The Doom of the Flattened Supertonic: The other leading note in Turkish makam, Indian raga, klezmer and
heavy metal musics
By Sarha Moore
This dissertation is submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of M.A. in World Music Studies, Department of Music, University of Sheffield, 30th June 2008
This dissertation explores the use and meaning of the flattened supertonic in four genres: Turkish art music, ragas of the Indian subcontinent, Jewish klezmer music, and heavy metal music. My aim is to research the particular significance of the flattened supertonic within each of these traditions, and to compare my findings within the wider fields of acoustic theory and Orientalism. This raises questions about scale note choice in relationship to culture and I find that within these four genres the use of the flattened supertonic is an indicator of political, religious, cultural and social identity. Each tradition maintains a unique relationship to the flattened supertonic: in Turkey the focus is on its microtonal differences from the whole tone interval; in Indian music it is used in all ragas to be played at twilight (dawn and dusk); in klezmer music the Ahava Rabba mode is crucial to the genre; and in heavy metal music the flattened supertonic is emphasized for dissonant and ominous effect. All four genres share a concept of musical tonic, and because of the attraction to this tonic the flattened supertonic carries tension. It can be considered a ‘leading note’. Changes have been made to the use of the flattened supertonic as a result of attitudes towards modernisation, Westernisation, and personal identity: in the Indian subcontinent its use has been reinforced by Nationalist movements; in Turkey and Israel the opposite has happened, with such music being regarded as backward looking; heavy metal followers change their style with each generation, often becoming more dissonant with more use of the flattened supertonic. There is a complex and subtle character to the use of this note. In the four musics studied it is integrated and a valued part of identity: the ‘other leading note’, falling instead of rising.
Table of Contents
Abstract Table of Contents List of Figures CD contents DVD contents Acknowledgements Introduction Chapter 1: Turkish Art Music
1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Prevalence: Makam and the Koma Meaning: Love and Melancholia Change: The Demise of the Ottoman Empire Conclusion
5 6 7 8
14 16 21 24 27 28 29 31 34 36 39
Chapter 2: Ragas of India and Pakistan
2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Prevalence: Dawn and Dusk Meaning: Tension, Relaxation and Sadness Meaning: Interpretation Change: Bollywood Music and World Music Conclusion
Chapter 3: Klezmer Music
3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Prevalence: Ahava Rabba and Cantorial Modes Meaning: Intensity Change: Prejudice and Identity Conclusion
45 49 50 51
Chapter 4: Heavy Metal Music
4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 Prevalence: History of Modal Use in Heavy Metal Music Meaning: Doom and Omen Meaning: Connections with Orientalism Change: Upping the Ante Conclusion: Absorption
58 60 61 62 65
Conclusion References Discography Appendix 1: Musical Quotations in Actual Keys Appendix 2: Modes, Makams, and Ragas Glossary
69 70 78 79
List of figures
CD Track Figure 1.1 Figure 1.2 Figure 1.3 Figure 1.4 Figure 1.5 Figure 1.6 Figure 1.7 Figure 1.8 Figure 1.9 Figure 1.10 Figure 1.11 Figure 1.12 Figure 1.13 Figure 1.14 Figure 1.15 Figure 1.16 Figure 1.17 Figure 2.1 Figure 2.2 Figure 2.3 Figure 2.4 Figure 2.5 Figure 2.6 Figure 2.7 Figure 2.8 Figure 2.9 Figure 3.1 Figure 3.2 Figure 3.3 Figure 3.4 Figure 3.5 Figure 3.6 Figure 3.7 Figure 4.1 Figure 4.2 Figure 4.3 Figure 4.4 Figure 4.5 Figure 4.6 Figure 4.7 Figure 4.8 Figure 4.9 Figure 4.10 Figure 4.11 Turkish accidentals Harmonic overtone series Cahit Bahlav playing Ussak makam on oud The intervals used between two notes a whole tone apart Art music class rehearsing Karcigar Sarki (TRT Müzik Dairesi Bakanlı 2001:274) Cahit Bahlav improvising on Ussak makam on oud Cahit Bahlav playing Hicaz makam Segah makam cadential figure (Signell 1973:129) Hicaz makam seyir (Signell 1973:130) Page 15 15 17 17 18 18 19 20 20 20 21 21 23 25 26 26 26 30 31 33 34 35 35 36 38 39 42 43 43 44 45 47 48 52 52 53 54 55 56 56 57 57 58 60
1 2 3
Cahit Bahlav demonstrating Segah makam
Cahit Bahlav playing makam Segah Cahit Bahlav singing lullaby in Hicaz makam Muslum Gurses - Kaç Kadeh Kirildi Cahit Bahlav playing Hicaz makam Cahit Bahlav playing Hicaz makam without komas Cahit Bahlav playing Ussak makam with and without komas Cahit Bahlav playing Segah makam with and without komas Rafaqat Ali singing raga Marva Baluji Shrivastav singing raga Shri Rafaqat Ali singing raga Todi Baluji Shrivastav singing komal Re Baluji Shrivastav with raga Bhairav -microtones Baluji Shrivastav singing raga Bhairav Rafaqat Ali singing raga Bharaivi Rafaqat Ali and BBB - Ghar aaya Mera Pardesi Baluji Shrivastav demonstrating linear style Kandel’s Hora (Sapoznik 1987) Natfule Brandwein playing Freyt Aykh Yidelekh (Sapoznik 1987) Natfule Brandwein playing Der Gasn Nign (Sapoznik 1987) Ilana Cravitz's Forshpil to a Sher Natfule Brandwein playing Baym Rebin's Sude (Sapoznik 1987) Merlin Shepherd with Budowitz - Gliner Gasn Nign Merlin Shepherd with Budowitz - Bughicis Freylekhs Luke Rayner playing the Phrygian Dominant Pete Herbert playing bass guitar Pete Herbert improvising on Locrian mode Pete Herbert bass and guitar riff Luke Rayner playing Phrygian mode Luke Rayner playing Enter Sandman Metallica - Enter Sandman Luke Rayner improvising on guitar John Williams – Jaws theme tune Metallica – Wherever I may Roam Iron Maiden – Powerslave
4 5 7 8 9 10 11 13 14 16 18 20 21 22 23 25 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 38 39 40 41 42 43 45 47 48
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 Track details Cahit Bahlav playing Ussak makam on oud Art music class rehearsing Karcigar Sarki (TRT Müzik Dairesi Bakanlı 2001:274) Cahit Bahlav improvising on makam Ussak on oud Cahit Bahlav demonstrating Segah makam Cahit Bahlav playing makam Segah Art music class rehearsing Segah Sarki Cahit Bahlav singing lullaby in Hicaz makam Muslum Gurses - Kaç Kadeh Kirildi Cahit Bahlav playing Hicaz makam Cahit Bahlav playing Hicaz makam without komas Cahit Bahlav playing Ussak makam with and without komas Cahit Bahlav playing Ussak makam with no komas as Kürdi makam Cahit Bahlav playing Segah makam with and without komas Baluji Shrivastav on raga Marva Rafaqat Ali singing raga Marva (also on DVD) Baluji Shrivastav singing raga Shri Rafaqat Ali singing raga Gunakri (also on DVD) Rafaqat Ali singing raga Todi Rafaqat Ali singing raga Bhatiyar (also on DVD) Baluji Shrivastav singing komal Re Baluji Shrivastav with raga Bhairav -microtones Baluji Shrivastav singing raga Bhairav Rafaqat Ali singing raga Bharaivi (also on DVD) Rafaqat Ali singing Ghar Aaya Mera Pardesi (also on DVD) Rafaqat Ali and BBB - Ghar aaya Mera Pardesi Bollywood Brass Band - Dhoom 2 Baluji Shrivastav demonstrating linear style Kandel’s Hora (Sapoznik 1987) Natfule Brandwein playing Freyt Aykh Yidelekh (Sapoznik 1987) Natfule Brandwein playing Der Gasn Nign (Sapoznik 1987) Ilana Cravitz's Forshpil to a Sher Natfule Brandwein playing Baym Rebin's Sude (Sapoznik 1987) Merlin Shepherd with Budowitz - Gliner Gasn Nign Merlin Shepherd with Budowitz - Bughicis Freylekhs Luke Rayner playing the Phrygian Dominant Pete Herbert playing bass guitar Deep Purple - Rapture of the Deep Pete Herbert improvising on Locrian mode Pete Herbert bass and guitar riff Luke Rayner playing Phrygian mode Luke Rayner playing Enter Sandman Metallica - Enter Sandman Luke Rayner improvising on guitar Pete Herbert on 2b John Williams – Jaws theme tune Led Zeppelin - Kashmir Metallica – Wherever I may Roam Iron Maiden – Powerslave Length 0:06 2:49 0:35 0:36 0:22 3:44 0:17 2:46 1:19 0:17 0:43 0:40 0:44 1:16 1:03 0:21 2:18 1:28 4:40 0:30 0:23 0:34 2:22 3:49 1:30 1:02 0:43 2:25 1:28 1:26 0:54 2:39 2:49 2:43 0:06 0:42 1:28 0:07 0:13 0:06 0:16 2:09 0:49 1:24 1:04 1:53 2:44 0:50 Page 17 18 18 20 21 21 21 23 25 26 26 26 26 30 30 31 32 33 33 34 35 35 36 37 38 38 39 42 43 43 44 45 47 48 52 52 53 53 54 55 56 56 57 57 57 58 58 60
This DVD contains video clips of Sufi Qawwali singer Rafaqat Ali Khan. It provides a more vivid illustration of Rafaqat Ali’s demonstration of ragas, and in particular, apart from on Raga Bhairavi, there is a view of a piano keyboard as Rafaqat Ali plays it. The key that he is playing in is C#. The entries here match the audio tracks as listed Programme Artist Video Details Audio CD Equivalent 1 2 3 4 5 Rafaqat Ali Khan Rafaqat Ali Khan Rafaqat Ali Khan Rafaqat Ali Khan Rafaqat Ali Khan Raga Marva Raga Gunakri Raga Bhatiyar Raga Bhairavi Ghar Aaya Mera Pardesi CD Track 15 CD Track 17 CD Track 20 CD Track 23 CD Track 24
I want to thank Jonathon Stock and Katie Noss Van Buren for all the support, advice and tuition that they have given me during this rewarding M.A. experience. Andrew Killick, my supervisor for this dissertation, has been remarkable in his detailed, immediate and insightful tuition, I am really very grateful. I would also like to thank Cathy Lane, Penny Florence and Vivi Lachs who have been tremendous.
This dissertation examines the use, given meaning and prevalence of the flattened supertonic note in four different music genres. This cross-cultural perspective draws on the techniques of comparative musicology in order to extend knowledge of one musical factor within a world music framework. The flattened supertonic has an important role in the musics of many cultures, and it is also given meanings by those cultures, and others. I regard it as valid to study the commonalities and differences in interpretations between cultures of a musical signifier, particularly when there have been associations of the interval with doom and death. The supertonic is a note with a pitch slightly higher (the interval of a whole-tone) than the key-note or tonic. The flattened supertonic is any note between the supertonic and the tonic, often a semi-tone. The term ‘flattened’ is a more active term than ‘flat’, and I use it here in preference to ‘flat’ because in at least two of the cultures that I am studying there is a fluidity to pitch degrees. This produces microtones of flattening of the supertonic in certain circumstances. I have called this dissertation ‘The Doom of the Flattened Supertonic’ because the term ‘doom’ has been attached to the flattened supertonic in Western music and I wanted to discover whether this occured in other cultures. I also researched the consequences of change – the doom – on the flattened supertonic. Has the effects of Westernisation in musical trends resulted in all styles conforming to a Western model? My research concentrated on three aspects of the flattened supertonic: firstly, the prevalence of this note; secondly, the difference in interpretation of the flattened supertonic between the traditions; and thirdly, how the use of this note has changed over time. What can we learn about the emotional and contextual use of this interval? Is there a relationship between the cultures themselves and the use of the flattened supertonic’s ‘dissonant’ sound? Do diasporic communities maintain a special relationship with the interval? My methods have been to interview and/or play with representatives from various cultures or styles of music, and through their words, my transcriptions, recordings and
literature, address my questions. Based in London there are numerous experts in traditions from around the world that use music with the flattened supertonic. I chose to research traditions that I had personal connections with, either from being a performer in these genres, as with Indian music and Klezmer, or from sharing teaching spaces with practitioners of these genres. The traditions that I am researching are: Turkish classical music, music from the Indian subcontinent, Klezmer music, and the heavy metal genre within rock music. Turkish, Indian and Klezmer musics are known to use the flattened supertonic to some degree as ‘Eastern’ cultures. Heavy metal music, also using the flattened supertonic, gives a ‘view from the West’. In Western music the flattened supertonic rarely appears, though there are occasions when a chord built on the flattened supertonic occurs, for example the Neapolitan sixth in classical music; the ‘tritone substitution’ in jazz and occasionally in Western popular music. Many musical traditions across the Mediterranean, the Middle East and Asia however do make extensive use of the flattened supertonic: flamenco music is one that is well known. What, if anything, lies behind the differences in prevalence? I have not tried to select the ‘most important’ genres, my intention is to deal with four case studies and perhaps open up possibilities and ideas for further research in the area.
Literature Review The literature relevant to this dissertation covers many disciplines. In the arena of ethnomusicology Peter Manuel has written much on popular musics from non-Western countries. Of particular interest here is his article “Modal Harmony in Andalusian, Eastern European and Turkish Syncretic Musics” that:
seeks to revive the spirit of Comparative Musicology and to suggest ways in which cultural comparison of selected musical parameters may reveal new sorts of pan-regional music areas (Manuel 1989:70).
His article examines modal harmony in particular relation to the Phrygian mode and the Hicaz makam,1 and includes Turkish and Klezmer music in its field. My work has some parallels with this article, though in relation to melody rather than harmony, and
See Appendix 2 for details of these modes. 10
extends the field to include Indian and rock musics. There are many specific references to the flattened second in the essays within Western Music and its Others edited by Georgina Born and David Hesmondhalgh which have stimulated my research directions. Bruno Nettl in The Study of Ethnomusicolgy: 31 Issues and Concepts writes, among many relevant issues, about the chequered past of Comparative Musicology, the dangers of superficiality and unwarranted conclusions when writing from a Western viewpoint. I hope to respect these concerns and contribute to an ethnomusicological standpoint that Kofi Agawu and other African musicologists have encouraged: comparative musicology that “depends on one’s purposes, terms of reference, and assumptions” (Agawu 2003:xiv). Popular music musicologist Phillip Tagg studied the use of Phrygian scales in modern techno and rave music, asking questions on meaning (Tagg 1994). Tagg’s student Karen Collins wrote on the prevalence of the flattened supertonic in music for Atari computer games and speculated that this was as a result of tuning problems within the sound card, and that subsequently the music took on its own aesthetic (Collins 2006). This dissertation is continuing their study within popular music by researching heavy metal music. Musicologists from the classical field have done much speculation on meaning: Deryck Cooke in his book The Language of Music has made a deep study of the meanings applied within Western Tonal music. Although referring to this work I expand the horizons to include ‘world’ music and to show how different meanings can be in different cultures. Leonard Meyer in his book Emotion and Meaning in Music posits that dissonance is a central issue within tonal music systems and includes Indian music in his analysis. Dane Rudhyar, one of the instigators of the twentieth century twelve-tone revolution, saw European tonality as mirroring European cultures and wrote on dissonance and tonality from this aspect. In his article “The Spice of Music: Towards a Theory of the Leading Note” in Music Analysis 2:1 1983 Geoffrey Chew describes the ‘kinetic energy’ held in the leading note, and its resolution by a semitone. He discusses the rising major 7th leading note. The flattened supertonic can also be described as a leading note descending to the tonic and similar issues of dissonance and semitone tensions are crucial in its study. I will suggest that the theoretical discussions of the leading note role have not included the flattened
supertonic due to the note’s infrequent use in classical music. Orientalism is another vital element in the interpretation of applied meaning of the flattened supertonic. Western composers have used this sound to evoke the Orient, in particular Arabia, as well as for evocations of threat and doom. Edward Said’s seminal book Orientalism, without making direct reference to musical notes, has created a backdrop for my study. Musicologist Ralphe Locke writes on the construction of the ‘other’ in Saint-Saens’s work with mention of the Hicaz mode (Locke 1991) and Derek Scott has written on “Orientalism and Musical Style” (Scott 1997), also with direct mention of the flattened supertonic. By looking at cultures from East and West I will highlight some differences in interpretation that perhaps are a result of orientalist thought. There is specific literature within each of the genres that I’ve researched that write about the flattened supertonic. Of special relevance are: Karl Signell on Turkish makam containing detail on musical motives within Turkish art music (Signell 1977); Anupan Mahajan on the conceptual ideas in ragas (Mahajan 2001); Henry Sapoznik on specific use of the flattened supertonic in Klezmer music (Sapoznik 1987); and Robert Walser with a more general overview of heavy metal (Walser 1993). My contribution in relation to these works is to observe cross-cultural patterns and differences.
Organisation of Thesis In chapter one I look at Turkish art music, and include research from a class in art music in London, and interviews with their teacher Cahit Bahlav. Here the emphasis is mainly on the prevalence, subtlety of use and twentieth century changes of the use of the flattened supertonic in Turkish art music. Chapter two is on the music of the Indian subcontinent, in particular the raga music of North India and Pakistan. This research includes participant observation working with Lahore based qawwali singer Rafaqat Ali Khan. This chapter is more focussed on meaning, as there are extensive and explicit emotional associations of the flattened supertonic here. Chapter three concerns Klezmer music, the Eastern European Jewish tradition of dance music, this is a genre that I play as a member of the band Freylekh. The emphasis in this chapter is, as with
Turkish art music on prevalence, and changes that have occurred over time in relation to the movement of the Jewish diaspora. The final chapter is on heavy metal music. I was unaware of the use of the flattened supertonic in heavy metal music until starting my research. I have found that it is used extensively, and has attached meanings of doom and omen, as well as connections to orientalism. My main sources in this section are fellow tutors/musicians at the Redbridge College of Further Education. In each chapter I refer to the name for the flattened supertonic that was used by my interviewees, so in the Turkish chapter it is koma bemol or bakiye bemol, in the Indian section it is komal Re, and in the Klezmer and heavy metal sections the reference is flattened supertonic or flattened second. The audio examples, on the CD accompanying this thesis, are varied according to the chapters: chapter one examples are recorded by myself on an Edirol hard disc recorder, and consist mainly of rehearsal material in the Turkish art music class led by Cahit Bahlav; chapter two examples are a combination of similarly recorded interview and rehearsal material, together with a published recording of a Bollywood song; chapter three is mainly published recordings; and chapter four is a combination of interview and published material. This reflects the varying nature of my research in the different traditions, and the different musical offerings of my interviewees. Many of the audio examples are also notated. I have notated most of my examples in the tonality of A. This is a compromise between the four traditions for ease of comparison. Turkish Art music is often notated in A but also in G; Klezmer music is often in D; heavy metal music often in E; and Indian music suited to the performer. I have included notation in the actual keys that match the audio examples in Appendix 1. The eight people that I have interviewed are generally referred to with their surnames with the exception of Rafaqat Ali Khan who I refer to as Rafaqat Ali as Ali Khan is a surname for many qawwali musicians. All these interviews took place in England in 2008.
Chapter 1: Turkish Art Music
The subject of the flattened second is the main difference between Oriental and Occidental music, I would put it as strongly as that. Cahit Bahlav, Turkish violin player and teacher
In this first chapter I will describe the widespread use of the flattened supertonic in Turkish art music and the importance of subtleties of use to its practitioners. I discovered in my research that since the demise of the Ottoman Empire in the 1920s, the use of the flattened supertonic has been threatened and this has resulted in loss of some of the subtleties of its use. According to my sources specific associations for the flattened supertonic within Turkish art or folk music are vague, but there are more general theories of musical association within Turkish musics, particularly of melancholia. In order to address my research questions I joined a Turkish art music class taught by Cahit Bahlav, a Turkish violin and oud player. The group is attended mostly by members of the London Turkish community. I also read key literature, and interviewed Cahit Bahlav and fellow Turkish guitar player Hakan Ozugurel. Turkish art music is a product of the Ottoman Empire and its musical traditions can be traced back 1000 years. The music is based on makams, which are halfway between scales and tunes, they include characteristic phrases that define them as well as the notes themselves. The melodic progression will often vary in pitch by microtones between ascending and descending lines; these variations may be as small as one ninth of a tone, an interval that is called a koma. This music was passed forward in an aural tradition until the 20th century when a theoretical system, based on Western concepts of tonic (karar), dominant (guslu), major and minor scale, as well as stave notation, was developed. Western musical syllables Do Re Me Fah So La Si are used for scale steps, where Do is always the written pitch C.2 The exact size of some of these intervals varies from the Western Major scale. Differences are expressed with The notation does not however determine the actual pitch of the performance which varies according to the instrumentation. (Bahlav interview) 14
special signs: Name of Interval Koma Bakiye Küçük Mücennep Büyük Mücennep Taníní Artik Íkílí
Figure 1. 1: Turkish accidentals
Koma units 1 4 5 8 9 12-13
Whole Tone Augmented Second Whole Tone Augmented Second
The Turkish pitch system is understood to have its origins in the Pythagorean theory of harmonic overtones, the koma being the difference in pitch between the ‘natural’ circle of fifths and the ‘well tempered’ system. Frederick Stubbs, in his book on improvisation in Turkish art music, explains that there are ‘soft spots’ in the harmonic series that appear around the notes B and F (taking C as the fundamental of the harmonic series): microtonal differences between different octaves of harmonics (Stubbs 1994:158). This is of particular relevance as the majority of makams studied here have A as the tonic, and hence B is the supertonic.3
Figure 1.2: Harmonic overtone series
Deryck Cooke writes in The Language of Music “B flat may be legitimately described as the parent of the system of key-relationships we call tonality” (Cooke 1959:43). He goes on to explain that the Western medieval composers alteration of the Bb to a B and the F# to an F had the result that “all the modes eventually became major and minor scales (except for the Locrian – the white-note scale on the fatal note
The first harmonic overtones are the octave and the fifth, and as more overtones appear more variation of notes appears up to the 7th harmonic, which is close to a Bb, later on in the series of overtones (the 15th overtone) is a note close to B natural. (The 11th overtone is a note between F and F#) (Cooke 1959:44).
B – which was never used anyway); and so arose our key system” (Cooke 1959:44). Turkish art music was not affected by these changes in medieval times and retained the microtonal differences of pitch around B and F: “These are not the only important microtonal variants in the makams …but they are so ubiquitous as to appear to be a part of the background system” (Stubbs 1994:160). 1.1 Prevalence: Makam and the koma At one time in the Ottoman Empire the emperors would give rewards to composers who invented new makams (Ozugurel interview). There are upwards of a hundred different makams. Many of the makams are defined as having notes that are one koma different from the tone or semitone interval. Makams are described according to the intervals between their notes, but also each makam has a dominant note (guslu) that is generally the fourth or fifth degree from the tonic. Makams are arranged in families according to their first tetrachord of notes and the families are named after one of the makams in the family. Each individual makam has characteristic motives, known as seyir, that give it a unique flavour or atmosphere (Stubbs 1994:123), and often these seyir are concentrated around cadences (Stubbs 1994:183). Turkish art music is essentially a vocal form with instrumental accompaniment. Although the theoretical and notation system has become established, Karl Signell in his book Makam: modal practice in Turkish art music explains that “the desire to bring order out of chaos requires one to overlook many details which tend to distract from the beauty of the abstract model” (Signell 1973:37). Rationalisation has somewhat obscured the reality of playing. Cahit Bahlav explained that the scale is only a guide and that singers will vary some of the pitches. The important pitches, tonic and dominant, are fixed, but some notes, especially the second in a minor key or the third in a major key have some movement according to the seyir (motives). The amount that the note changes is up to two komas (two ninths of a tone) from the notated pitch. It is learnt from an aural tradition, singers singing what sounds right in a particular piece. “To our brain they are somewhat trivial, a sort of colouring, our brain tends to change them, it’s a tradition….there’s a general tendency to sharpen on the way up, it’s a natural tendency, but only in the fluid area, not the tonic or dominant” (Bahlav
interview). In Figure 1.3 the supertonic is played as a koma bemol on the ascent and flattened to a semitone on descent.
Figure 1.3: Cahit Bahlav playing makam Ussak on oud Track 1: Cahit Bahlav playing makam Ussak on oud
In the notated makams there are also places that the komas occur: between the tonic and the second in a minor piece, and between the second and third notes in a major piece, the same fluid areas described above (there are also variations to the F and the E that do not concern us here).
Figure 1.4: The intervals used between two notes a whole tone apart
The figure above shows the possible flattened supertonics in a makam that has La as tonic, taken from a worksheet issued to me by Cahit Bahlav in his Turkish Art Music class. I joined in on the clarinet. The koma bemol and the bakiye bemol were notated and I attempted to flatten the B the correct amount each time to match them. I also could hear the differences between the theoretical notation and the practical performance of the group, the B being sung higher on ascent than descent. The group is attended primarily by amateur singers from the London Turkish community, who were very familiar with the komas:
Figure 1.5: Art music class rehearsing Karcigar Sarki (TRT Müzik Dairesi Bakanlı 2001:274) Track 2: Art music class rehearsing Karcigar Sarki
Studying a book of notated Turkish art songs: Türk Halk Müzi inden Seçmeler, Cahit Bahlav calculated that approximately 80% of them were based on makams that started with an interval smaller than a tone (Bahlav interview). The Ussak family of makams (popular also in Turkish folk music) has a supertonic flattened by a koma bemol (one koma flat).
Figure 1.6: Cahit Bahlav improvising on Ussak makam on oud
Track 3: Cahit Bahlav improvising on Ussak makam on oud
Cahit Bahlav described the flattened second as the main difference between Oriental and Occidental music. He explained that he is referring to the koma bemol :
It represents a whole lot of other differences. If you ignore it, because it’s only one ninth of a tone, and say: ‘What’s the problem with that, no-one will hear it!’ you could then play everything on the piano or guitar. Then an authentic value is gone, you won’t have the difference. Our main makams like Rast, Ussak and Segah and Hicaz, all of them, they are all reduced to one major and one minor makam, making them all similar to each other. So the reason I say this is to emphasise that the significance of it is not as small as the interval that it represents, it is more than that. (Bahlav interview)
The Hicaz family of makams start with an interval of five komas, one koma larger than a semitone, the second note is known as bakiye bemol . This is followed characteristically by an interval larger than a tone, 12 komas, which in turn is followed by another bakiye bemol.
Figure 1.7: Cahit Bahlav playing Hicaz makam
Hicaz is very common in folk music and in the semi-classical style fasil , a style considered to be a gypsy influenced and often played in nightclubs. The second note of Hicaz is played sharper in fasil than in strictly classical circles (Signell 1977:11). Half of all makams start with a semitone, of these the Kürdi family (with Kurdish folk origins) are the most popular. The Kürdi makam has similar intervals to the Phrygian mode. The supertonic, as well as being fluid, is considered non-structural. Its role in a seyir (melodic motive) is often cadential, and its emphasis on it will occur after the initial exposition (Stubbs 1994:150). Songs will end on the tonic, frequently with a cadential seyir e.g. 32121 (Stubbs 1994:208). Here is a cadential phrase in makam Segah:
Figure 1.8: Segah cadential figure (Signell 1973:129)
This typical phrase in makam Hicaz (referred to as a gypsy phrase) comes to a rest on the supertonic, where it is raised by 3 komas from its normal pitch.
Figure 1. 9: Hicaz seyir (Signell 1973:130)
This raising of pitch is typical of this type of cadence known as asma karar, the suspended cadence, defined as a temporary stop on a non-structural tone such as the supertonic: “The effect is one of unrest or suspension”(Signell 1973:45-49). When the ‘temporary stop’ becomes repeated there can be the development of a new makam. It has been suggested that this is how makam Segah came to be. The Segah family of makams is interesting as they start on the “fluid” note, of Bb. In this case the Bb becomes a tonic and is no longer moveable. The first interval in the makam of Segah is then five komas, the bakiye. “Segah … it gives a feeling of incompleteness, compared to the feeling of completeness of the major scale. But then eventually the ears get used to that melancholic thing. It’s so popular. I suppose that melancholia is popular” (Bahlav interview).
Figure 1.10: Cahit Bahlav playing Segah makam, lower tetrachord on violin Track 4: Cahit Bahlav demonstrating makam Segah
Figure 1. 11: Cahit Bahlav playing makam Segah Track 5: Cahit Bahlav playing makam Segah
Meaning: Love and Melancholia
In the Turkish art music class that I attended we sang, played and analysed songs. Their texts are in Farsi, some 200 years old. Farsi, the Persian language, was also the language of the whole of the Ottoman Empire’s intelligentsia, and is known as Old Turkish. The songs are generally about love. The Turkish members of the group translated lyrics for me with delight, debating the subtleties of the Farsi texts. Two songs that use the flattened supertonic were firstly: Karcigar Sarki (Karcigar is a makam from the Ussak family) which they translated as: “Roses blossom, nightingale sings and the summer is over. When the sweetheart smiles, heartache goes away”. The second song was Segah Sarki, well known in the group, with the words: “Parting is worse than death. Your name is the sound on my tongue. I miss you”.
Track 6: Segah Sarki
The Hicaz makam is very popular in art and folk music alike and often used in sad songs. Cahit Bahlav suggested that its popularity may be due to the fact that the majority of lullabies in the folk tradition were in the Hicaz makam, so that people first heard it when they were babies, and that it therefore had a strong familiarity (Bahlav interview).
Figure 1.12: Cahit Bahlav singing lullaby in Hicaz makam Track 7: Cahit Bahlav singing lullaby in Hicaz makam
Here is a connection to nostalgia and perhaps feelings around loss of childhood. 21
It’s not coincidence that many sad things occur in some makams, but the opposite is not an exception. For instance Hicaz is usually used for sad feelings, but you can have very lively dance-inducing music in that same makam (Bahlav interview).
Hakan Ozugurel, guitar player of Turkish Art and folk musics, described the repertoire of his Turkish wedding band as having at least half the songs on very sad subjects, for instance: “People dying of starvation, bullets in the head or of lost love” (Ozugurel interview). The second half of performances at weddings use similar songs but at faster tempos for dancing. A substantial proportion of the sad tunes that Hakan Ozugurel plays use the flattened supertonic.
In Turkish ‘infinite’ music, in which pitches can vary by microtones, you cannot use two notes at the same time that are very close in frequency as it would disturb people. On the other hand if you put these notes one after another it makes people sad, like A to Bb2 [koma bemol]. That’s what I believe and many people think the same way in Turkey. (Ozugurel interview)
Cahit Bahlav stressed, however, that the sadness of the music does not come from the flattened supertonic:
The flattened second can be used in a very lively and uplifting manner….For the West the flattened second is an exotic thing but for us it’s a normal thing, we just think of it as another makam, we don’t attribute feelings to them (Bahlav interview).
This is fundamental to our understanding of the use of the flattened supertonic in Turkish art music. The koma bemol is in so much of the repertoire largely as a result of the Pythagorean system, without any conscious desire in its use for expressing emotion. Leonard Meyer in his book Emotion and Meaning in Music writes on microtonal deviations in pitch, and that sometimes they are not expressive:
There are deviations that result from causes not relevant to expressive deviation, e.g. the use of Pythagorean or natural-scale intonation….How is one to determine which deviations are expressive and which are not? Only by a careful study in general and within the particular piece in question, and by attempting to correlate expressive deviation with the total affective aesthetic musical structure (Meyer 1956:203).
So the mood of any makam can vary according to context, and although there have been associations made between makams and moods, feelings, and times of day (as in appropriateness for Muslim ‘call to prayer’ at different times), the associations are only as precise as the Western musical idea of: “major is joyful and pompous and minor is
melancholic” (Bahlav interview). To the question of why he thought that there were 80% of Turkish tunes using the flattened supertonic Cahit Bahlav replied: “It’s like asking why there are so many Western pieces in the Major scale” (Bahlav interview). He agreed that it was interesting that Turkish culture embraced this note so much, and, when pushed, that there might be a connection with the emotion of melancholy. The complexities of attachment and applied meaning are evident again here. There is another musical genre in Turkey called Arabesk that ethnomusicologist Martin Stokes has studied a great deal. The growing availability of radio led to the general Turkish population becoming familiar with Egyptian music and the Arabesk musical genre, which incorporated Arabic maqam with flattened supertonics very much in them, and Turkish texts. It became enormously popular but was frowned on by the Turkish intelligentsia. Arabesk has many meanings of fate and melancholia within its style and texts and uses the flattened supertonic a great deal (Stokes 1989:30).
Figure 1. 13 Muslum Gurses - Kaç Kadeh Kirildi
Track 8: Muslum Gurses - Kaç Kadeh Kirildi
Arabesk provides a focus for an aesthetic of music, which pervades the vocabulary of both 'official' folk music and urban art music. In their separate ways, each type obsessively explores the alienation, separation and the “burning” which supposedly underpins the performance of Turkish music in general… all music tells the same story, and this story is essentially one of fate, and the disintegration of society and individual (Stokes 1989:30).
So here Stokes is extending the attachment of the emotion of melancholia to Turkish music in general. Hakan Ozugurel agreed
It could be history. People must have suffered from wars, going to other countries for work, or just another village. A woman may have married and gone 10km to her husbands village, or died from illness. In industrialised countries like the UK with better
transportation services these issues may not have continued into the 20th century (Ozugurel interview).
These recurring issues of loss and the self-awareness of difference to Western nations will appear again later in my discussion of the Jewish diaspora.
Change: The demise of the Ottoman Empire
On the advent of the Turkish Republic in the 1920s, the Ottoman Empire finally ended and all associated cultural manifestations of it were discouraged. The Ottoman Empire had been in decline for two hundred years, Turkey was seen as the sick man of Europe, weak and backward (Bahlav interview). With the socialist republic the fez hat was banned, a new alphabet brought in, and the Ottoman art music was removed from the radio. Westernisation was the big project, and a new Westernised Classical music incorporating Turkish folk music (rather than art music), much in the manner of Bartok and Kodaly in Hungarian music,4 was instigated. Turkish folk music was an amalgam of old Anatolian songs with Arabic, Armenian, Greek and Byzantine influences. Some makams were still heard in folk music, however there was not the same importance placed on the subtleties of komas and seyir. The new Westernised music produced with input from folk music generally had no microtones (Ozugurel, Bahlav interview). The implications for specific makams with flattened supertonics were great, for instance for the Ussak family of makams whose supertonics are just one koma flat of a whole tone. When the koma is removed the supertonics became whole tone intervals. To this day the main institutions in Turkey concentrate on the teaching of Western Classical music and though there have been attempts to restore Turkish art music through a few specialised centres, it is still in decline (Bahlav interview). The introduction of Western harmony catalysed the loss of the microtones as this caused concurrence of notes that were one koma apart in frequency. The clash of intervals that Hakan Ozugurel described above could be avoided by only playing the non-fluid notes in the piece. He explained that when playing in a Turkish wedding band he switches instruments from guitar to the electric bass, so that he can give a chordal structure to the songs without clashing with the melodic komas. He is then able to play Bartok came to Istanbul to advise the regime on the ethnography of folk music and its introduction to Western music forms. 24
roots of the primary tonic, subdominant and dominant chords, notes that are always constant. Hakan Ozugurel went on to say that this was a common feature in wedding bands, to have bass rather than guitar. The keyboard players, however, were able to adapt their instruments to different frequencies according to the makams being played by adjusting the pitch settings for different tunes.These factors meant that Turkish music performed at weddings and in bars retained the traditional komas, including in a folk style called Türku. However the guitar is less able to play the subtle komas because of its fixed frets (Ozugurel interview). The Hicaz family of makams more easily adopts harmonies. “The major chord on the flat second degree functions essentially as a dominant, with the minor chord on the flat seventh as an important lower neighbour….neutral intervals play more structural and indispensable roles in [other makams]….neutral intervals naturally resist incorporation into major and minor chords, and thus the modes in which these are seen as indispensable are avoided in acculturated musics” (Manuel 1989:78). “There is no place for chords in Turkish art music” (Bahlav interview). To play a piece of music containing koma intervals on a fixed tone instrument renders it unrecognizable (Bahlav interview). The exception to this is the makams Hicaz and Hicazcar. Starting on an A these start with a bakiye bemol (4 koma flat), not as flat as the Western semitone to Bb.
Figure 1.14: Cahit Bahlav playing Hicaz makam Track 9: Cahit Bahlav playing Hicaz makam
Traditionally this is followed by a 12-koma interval that is one koma short of the keyboards C#. However played on the keyboard it still sounds like Hicaz, though the second is lowered by a koma and the third is raised by a koma.
Figure 1.15: Cahit Bahlav playing Hicaz makam without komas Track 10: Cahit Bahlav playing Hicaz makam without komas
“The ear is drawn to the larger augmented second interval and recognizes it still as Hicaz, despite the changes” (Bahlav interview). However if you play other makams with flattened supertonics such as Ussak, which has a second note koma bemol, it is different:
Figure 1.16: Cahit Bahlav playing Ussak makam Track 11: Cahit Bahlav playing Ussak makam with and without komas
“If you don’t play the koma bemol you really notice because of the context, it sounds awkward” (Bahlav interview). Segah makams will sound like Kürdi makams:
Track 12: Cahit Bahlav playing Ussak makam with no komas as Kürdi makam
Figure 1.17: Cahit Bahlav playing Segah makam with and without komas
Track 13: Cahit Bahlav playing Segah makam with and without komas So although the makam family of Hicaz can survive the loss of the koma, as can the Kürdi family, which already have a semitone supertonic, other flattened supertonic makams cannot. As a result perhaps half of the makams with flattened supertonics may fade from use. The worry that both Cahit Bahlav and Hakan Ozugurel have is that the
ears of the Turkish listener will get used to hearing the music without komas and they will be lost for the future:
The present generations generally did not grow up hearing Turkish art music on the radio and thus have no special attachment to it…. It’s a huge loss, you’re losing the softness of the second degree, just one koma but it’s important. Eventually the ears will get used to it (Bahlav interview).
Conclusion Paramount in this chapter are my interviewees’ concerns to maintain the subtleties of
the use of the flattened supertonic in the face of determined and accidental Westernisation. The use of the small koma microtone in context is a defining aspect of the genre. The makams that can survive the changes to the well tempered scale with flattened supertonics still in place (although sometimes modified as in the Hicaz family) remain very popular. My main source Cahit Bahlav has told me many times that the use of the flattened supertonic is normal to the genre and has no inherent meaning, emphasising the complexities around the music and that there is much more to it than simple mood labels. There are many associated meanings for songs that use the flattened supertonic: nostalgia; associations with gypsies; and ancient lyrics on love, the meanings are often connected to melancholy and mourning in some guise.
Chapter 2: Ragas of India and Pakistan
Sad in our culture doesn’t mean ‘Oh, I’ve lost my purse’, it means ‘I am closer to God’. Rafaqat Ali Khan, Sufi singer
The Indian subcontinent is well known for its complex linear system of musical ragas, in which melody rather than harmony is the musics driving force. Ragas are collections of notes, one collection in ascent, one in descent,5 and even if the same notes are played on ascent and descent they may be played flatter or sharper by shrutis (microtones) (Mahajan 2001: 71). Each raga has a tonic drone played by the tanpura, a 4stringed instrument (the tanpura also plays the fifth, or sometimes the fourth). In addition there are two other important notes that are different for each raga: most important is the Vadi, and secondarily the Samvadi. These important notes, together with the style of ornamentation and motives can create many different ragas from the same collection of notes. Timbre, and style of playing also affect the ragas and they are designed to be performed at particular times of the day or year. In this chapter I will show that there is a deeply conscious awareness of the use of the flattened supertonic throughout the raga system; that the flattened supertonic is used with a visual imagery to depict the approach to, or departure from night-time; that the interval is considered expressive for longing, sadness and poignancy, particularly in descent; and that there is a beauty identified in the concepts of night and death related to Hindu and Sufi beliefs in reincarnation. I will also show that although many musical changes have occurred in Indian music in the twentieth century, and there are strong influences from Western music cultures, particularly in the rise of Bollywood film music, the flattened supertonic survives, partly as a cultural icon in Bollywood music and World Music groups. This year the Bollywood Brass Band (my group) is working with Rafaqat Ali Khan, a Sufi qawwali singer from Lahore, Pakistan, in a project culminating in
The vocalisation of these notes is based on the syllables: Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Dha Ni, equivalent to 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 different pitches where 1 is low. 28
collaborative performances, and I have discovered how qawwali music is based on the raga system. I interviewed Rafaqat Ali Khan and also Baluji Shrivastav, a London based Indian classical sitar player, who performs in classical concerts and also with World Music group The Grand Union Orchestra. The relevant literature that I consulted supported these interviews and elaborated on raga details.
Prevalence: Dawn and Dusk It became obvious at the outset of my research that there are immediate, profound
and extensive associations relating to the notes of the ragas. There have been many books filled with details of the emotional impact of different notes within a raga (Jairazbhoy 1971, Bor 1999, Mahajan 2001). The flattened supertonic, known in the Indian subcontinent as komal rishabh or komal Re, occurs in upwards of 25% of ragas. Of the seventy-eight ragas listed in the Raga Guide twenty-three have the komal Re, seventeen of which are played around dawn or dusk (Bor 1999). The sub-section of ragas that are played around twilight are called the Sandhi Prakesh ragas, and all of these ragas use the komal Re. Anupan Mahajan in his book on conceptual aspects of Hindustani music describes the komal Re as “rising from the infinite Sa, fresh and energetic” while the komal Re of raga Purvi (a dusk raga) subsides to Sa with a desire to take rest (Mahajan 2001:98-101). In the book Aspects of Indian Music Govinde Tembe calls the tonic “changeless and immobile like a yogi in a yogi trance, living beyond attachment” and describes the komal Re as follows “It is as though it is half awakened to consciousness, but rather sluggish on account of the break in sleep, morose and sad" (Tembe 1957:22). Baluji Shrivastav, at his home in North London, explained that morning is bright and gets brighter, the komal Re changes to Shuddha (natural) re as the day progresses and then when it comes to the end of the day the komal Re returns and is particularly prominent then as it’s a relaxing note. As time goes by during the day there is a sense of having moved from the tonic and then return to it becomes more the theme. As dusk approaches the re is again flattened and subsides back to the infinite Sa, falling back into night. Baluji Shrivastav described the dusk raga Marva that has komal Re as its most important note. His emphasis on the word “relax” led me to include his voice on the audio CD: 29
Track 14: Baluji Shrivastav on Marva
Marva is a lower octave raga, you don’t have to go very high, and it’s a very, very relaxed feeling. Yet the three notes Ni to Re and then Sa create such a tension: Re is very special here, you bring from Ni to Re and create tension, then you relax on Sa or Dha, a bluesy aspect. I love it, it is very relaxing, it’s the end of the day, you’re going to relax, chill out, the work’s tension is finished, and your partner, your lover is coming, you want to relax, in front of the box maybe.
During my interview with him, Rafaqat Ali Khan sat at my piano and sang and played ragas with a passion. The Sufi Qawwali tradition has developed ragas to particularly express the love of God and to inspire their audiences to ecstasy.
Figure 2.1: Rafaqat Ali singing raga Marva Track 15: Rafaqat Ali singing raga Marva
In contrast, another dusk raga, raga Shri also has komal Re as its Vadi but with very different musical phrases. The characteristic phrase of raga Shri is a rising Sa Re Pa, creating a large tension, sung here by Baluji Shrivastav:
Figure 2.2: Baluji Shrivastav singing raga Shri Track 16: Baluji Shrivastav singing raga Shri
He explained that raga Shri should be played earlier than raga Marva.: “it is a rising tension, not so relaxing, you are still working but at the end of the day. It’s beautiful but it’s not as relaxing as the raga Marva” (Shrivastav interview). 2.2 Meaning: Tension, Relaxation and Sadness I will now discuss matters of tension and release, and why the Komal Re might be always used in the twilight ragas. Mahajan says that “Re and Dha6cause tension, disturb consciousness, are dissonant, highly dissonant and suggestive of tonic” (Mahajan 2001: 99). Baluji Shrivastav described how the Komal Re is very dissonant and that tension is increased by rising from Sa to Re, rather than falling Ga to Re, which is more relaxed. He went further to draw from Hindu philosophy, explaining that Re represents the Bull in Hindu imagery:
The Bull is the chariot of Lord Shiva, the god of destruction, and god of death. But death is part of the creativity; it’s not the destruction only, and the destruction of ignorance, that is also death. So it’s the death of ignorance and that should be celebrated. Death is not a sinister thing in Indian philosophy. It’s part of finishing a cycle and starting a new cycle. Either it’s just part of it, or it’s a purification. So it’s a very celebrating thing. And that’s why when an old man who has seen life dies they play music. If you don’t believe in reincarnation, then death is the end of the line, that’s very sad, you have nothing left. But Indians, Hindus don’t believe this, Hindus believe if you don’t do something in this life that’s ok, next life is there, so relax, there is nothing lost. And yes komal Re is more expressive than the shuddha Re because it’s farther away from Sa. The closer notes are very expressive. Anything that is closer, you can feel more expression, it’s very physical. If you play different notes, the closer you get the vibrato gets faster and stronger. …komal Re is very, very powerful. The Bull is associated with
power; philosophically it is very powerful. And as it has got more vibrato and faster frequencies it is powerful….In relation to the octave the komal Re is the most powerful semitone, the one from Sa itself (Shrivastav interview).
Of relevance here is the absence of any mention of the note Ni in discussion of powerful semitone tensions. Within Western music this is the ‘leading note’ to the tonic and is considered to embody a tension that resolves to the tonic. Baluji Shrivastav explained to me that in raga music the Ni will generally fall not rise (Shrivastav interview). Rafaqat Ali described the flattened second as ‘sad’. Playing on the piano the morning ragas, first raga Gunakri, he stressed the komal Re and said “This note is most important because this [emphasizing the komal Re] creates a mood, you sustain it…. The mood is sad”.
Track 17 Rafaqat Ali singing raga Gunakri
He continued by playing another morning raga, Todi, and explained that the early morning is sad because “I don’t want to really focus on the world, I am with God, I need his blessing. If someone is away from me, my love, this is also related to this note [komal Re]”.
Figure 2.3: Rafaqat Ali singing Raga Todi Track 18: Rafaqat Ali singing Raga Todi
Rafaqat explained that the amount of emphasis is all important, for instance by emphasizing Pa the raga can be uplifting, or emphasizing the komal Re and it can become “like Dracula”, a description that he had for Raga Bhatiya sung on the next track. He described this particular song as very sad with the lyric ‘It's because of you that I’m very sad. It’s because of you that I’m awake all night, you make me hurt’.
Track 19: Rafaqat Ali Khan singing raga Bhatiyar
Later, I returned to this question of meaning, as I was confused by Rafaqat Ali using the words sad and beautiful interchangeably for the komal Re, and he explained “Sad in our Sufi religion doesn’t mean ‘Oh, I’ve lost my purse’, it means that I’m closer to God, it is a beautiful and lovely sensation”.
I asked Baluji Shrivastav for a reaction to the ‘sad’ connotation that Rafaqat Ali has given the komal Re. He agreed that sad was how he too understood the note, but also relaxed. He explained that the tendency of ragas was to fall, and so there is preponderance for hearing the komal Re falling to Sa, and this is sad. However, he felt, that when the melody rises it is not sad.
Figure 2.4: Baluji Shrivastav singing komal Re Track 20: Baluji Shrivastav singing komal Re
This is very positive. Coming from Ni to Re is quite a happy aspect, going back to Sa is the sad aspect….Sad can be romantic. One of the rasas (the moods) of romance has two parts, happy and sad. The Re is the sad aspect, when you long for someone, a longing mood. I wouldn’t say it’s a sad aspect; longing is a better expression (Shrivastav interview).
There are different interpretations between my interviewees and writers, yet a common sense of a tension that is increased as the pitch rises and subsides when it falls, and meanings related to tension and power, longing, sadness and poignancy. At one point he rises in his singing and describes the rising to the upper tetrachord as “the aggressive part”. 2.3 Meaning: Interpretation By studying two ragas in further depth I will show something of how complex and subtle the melodic understanding goes in raga interpretation. Every raga plays the komal Re at a slightly different pitch (Mahajan 2001: 96). Baluji Shrivastav elaborated that this is essentially a vocal tradition and that you have to be always flexible and most great singers will vary each time:
Nobody can claim that exactly on that shruti (microtone) they will land....In Indian music, notes are mingled with each other, not separated… so you may start a little higher on the komal Re in a descending line and then when you come back down to Sa you spread it all over the place. Raga Bhairav is an example, from Ma to Re you’re a little higher but then you bring it low and go to Sa (Shrivastav interview):
Figure 2.5: Baluji Shrivastav singing raga Bhairav microtones Track 21: Baluji Shrivastav singing raga Bhairav microtones
Raga Bhairav is a very popular raga; it is sad or serious, devotional with an “invocation expression, masculine but tender” (Mahajan 2001:101). Baluji Shrivastav explained that the name Bhairav adds to its special character, as this is one of the aspects of Lord Shiva, as an awe inspiring ascetic with a trident, skulls and snakes (Bor 1999:32). The movement of this raga is generally down. Komal Re is very important in Bhairav, although avoided in ascent. It is often long and strong and is enunciated with heavy, slow oscillation from Komal Ga. The Ga in raga Bhairav is shuddha (natural) Ga, resembling the Hicaz makam. Komal Ga is not a given note in the raga, but it is used in Bhairav to give Komal Re its “flavour” (Mahajan 2001:143). Baluji demonstrates here what he described as the "power" of the descending Komal Re:
Figure 2.6: Baluji Shrivastav singing raga Bhairav Track 22: Baluji Shrivastav singing raga Bhairav
As stated above Bhairav is considered a ‘masculine’ raga. There has been a complete classification of ragas into masculine and feminine and mostly the Komal Re ragas have fallen into the ‘feminine’ box. For instance raga Gauri contains the same notes as raga Bhairav yet has a very different emphasis on the notes: “There is no pause on Komal Re, a short and feeble note, tilted toward Sa representing absolutely helpless expression, feminine, helpless, lovely, melancholy” (Mahajan 2001:142). This is a step towards Cooke’s “hopeless anguish” (Cooke 1959: 78). 7 Masculine defined Ragas can have up to six ‘wives’. One of these for raga Bhairav is the raga Bhairavi. The notes are very similar between these two ragas, but Bhairavi has Deryck Cooke described the flattened supertonic interval as “an expression of anguish in a context of finality, a hopeless anguish”. 35
Komal Ga, so resembling in notes the Phrygian mode. Bhairavi is a favourite raga in the Indian subcontinent, a light raga that is used in many folk songs. Rafaqat explained how flexible raga Bhairavi can be, as it can be played with varying pitches, and slow or fast in tempo. It is essentially a morning raga with, as is the tradition for morning ragas, Komal Re as Samvadi, but the raga has broken out of its slot and now can be played at any time of the day or night. Indeed it is usually played at the end of all evening concerts, which makes it maybe the most commonly performed raga. It is associated with various emotions including romance, eroticism, devotion, but most of all the plaintiveness of separated lovers (Bor 1999:34). Rafaqat is here singing a Sufi song in raga Bhairavi with the lyrics ‘don’t go away my love, I feel hurt in my heart’, and explains that the song is a sad, praise song that also has a Thumri (light classical) side.
Figure 2.7: Rafaqat Ali Khan singing Raga Bhairavi Track 23: Rafaqat Ali Khan singing Raga Bhairavi
Change: Bollywood Music and World Music The late nineteenth and twentieth century brought large changes in raga playing in
the Indian subcontinent. After the 1857 uprising there was an Indian musical renaissance that produced a dramatic increase in raga use (Clayton 2007: 84). This was a nationalistic
modernisation that, unlike the Turkish Nationalist movement of the 1920s, drew away from the West (Clayton 2007: 88-92). There were, however, parallel trends to the Turkish Nationalist movement in a search for a notation and theoretical framework influenced by a Western model. Since the mid twentieth century a notable innovation has been the Bollywood film industry and the popularity of the songs written for the films. I have come across around fifty tunes from the 1950s that use the raga Bhairavi, with its light associations being very adaptable to the new format, with strong Westernised influences, the flattened supertonic very much in evidence. Bollywood composer Shankar Jaikishen used raga Bhairavi in many of his hits, for instance Ghar Aara Mera Pardesi 1951 in the film Awaara. The song is an innovatory nine-minute piece, a dream sequence where a woman is saving a man from danger by drawing him up to the heavens. It is very romantic and the latter stages are full of images of danger.
Track 24: Rafaqat Ali singing Ghar aaya Mera Pardesi
The flattened supertonic appears throughout. Here is the main melody of Ghar Aara Mera Pardesi, as played by the Bollywood Brass Band, with Rafaqat Ali singing.
Figure 2.8: Rafaqat Ali and BBB - Ghar aaya Mera Pardesi Track 25: Rafaqat Ali and BBB - Ghar aaya Mera Pardesi
There has been a decline in the use of ragas in the movies in recent decades. When I drew Rafaqat Ali’s attention to a 2006 Bollywood tune with a Komal Re, from the film (aptly named) Dhoom 2, he was unimpressed, considering this “just a pop song” (Rafaqat Ali interview). He explained that without the ragas special motives it is not a raga, even if the notes are the same.
Track 25: Bollywood Brass Band - Dhoom 2
Although modern Bollywood tunes may be based on ragas they are not actually ragas, Bollywood music does continue however to be essentially linear (Shrivastav interview).
Figure 2.9: Baluji Shrivastav demonstrating linear style Track 27: Baluji Shrivastav demonstrating linear style
Both Rafaqat Ali and Baluji Shrivastav are involved in non-classical music. Qawwali music has become, largely through the international success of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, very much part of the World Music circuit, where the subtle associations of the use of the flattened supertonic (along with other pitches) may be lost on the audience. Baluji Shrivastav described how playing with the Grand Union Orchestra, a World Music band, he will play the same music as he always does but the structure is changed and so it ends up having nothing to do with Indian classical music. 2.6 Conclusion This musical tradition has a subgroup of ragas all written for twilight, all containing the flattened supertonic: the Sandhi Prakesh ragas, a crepuscular subset with different subtleties for dawn and dusk. There is such precision of meaning and attention to detail and a plethora of interpretations. The sound of the flattened supertonic is variously described as sad and beautiful, relaxing and about destruction. These are not different interpretations in different tunes, but they are co-existing within the same moment. This is in sharp contrast to my findings in Turkish art music where any applied meaning is very vague and general. The focus on dawn and dusk, times of transition and change, gives an opportunity within the genre to meditate on these transitions. There are philosophical and religious connections made and a vivid language is embedded within the ragas to express change and loss. In the post-imperial Indian subcontinent the raga is a continuing symbol of cultural identity in the face of global cultural forces, rather than in the Turkish postimperial (Ottoman) experience where Western influences were positively assimilated in their music.
Chapter 3: Klezmer
In many cases the flattened second will reflect a certain intensity but not necessarily. (Knapp interview).
In this chapter I will describe the occurrence of tunes with the flattened supertonic in Klezmer music, and how its use is often tied into the conjunct use of the augmented second in the musical mode known as Ahava Rabba. I will show how the flattened second is described as intense, yet able to express different emotions. I will also describe how the diasporic conditions of living for the Jewish people and the foundation of the State of Israel have at times produced a negative sense of the old modes, and at other times perpetuated their use. Klezmer music is instrumental Ashkenazi Jewish dance music as played by the Jews of Eastern Europe. Early Klezmer bands would have violin, cimbalom and bass. In the late 19th century the clarinet became a popular Klezmer instrument with drums and sometimes brass in a typical ensemble. The music played relates to Jewish cantorial singing and the clarinet and violin were particularly adept at imitating the human voice (Sapoznik 1987:8). Klezmer music both reflects and results from the Jewish diaspora, having picked up characteristics from wherever the musicians have lived their lives. Traditionally instrumental music was not played at religious services as it was against Jewish law, so weddings were the principal events for Klezmer band performances. During the past ten years I have been performing in a Klezmer band called Freylekh, the name of a dance, and through this experience have gained some insight into Klezmer modality and use of notes in Klezmer tunes. As additional research I have interviewed the foremost British Klezmer clarinetist Merlin Shepherd, who performs in Europe and America; and Professor Alexander Knapp, recently retired from the chair of Jewish studies at SOAS, who also performs piano accompaniment for cantorial singing. I also read relevant literature and listened to recordings.
Prevalence: Ahava Rabba and Cantorial modes
Immediately in my interviews with them, both Alexander Knapp and Merlin Shepherd pointed out to me that in Jewish music the flattened supertonic should not be considered on its own, but in conjunction with the augmented second and semitone following which occurs in the mode Ahava Rabba. What follows is a history of that mode. At the time of the First Temple in Jerusalem there was an oboe like instrument called a Halil that was very popular in secular situations and religious alike (Idelsohn 1944:12). It was described as a sound “to increase joy”. A similar instrument in Greece, the aulos, is reported to have played the tetrachord (for instance in A) A Bb C# D. This instrument was played during “indecent” events, and the music played on it was described as exciting and elegiac. The church fathers were very disapproving and as a result the instrument and the kind of music that it played became unacceptable in upright Greek and Jewish circles (Idelsohn 1944:13). So the flattened supertonic and this particular motive were removed from the Jewish music of that time (Idelsohn 1944:87, Knapp interview). At some point in more recent history the diasporic Jewish community of Eastern Europe encountered this tetrachord again, possibly from Tartaric tribes who traveled West into South Russia and the Balkans (Idelsohn 1944:87), and embraced the sound into cantorial singing and later into Klezmer music. Alexander Knapp suggested that the sound evoked nostalgia for Jerusalem:
Jews already had a nostalgia and had music from temple chant that would have evoked nostalgia, but somehow this new music was intense and attracted them (Knapp interview).
Maybe there was a sound memory, or it may simply have been that they heard an intensity in the flattened supertonic, augmented second, minor second combination that spoke to them (Knapp interview). This motive became part of a cantorial prayer called Ahava Rabba, meaning A Great Love: the love between God and the Children of Israel. Ahava Rabba contains the pitches A Bb C# D E F G. This mode is one of three central modes for Klezmer music where it is sometimes known as Freygish (due to its similarity to the Phrygian mode), and in the West this mode is referred to as the 5th mode of the harmonic minor.
Figure 3.1: Kandel’s Hora (Sapoznik 1987) Track 28: Kandel’s Hora (Sapoznik 1987)
The use of instrumental accompaniment in Klezmer music, and the desire to produce dance music, were factors in the introduction of chordal accompaniment, something that did not evolve in the Turkish and Indian traditions that I have discussed. In the West, when this occurred during the Renaissance, the major ‘dominant’ chord was established as the tension sound that was released by the tonic chord: this chord in an A tonality would contain the notes E G# and B. There was no place for the flattened supertonic. In klezmer however:
Weintraub devised a system of harmonization for Jewish modes….he breaks the fetters of classical harmony, and strikes out, forcing for himself a new and untried path (Idelsohn 1944:482).
The Ahava Rabba is harmonized with three chords: I as tonic function chord, IVm as subdominant function chord, and bVIIm as dominant function chord. For instance this would be the chords A, Dm and Gm. The bVIIm chord has been referred to as the ‘Ahava Rabba dominant’ and sometimes appears in tunes in different modes to produce a flattened supertonic (Sapoznik 1987:23). 8 This use of the flattened supertonic is in cadential situations, when it is introduced at the cadence point before the note falls to the tonic. The Yishtabach mode is an instance where the notes ascend on the Mogen Ovos Peter Manuel’s article on modal harmony in the Mediterranean basin includes Klezmer music but does not include this harmonic sequence for the Ahava Rabba. He notes a harmonization for the Phrygian mode and the Hicaz makam, (the same notes as Ahava Rabba) in use in Andalusian folk music and flamenco, of IVm bIII bII I (the minor third is often dealt with by introducing a neutral third into the melody). The bII chord in this “Andalusian Phrygian tonality” is treated as a dominant chord. 42
(like the Aeolian mode) and descend to the tonic using the flattened supertonic. The chords at the cadence point are VIIm (the Ahava Rabba dominant chord) to Im. An example of this is an early recording of the clarinetist Natfule Brandwein of Freyt Aykh Yidelekh, meaning “Get Happy Jews”.
Figure 3.2: Natfule Brandwein playing Freyt Aykh Yidelekh (Sapoznik 1987)
Track 29: Natfule Brandwein playing Freyt Aykh Yidelekh (Sapoznik 1987)
This can also occur with the Misheberach mode (the fourth mode of the harmonic minor) as in this example:
Figure 3. 3: Natfule Brandwein playing Der Gasn Nign (Sapoznik 1987) Track 30: Natfule Brandwein playing Der Gasn Nign (Sapoznik 1987)
This use of the flattened supertonic is part of the cantorial style and described as a colouring device to make a “more effective cadence”, somehow reflecting the prose of the liturgy of devotion (Knapp interview). Another characteristic that results from the cantorial style is the forshpil (Cravitz 2008). This is a short introduction that occasionally starts a tune and in an ametrical manner introduces the motives of the dance piece.
Figure 3.4: Ilana Cravitz's Forshpil to a Sher Track 31: Ilana Cravitz's Forshpil to a Sher
The Hasidic movement began in Eastern Europe in the early 18th century. “Hasidism strove to encourage Jews to express their piety …through ecstatic fervour of music and dance” (Sapoznik 1987:5). The Ahava Rabba became a very popular mode for nigunim: wordless melodies to create an atmosphere to draw the singer closer to god, sung on Shabbat and Holy days. The style of music in Hasidism was different to Klezmer and there was a two way influence creating ‘Hasidic style’ Klezmer tunes, as in this Khasidl:
Figure 3.5: Natfule Brandwein playing Baym Rebin's Sude (Sapoznik 1987) Track 32: Natfule Brandwein playing Baym Rebin's Sude (Sapoznik 1987)
There has been an association in cantorial singing of narrow intervals for intensity; larger intervals (up to a fifth) for praise and joyful expression. Ahava Rabba with its three, sometimes 4 semitone intervals is used for penitential prayers, asking for forgiveness and always very intense. When the cantor wants to stir up the congregation, perhaps to tears, it is the mode that they use: “It’s about what’s going on inside the person, the conflicts and the pain, those kinds of issues” (Knapp interview). However, meaning is dependent on vocal style and tempo, and Alexander explained that the “feeling” of the music is most important, that the rendition of the music has to “feel right” and that there may not be words to describe this.
When a cantor lingers on the flattened second before coming to a close on the tonic what’s actually going through his mind? There could be all sorts of motivations; they may be different each time. It could be different for each cantor. It comes down to feeling. (Knapp interview)
Merlin Shepherd describes the translation to Klezmer:
Klezmer is based on prayer modes, so there is a quasi-religious content. In those days you played at weddings that maybe were religious. Nowadays it is played often in very non-religious contexts. ….
For many secular Jews, playing a flattened second followed by a Major 3rd gives them a key to what they consider to be their roots….Music is a non-religious way back into a culture, an easy direct way back to feeling Jewish for people who don’t have a strong identification with Israel and want their own link with Eastern European people. Klezmer music is that link. (Shepherd interview).
Seth Rogovoy in his book The Complete Klezmer describes how the Klezmer music of the nineteenth century world is kept alive today, with “its emotional depth, that accounts for its raw power to move the heart, the soul, and the feet, that induces an immediate sense of faraway recognition, even for those who are miles away from the shtetlekh of Galicia and Bukovina” (Rogovoy 2000:15). For Alexander Knapp and Merlin Shepherd the flattened second holds a particular meaning of intensity:
I have a strong emotional experience with the flattened second….I feel tremendous tension from the supertonic to the tonic. I imagine that a lot of people feel that…. however there are as many Jewish identities as there are Jews: some will love the flattened second, some will despise it (Knapp interview). There is something very intense about the flatted second resolving to the tonic. Certainly in the West it needs to resolve. It’s a relaxation down…. The flatted second is just a note but it does appear more often in the music I like than it should! (Shepherd interview).
It is used in slow and moving tunes and also in joyous dance music, as in these two examples:
Figure 3.6: Merlin Shepherd with Budowitz - Gliner Gasn Nign Track 33: Merlin Shepherd with Budowitz - Gliner Gasn Nign
Figure 3.7: Merlin Shepherd with Budowitz - Bughicis Freylekhs Track 34: Merlin Shepherd with Budowitz - Bughicis Freylekhs
Countries of residence have had many influences on the style of Klezmer music: Rumanian, Russian, Polish, Ukrainian, Hungarian, Bulgarian and gypsy music. All of these genres also use the flattened supertonic in their melodies. The particular characteristics of Klezmer music are from the combination of these influences with cantorial style and the struggles of the Jewish people (Sapoznik 1987:19, Idelsohn 1944:24).
It has often been said that in Eastern Ashkenazi Jewish music the pain is never far away, not far, below the surface….This may have a lot to do with social, cultural, political religious circumstances. Over the centuries, life has been tough. This may have found expression in these modes, as they’re more expressive of that sort of thing, not the same as modalities of nations where there has been relatively little conflict. Nations with their own homelands, where they haven’t been moved from one place to another (Knapp interview).
Change: Prejudice and identity
The Enlightenment movement in Western Europe encouraged assimilation of Jews into the general society and culture (Sapoznik 1987:5), and there was a clear divide between Jews of West and East Europe. The Western Jewry were wealthier, urban and more sophisticated:
They wanted to be full citizens and this was reflected in the music that was played within their communities…. The Ahava Rabba was very popular amongst Eastern Ashkenazi Jews as opposed to the Germans who found it a little Oriental and alien, they liked to be more Western (Knapp interview).
Composers in Western Europe did use the Ahava Rabba but less than their counterparts in the East, it wasn’t regarded as the essential ingredient that in the East it was. The Germans and Austrians had a tendency to look down on the Eastern European Jews as not so integrated into the modern world. They felt that the Eastern European Jewry were isolated in ghettos, and they did not want to identify with this constant persecution, misery, pogroms, and being seen as second class citizens. This oppression found expression in the music of the Eastern Jews, whether it was Ahava Rabba or just the voice production of the folk tunes of those communities (Knapp interview). Pogroms and anti-Semitic violence fuelled the socialist and Zionist movements. When the new State of Israel was established the Zionist movement wished to put the old ways behind them, the days of oppression and ghettos. One of the casualties of this change was the Yiddish language and the old modes. Migrants to Israel, including refugees from the Holocaust, were ordered to abandon their Yiddish language and adopt new socialist ways. In the new Israel, and as a result many diasporic communities around Europe, a new folk music was introduced, with wider, ‘aspirational’ intervals in the scales. Speaking to cantor Reuben Turner, he told me that since the establishment of the state of Israel there has been a conscious decision to move towards ‘happier’ scales and a desire to move away from the narrow intervals of the ghetto, i.e. the semitone. Klezmer music was no longer performed at wedding ceremonies and many of the present generation of international Jews have grown up with no familiarity for Klezmer music. By contrast in other refugee communities such as America the old ways were continued despite a great desire to ‘be American’. Although the Ahava Rabba has been used to express intense, deep feelings amongst the Jewish diasporic communities there is
another side. Often under the greatest times of persecution the scales have become much plainer, as if the emotions need to be held in, or that in some way it has been unsafe to express them. In other times – for instance modern day America – the Ahava Rabba has been used much more readily, things are safer and it was now okay to “let it all out now” (Knapp interview). America Klezmer musician Henry Sapoznik writes that since the 1970s: Klezmer music …has attracted a robust re-interest in the American Jewish community. From Sheepshead Bay to Seattle new Klezmer musicians are appearing and older ones reappearing (Sapoznik 1987:5). Although the present World Music explosion of Klezmer music is described as a revival, Alexander explained that there has been a clear continuity of Klezmorim in America and Europe in the diasporic communities. The size of the phenomena now is different – most musicians of all walks of life have now heard of Klezmer music, but there has been no break (Knapp interview). In the World Music and other non-Jewish settings the Ahava Rabba mode has been actively encouraged, and particularly requested for its ‘typical’ Jewish sound (Sapoznik 1987:6). 3.4 Conclusion The strong attachment that some members of the Jewish diaspora have to klezmer music is of a deep nostalgia, using it to reclaim identity in the modern world of dislocation and the existence of the State of Israel. The establishment of this State, as with the new India after the 1857 uprising and the Socialist Republic in Turkey in the 1920s, was instrumental in making changes to the use of music in the Jewish community of Israel, and consequently the diasporic communities that supported the State. The association of the Ahava Rabba with Eastern European Jewry and times of oppression and poverty resulted in it not being part of the new music of Israel. Like Turkish art music, and unlike Indian ragas, the intensity of the flattened supertonic has an unspecific tension without particular attached meanings. Klezmer music has become a secular identifier, and the Ahava Rabba mode in particular is seen by my interviewees as full of potential to express the sometimes complex and intense emotions of today’s diasporic communities.
Chapter 4: Heavy metal music
Heavy metal music without the minor second? It would be unspeakable, it wouldn’t be allowed. Pete Herbert, bass player
Heavy metal music typically involves long haired young men playing a line-up of kit drum, electric bass and solo guitar(s) with vocals. The rhythm section plays at very high volume, often with distortion on the sound, the bass thundering out ‘riffs’ (one or two bar ostinato motives). Over this the guitarist will sometimes play in unison with the bass, but the principal feature is for them to play virtuosic solos soaring above the backing support. The flattened supertonic has a prominent presence in heavy metal music. The movement from tonic to flattened supertonic is regularly used for bass lines, and the soloist is often soloing using either the Phrygian 1 b2 b3 4 5 b6 b7 mode9 or the Locrian mode 1 b2 b3 4 b5 b6 b7 (both characterised by their flattened second note). I will describe how the flattened supertonic is an essential ingredient of Heavy metal music, that it is used to evoke doom and other ominous emotions. It is considered “not happy”, yet the two heavy metal players that I have interviewed have a positive feeling about the flattened supertonic and the scales that contain it. These scales also have associations with the exotic where, as in classical Orientalism, there are no firm relations to specific countries or Eastern musics. As well as reading literature, consulting the internet, and listening to heavy metal recordings, I interviewed guitarist Luke Rayner of the band Leafhound, and Pete Herbert, bass player with the band Nine Days Down.
4.1 Prevalence: History of modal use in Heavy metal music Heavy metal music grew out of Rock Music in the late 1960s. Most rock music up to that time had been pentatonic in scale formation, particularly the ‘bluesy’ minor pentatonic scale. The founders of the heavy metal style were 60s groups Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Black Sabbath. Guitarist Luke Rayner explained how the group Deep Purple had introduced the use of the harmonic minor scale: two of their group members
The numbers represent the Ionian Major scale. 51
Ritchie Blackmore on guitar and Jon Lord on keyboard had studied classically and were familiar with other modes and scales and they introduced the harmonic minor and the medieval modes into rock music. The style became known as Neoclassical. Heavy rock music with a heavy tune and classically inspired solos, particularly using Baroque solo figures.
The solos were more classically inspired. Harmonic minor sounds quite good and clever when you play it fast with a lot of distortion on your guitar. It’s also intense and memorable with the harmonic minor scale and the flattened second. It’s instantly recognisable. With Heavy metal you want that intensity, everything’s harsh. The solo needs to be intense. Playing bluesy pentatonic doesn’t tend to work in that context over a sinister riff with a diminished chord like Ace of Spades or Motorhead” (Luke Rayner interview).
The harmonic minor was established as a scale for soloing. Sometimes an emphasis was placed on the fifth degree of this scale, so the soloist was effectively playing the fifth mode of the harmonic minor over the original backing. This is known as the Phrygian Dominant, it has the flattened supertonic and uses similar intervals to the Hicaz makam, Bhairav raga and Freygish mode.
Figure 4. 1: Luke Rayner playing the Phrygian Dominant Track 35: Luke Rayner playing the Phrygian Dominant
The combination of themes of fantasy, occult and the supernatural with the classical quotes became the framework for heavy metal music. Black Sabbath went further towards the occult and used dissonance “to evoke overtones of gothic horror” (Walser 1993: 10), The flattened supertonic became a firm part of riffs and guitar solos: “In Metal the flat second makes it really doomy. That’s what’s wanted, to make a discord, let’s be doomy” (Herbert interview).
Figure 4.2: Pete Herbert playing bass guitar Track 36: Pete Herbert playing bass guitar
The modality of heavy metal stems from the medieval, gothic identification of the genre. The medieval modes (known as the Greek modes) were explored, and in his book 52
Running with the Devil Robert Walser says:
While the particular associations that were once attached to each mode vanished long age, modes continue to produce powerful and specific affective charges. Most heavy metal is either Aeolian of Dorian, for example, although speed metal is usually Phrygian or Locrian…. Modes are not merely abstruse theoretical categories; they can serve as a shorthand for referring to sets of meaningful elements of musical discourses (Walser 1993:46).
Heavy metal established itself as anti-Modernist, rolling back to pre-Renaissance, preEnlightenment times. Heavy metal musicians identified with nineteenth century Romantic Medievalism, feeling that intensity through drugs and ‘madness’ would bring creativity and radical change (Walser 1993:154). For example in the lyrics of Rapture of the Deep:
I told you once about a place that I had accidentally stumbled upon. Can you imagine how it feels to find somewhere that you can do no wrong? But it's alright, you're safe in my hands. I'll meet you in the sky tonight and we will trace some undiscovered stars. We'll go beyond the universe, beyond all understanding. Hey, it's not that far but it's alright, I feel safe in your hands.
Track 37: Deep Purple - Rapture of the Deep
Walser describes how the guitar solos in heavy metal music evoke intensity, danger, and excitement (Walser 1993:15). These solos are liberating and empowering over the oppressive power of the rhythm section (Walser 1993:54). When guitarists want to play very fast they like “boxes” to play in (Rayner interview), referring to the shape on the guitar frets. The Locrian mode has a straightforward shape that Pete Herbert suggested was easier to play than a regular major scale (Herbert interview). The rhythm section is generally playing power chords, which are two noted chords that just contain the root and fifth. This gives a powerful sound and the lack of thirds in the chords means that the soloist can play most modes without clashing against the backing, though clashing is often welcomed and the Locrian mode with its flattened dominant is used extensively:
Figure 4.3: Pete Herbert improvising on Locrian mode Track 38: Pete Herbert improvising on Locrian mode
Playing the Phrygian and Locrian makes it really jarring and fast….You can hammer away at these scales; you can run it. It’s easy to play 1 2 4 fingering, more comfortable. It’s the right sound, it’s jarring, it’s unease [sic], it produces certain emotions in the human form. As a bass player you can play a simple E minor to F bass riff while the guitarist paints a Locrian-based image, a Hieronymus Bosch solo, images of Hell, over the locked in semitone bass. …. You can jump around to the minor second riff, without playing a wrong note. Unison guitar and bass locked in for the riff. It’s tribal, all knocking your heads. (Herbert interview).
Figure 4.4: Pete Herbert bass and guitar riff Track 39: Pete Herbert bass and guitar riff
The flattened supertonic feature of the rhythm section parts often used this chord sequence I bII, with the bII chord providing a ‘dominant function’. This is a different solution to harmonising the flattened supertonic to Klezmer music (where the bVIIm is generally used). This chord sequence is mentioned by Peter Manuel in relation to the modal music of Andalusian flamenco music: “The guitar accompaniment, where present, invariably consists of an ornamented oscillation between two chords – usually the tonic and flat supertonic – with occasional forays to the familiar IV III bII I pattern” (Manuel 1989:74). 4.2 Meaning: Doom and Omen
In heavy metal music the flattened supertonic represents tension and dissonance. The pentatonic scale, so prevalent in other popular music, is considered bland and sweet (Rayner, Herbert interview). Discord and images of doom and ominousness is embraced. As Walser describes:
Affectively, the Phrygian mode is distinctive: only this mode has a second degree only a half step away from the tonic instead of a whole step. Phenomenologically, this closeness means that the second degree hangs precariously over the tonic, making the mode seem claustrophobic and unstable. Hedged in by its upper neighbour, even the tonic, normally the point of rest, acquires an uncomfortable inflection in this mode. (Walser 1993: 47)
“It’s not a happy sound is it?” (Rayner interview)
Figure 4.5: Luke Rayner playing Phrygian mode Track 40: Luke Rayner playing Phrygian mode
That’s not happy…
Figure 4. 6: Pete Herbert playing scales
... It can be as simple as that” (Herbert interview). Heavy metal music has empowered the performers and audiences, giving a sense of another community that expressed the intensity of their feelings and their desires for ‘something more’ (Walser 1993:159). This sound is embodied by the flattened supertonic. The style has become a world-wide voice for teenagers struggling to find identity beyond that of their parents:
It’s stuff your parents don’t like, so by listening to it you can rebel, it’s about rebellion….Heavy metal looks kindly on the underdog, the nerdy kid at school who’s kicked around. A lot of songs are about rising up, showing people what you’re made of, getting back at a bully. A lot of kids that like it are not the mainstream trendy kids; they’re left of field people. (Rayner interview)
A teenage girl quoted in Walser’s book explained: “I feel paranoid when listening to ‘easy listening’ music as it’s lying about the world” (Walser 1993:159). The band Megadeth, a Thrash Metal band, takes on Satanism in association with the ‘evils’ of international capitalism and threats of nuclear war, using ‘violent’ music to mirror a very real world situation. Walser suggests that heavy metal artists wish to highlight the hypocrisy of a world where masculinity is underpinned by a fascination with power and violence (Walser 1993:140). There was a campaign in America, spearheaded by Tipper Gore that charged the heavy
metal music makers as a threat to young boys “corrupting human nature”. The dissonances and the lyrics disturbed her and she said: “Healthy minds don’t have negative thoughts”(Walser 1993:144). It could, however, be said that through the voicing of texts on madness and suicide (amongst other themes) there is a resonance with teenagers sense of vulnerability and through identification and community can come hope. Generally speaking, when teenagers become adults and get employment their interest in the dissonances of heavy metal wanes (Walser 1993:110). Luke Rayner (aged 25) agreed: “I can’t listen to it in the way that I used to”. Overwhelmingly the music is described as powerful and masculine and speaking of the use of heavy metal music in U.S. army adverts:
It’s fight music, heavy, fast and aggressive…. It stirs something inside for me. If you’re driving fast on the motorway, it’s hard and it’s heavy….There’s some kind of sense of power you get when using the guitar in that way. I still feel it now it makes you feel good, like seeing someone scoring a nice goal, the way the ball goes in is so nice and perfect. The same thing happens when you stand in front of a loud guitar amplifier and play a loud note or hit a loud chord and you feel the power going through you, you created that, and there’s people in front of you getting off on it too….That flattened second sounds quite ominous to me. The first time I heard the flattened second it sounded very appealing, in 80s Heavy metal music: Mernstein, Iron Maiden, Metallica. That kind of music inspired me to play the guitar when I was 11 or 12 (Rayner interview).
Figure 4.7: Metallica - Enter Sandman Track 41: Luke Rayner playing Enter Sandman
This song by Metallica with lyrics about the Sandman ((in folklore) a mythical person who put children to death by sprinkling sand in their eyes): 10
The sandman he comes, sleep with one eye open gripping your pillow tight. Exit: light. Enter: night. Take my hand We're off to never never land.
Track 42: Metallica - Enter Sandman
Freud partially structures his essay “The Uncanny “ on Hoffman's fairy tale of The Sandman. The story is connected with the mother as an ‘other within’ (Freud 1919). 56
Luke Rayner finds the mode Phrygian Dominant very useful in his music: “When I do my flamenco bit, it’s my favourite way of using it. It really works in terms of a dark, heavy metal sounding scale” (Rayner interview):
Figure 4.8: Luke Rayner improvising on guitar Track 43: Luke Rayner improvising on guitar
Pete Herbert, however, feels that the Phrygian Dominant (known to him as the Byzantine scale) would be out of place in his own music and prefers the Phrygian mode. This is also used in flamenco music and widely known in the West as the ‘Spanish” scale. Pete Herbert conveys a passion for the flattened supertonic (I include his words on the CD to convey his attitude):
Track 44: Pete Herbert on 2b
It’s un-nerving, unsettling, there’s too many perfect cadences all resolving in pop songs, let’s have it unresolved, keep it up in the air, keep the audience a little whacked out. It’s my own personality, I like a bit of fun and frolics. My goal is not to un-nerve but just to throw it out there, a little whacky. Like root, 5ths, octaves with minor second on the top, it’s a bit different. John Williams’ Jaws was the first time I heard it.
Figure 4.9: John Williams – Jaws theme tune Track 45: John Williams – Jaws theme tune
Once I’d got over playing it on the piano I had lessons, and this whole world of modes opened up, including Phrygian and Locrian, got the minor 2nd there. The Major scale is all resolved and neat, but when you come to [the modes] you think – wow where did that come from? (Herbert interview).
Meaning: The connections with Orientalism. In Heavy metal music the lyrics are often based on: “fantasy and folk-lore, elves and
dwarves; Excalibur pulled out of the stone; Arabia, Ali Baba and the 40 thieves; stories about the nomads and Bedouins. It’s a very general image. A lot of early Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple music was very mystic: mountains, eagles, abstract, not real life. They were rock stars, bored, wanting new things to explore” (Rayner interview). This is an extract from the lyrics to the Led Zeppelin track Kashmir:
All I see turns to brown, as the sun burns the ground And my eyes fill with sand, as I scan this wasted land Trying to find, trying to find where I’ve been. Oh, pilot of the storm who leaves no trace, like thoughts inside a dream Heed the path that led me to that place, yellow desert stream My Shangri-La beneath the summer moon, I will return again Sure as the dust that floats high and true, when moving through Kashmir.
Track 46: Led Zeppelin – Kashmir
The evocations of the Orient are usually non-specific. Walser writes that evocations are powerful particularly because they’re non-specific (Walser 1993:154).The sitar is used here, using the flattened supertonic, and followed by a Phrygian dominant guitar solo in a track about lone exploration and nomadism:
Figure 4.10: Metallica – Wherever I may Roam Track 47: Metallica – Wherever I may Roam
There has been a long tradition of this Orientalism in Western Classical music. In the book Western Music and its Others Jann Passler describes the two composers Roussel and d’Indy and their discussions in 1910 on “vagueness” in Oriental influence in relation to Roussel’s composition Evocations. Firstly d’Indy, Roussel’s teacher, is quoted:
Write your Hindu symphony without thinking about this or that, nor even about including too much local colour…. better than a sound photograph of “national noises”.
And then Roussel:
Even though these Evocations were inspired by India, I am anxious that the country remains vague. India, Tibet, Indochina, China, Persia, it doesn’t matter. (Passler 2000:94).
Said defined Orientalism as “The European idea of the Orient” (Said 1978:16) and explained “The Orient as such became less important than what the Orientalist made of it….Each Orientalist created his own Orient” (Said 1978:127-130). Between the fifteenth and eighteenth centuries “for most Europeans, the entire non-European world was seen as no more than theatre, an endless Arabian Nights entertainment…. imaginary creatures whose deeds and words could be edifying or farcical, as one chose (Whaples 1958:3). In the eighteenth century the style Turc and style Hongrois’ developed in Western Classical music, containing the augmented second and semitone (not necessarily from the flattened supertonic), and in the nineteenth century this became a distinct style connoting ‘gypsy’ as in the ‘gypsy’ scale of Liszt: A B C D# E F G (Scott 1997:2). Ralph Locke wrote an article called “Constructing the Oriental `Other': Saint-Saèns's Samson et Dalila”. The Baccanole in this work is based on the notes of the Hicazkar makam (a member of the Hicaz family that contains the flattened supertonic and two augmented second intervals) (Locke 1991:11).
Orientalist music is not poor imitation of another cultural practice: its purpose is not to imitate but to represent....Orientalist devices, many of which can be applied undiscrimatingly as markers of cultural difference: Aeloian, Dorian, but especially the Phrygian mode; augmented seconds and fourths (Scott 1997:11).
The flattened supertonic is a tool for expressing the ‘other’. Pete Herbert says: “The flattened second would be the note that I’d rely on to create a Middle Eastern feeling. You can really ham it up, that minor second” (Herbert interview). The Phrygian mode is described: “From a Eurocentric viewpoint, this is the mode of Spain, gypsys, Balkans, Turks and Arabs (possibly of the mezzogiorno also)”(Tagg 1994:215), music from ‘somewhere else’. The band Iron Maiden in the 80s was exploring tensions between reality and dream, evil and power, sometimes with Eastern associations. In this track Powerslave, that uses the minor third and the Phrygian dominant tetrachord, the Egyptian imagery is evident in the lyrics:
Into the abyss I'll fall - the eye of horus Into the eyes of the night - watching me go Green is the cat's eye that glows-in this temple Enter the risen osiris - risen again.
Figure 4.11: Iron Maiden – Powerslave Track 48: Iron Maiden – Powerslave
They were essentially interested in ‘liberation’ through such sources as alchemy, lost Egyptian dynasties and myth, in order to discover new powers in the modern world. Ralph Locke in his essay Constructing the Oriental Other explains: “The Orient may be a blank screen for projecting Western concerns about itself” (Locke 1991:285). Heavy metal music has continued the Western classical traditions of using the flattened supertonic as an Oriental and/or ‘other’ identifier. Different from the classical tradition this music is all about the self in that the musicians are personally identifying with the ‘other’. It is the ‘other within’.
Change: Upping the Ante During the 1980s changes occurred within heavy metal music: themes became
more romantic; the music more gentle, less use of the dissonant sounds, including the flattened supertonic. The band Bon Jovi was the biggest group of this time. The new sound became hugely popular, sales of heavy metal music amounting to 25% of the total record sales in America. For the first time women and girls started listening in large numbers (Walser1993:13). By the late 1980s there was a backlash from people who believed that the genre had been ‘selling out’ to commercialism and the status quo. There was a move towards faster, heavier metal music, influenced by punk music called Thrash, or Speed Metal (Rayner interview). The Phrygian and Locrian modes became the predominant modes in the guitar solos (Walser 1993:46). The Locrian was particularly popular as it had both the flattened supertonic and the flattened dominant (Herbert interview). Since the 1990s the trend towards more dissonance and harsher lyrics has continued, “Upping the ante” (Rayner interview). Death Metal continued the movement towards chromaticism, often without tonal centres at all (Herbert interview). Black Metal
came out of Scandinavia in the 1990s and established a style heavy metal in epic proportions, with a more aesthetic and Romantic style, still with exotic imagery and Phrygian and Locrian scales.
Conclusion In response to my question whether you could have heavy metal music
without the flattened supertonic, Pete Herbert replied:
I don’t think it would be metal, it would be a sham. You must have a minor second, it’s the mainstay, it’s the seal of approval for heavy metal (Herbert interview).
Of all the four genres that I’ve researched the heavy metal tradition stands out in its deliberate and extensive use of the flattened supertonic to create subversive, antiestablishment emotions, whether railing against society or parents. The ‘other’ flattened supertonic is ideal for indicating the ‘other within’ and this is the status of heavy metal musicians. In some ways the Jewish diaspora and the Turkish art music fans could also be described as such, but with heavy metal music this is the defining aspect of the subculture. The use of the flattened supertonic in this music fits in well to the dissonant and dissident aspirations of the group.
Ay, in the very temple of Delight Veil'd Melancholy has her sovran shrine, Though seen of none save him whose strenuous tongue Can burst Joy's grape against his palate fine; His soul shall taste the sadness of her might, And be among her cloudy trophies hung. Ode on Melancholy Keats 1819
Dissonance and dissidents In all the four genres that I have researched there is some connection between sadness and beauty as expressed above by the Romantic poet Keats: the Turkish love of melancholy music; ragas literally able to express sadness and beauty in the same breath; klezmer musicians speaking of the ‘pain’ never being far away even in dance music; and heavy metal music revelling in morbidity. There is also a commonality in relationship to mainstream cultures: Turkish art music is music from the extinct Ottoman Empire; klezmer music was driven out of Eastern Europe with the Jewish people into other diasporas; heavy metal music is for rebellious teenagers searching for something more. Indian and Pakistani ragas, though establishment music, is a minority-taste music within countries in strife and poverty, outside the ‘West’. The flattened supertonic is endemic to the musics that I have studied, and the note is valued with pride by the practitioners as an emblem of their culture. These musics are perceived to be under threat by the ever encroaching Western scales and styles of music and the fear of loss is abundant in the repertoire, as illustrated by this comment from the Jewish musical analyst Idelsohn:
The church harmonists of Gregorian chant reduced the eight scales to two, major and minor…. They violated all that was unique in the Church-song, sacrificing its character to the rules of the science of European music. What they intended was the beautification of a revered inheritance. What they did was to lop off the individualities of their chants to fit the …classical harmony. (Idelsohn 1944:480).
The loss of subtlety is a large issue here. Without necessarily any conscious intentions, microtones and flattened supertonics are slowly disappearing from the repertoires. The distinctive sound of the collection of notes of the Phrygian dominant where the supertonic is flattened and the mediant is raised appears to create particularly strong
attachments. The Ahava Rabba has been adopted in a nostalgic context by diasporic Jews, and the Hicaz makam, being remembered from lullabies, also invokes nostalgia. This tetrachord is the cliché of ‘The East’ widely used by Western film composers wanting to evoke Arabia, and heavy metal musicians similarly perceive it as definitional. In the West the Renaissance washed away the flattened supertonic that had once , as in the genres studied here, been part of the general musical palette. Now its use is different and ‘other’, a generalised tension, the shadow, the moment of change that twilight represents. The pulsation of the heavy metal bass line epitomises this tension. The flattened supertonic is meaningful – full of meaning. Nobody that I interviewed was vague about why I might be writing about it. In discussion with the generality of people in London I found curiosity and confusion, but my interviewees recognised it immediately and showed a passion for this interval. They also all agreed that a note means nothing on its own. This is clear from ethnomusicological texts, for instance Bruno Nettl discussing John Blacking’s warnings on ‘the drawing of unwarranted conclusions’ in relation to finding the same intervals in two cultures (Nettl 2005:67). It is commonly accepted in the discipline that context is everything, any meaning is culturally bound. Yet there are commonalities in meanings for the flattened supertonic between these traditions, and recognition of dissonance is one.
Tension and expectation A difference between the traditions is how much the dissonance of the flattened supertonic produces negative emotions that need to be ‘resolved’, or how dissonance is just one aspect of emotions that can be emphasized with a subtle enjoyment of its poignancy and melancholy. Leonard Meyer describes expectation and its resolution as being the essential ingredient of meaning and emotion in music:
Musical suspense seems to have direct analogies in experience in general; it makes us feel something of the insignificance and powerlessness of man in the face of the inscrutable workings of destiny. … in the face of the unknown (Meyer 1956:28).
When I asked Baluji Shrivastav what he thought about the flattened supertonic being used a lot in Western ‘death’ music, he quickly replied that if you don’t believe in reincarnation then the flattened supertonic would indeed be sad (Shrivastav interview).
This comment alluded to the Indian visual imagery of the flattened supertonic rising at sunrise out of, and subsequently falling back at sunset to the tonic Sa, the day here representing the infinite cycle of life. There is a notable contrast between ascending tension and resolution (as with the ascending leading note of Western music), and the descending tension and resolution repeatedly occurring in these discussions. Schenker describes the essential movement of music being to relax downwards (cited in Chew 1983:37) as was the case in pre-Medieval times, yet the West goes for the striving upwards model. Is this an attempt to escape to Heaven? Dane Rudhyar in his book The Magic of Tone and the Art of Music describes the change from the prevailing descending melodic progressions of ancient Greek times to ascending movements of modern times in European aspirational terms “in the music of a post-Medieval Europe dominated by the pluralistic drive toward physical expansion and religio-emotional transcendence “ (Rudhyar 1982: 99). The descending ‘leading note’ (the flattened supertonic) to tonic resolution could easily then pick up the visual association of depression, as in the ‘Ode to melancholy’ where Keats’ melancholy ‘falls’.
Westernisation, modernisation and monoculture Can you throw off the intervals and thus throw off the old worlds? Turkey and Israel have embraced secularity and the West; Jews under oppression have tried to assimilate; heavy metal followers abandon the dissonant sounds of the genre when becoming more settled and getting jobs, returning only when having had a ‘bad day’. But if you bury the ‘shadow’ will it eat away from inside, as in Freud’s ‘return of the repressed’: Humanism and the Enlightenment in Europe attempted to throw off the religious ways, became secular and rational, introduced the major scale and thought happy thoughts. Out of this culture arose heavy metal music, which literally harkens back to the pre-Renaissance period, and changes its guise each time one generation passes to the next: as soon as one head is cut off another grows. Heavy metal music is not religious, but it has a spiritual dimension: all the complexities of ‘shadowy’ thinking without the religious dogma. Beyond the scope of this study are many issues and ideas such as the connections with psychoanalysis, religions and philosophies. Making more connections between these disciplines and ethnomusicology could be fascinating in relationship to scale choice and 64
musical motives: Freud, nostalgia and the uncanny; belief in reincarnation and its effect on feelings of well being; Deleuze and nomadology; issues of Orientalism and cultural miscomprehension, including the ‘outsider inside’ of subcultural music. The flattened supertonic is held as precious by musician practitioners from many different traditions, particularly those out of the mainstream Western arena. It has a role comparable with the ascending leading note in terms of tension and release within a tonal framework, yet this role is unacknowledged by Western musicology. I suggest that this is due to its lack of presence in Western classical music. I would ask whether the falling instead of rising nature of the movement might not be significant in this whole story. In the musics I have studied the flattened supertonic is integrated into the harmony, and it continues to be valued as part of their identity. It is tense, complex and subtle, full of expressive potential as ‘the other leading note’.
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Appendix 1: Musical Quotations in Actual Keys
Figure 5 (1.3) Cahit Bahlav playing Ussak makam on oud
Figure 5 (1.7) Cahit Bahlav playing Hicaz makam
Figure 5 (1.10) Cahit Bahlav playing Segah tetrachord on violin
Figure 5. 1: Cahit Bahlav playing Ussak tetrachord on violin
Figure 5. 2: Cahit Bahlav playing Segah
Figure 5 (1.12) Cahit Bahlav singing Hicaz lullaby
Figure 5 (1.13) Muslum Gurses
Figure 5 (1.14): Cahit Bahlav playing Hicaz
Figure 5 (1.15) Cahit Bahlav playing Hicaz without komas
Figure 5 (1.16) Cahit Bahlav playing Ussak
Figure (1.16) Cahit Bahlav playing Ussak with no komas
Figure 5 (1.17) Cahit Bahlav playing Segah with no komas
Figure 5 (2.1) Rafaqat Ali Khan singing raga Marva
Figure 5 (2.2) (2.5) Baluji shrivastav singing Raga Shri
Figure (2.3) Rafaqat Ali Khan singing Raga Todi
Figure 5 (2.4) Baluji Shrivastav singing komal Re
Figure 5 (2.6) Baluji Shrivastav singing Bhairav phrase
Figure 5 (2.7) Rafaqat Ali Khan singing Raga Bhairavi
Figure 5 (2.9) Baluji Shrivastav demonstrating linear style
Figure 5 (3.2) Natfule Brandwein playing Baym Rebin's Sude
Figure 5 (3.3) Merlin Shepherd with Budowitz
Figure 5 (3.4) Merlin Shepherd and Budowitz – Bughicis Freylakhs
Figure 5 (4.1) Luke Rayner playing the Phrygian Dominant
Figure (4.2) Pete Herbert playing bass guitar
Figure 5 (4.3) Pete Herbert improvising on Locrian mode
Figure 5 (4.4) Pete Herbert bass and guitar riff
Figure 5 (4.5) Luke Rayner playing Phrygian mode
Figure 5 (4.6) Metallica - Enter the Sandman
Figure 5 (4.7) Luke Rayner improvising on guitar
Figure 5 (4.8) John Williams – Jaws thene tune
Figure 5 (4.9) Metallica – Wherever I may Roam
Appendix 2: Modes, Makams, and Ragas
Notes used in A: actual notes may vary by komas A Bb C D E F G
A Bb C# D E F G
‘Jewish” or ‘Gypsy’??
A Bb C# D E F G# A Bd C D E F# G A Bd C D E F G# A Bb C# D# F# G# A Bb C D# F G# A Bb D# E G# A Bb D E F A Bb C# D# F# G#
Hicazcar Ussak Karcigar
Marva Todi Shri Gunakri Bhatiyar
Ahava Rabba Ahava Rabba Dominant Arabesk Bemol Dha Fasil Forshpil Freygish Güslü Karar Klezmorim Koma Komal Makam Misheberakh Mogen Ovos Moshing Nigunim Re Re Rishabh, Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Dha Ni Seyir Shuddha Tivra Yishtebach The fifth mode of the harmonic minor The bVIIm chord Turkish popular music genre Flat Flattened 6th Semi-classical music genre Musical prelude The fifth mode of the harmonic minor Dominant Tonic Instrumentalists in the Klezmer style An interval one ninth of a tone Flat Turkish modes with added seyir The fourth mode of the harmonic minor A cantorial (Aeolian ) mode Jumping andü shaking your head Wordless melodies Flattened supertonic The supertonic The supertonic Notes of Indian scale: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Characteristic musical phrase Natural Sharp A mode that rises as Mogen Ovos and descends as Phrygian