Music theory of another culture
I have just contributed a post to another thread, about "advance music theory". That is, "our" music theory. We need remember we have our conversations within cultural contexts.
Music theory, to most of us, centres on harmony, counterpoint, orchestration, form, and compositional devices, all largely launched by brilliant musicians from about 1500 AD.
I am not dismissing the modal music which these techniques "departed from and extended". But the ancient modes sounded different, even though they had the same names.
What I want to do here, though, is to advise people who are interested, that a new text on theory of another culture is about to be published (May 2019, I believe). Oxford University Press is publishing a text on the Maqam.
Maqam is an ancient Arabic modal system.
You can get a sense of what I am referring to here:
I will buy and read the book with interest.
We think of music inside our own bubble: but there are other ways, which we know little about, and often forget about.
Here is a little taste of the vast range of material unfolded on the MaqamWorld site:
I'm potentially very interested (and I have an Arabist friend who plays the oud), but books like this are often impossibly expensive. Keep us posted with the details so I can inform him, assuming he doesn't hear through his usual channels.
Something to remember about the various "modal" improvisation traditions, if you want to learn about them...Books are interesting but you learn by being shown/listening/playing. You don't actually need a book to do this. But be prepared to thoroughly retrain yourself and especially your ears, though.
Hi Paul, Golly gee, why are we always "not quite understanding each other"?
Arabic/ Moslem music theory is "captured" from the Greeks. Many ancient Greek texts survive only through Arabic translations. At the risk of offending someone; The Turks don't like to admit that their music comes from Greece, the Greeks don't like to admit that their cuisine comes from Turkey. This is not to imply that ancient Greek music sounded like later Moslem music. We have no idea how it actually sounded; recordings are absent and the notation is inadequate.
Purchases from the 1970's:
Joel Quivey rightly said "We have no idea how it actually sounded; recordings are absent and the notation is inadequate."
Indian Classical Music is something very rich, majority of which is under mystery. I feel it comprises of a lot of elements, comprising of Taals (Rhythms, with infinite number of improvisations) and Ragas (melodic structure, invoking different moods and expressions). Unfortunately, many of it's secrets are becoming extinct slowly (due to the "Sruti" system of Indian Classical Music, i.e, it cannot be totally documented directly.
That reminds me, I have two books on Indian music, but I only bought them for the accompanying CDs. I should read them.
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