Demo Site Tour

This tour will take you on a step-by-step path through the site. This page should have opened as a separate window; keep it open on one side of your screen as you use your main browser window to navigate through the site according to my directions.

1. Start at the playground. If you're not there, click on the "playground entrance" link at the top left corner of whatever page you are on. The playground will become your central navigation page, where all of the maqamat and ajnas in the site are listed. If you like, you can scroll down the page to read more about the site.

2. Click on the link to Maqam Rast (the first beige box in the list of maqamat). Rast is always a good place to start; it is one of the most important maqamat in the whole system, with a large number of songs as well as a large number of ajnas and possible modulations within the maqam itself.

3. Hover your cursor over the red box that reads "01 Jins Rast" at the top of the page. You will see two options pull down from the box: "visit jins page" and a mini-player with a play button.

4. Click the play button. You should hear an audio sample of Maqam Rast. You will notice that the audio is divided into short phrases that are repeated more quietly. This is meant to serve as a call and response: you should listen once, and then repeat the phrase yourself the second time around, along with the repeat in the track itself. You can play along with any instrument, or hum or sing along, whatever works for you--but the point is to be actively involved rather than passively listening.

5. Follow one of the path lines to another box that is connected to that first box, such as the red box below and to the right labeled "03 Jins Secondary Rast." Listen to that sample too, and sing or play along. Hover over and listen to a few other samples.

6. Scroll down the page to see what's below the line. If you can't read music, then don't worry about this section. This notated section simply reproduces the information of the network section--with the exact same audio samples. It has some information that is missing from the top section: namely, an indication of the notes used in each jins; with the ajnas lined up to show important notes in common. But it is missing some information presented in the graph at the top of the page: namely, information about which ajnas connect with each other more directly.

You may wonder about the ordering of these ajnas. Very roughly speaking, the ajnas at the top of the list are the most important to the maqam, occurring in nearly every rendering of that maqam. The farther you go down the list, the less common the jins, with one exception: I have place the so-called "modulatory" ajnas toward the bottom of the list even if they are more common than some others--this is because we can consider the modulatory jins as a pathway taking us away from the maqam we are in--so even if such a modulation is frequent or common, it is peripheral to the maqam itself.

You may also wonder about the little number codes on the left, and why some numbers are skipped. These codes are the codes used to organize the site as a whole; since this demo site has taken a small selection from that site, some of the ajnas are missing. The codes themselves are arbitrary, but useful. The first three digits represent the Maqam family (Rast family is 010). The next digits represent the particular maqam--so I've listed Rast as the first member of its own family, while Maqam Suzdalar is actually the third maqam in that family (Maqam Suznak, 010_02, doesn't appear on the demo site). The final digits, on the second line, represent the jins in vague order of importance within the maqam.

7. Hover over one of the jins images. You will see the same options pull down as from the network graph--an option to visit the jins page, and an option to listen to the jins. Listen to one of the ajnas you listened to above.

Now let's start to explore a Jins. 8. Hover over Jins Hijaz (in the pale green box, or number 5 in the notated list) and click on the "visit jins page" link.

9. Look for "Maqam Rast" on this page. You should find it in the box that reads "appears as a secondary jins in the following maqamat:" Click on the line for Maqam Rast--You'll see that it is a link taking you back to the maqam page we were just on. So come back to Jins Hijaz.

10. Click on one of the other maqamat listed at the top of the page. When you get to the new maqam page, look for Jins Hijaz in that new maqam--it should be easy to identify quickly because of the color-coding (if you like to look at music notation, scroll down to the bottom of that maqam page and look for it there among the notated ajnas).

11. Listen to the audio sample for Hijaz in the new maqam. Sing along. Compare it with the sample of Hijaz you listened to in Maqam Rast.

12. Visit all of the maqam pages containing Jins Hijaz, using the Jins Hijaz page as a central hub page to navigate back and forth. In this way you are doing something very similar to improvisation: when you get to a jins, you have many pathways in front of you, some within the maqam you are already in, and some pathways that lead into different maqamat. The system is open-ended in that sense; and we can understand many of the modulations that occur in Arabic music as being motion from one maqam to another along a common jins pathway, just as you can follow those pathways here in this site.

13. Listen to the audio samples associated with each version of Hijaz. See where they are different, and where they are the same.

Now you have the basic idea of how to work with the site. You can stay in one maqam, or follow a jins through several maqamat, or do a little of both. Each way of working will teach you something different.

Obviously the audio content here isn't sufficient to give a fuller understanding of the maqam system--it is once you have absorbed the melodic vocabulary of each jins and each maqam that you will actually understand maqam; there is no substitute for learning that vocabulary, and this site presentation is simply a way of making that vocabulary more accessible to you. The full site, when complete, will have 350 or so 3-minute lessons, and this will be the most useful content for you. However, you will be able to navigate and work with that site in the same way as you do this mini demo version of the site.

One more way you can use this site is as a tool to help you understand where you are in any song that you hear. Once you've identified a jins in the song, look for the maqamat including that jins and see if you think one of them matches the song, and to what extent (use the audio samples to guide you). You will find many songs that fit within one maqam as presented on this site, using 3-5 of the ajnas within it.

There are a few games in the playground as well: puzzles for you to find the answer to. How would you play the low Rast G in Maqam Bayati Shuri (where I've left out an audio sample)? How different or similar do you think it might be from the low Rast G in Maqam Hijaz?

Games and puzzles provide an opportunity for you to learn and strengthen grammar, memory recall, and invention. Games build redundancy into your memories of certain events, which helps with the storage of information.

Good luck, enjoy, and feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns.