Video-analysis of an improvisation on ʿūd in maqām Ṣabā by Hamdi Makhlouf

(Post and video analysis updated 19/11/13)

This 44th video-analysis of the VIAMAP series features a graphic representation of the intensity of the sound in parallel to pitch representation

Video-analysis of an improvisation in maqām Ṣabā by Hamdi Makhlouf on ʿūd, recorded by Amine Beyhom on the 16th of March 2005 in Paris – France.

Analysis and editing: Amine Beyhom
A CERMAA Production

Notes for the graphic representation

The pitch contour is shown as a black broken line, with the relative intensity shown as a reddish (maroonish) line. Score scales are based on the conventional quarter-tone division (half-flat and half-sharp accidentals). The graphic scales are based on the same intervallic division and feature to the left (and in the intermediate column) the names of the degrees of the scale: these follow Amine Beyhom’s proposed solmization (available as FHT 57 p. 245 in the article “MAT for the VIAMAP” by the author/editor – downloadable here), namely, for the main degrees of the scale of maqām Rāst: rā = RĀST = c, = DŪKĀ = d, = SĪKĀ = e, ja = JAHĀRKĀ = f, na = NAWĀ = g, ḥu = ḤUSAYNĪ = a, aw = AWJ = b and Rā = KIRDĀN = c’ (C). The tonic is relative with note names undergoing a change of the case of the initial letter with the change of octaves. Intermediate notes (ʿarabāt) are likewise given corresponding solmization syllables. The upper stripe features a division of the vertical space based on the tonic and its octave (red horizontal lines, plain for the tonic), the fourth (green dashed line) and the fifth (blue dashed line).

Notes for the literal analysis

s_a = “Analysis time”; s_v = “Video time”. The original tonic is dū = DŪKĀ, which corresponds to an unstopped string of the ʿūd. This means that the tonic is stable and that the graphic scale remains still (no vertical displacement). Note names are italicized.

Further notes

In both literal analysis and annotations to the graphical analysis numbers between brackets are additional bordering intervals used (or not used) in performance; for example, a ḥijāz tetrachord on DŪKĀ = will be noted [2]262[4] if the performer uses one-interval extensions for the original tetrachord ḥijāz dū 262. The rest note of the tetrachord is always dū but the performer may use a lower interval of one half-tone (“2”) between c# and d, and a higher one-tone interval between na = NAWĀ = g and ḥu = ḤUSAYNĪ = a. The same ḥijāz tetrachord on DŪKĀ = will be noted 26[2] if the performer does not use the upper semi-tone the original tetrachord ḥijāz dū 262 (the [2]) in the described performance. Furthermore, the upper and lower cases lettering differentiates (the scale of) for example maqām Rāst (initial uppercase) from the (pitch) tonic RĀST (uppercase) and the polychord (or jins) rāst (lowercase).

Literal Analysis

1st Part [0-57 s_a]: Development of the lower octave of maqām Ṣabā with ajnās ṣabā 332 on and ḥijāz on ja 262

The performer starts [1-7 s_a] with the characteristic formula of maqām Ṣabā on dū – between dū = DŪKĀ = d and ḥij = ḥijāz = gband stabilizes on the ja (= JAHĀRKĀ = f), with subsequent variations [9-25 s_a] including a lower part of a ḥijāz tetrachord on ja (ja 26[2] in multiples of the quarter-tone – [2] = missing – hinted – part of the ḥijāz tetrachord in the performance). In the second section of this first part [28-57 s_a] of the taqsīm (instrumental improvisation) jins ḥijāz on ja 262 is fully developed with an extension to the upper at 36.5 s_a and to the lower at 41 s_a, which marks the return [41-52 s_a] to jins ṣabā on extended to the lower (= RĀST) at 47 s_a with an extension [around 53 s_a] to the upper limit (c#) of the non-octavial scale featuring an intricated jins ḥijāz 262 on ḥu = a.

A silence [57-63 s_a] marks the transition to the 2nd part.

2nd Part [63-113 s_a]: Development of the full lower scale of maqām Ṣabā-Nahawand with ajnās ṣabā 332 on , and ḥijāz on ja 262 and nahawand 42[4] on ʿaj

Then begins a second part [62-71 s_a] in which the performer uses the note ʿaj = ʿAJAM = bb as a secondary tonic for jins nahawand [2]42[4] (with ḥu = a as a leading note) with a hint of lower jins ḥijāz [around 69 s_a] then a repeated hint [71-75 s_a] of upper jins nahawand 42[4] on ʿaj – it may be that the performer intended to develop either this nahawand or possibly a jins ʿajam bb 442 but this was not the case. Instead, a regular descent of the canonic scale of maqām Ṣabā is used [75-100 s_a] with ḥijāz 262 on ja and ṣabā 332 on , with portamento and string lifting techniques notably around 95 s_a for the string stopped on the note sī = e, followed [101-113 s_a] by a rapid ascent of the Ṣabā-ḥijāz scale dū 33,2,62,4(2[],6[2]), then by a step by step descent of the scale i.e. nahawand on ʿaj, ḥijāz on ja and ṣabā on . This last step consolidates maqām Ṣabā and prepares the upcoming modulation.

A short silence [113-116.5 s_a] marks the transition to the 3rd part.

(In short: 1st and 2nd parts performed on the scale of Ṣabā-Nahawand)

3rd Part [116.5-192 s_a]: Development of maqām ʿAjam-ʿUshayrān on ʿaj = ʿAJAM with a modulation to jins ṣabā-zamzama 242 on ḥu ‎then closing with descending Ṣabā-Nahawand

In the third part of this taqsīm, Makhlouf modulates [116-123 s_a] to maqām ʿAjam-ʿUshayrān 4424442 on (lower) ʿaj[am] bb (the maqām changes, the tonic changes too) beginning with the upper section ʿAj [2]44 then descending until the lower ʿaj. He then develops [124-134 s_a] jins ʿajam [2]44 on the (upper) ʿAj followed by a jins ʿajam 442 on ja then by a modulation [134-149 s_a] in jins kurd on beginning with its upper section. Continuing developing [151-163 s_a] upper jins ʿajam 442 on ʿaj (with a modulation to jins nahawand 424 on upper ), Makhlouf proceeds then to a modulation [163-167 s_a] to ṣabā-zamzama 242 on ḥu followed by the return [168-177 s_a] to jins ḥijāz 262 on ja then [177-192 s_a] to a closing jins ṣabā on .

Note (figure below) the typically small semi-tone in maqām ʿAjam-ʿUshayrān between ḥu andʿaj [120-135 s_a].

Frame showing the typically small semi-tone in maqāmʿAjam-ʿUshayrānbetween ḥu andʿaj [120-135 s_a]