Next: I. The Basic Ajnas >> ^ Introduction ^

How to Use & Make use of this site

First, the basics of navigating and reading the site:

I hope navigation is fairly self-explanatory--I've put large navigation boxes at the top and bottom of every page; the lower line within the box navigates page-to-page within each section of the site, while the higher line navigates from section to section; course you can always click "Analysis Home" in the top left corner to get to the beginning, and the tabs on top to get to some of the major sections of the site.

If you are unclear about the use of any terms, please consult the Glossary.

Each audio sample occurs on a line, and so you can follow an entire song from beginning to end by following from top to bottom. Each colored box represents a jins, and "play" button next to it will play the section of the song in that jins. Here's how to read the following sample:

Sample #

text to the right

Starting from the left, the left-column numbers refer to the number of the sample (which will be useful to you in looking at the pages containing song excerpts, where you might find samples #03, #06, and #22 from a given song).

The colored box represents the jins of the sample in question. The color coding is arbitrary, but intended to give a clear and consistent visual guide to the site overall (so if you are focusing on Jins Bayati, for example, you can quickly spot all of the samples on the site).

The left-to-right position of the box corresponds to the pitch area of the jins within the scale, low to the left and higher to the right. Because of the "jins baggage" issue, the position is not always identical to the traditional span of the jins; I've tried to represent the melodic range of the sample.

The name of the jins is in the box, and the number following the name refers to the scale degree of the tonic of that particular jins.**

"1" is the root tonic of the whole maqam; in some maqamat there are many ajnas starting on "5," as in the example below, while in other maqamat, you will find frequent modulations to ajnas on 4, or 3.

The text to the right on the line gives detail on that sample. On the complete maqam analysis pages you will find a lot of notes, in order to clarify what is represented in the boxes.

Reading the following example, we see that it starts in Jins Rast 1, and modulates to Jins Hijaz 5; with a note that the Hijaz 5 has melodies that dip below the 5th scale degree, and include the 4th scale degree (referred to simply as "4"):



melodic inclusion of 4 under tonicized 5

**Sometimes instead of a single number, you will see two numbers, like the following two samples from "Ya Maal ish-Sham:"



resolution down 6 =>5

These are ajnas in which the tonic emphasis is not in the traditional position relative to the start of the Jins; I name both the traditional start of the jins, as well as the actual tonic emphasis. In the first example, scale degree 6 is where the Jins starts (traditional theory would simply call this "Jins Saba 6"), while scale degree 8 is where the tonic is. In the second example, scale degree 5 is where the Jins starts (traditional theory would simply call this "Jins Rast 5"), while scale degree 8 is where the tonic is. This is explained in greater detail in the Unnamed Ajnas section of the site.

The broader question is how to make use of this site. Novices are advised to take a look at the Beginner Track before proceeding further. The most fundamental skill anyone needs in understanding Arabic music (and this site) is being able to identify the ajnas by ear. So start by listening to all of the samples on the Basic Ajnas pages, which present each jins both as a primary, root jins of a maqam, as well as a secondary jins in other maqamat. Then my advice is to pick a particular jins, and follow it through all of the other pages on the site. Learn to identify it in different contexts. Sometimes it will have a lot of melody (Hijaz of #26)



stretches from 3 up to 9

while at other times it may pass very quickly (Hijaz of #13):


dips to 4



use of raised 6 after Hijaz 5 to return to Rast 1

Beyond that, my advice is to repeat, repeat, repeat. When learning songs it is always easier to learn in small chunks; well here I've already broken up the chunks for you, so you don't have to rewind to find the exact spot the new jins started, you can just click. Use this site as a practice tool. Analysis is meaningless without practice--and ultimately only the practitioner can effectively analyze. It takes more than simply knowing intellectually that certain changes may occur, what it takes is the gut knowledge of expectation, to truly understand, and explain, what is happening in maqam music. Your ear expects the modulation to Hijaz 5 in Rast, so when it comes, you are satisfied--or when it doesn't come, or comes late, that has a different affect, a different consequence. Building that sense of expectation takes hours of repetition, years of listening.

If you already have that sense of expectation, because you've been listening to Arabic music for years, then use this site to help you parse more precisely what you already know by ear and gut--and for a user familiar with Arabic music the best place to start might be with the full song analyses by maqam. However, I still advise going through all of the Analysis track. Experienced listeners and practitioners should not avoid the Jins Baggage and Unnamed Ajnas pages, which contain content beyond what is covered in any previous theoretical treatments. Likewise, while you experienced practitioners and listeners will (or should) be familiar with the "common pathways" presented here, you should still have a look at the Alternate Pathways and Unique Pathways pages.

Other than following the Analysis Track, or the full song analyses by maqam, there are a few other ways to take advantage of the content of the site. You can follow the examples from the article "Maqam Analysis: a Primer". Or you can go to the list of songs and find songs you are familiar with, to analyze. For those who really want to immerse themselves, I recommend comparing the content on this site with the content on the demo site (developed in 2010), which synthesizes the analysis here and presents a picture of the larger structure of the Maqam system.

Lastly, if you have any questions or suggestions, please visit the Forum or contact me.

Next: I. The Basic Ajnas >> ^ Introduction ^