In Turkish classical music, Mevlevi music, and some Mosque music, a system of melody types called makam (pl. makamlar) provides a complex set of rules for composing. Each makam specifies a unique intervalic structure (cinsler) and melodic development (seyir).
Whether a fixed composition or a spontaneous composition , all attempt to follow the melody type.
Turkish makam's closest relatives include maqam in Arab music and echos in Byzantine music. More distant modal relatives include those of Central Asian Turkic musics such as Uyghur music, muqam and Uzbek music, shashmakom. The raga of Hindustani (North Indian) classical music seems employ similar modal principles.. Some scholars find echoes of Turkish makam in former Ottoman provinces of the Balkans.Shupo, Sokol, ed., Urban Music in the Balkans. Tirana:ASMUS, 2006 All of these concepts roughly correspond to mode in Western music, although their compositional rules vary.
The rhythmic counterpart of makam in Turkish music is usul.
One whole tone is divided into nine commas in Turkish music theory. The following table gives comma values of Turkish accidentals.
(N.B. Araligin Adi means "Name of Interval"; these should be learned in Turkish as this system is unlikely to be encountered outside of Turkish music. Koma olarak degeri means "value in terms of commas". Diyez means "sharp" and bemol means "flat"; in the sharp column, the lower tone should be imagined at the top and the higher tone at the bottom (vice versa for the flat column), and then the table becomes a map of the intervals occurring as one moves between, for example, the notes C and D. Accordingly, the table can be depicted horizontally as follows, with the basic notes named according to the solfege system and thus, for example, "Do" is C and "Re" is D:
As noted above in the context of the Arab maqam, this system is not of equal temperament. In fact, in the Western system of temperament, C-sharp and D-flat—which are functionally the same tone—are equivalent to 4.5 commas in the Turkish system; thus, they fall directly in the center of the line depicted above. As for the last column in the table, simge means "symbol", and is used—as will be seen below—for a shorthand system of writing the different intervals used in the different tetrachords and pentachords that go into making up a makam.)
Unlike as in Western music, where the note C, for example, is called C regardless of what octave it might be in, in the Turkish system the notes are—for the most part—individually named (although many are variations on a basic name); this can be seen in the following table, which covers the notes from middle C ("Kaba Cargah") to the same note two octaves above ("Tiz Cargah"):
Similar to the construction of maqamat noted above, a makam in Turkish music is built of a tetrachord built atop a pentachord, or vice versa (trichords exist but are little used). Additionally, most makams have what is known as a "development" (genileme in Turkish) either above or below, or both, the tonic and/or the highest note.
There are 6 basic tetrachords, named sometimes according to their tonic note and sometimes according to the tetrachord's most distinctive note: Cargah; Buselik; Kurdi; Rast; Uak; and Hicaz.
There are also 6 basic pentachords, named after the same pattern: Cargah; Buselik; Kurdi; Rast; Huseyni; and Hicaz.
In the following image, tetrachords (dortlu) are on the left, pentachords (beli) on the right. The symbols (simge) from the table above are here used to signal the intervals used in these patterns; it is worth keeping in mind that these patterns can be transposed to any note in the scale, so that the tonic A (Dugah) of the Hicaz tetrachord, for example, can be moved up a major second/9 commas to B (Buselik), or in fact to any other note. The other notes of the tetrachord, of course, are also transposed along with the tonic, allowing the pattern to preserve its character.
Basic makam theory
A makam, more than simply a selection of notes and intervals, is essentially a guide to compositional structure: any composition in a given makam will move through the notes of that makam in a more or less ordered way . This pattern is known in Turkish as seyir , and there are three types of seyir:
As stated above, makams are built of a tetrachord plus a pentachord (or vice versa), and in terms of this construction, there are three important notes in the makam:
the tonic (durak), which is the initial note of the first tetrachord or pentachord and which always concludes any piece written in the makam;
the dominant (guclu), which is the last note of the first tetrachord or pentachord and the first note of the second and which is used as a temporary tonic in the middle of a piece ; in practice, the guclu is sometimes a proper dominant and sometimes a subdominant;
the leading tone (yeden), which is most often the penultimate note of any piece and which resolves into the tonic; in practice this is sometimes a proper leading tone and sometimes a subtonic
Additionally, there are three types of makam as a whole:
simple makams (basit makamlar), almost all of which have a rising seyir;
transposed makams (gocurulmu makamlar), which as the name implies are the simple makams transposed to a different tonic;
compound makams (bileik/murekkep makamlar), which are a joining of differing makams and number in the hundreds
This makam is thought to be identical to the Western C-major scale, but actually it is misleading to conceptualize a makam through western music scales. Cargah consists of a Cargah pentachord and a Cargah tetrachord starting on the note Gerdaniye (G). Thus, the tonic is C (Cargah), the dominant G (Gerdaniye), and the leading tone B (Buselik).
The Cargah makam though is very little used in Turkish music, and in fact has at certain points of history been attacked for being a clumsy and unpleasant makam that can inspire those hearing it to engage in delinquency of various kinds.
This makam has two basic forms: in the first basic form (1), it consists of a Buselik pentachord plus a Kurdi tetrachord on the note Huseyni (E) and is essentially the same as the Western A-minor; in the second (2), it consists of a Buselik pentachord plus a Hicaz tetrachord on Huseyni and is identical to A-harmonic minor. The tonic is A (Dugah), the dominant Huseyni (E), and the leading tone G-sharp (Nim Zirgule). Additionally, when descending from the octave towards the tonic, the sixth is sometimes sharpened to become F-sharp (Dik Acem), and the dominant flattened four commas to the note Hisar (1A). All these alternatives are shown below:
This much-used makam—which is said to bring happiness and tranquility to the hearer—consists of a Rast pentachord plus a Rast tetrachord on the note Neva (D); this is labeled (1) below. The tonic is G (Rast), the dominant D (Neva), and the leading tone F-sharp (Irak). However, when descending from the octave towards the tonic, the leading tone is always flattened 4 commas to the note Acem (F), and thus a Buselik tetrachord replaces the Rast tetrachord; this is labeled (2) below. Additionally, there is a development (genileme) in the makam's lower register, below the tonic, which consists of a Rast tetrachord on the note D (Yegah); this is labeled (1A) below.
In Turkey, the particular Muslim call to prayer (or ezan in Turkish) which occurs generally in early afternoon and is called ikindi, as well as the day's final call to prayer called yatsi, is often recited using the Rast makam.
This makam consists of an Uak tetrachord plus a Buselik pentachord on the note Neva (D); this is labelled (1) below. The tonic is A (Dugah), the dominant—here actually a subdominant—is D (Neva), and the leading tone—here actually a subtonic—is G (Rast). Additionally, there is a development in the makam's lower register, which consists of a Rast pentachord on the note D (Yegah); this is labeled (1A) below.
In Turkey, the particular call to prayer which occurs around noon and is called ogle is most often recited using the Uak makam.
Ozkan, Ismail Hakki. Turk Musikisi Nazariyati ve Usulleri. (2000). ISBN 975-437-017-6.
Beken, Munir Nurettin and Karl Signell. "Confirming, delaying, and deceptive elements in Turkish improvisation," Maqam Traditions of Turkic Peoples, Elsner and Jahnishen, eds.. Berlin:trafo, 2006. ISBN 3-89626-657-8
Signell, Karl L. Makam: Modal Practice in Turkish Art Music. Nokomis FL (USA): Usul editions/Lulu.com. (2004). ISBN 0-9760455-0-8:
--- Makam: Turk Sanat Musikisinde Makam Uygulamasi (Turkish translation of above). Istanbul: Yapi Kredi Kultur Sanat Yayincilik, 2006. ISBN 975-08-1080-5.
Yilmaz, Zeki. Turk Musikisi Dersleri. (2001). ISBN 975-95729-1-5.
Cinucen Tanrikorur, "The Ottoman Music", translated by Sava S. Barkcin, http://www.turkmusikisi.com/osmanli_musikisi/the_ottoman_music.htm
Nota Arivi – a very good and quite comprehensive online sheet music archive of Turkish classical music organized by makam
Feza Neverd Original recordings by Mehmet Gencler..