Turkish tetrachords - pentachords

About Maqams

The classical music traditions of Turkish, Arabic and Western music are all based on the same musical theories of scale building credited to the ancient Greek Pythagoras.Over the centuries the three traditions followed a separate path of development, each of which is now recognized as a form of high art, but each with a distinct musical 'dialect.'

By the time of J.S. Bach, Western classical music had developed into a system of tuning known as equal temperament, where the musical octave is divided into 12 equally spaced half-tones. These tones are easily visible on any piano or fretted guitar. Equal temperament enables Western composers to create works using complex harmonies and polyphony.

Arabic classical music went through an important period of early development during the 9th through the 12th centuries when the Arabs ruled large parts of the Middle East, North Africa and southern Europe. Arabic scholars made significant contributions in studying and interpreting the works of the ancient Greeks; the Arabic system of modes known as maqamat came out of these early studies. In Arabic maqamat, the octave is divided into 24 equally spaced quarter-tones. Classical Arabic composers show skill in the development of these quarter-tones not through harmony or polyphony (as in the West), but through melody. To Western ears trained in 12 tone equal temperament, these quarter-tones can sound odd at first and are sometimes referred to as micro-tones.
While Turkish classical music went through a parallel period of early development with the Arabs, the high point in the development of the Turkish classical style is during the Ottoman Empire period from the 15th through the 20th centuries. In Turkish makams, the octave is not divided equally, but proportionally using whole-tones, half-tones, quarter-tones and even smaller tones. In theory, there are 24 tones in the Turkish octave, however in practice there are probably 31 and perhaps more. Like Arabic composers, Turkish classical composers show skill in the melodic development of makams through melody. Turkish makams closely reflect Pythagorean thinking in the use of proportional tuning. The eighth-tone is equal to 1 Pythagorean Comma (approximately 23 cents), which plays a crucial role in micro-tonal pitch development within any mode. The Yeni Makam Series of composer Edward J. Hines is a series of chamber works which synthesize Western compositional technique with the ancient theory of both Turkish makams and Arabic maqamat. To accomplish this objective, in Yeni Makam the whole tone (200 cents) is divided into half tones (100 cents) and quarter-tones (50 cents). The quarter-tone is then divided again, this time into eighth-tones (25 cents). The eighth-tone is only a 2 cent difference from an authentic Pythagorean comma (23 cents) which is imperceptible to the ear. In this way, a single musical composition can explore whole-tones, half-tones, quarter-tones and eight-tones which are now common to all three musical traditions.

Edward Hines EHM
Turkish sheet music Turkuler