottoman
musical life. It was played in the courtly vocalfa;/, or composition;
in the purely instrumentalfasl; by the mehter (military band); in
the synagogues, which used sung bashraf melodies with Hebrew
texts; and in the Mevlevi ritual known as ayin.2 over the centuries,
its rhythmic cycles grew longer, allowing its melodic lines to take
on greate r density. By the close of the ottoman era, the bashraf s
rhythmic cycles had stretched to include 20/4,28/4,3214 and even

The longa, a secular genre said to have originated in the Balkans as a dance form, typically has a lively 214 rhythm. The sama(t
form evolved from Sufi ritual, eventually finding its way into the
secular music of the ottoman court and the ensembles of Egypt
and the Levant. over the centuries, the rhythm and compositional


practice of the sama(levolved, but in a different way from those of

the bashraf. The earliest pieces known from the seventeenth century were primarily in a 614 or 618 rhythm, but by the end of the
nineteenth century, the predominant rhythm had shifted to the l0/8

rhythm known in Turkish as al.csak semd'f.a


It was natural that musicians in the Arab lands of the Ottoman

Empire learned and performed the instrumental compositions of
central Ottoman composers, given the extensive contacts between
Arabs and Turks in general during the centuries of Ottoman rule.
There were many musical touch points between the two cultures.
The Mevlevi Sufis of Aleppo, for example, preserved and performed
the Ottoman forms in their rituals. Several influential Arab composers studied with the Sufis in Aleppo, including 'Umar al-Batsh
(1885-1950) and Shaykh'Ali al-Darwish (1872-1952).s In Cairo and
other Ottoman Arab cities, musicians were organized in guilds and
trained future musicians in an apprentice-style system.6 Further,
Arab and Turkish musicians performed for each other at court in
Cairo and Istanbul.T
The extent of this musical interchange is most obvious in that
both Arab and Turkish music traditions are based on the principles
and practice of maqdmdt, a comprehensive aesthetic of musical
modes or scales that developed over the centuries. These maqdmdt
include microtones, notes that fall between the half-steps familiar
to western music. In this musical aesthetic, songs and compositions
are performed without underlying harmony except for droning on
the tonic, fourth, or fifth note of the maqam. Players have the freedom to add ornamentation, to delay notes slightly, and to interpret a piece differently, giving every performance a unique, living
quality. Lastly and most distinctively, singers and instrumentalists
improvise, always within the aesthetics of the maqam.


4 r-- THE ARAB





we know from early recordings and western-style musical notation that by the early twentieth century, Arab musicians had altered
these ottoman forms to their own tastes. Stylistically, Arab musicians tend to play the maqamat differently from Turks. They play
microtonal intervals, such as E half-flat, with less subtlety, so that
the distance between E flat and E half-flat might be much larger
than when a classical Turkish musician plays the same note, depending on the maqan within which it is played. These differences are

most striking in certain maqamat, such as rast and slkah. More

educated and experienced Arab musicians alter some of the written microtonal pitches slightly to reflect the subtlety of the Turkish interpretation.s
Arab ensembles also interpret musical phrasing differently, adding dramatic emphasis where a Turkish ensemble might hold back.
Arab ensembles also place more emphasis on rhythm, resulting in
a heavier-sounding percussion line than one would hear in a Turkish ensemble performance. on an individual level, Arab violinists,

qanun (Middle Eastern zither) players, and,ud players perform in

a more virtuosic manner that some Turks dismiss as showy.e Arab

musicians like to make maximum use of ornamentation and add

runs and even glissandos to a phrase when a classical Turkish connoisseur would prefer a more subtle expression. It should be noted
that while some Turkish classical musicians deride the Arab style,
that Arab style has had a great influence on the Turkish musical
mainstream in the twentieth century.
Aside from these stylistic modifications, how did Arab musicians change these forms over the twentieth century? why did

every major twentieth-century Arab composer publish and/or

record at least one sama't, bashraf, or longa even though these
rarely achieved any popularity? why are these ottoman musical
forms still "in play" in performance in the Arab world and beyond?
And finally, what do these forms have to offer musicians in the
twenty-first century?

CAL FoRMs.==:r 255

In addition to perusing secondary scholarly works on Arab and

Ottoman music for answers to these questions, I discussed these
issues with composers and scholars who currently perform and
study these instrumental forms. I conducted interviews with eight
composers in New England during August and September 2005.
My subjects were Alan Shavarsh Bardezbanian, Dr. Robert Labaree, Dr. Ali Jihad Racy, Charbel Rouhana, Kareem Roustom, Dr.
Mehmet $anhkol, Simon Shaheen, and Gregory White. Some are
scholar-composers; others are professional musicians with commercial recordings. One, a Ph.D. candidate in rnedieval Middle Eastern

literature at Harvard, had just composed his first

There are several reasons why the Ottoman musical forms sur-

vived in the Arab world. First, they were three of only a handful of
purely instrumental genres being played in Egypt and the Levant
at the close of the Ottoman era. Second, during the twentieth century, they were safely marginalized while mainstream Arab composers and musicians experimented with new forms and foreign
influences. Even though they were on the sidelines, musicians still
played these forms because they presented challenges to music students, performers, and composers. Further, admired compositions
in these genres are believed to encapsulate the knowledge and aesthetics of the complex maqdm system on which Middle Eastern
music is based. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, musicians
who want to learn to improvise use these pieces to help them learn
how to play a credible improvisation, or taqstm. The art of taqslm
is one of the fundamental elements of Middle Eastern music and
one of the most difficult things to learn. A good sama't or bashraf
shows musicians the path to taqstm.
There are relatively few purely instrumental genres from the Ottoman period that survive on paper notation and in early recordings

in Egypt and the Levant. Only two other instrumental genres were
being played at the time: the very short dulAb and the Egyptian
tahmlla. Musicians in the Persian, or Arabian, Gulf, North Africa,

256 _

orroMAN MUsIcAL FoRv^s


and Mesopotamia have their own indigenous instrumental musical forms that they weave into musical suites combining vocal
and instrumental pieces. Musicians in the Levant and Egypt, however, use these Ottoman forms in their musical suite known as the

Throughout the Arab world, there are relatively few genres of

purely instrumental music because vocal music has always been
more popular with audiences. Songs contain emotionally powerful
lyrics that ultimately bring a musical performance to its emotional
peak. As a result, songs always take center stage. The Arabs call
purely instrumental musi c al-musfqa al-;amita, "silent music". ln
addition, composers fbcus more on vocal music because singers are
the most acclaimed artists and because writing music for complex
poetry is a big challenge. As a result, instrumental pieces have normally been used as preludes, interludes, or postludes to the more
important vocal works.
As the twentieth century unfolded, these forms survived in the Arab
world but became marginalized. The Arab musical mainstream in
the twentieth century was focused on music in new forms for newer,
larger audiences. Leading composers rose to great fame by compos-

ing in the form of the long song or poem (qa;rda) for large orchestral performances with famous vocalists such as umm Kulthum,
Asmahan, and 'Abd al-Halim Hafiz. Musical theater and film also
called for new forms of instrumental and vocal music. As a result,
the longa, the bashraf, and the samd(l were relegated to the con-

servatory, the salons of the connoisseurs, and the composers' studios. Purists played the old repertoire. others wrote new pieces in
the old genres. In this w&y, the forms were preserved even while
mainstream Arab musical life constantly experimented with western
influences and new forms.rr Even so, as these forms were relegated
to the safe sidelines, each had a slightly different fate in the Arab
world as the decades of the twentieth century progressed.



Arab musicians used the bashraf as an introductory piece to set

the stage for the maqam of the wa;la. In Sufi music, this form has
also retained its place in the Mevlevi ritual in Syria. Many pieces
by Ottoman composers in this genre are still popular with Arab
musicians today, such as the bashraf in the maqdm of faraltfaza
by Hakkr Bey (1865-1927), along with other basharif by
(Astm Bey, Neyzen Yusuf Pasha, TanTurkish composers Giriftzen
buri Osman Bey, and the Armenian Kemani Tatyos Efendi. Arab
composers also added a few, but not many, basharif of their own.
Shaykh'Ali Darwish wrote a bashraf in l.tijazkar. Composer, educator and'ud master George Farah of Lebanon composed a bashraf
in rast. Contemporary Lebanese composer Marcel Khalife (b. 1950)
has composed several basharif.t2

Over the course of the twentieth century, Arab musicians and

composers gradually replaced the longer rhythmic cycles used by
the Ottomans, such as 2814 and 3214, with 414. Shaykh 'Ali Darwish's bashraf in ftijazkar, which appeared at the close of the Ottoman era, was composed in3214. But by mid-century, collections of
sheet music that included older basharifby Turkish composers such
as Isma'il Hakkr Bey and Tanburi Osman Bey were all notated in
414 whereas the Turkish notation of the same pieces reflects longer rhythmic cycles. Veteran classical Arab percussionist Michel
Merhej confirmed that during his career, which spanned the middle and late twentieth century, Arab musicians rarely played anything besides 414 for a bashraf unless it were specifically written
out in a longer cycle. He noted, however, that he added rhythmic
accents called for in the melody, perhaps a remnant of the original
Ottoman rhythmic cycle.r3 This trend may also be found in Turkey
among percussionists outside the conservatories, since Dr. Robert
Labaree believes that many Turks also "have lost touch with a lot
of the old u;uls [rhythms]."r4





with its Balkan-influenced lively flourishes,

the fast-paced longa

with Arab musicians. Several longas, such
as the longa nahdwand (nihavend) by Tanburi Cemil Bey (1871l916) and the longa shahnaz by Edhem Efendi, are played in all
kinds of musical settings, from conservatory recitals to nightclubs.
Arabs have not altered the structure of the longa although they
has always been popular

sometimes add rhythmic taqasim (improvisations played over a per-

cussion line) in-between some of the sections. The Arab musical

style is highlighted in this form since Arab musicians can demonstrate their technical prowess and virtuosity with nothing held back.
Interestingly, Arab and Turkish musicians agree that the faster one
plays a longa, the better.
We have many more longas by twentieth-century Arab compos-

ers than basharif. Early examples are by Shaykh (Ali Darwish in

Jarahfaza, Jamil 'Uwais in hijazkar, and 'Abd al-Rahman Jabuqji
rn rast. One of the most popular longas of the twentieth century is
also in the maqam of faraftfaza. Nearly every student of Arab music
studies this piece, and it is a popular item on concert programs.
This longa was penned by a mainstream Egyptian composer of the

twentieth century, Riyad al-Sunbati (1906-81). He is best known

for his big orchestra compositions, such as Rubd,tyat al-Khayyam
and al-A7lal (The ruins), which Umm Kulthum sang. Interestingly,
his longa is the only instrumental ottoman-form piece we have
composed by him. He left no bashraf or samdcl-. Contemporary
Arab composers also try their hand at the longa. Marcel Khalife
has published one, Dr. Jihad Racy has written three, and George
Farah (b.




has one.r5


Arab musicians adapted the instrumental sama(l- to their taste by
playing the l0/8 rhythm as a slow and stately waltz with some
extra beats. Like the longa, this form works well with Arab musicians' frequent preference to add flourishes and to play with a more
obvious virtuosity than their Turkish counterparts. With a heavier


percussion line, in addition, a samd(iplayed by an Arab ensemble

takes on Sweep and grandeur. Early on, Egyptian performers added
taqaslm between Some of the sections of the sama'l,'u a practice
that continues today.
Several samac tyaf by Ottoman composers are

still popular with

Arab musicians. The Sama't RAst by Tatyos is considered by many

"to be one of the finest ever written. Other beloved Turkish-composed sama'tyat are three pieces by Tanburi Cemil Bey in the
maqamat of sha!! (or shadd)'araban,faral.tfaza, and multayyar; the
nahdwand by Neyzen Yusuf Pasha, and the samdrl in the maqam
of suzidil by Sedat Oztoprak. The humble, anonymously-composed
Samdc t Bayati Thaqrt was so commonplace at one point during the
twentieth century in the Arab world that it became known as the
Barbers' Samd(i, for it was being played even in the barbershops.
This sama(l demonstrates four major moqamAt in a clear, almost
instructive way. It was the first sama't that the author of this article learned to play on the'ud, and it was also one of the first that
Dr. Ali Jihad Racy remembers hearing as a nine-year-old boy in

Of the three Ottoman forms discussed here, the samatf appears

to have intrigued Arab composers the most. We can deduce this
from the large number of published and recorded compositions in
this genre. One of the earliest Arab-composed samactyat, by the
Egyptian composer Ibrahim al-(Aryan (1850-1920), the maqdm of
bayati, is considered an excellent example of an Arab-style sama'tSeveral Arab composers of the late Ottoman Empire tried their
hands at this genre, and the resulting compositions are among the
favorites of modern-day Arab musicians, such as the Nawa Athar
by Jamil 'Uwais.
Even mainstream twentieth-century composers left works in the
samd(r genre. Egypt's Muhammad'Abd al-Wahhab published two
(ud master Muhammad al-Qasabji comsama( tyat. Composer and
posed one.r8 Those outside of the mainstream, such as professional

musicians with classical tastes or conservatory instructors, such

as George Farah and George Michel, composed many samac lydt

260 :


cAL FoRMs:261

rhythm. There is a majestic thing about the sama( l.

There is also something that can be very spiritual and
very calming because you have this really lush metric pattern.... The sama'l really requires compositional
skill, thought, and planning. It requires real soul-searching because the whole form is about how an individual

that they taught to their students and performed for their own audiences.

I asked several composers why ,nI rn""ght Arab musicians wrote

and performed more samd( tyal than works in other genres.

Dr. Ali Jihad Racy of UCLA, who has composed


samd(lyat and three longas but no basharrt gave his view:

The meter is accessible, and it's easier to get inspired
and catch a measure from the muse with a l0/8 beat, and
then build a whole composition on it. But if you get a
muse sense in a four-note motif flike the bashraJf you
may have to expand it to make it more of a melody.
According to Palestinian 'ud master and composer Simon Shaheen,

I guess the sama(i is the middle ground between the

bashraf and the longa. The bashraf is stately; it's very
slow. It requires longer, extended breath in playing while
the longa, on the other hand, is faster and requires more

technical ability. So the sama(f is kind of in-between,

and it has this beautiful l0/8, yet it has this dance-form
style. It lends itself. It's not too slow; it's not too fast.
As a prelude for a wa;la, for example, I think it creates
a beautiful selection....
Kareem Roustom, a composer now in his thirties, recently performed his second sama'r in nahawand at the Kennedy Center in
Washington, D.C. He talked about choosing to compose a samdcf
for the occasion.

I wanted to present the finest

aspect of art music. To

me, the sama'f represents that, of Arab-Ottoman and

Arab art music. I'm not crazy about the idea of a bashraf

yet. I don't know why it doesn't attract me as much.

I haven't composed a longa. I'm not a big fan of the

unfolds a maqam....

Alan Shavarsh Bardezbanian (d. 2006), an Armenian-American

composer who wrote more than thirty-five samdcfydt, far more
than his output in the other two genres combined, enjoyed composing the samdcf the most.
You have to use the l0/8. You have to use the maqdm
correctly. You have to be able to stretch the time, and
you have to keep it melodic. Because it's such a challenge, and it's such an intellectual process along with
the creative process, I think it's the most exciting of the

First-time sama'l composer Gregory White talked about the

challenge of his experience.
was surprised how short forty beats is to fit a given
amount of material into one of the sections. When you're
playing la sama'fl, it seems so endless and long, so I

always had the impression that it has a lot of space in it.

But when I composed it, I was struck at how little space
you really have as a composer.


In the late twentieth century, many modern composers stretched

the limits of these forms. Iraqi cud maestro Munir Bashir (1930-97)
composed a samacl in l.tijazkar that eliminated the first khana
entirely. Simon Shaheen's samactyat include complex and daring
maqam modulations. Marcel Khalife of Lebanon adds harmony to

26? :'


his basharif. Charbel Rouhana also likes to use harmony, and has
introduced accordion and bass to his compositions. Kareem Roustom has notated places in his sama(l-scores where performers must
improvise. Alan Bardezbanian has written a longa with five khanat.
It should be noted that these innovative trends are also found among
leading Turkish composers of the contemporary period, such as
Cinugen Tanrrkorur.
Many young Arab composers are abandoning the old Ottoman
forms. Charbel Rouhana teaches 'ud at the Lebanese National Conservatory and the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik in Jounieh, Lebanon.

For the last fifteen years, students are interested more

in free composition, not in sama't, bashraf, or longa.If
they compose, they compose something free, and not in
a form. They are more interested in composing songs
and modern music.
We have many choices. But the most important thing is

to always have new ideas in composition and to choose

to compose instrumental pieces, and to take care of
the traditional instruments like the ([td and the qanun.
Maybe this is the way to deal with old forms: not to
keep them as they are. Maybe I'll [compose one] and
add an introduction, some taqdslm inside, then a finale
or a song.

In his recent composition "Forward," Rouhana demonstrates this

idea. He weaves new themes around the tasltm of the famous samd( t

by tbrahim al-'Aryan. After an original introduction in l0/8, "Forward" moves into a jazz-llke section and then experiments with
electronic vocal music before returning to repeat the tasltm at the

While they may not be required to compose in these forms,

Arab music students are still required to study them, and they still
perform them at recitals. Even as composers continue to work with
these forms with varying degrees of enthusiasm and experimenta-

rAL Fonus '--r


tion, scholars and educators see intrinsic value in them. They cite
the unique combination of form and substance as an accessible
gateway to efficient learning, better performance, improvisation,
and composition, all within the maqan system.

A good bashraf or samaci (and, to a lesser extent, a good longa)

reflects the composer's understanding and inventiveness not only
within the structure of the form but within the aesthetic taste of
the maqan. Most importantly, it should capture the essence, soul,
and spirit of the maqam. It should also illustrate artful phrases that
work within the aesthetic of the mode, emphasizing the parts of the
maqam that are considered the most beautiful. As the piece develops, it should also illustrate good modulation intb neighboring or
related maqamdt Finally, these pieces should roughly follow the
correct sayir,zo or the flow in which a good musician should improvise in that maqam.zl
Simon Shaheen believes that the old strophic songs, the Arab
muwashshal.tat, also offer a rich source for the study of maqam to
those who have access to archival recordings and notation. Shaheen
uses passages from muwashshahat when he teache s maqam theory
at the Arabic Music Retreat at Mount Holyoke College.
The Arabic vocal repertoire has rhythmic richness that
is so diverse and so deep. You have all these modulations there on a deeper level that I don't think the samqcl
can get close to.... These pieces are based on three mod-

ulations, maximum four. Capturing the maqam is based

on sticking to the maqam itself as much as possible and
not modulating too much. If you modulate, you do minor
modulations to related maqamat that are very close to it,
that are within the essence of the maqdm.
For instrumentalists who cannot find pieces from the old song
repertoire, the bashraf, samatl, and longa are a key to understanding the maqdm and its aesthetic.






Arab musicians and singers are expected to be able to improvise

in a given maqam. In order to learn to improvise, they study.and
analyze other improvisations. They also study instrumental works
that illustrate the sayir of the maqam, as well as aesthetically pleasing modulations.
Bardezbanian elaborates:

This is how you learn maqams! you learn it through the

bashraf and the sama,l and you apply itto taqsrm.Two
or three nights a week I'm reading scores, just so I can
analyze the maqans. That's how you learn it, to me,
through the sama.l-s and the bashrafs.
Dr. Robert Labaree confirms this:

I was told the classic statement is, "If you want to learn
how to do taqsrm, you have to learn ten pieces in that
maqdm." The other side of it is, "you can't do any of
those pieces

if you don't know taqsfm!" That combina-

tion shows you that these two are interlocked.


Dr. Ali Jihad Racy believes that the rondo structure of these old
forms lends itself well to expressing the maqam as a composer.

The rondo structure allows you to apply your whole

modal sense in terms of modulating from the refrain
to the other sections. So really, it's almost like if you're
not going to play a taqstm from a certain mode, play the
sama ci. It gives you the facility, the accessibility of the
meter, and the verses through which you can express
your maqam and modulate. It becomes a great teaching
device, and aesthetically it becomes very relevant to the
whole modal sense.

cAL Fonus :265

Dr. Robert Labaree, who is particularly interested in the practice of composition and performance within the maqam system,
believes the rondo format is persistent because it allows for efficient composition and gives performers leeway to add expression
to every performance.

It puts a tool in your hand for being able to create for a

situation. It is a form that is really concise and efficient
and has been honed down over the years. Essentially it's
those kind [sic] of refrained forms, which are the same
kind of things you find in song forms. They seem to be
really well matched to a human being with maqam and
u;ul frhythm] in his hand.... They falso] put in the performer's hands, within his control, the power to really
get the expression.


The Ottoman and later Arab works in the forms of sama'r, bashraf,
and longa are usually notated very simply, with just a single melody line. As a consequence, a typical composition fits on one or
two sheets of paper even though it might take fifteen minutes to

perform. This simplicity allows individual students to learn a piece

as a solo work, and to layer on ornamentation and dynamics when
working with a teacher or by experimenting alone. Small ensembles and large orchestras can read through and learn the composition more easily since they are playing it in unison. Once a group
learns the basic melody, ensemble members and large orchestra
conductors can experiment by adding drones, layering on ornamentation, developing "call and response" among instruments,
and trading solos. This means that the simple notation, in combination with the rondo format, gives performers and arrangers great
freedom of interpretation. It also means that each performance of
one of the old forms will differ from the next. In a sense, then, the
simple notation of the forms engenders expressiveness, heterophony, and the idea of a living performance, all central elements of
the musical tradition.






Far beyond the lands of the ottoman Empire, students, musicians,
and scholars are taking an appreciative look at these forms, whether
they are playing them in the Turkish or in the Arab style. In the

united States, Middle Eastern music ensembles have been established at Boston's Berklee School of Music, Bowdoin College, Brown

university, california Polytechnic State University, Harvard University, Tufts University, UCLA, the university of california-santa
Barbara, the University of Chicago, The University of Texas at Austin, and william and Mary college, with more formed each year.z2
while most of these groups focus on Arab music, they also explore
Turkish music.23 These three instrumental forms are usually played
in the recitals of these groups, bringing them to new audiences.
The internet is also spreading knowledge about the forms, the
maqam system, and aesthetic practice. Hundreds of websites about
Middle Eastern music and several Middle Eastern music discussion groups have sprung up in English in the last ten years. Recordings and sheet music of Arabic and Turkish samactyat, basharif,
and longas are readily available online.2a Comprehensive archival
recordings of the early twentieth century from both the Turkish and
Arab traditions have been made widely available and are appearing on the shelves of young musicians, as well as major libraries
around the world.
Leading Arab musicians such as Simon Shaheen and Dr. Ati
Jihad Racy perform these genres and discuss them in their concerts, bringing the concepts of the maqdrn system and the rondo
forms to new audiences. other educational efforts, such as the
Arabic Music Retreat at Mount Holyoke college and the Middle Eastern Music and Dance camp in Mendocino, califorinia,
teach sama( fyat, basharif, and longas to students from all over
the world.
outside of academia, mainstream musicians such as Sting and
Carlos Santana have produced recordings with Arab musical stars,
bringing the sound of Middle Eastern instruments and rhythms to
the mass media. As a result of all this, the world's ear is begin-





ning to become more attuned to the ideas of maqamat and Middle

Eastern rhythms.

This raises questions about the future of the Ottoman instrumental forms. Will musicians in the Middle East abandon these
maqam-laden gems? Will they continue to be marginalized, far
from the musical mainstream in the Middle East and the rest of the
world? Will the practice of composition in these rondo forms, interpretive performances, and improvisation be lost? Will the knowledge of the maqamdt become watered down or fall into disuse? Or
will they take root on new continents and evolve in new ways?
Dr. Robert Labaree believes the last-mentioned possibility is
already becoming a reality.

A student will find himself falling out of jazz or clas*

sical music. He's got the chops; what's he going to do?
He might join a klezmer ensemble, where he finds an
ensemble, some spirit, a way of working that's more
communal, more open. He is more in control; he's not

score-driven. It's very liberating. After a couple of

years, he gets itchy. He wants to improvise. What's the
next thing? Maqam. Maqam sits there waiting for peo-

ple, sort of at the edge of all these large modal systems

like raga. It's another alternative, waiting for people to
move in and learn the ropes. It's not just learning tunes;
it's learning a whole practice, a discipline, and a role.
They are in an ensemble, and they are improvising....
I think it's because they are immersed in a world that
can't shut out all that other kind of music. Therefore
they start looking and maqan is there.

It's an incredibly powerful tool. It has an immense legacy, so it's a bottomless pit of source that you can always
go to and drink and get renewed. It has enormous applications in polyphonic settings, in electronic settings,
in pop music, in symphonic music of all kinds that we
don't even know. I see it as a tool, a technology, and I
don't see any reason why it can't survive.


cAL Fonus.== 269


piece is a little bit more free-form. I can see having a

movement within that, like a sama(r.I guess you could
say it's like a neo-classical composition. Stravinsky at
a certain point was using very old classical forms and
doing new things with them. There's something that's
very new in the very old, if you choose to interpret it in

Two young Boston-area composers illustrate this trend. While

both are of Middle Eastern descent, others with no family ties to the

Middle East are also on the experimental musical path described

by Dr. Labaree.
Dr. Mehmet $anhkol, a graduate of the New England Conservatory originally from Bursa, left Turkey and came to Boston to
study jazz and rock music at the Berklee School of Music . Later,
while finishing up a master's degree at the New England Conservatory, he became fascinated by the mehter music of the Janissaries,
which he discovered one night while surfing the internet. I-ater, he
was introduced to the principals of the maqamat This drew him
into a long period of exploration, performance, and composition of
several bashraJb (or pesrevs, to use the Turkish form of the word)
and saz sema)ts (a Turkish form of the sama(l). He and Dr. Labaree founded a performing and educational nonprofit organization
called Diinya, which explores the music traditions of Turkey and
the Middle East and looks for innovative ways to apply them. Dr.
$anlrkol composed a pesrev in honor of his new bride, entitled
Hantm Sultan. His mehter group, The New England Drum and
winds Mehterhane, debuted this piece, as well as other ottoman
selections, at a Harvard University concert in October 2005.
Kareem Roustom also started out in rock and jazz, then began
composing film scores. ln 1997, he bought his first ,ud andjoined
Dr. Ali Jihad Racy's Middle Eastern Music Ensemble at UCLA.
There he discovered the maqam-based music of his Syrian heritage. He has composed two samdclyat and earned a master's degree
in composition and ethnomusicolo gy at Tufts university, where he
formed a Middle Eastern music ensemble for students. He has composed classical music for the Philadelphia orchestra, the Boston
children's chorus, and the Firebird Ensemble, a group of classical
musicians in Boston who perform new classical music exclusively.
He discusses the sonata he composed for the Firebird Ensemble:
I took the rhythms of classical Arabic poetry, the bul.tur,
and based each movement on one of them. I'm diving
into that as a form. But the actual physical form of the

a different way.


will tell

how these Ottoman musical forms


be regarded

by future audiences and musicians. Regardless of their popularity,

they will remain as they have for centuries, elegant miniature musi-

cal masterpieces that encapsulate the essence of what makes the

music of the Middle East distinct.


Walter Feldman, Music of the Ottoman Court: Makam, Composition

and the Early Ottoman Instrumental Repertoire (Berlin, 1996), 303.

2. Ibid., 3t4-t5.
3. Ibid., 330-31.
4. Ibid., 465-66.
5. Ali Jihad Racy, Making Music in the Arab ll'orld:

The Culture and

ry of I ar ab (Cambridg e, 2003), 25.

Idem, "Preface to the Turkish Edition" of Making Music in the Arab

A r t is

World (forthcoming), p. 2.



The first four notes, or the jins, of the maqam of hUaz on D, for example, are written in Arab notation as D, E-flat, F-sharp, G. However, if
it is played that way, it does not sound authentic to a discerning listener. Experienced musicians raise the E-flat slightly and lower the Fsharp slightly to shorten the interval between the two notes. Arab musicians term the "as written" l.tijaz "Hollywood Hijaz" since it can be
heard in western-composed imitations of Arab music in film scores.


Interview with Dr. Robert Labaree, September 2005.

See the biographies and discographies of the interview subjects fol-


Interview with Dr. Ali Jihad Racy, August 2005.

lowing the Notes.

27 O





Marcel Khalife has written basharif in ftijaz kar kurd, rallat al-arwah,
and jaharkah- For the scores, see Khalifeh, Oud (Beirut, 1997).


Interview Sublects

sha!!'arabdn, bayati, rdst,

Telephone interview with Michel Merhej, September 2005.

Interview with Dr. Robert Labaree, September 2005.



Khalifeh, oud,38 George Farah, Tamdrrn mustqiyya li-atat al-(ud

([d] (Beirut, 1986),
fMusical exercises for the
Racy, Making Music in the Arab World,I35.
lnterview with Racy, August 2005.
Interview with Simon Shaheen, September 2005.
t9. on charbel Rouhan a, The Art of the Middle Eastern oad (ARC Records, 2003), released in Lebanon as Vice Versa.


Feldman, Music of the ottoman court,337:"seyyirdiffers from other

concepts of melodic progression in that it specifies not only a hierarchy of tonal centers within a scale, but a specific melodic path, which

will involve not only direction, but returning to specific tones, prolonging of these or other tones, and deviating from the basic scale in
predetermined ways."

21. Ibid-, 466; also Racy, Making Music in the Arab world,102-.03.
22. Robert Tuttle, 'An unusual campus Love Story," Christian science
Monitor,l2 April 2005, 12.

23. During the 2001-02 academic

year, Harvard's Middle East Music

Ensemble focused exclusively on studying and performing ottoman
classical music under the directi on of kemence player and vocalist Dr.
Nilgtin Do$rusoz from the National Conservatory of Turkish Music


in Istanbul. Harvard's group has also sponsored several workshops

and lectures by visiting ottoman music scholars. During the academic year 2004-05, the ensemble at Brown University invited Turkish
musician Latif Bolat to work and perform with them.
For a comprehensive website on maqamat, see www.maqamworld.
com. For sheet music, see and www.neyzen.
com/nota_arsivi.htm. Discussion groups on Middle Eastern music at
Yahoo Groups include arabc las s icalmus ic, arabicmus icre t reat, middle- eas te rn clas sical mus ic, ney
_lovers, and, turkis h-mus icology.



Shav ar sh

ardezb anian

Mr. Bardezbanian (d. 9 November 2006) was an Armenian-American

composer and performer on'ftd, clarinet, and qanun. He studied the
maqam system and the classical Turkish instrumental repertoire with
the qanun master Esber Kopriicti. Mr. Bardezbanian led a Middle Eastern music ensemble in Maine, where he resided. He coached the Middle
Eastern Music Ensemble at Bowdoin College and was also adjunct faculty member in (ud at the Arabic Music Retreat.

Oud Masterpieces front Armenia, Turkey and the Middle Easf. ARC Music,

ReOrientalism: The Near East Lives Next Door. Cultural Exchange Discs,
From Kef to Classical: Alan Shavarsh Bardezbanian and His Middle Eastern Ensemble. Cultural Exchange Discs, 2002.

Dr. Robert Labaree

An ethnomusicologist, composer, and performer on the Qeng, or classical Ottoman harp, Dr. Labaree serves as Chair of History and Musicology at Boston's New England Conservatory. He is also the founder
and chair of NEC's Intercultural Institute, and is a co-founder of Diinyo
(World). He has performed Ottoman classical music extensively in Turkey and in the United States, and is a founding member of the EurAsia
Ensemble. He has composed several pieces in the traditional peSrev and
sdz sema) | genres.


You the World,

Roses (with Diinya). Dtinya, Inc., 2009.

Birds (with Dtinya). Diinya, Inc., 2008.

For Us the

The Language of the

The Tulip and the Sword (with Di.inya). Di.inya, lnc.,2007

Music of Cyprus (with Drinya). Dtinya, [nc.,2007.
The Psalms of


UJki. Dnnya, Inc., 2006.

Come See Whot Love Has Done to Me (Gel Gdr Beni ASk Ney,ledi) (with Di.inya).
Recorded live, 14 February 2005, at Jordan Hall, New England Conservatory,
Boston. Dtinya, Inc., 2005.
Qengnagme [Book of the Qeng]. Kalan, 2001 .
Eski Dilnya ile Sohbet (Conversations with the OId llttorld) (with the EurAsia En-

semble). N.d.
Boston Sema. 1998.

Istanbul on the Charles. 1997.

27 2 _


orroMAN MU.sICAL FoRlts '=< 273

Dr. Ali lihad Rocy

Dr. Racy is a professor of ethnomusicolo gy at ucLA. In addition to being
a leading Middle Eastern ethnomusicologist, he is an active composer
and a highly-regarded performer on the nay, or oriental flute, and the
buzuq (bouzouki), as well as the'ud, the violin, and folk-music wind
instruments such as the mijwiz and the mizmdr. He founded and continues to direct the Middle Eastern Music Ensemble at UCLA, the first and
longest-running such ensemble in an American college or university.
Born and raised in Lebanon, Dr. Racy was immersed in the old ottoman musical forms at an early age. He serves as the Associate Director
of the Arabic Music Retreat, where he conducts the Retreat Ensemble,
lectures on ethnomusicology and performance practice, coaches small
ensembles, and teaches nay and buzilq, as well as sitar and trumpet on
occasion. He is also the author of the award-win ning Making Music in

the Arab world: The culture and

Artistry of larab

(see Bibliography).

Mystical Legacies. Lyrichord Discs, 1997.
Ancient Egypt. Lyrichord Discs, 1993.

Art of Improvisation in Arabic Music. Lyrichord Discs,


Koreem Roustom

A native of Damascus, Mr. Roustom is a composer and performer on'ud

and jazz guitar. He is the musical director of the Sharq Music Ensemble,
as well as the Middle Eastern Music Ensemble at Tufts University, where
he completed his master's degree in composition and ethnomusicology.
He composes and arranges scores for film and television, and has provided arrangements for popular music artists Shakira and Beyonc6. His
composition commissions include ()pon Eastern Breezes for the Philadelphia Orchestra, a vocal work for the Boston Children's Chorus, and
a sonata for Boston's Firebird Ensemble. Mr. Roustom's musical score
for the documentary film Encounter Point won the Best Musical Score
award at the 2006 Bend International Film Festival.

Revival (with the Sharq Ensemble). Xauen Music, 2006.
The Songs of Sayyed Darweesh: The Soul of a People (with the Chicago Classical Oriental Ensemble). Xauen Music, 2006.
A Mediterraneon Christmas: Songs of Celebration from Spain, Provence, ItaIy, and the Middle East (with the Boston Camerata, Joel Cohen, conductor).
Warner Brothers Classics, 2005.
Almitrab Question (with El-Zafeer Ensemble). Fuller Street Music, 2004.

Charbel Rouhana

A Lebanese composer and performer, Mr. Rouhana is also professor of

(ud at the
Lebanese National Conservatory of Music and at the Holy
Spirit University of Kaslik in Jounieh, Lebanon. His study of ,udmethod
was adopted by the National conservatory in Lebanon. Mr. Rouhana
is considered one of the leading ,ud players of his generation. He has
taught cud at the Arabic Music Retreat.

Dr. Mehmet $anl*ol

Born in Bursa, Dr. $anlrkol is a composer and performer in Turkish

music as well as rock and jazz. He earned his doctorate in composition
at the New England Conservatory. Alongside Dr. Labaree, he founded
the Boston-based cultural organization Diinya, and is the director of a
Janissary band, The New England Drum and Winds Mehterhane. He
has composed several sama(ryat and basharif.


Hand Made. Forward Music,2008.

Dangerous. Forward Music, 2006.


Art of the Middle Eastern oud.


Music, 2003. Released in Lebanon

Vice Versa-

Mazaj Alani [Unveiled mood]. Voix de I'Orient, 2000.

Mada [Horizon] (with Hani Siblini). Voix de I'Orient, 199g.
Salamat [Greetings] Voix de I'Orient, 1997.
Zikra fMemory] Relax ln, 1992,

For Us the


(with Dtinya). Diinya, Inc., 2009.

The Language of the Birds (with Dtinya). Di.inya, Inc.,2008.

The Tulip and the Sword (with Diinya). Diinya, Inc.,2007 '

We Live (with various artists). Forward Music, 2006.

Sourat: Trait d'Union. Forward Music, 2004.


You the World,


Music of Cyprus (with Dilnya). Dilnya, Inc.,2007

The Psalms of Ali Ufti.Dnnya, Inc., 2006.

come see what Love Has Done to Me (Gel Gr;r Beni Ask Neyledi) (with Dtinya).
Recorded live, 14 February 2005, at Jordan Hall, New England Conservatory
Boston. Diinya, Inc., 2005.
Asitane [another name for the Ottoman capital] (with the group Audiofact). Aura

Miizik, 2003.

Blackspot (with the group Audiofact). Kalan, 1998.


Simon Shaheen

Mr. Shaheen is a virtuoso on both cud and violin. He is a well-known composer and recording artist and tours frequently with his two ensembles,
the Near East Music Ensemble and Qantara. ln addition to a demanding tour schedule, he lectures at colleges and universities around the
United States and Europe. He founded and serves as the Executive and
Artistic Director of the Arabic Music Retreat. His website is www.

Primary Sources
Admiralty of Great Britain. A Handbook of Syria, including Palestine. London,

Turath [Heritage]: Masterworks of the Middle Easr. Times Square Records,
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The Music of Mohamed Abdel Wahab.Axiom, 1990.

Agrefenii. "Khozhdenie arkhimandrita Agrefeniia obiteli Presviatoi Bogoroditsy'1 [The journey of Archimandrite Agrefenii of the Monastery of the Most
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Gregory White

Mr. white is a performer on the'ud, guitar, and piano. He is also pursuing a doctorate in medieval Islamic and Jewish Studies at Harvard University. He performed on (ud with the Harvard Middle Eastern Music
Ensemble and debuted his first composed sarna(i(in hiia4 at the 2005
Arabic Music Retreat's Open Mike Night.


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madhhab'dlim al-Madtna [The precious rubies: Notables of the rite of the
scholar of Medina (i.e., M-alik)1. Cairo, 1906.
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