Turkish makam

The Turkish makam (Turkish: makam pl. makamlar; from the Arabic word مقام) is a system of melody types used in Turkish classical music and Turkish folk music. It provides a complex set of rules for composing and performance. Each makam specifies a unique intervalic structure (cinsler meaning genera) and melodic development (seyir). Whether a fixed composition (beste, şarkı, peşrev, âyin, etc.) or a spontaneous composition (gazel, taksim, recitation of Kuran-ı Kerim, Mevlid, etc.), all attempt to follow the melody type. The rhythmic counterpart of makam in Turkish music is usul.

Comparison in use in Turkish classical to folk music

Turkish Folk Music and Turkish Classical Music are the expression of Turkish people’s feelings and thoughts. Both are Modal (Makam) musics. Makam is the name of scale in one of them, Ayak is the name of scale in another. Ayak and Makam are similar, some samples:

Yahyalı Kerem Ayağı : Hüseyni Makamı
Garip Ayağı : Hicaz Makamı
Düz Kerem Ayağı : Karciğar Makamı
Yanık Kerem Ayağı : Nikriz Makamı
Muhalif Ayağı : Segâh Makamı
Tatyan Kerem Ayağı : Hüzzam Makamı
Misket Ayağı : Eviç Makamı
Bozlak Ayağı : Kürdî Makamı
Kalenderi Ayağı : Sabâ Makamı
Müstezat veya Beşirî Ayağı : Mahur Makamı

Rhythms show some similarities in Turkish Folk Music and Turkish Classical Music about their forms, classification and rhythmic pattern.

Geographic and cultural relations

Turkish makam's closest relatives include maqam in Arab music and echos in Byzantine music. The Turkish makams, the Arab maqams and the Byzantine echos related to the Greek texts and works of music that Arabs translated and developed from the musical theory of the Greeks (i.e. Systema ametabolon, enharmonium, chromatikon, diatonon). Some theories suggest the origin of the makam to be the city of Mosul in Iraq. "Mula Othman Al-Musili," in reference to his city of origin, is said to have served in the Ottoman Palace in Istanbul and influenced Turkish Ottoman music. More distant modal relatives include those of Central Asian Turkic musics such as Uyghur music, muqam and Uzbek music, shashmakom. The raga of (both North and South) Indian classical music employs similar modal principles. Some scholars find echoes of Turkish makam in former Ottoman provinces of the Balkans. All of these concepts roughly correspond to mode in Western music, although their compositional rules vary.

Makam building blocks

Commas and accidentals

In Turkish music theory, the octave is divided into 53 equal intervals known as commas (koma). Each whole tone is an interval equivalent to nine commas. The following figure gives the comma values of Turkish accidentals. In the context of the Arab maqam, this system is not of equal temperament. In fact, in the Western system of temperament, C-sharp and D-flat—which are functionally the same tone—are equivalent to 4.5 commas in the Turkish system; thus, they fall directly in the center of the line depicted above.