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Beginner Track - Tips

The last 3 pages should have helped you to understand how to identify ajnas by ear--and even if it's still not an immediate reaction at this point (it takes time for everybody), you want to begin to apply these same aural skills to distinguishing and identifying other ajnas (we covered 3 in the previous pages here, but there are around 10 you should be very familiar with). You also want to begin to understand how the ajnas fit together into larger structures. If you need to brush up on definitions, visit the Glossary, and if you need more clarity on how to read the content on this site, visit the How-to section.

There are two next steps to take, and you can take them in any order you like. One step is to become familiar with all of the other ajnas used in the maqam system. The goal is to eventually be able to identify each jins automatically, without having to run through a mental list of criteria (interval size, tonic emphasis, melodic patterns, mood) to identify them. That takes a fair amount of time and repeated listening--just like getting to know a new person, a new neighborhood, a new language, takes time and repetition. You can start by exploring the Basic Ajnas section which contains numerous audio samples of each jins.

The other "next step" is to begin to hear larger structure, and to do that you will need to start to look at whole songs, to hear how the ajnas fit together. A good place to start is with the song "Nura Nura," by Farid el-Atrash, which we heard in Example 2 (Clips C & D) from the previous pages. Maqamwise, this is the simplest song analyzed on these pages, using only 3 ajnas: Bayati, Nahawand, & Rast.

Listen for when the tonic emphasis changes--from the root tonic emphasis in Jins Bayati, up to the 4th scale degree tonic emphasis in Jins Nahawand. And listen for when the tonic stays the same but the jins changes, in the transitions between Nahawand and Rast:


no longer parsing out Husseini Lazima


could also call "Husseini/Nahawand"--emphasis on 5





ending + chorus, not parsing out lazima (=02 & 04)


not parsing out bayati lazima (like 07)



"Husseini" Nahawand/ not parsing out bayati lawazim




includes start of wahda for mawwal


majority of mawwal in Rast 4 (typical for Farid)



mawwal ends

Once you've developed some familiarity with those transitions, go and listen to other whole songs--either by going to the List of all songs and selecting whatever you like, or by focusing on a particular maqam, and a good idea would be to visit all of the analyses in Maqam Bayati, which include "Nura Nura," and comparing them with the "Nura Nura" analysis, to see what parts are similar and different, and how the additional ajnas possible in Bayati fit into the structure laid out by "Nura Nura."

Once the picture has started to become a little clearer, you can move on to either the Theory Track or the Musician Track, depending where your interests lie.

Theory Track >> ^ Beginner Track ^