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V. Alternate Pathways

This section illustrates two cases where a maqam has alternate pathways, and in both of the cases here--Bayati Shuri and Ajam--those alternate versions are historically based, in the sense that an older pathway was replaced with a newer pathway; also in both cases this happened sometime in the 20th century, so we have recorded and/or notated evidence of these alternate versions.

The analytical point to be made, by recognizing these alternate pathways, is that there is no intrinsic law that governs how a maqam, or modulations within a maqam, should behave or move--rather those melodies and modulations are the product of individual choices, stored in the collective memory of oral traditions. The pedagogical consequence is that each maqam pathway must be individually learned, rather than derived by the use of some hypothetical reductive law or principle. The student must not only learn to hear each pathway, but understand that these pathways are historically and culturally contingent--potentially different in Egypt than in Syria or Lebanon or the Arabian Gulf--and that a student interested in musics from across the region will have to learn each country's particular idiom or dialect on its own.

I present two examples on this site, and below are links to each one: