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.
Turkish Classical Music and Turkish Folk Music are both based on modal systems. Makam is the name of the scale in classical music, while Ayak is the name of the scale in folk music. Makam and Ayak are similar; following are some examples:
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 with respect to their forms, classification and rhythmic patterns.
The Turkish makam system has some corresponding relationships to maqams in Arabic music and echos in Byzantine music. 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 “muqam” and Uzbek shashmakom. North and South Indian classical raga-based 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.
In Turkish music theory, the octave is divided into 53 equal intervals known as commas (koma), specifically the Holdrian comma. 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.
Unlike in Western music, where the note C, for example, is called C regardless of what octave it might be in, in the Turkish system the notes are—for the most part—individually named (although many are variations on a basic name); this can be seen in the following table, which covers the notes from middle C ("Kaba Çârgâh") to the same note two octaves above ("Tîz Çârgâh"):
The following table gives the tones over two octaves (ordered from highest to lowest), the pitch in commas and cents relative to the lowest note (which is equivalent to Western Middle C), along with the nearest equivalent equal-temperament tone. The tones of the çârgâh scale are shown in upper case.
above middle C
above middle C
notation of 53-ΤΕΤ Tone
|Tîz Dik Bûselik||105||2377||C 6||C6|
|Tîz Segâh||101||2287||A 5 / B 5||B5|
|Dik Sünbüle||98||2219||A 5 / B 5||A#5 / Bb5|
|Sünbüle||97||2196||A♯5 / B♭5||A#5 / Bb5|
|Dik Şehnâz||92||2083||G 5 / A 5||A5|
|Şehnâz||89||2015||G 5 / A 5||G#5 / Ab5|
|Nim Şehnâz||88||1992||G♯5 / A♭5||G#5 / Ab5|
|Dik Mâhûr||83||1879||F 5 / G 5||G5|
|Mâhûr||80||1811||F 5 / G 5||F♯5 / G♭5|
|Eviç||79||1789||F♯5 / G♭5||F♯5 / G♭5|
|Dik Acem||76||1721||F 5 / G 5||F5|
|Dik Hisâr||70||1585||D 5 / E 5||E5|
|Hisâr||67||1517||D 5 / E 5||D#5 / Eb5|
|Nim Hisâr||66||1494||D♯5 / E♭5||D#5 / Eb5|
|Dik Hicâz||61||1381||C 5 / D 5||D5|
|Hicâz||58||1313||C 5 / D 5||C#5 / Db5|
|Nim Hicâz||57||1291||C♯5 / D♭5||C#5 / Db5|
|Dik Bûselik||52||1177||C 5||C5|
|Segâh||48||1087||A 4 /B 4||B4|
|Dik Kürdi||45||1019||A 4 / B 4||A#4 / Bb4|
|Kürdi||44||996||A♯4 / B♭4||A#4 / Bb4|
|Dik Zirgüle||39||883||G 4 / A 4||A4|
|Zirgüle||36||815||G 4 / A 4||G#4 / Ab4|
|Nim Zirgüle||35||792||G♯4 / A♭4||G#4 / Ab4|
|Dik Gevest||30||679||F 4 / G 4||G4|
|Gevest||27||611||F 4 / G 4||F#4 / Gb4|
|Irak||26||589||F♯4 / G♭4||F#4 / Gb4|
|Dik Acem Aşîrân||23||521||F 4 / G 4||F4|
|Kaba Dik Hisâr||17||385||D 4 / E 4||E4|
|Kaba Hisâr||14||317||D 4 / E 4||D#4 / Eb4|
|Kaba Nim Hisâr||13||294||D♯4 / E♭4||D#4 / Eb4|
|Kaba Dik Hicâz||8||181||C 4 / D 4||D4|
|Kaba Hicâz||5||113||C 4 / D 4||C#4 / Db4|
|Kaba Nim Hicâz||4||91||C♯4 / D♭4||C#4 / Db4|
The names and symbols of the different intervals are shown in the following table:
|Value in terms of commas
(Koma olarak değeri)
|koma or fazla||1||F|
|artık ikili||12 - 13||A|
Similar to the construction of maqamat noted above, a makam in Turkish music is built of a tetrachord built atop a pentachord, or vice versa (trichords exist but are little used). Additionally, most makams have what is known as a "development" (genişleme in Turkish), which can occur either above or below (or both) the tonic and/or the highest note.
There are 6 basic tetrachords, named sometimes according to their tonic note and sometimes according to the tetrachord's most distinctive note:
There are also 6 basic pentachords with the same names with a tone (T) appended.
It is worth keeping in mind that these patterns can be transposed to any note in the scale, so that the tonic A (Dügâh) of the Hicaz tetrachord, for example, can be moved up a major second (9 commas) to B (Bûselik), or in fact to any other note. The other notes of the tetrachord, of course, are also transposed along with the tonic, allowing the pattern to preserve its character.
A makam, more than simply a selection of notes and intervals, is essentially a guide to compositional structure: any composition in a given makam will move through the notes of that makam in a more or less ordered way. This pattern is known in Turkish as seyir (meaning basically, "route"), and there are three types of seyir:
As stated above, makams are built of a tetrachord plus a pentachord (or vice versa), and in terms of this construction, there are three important notes in the makam:
Additionally, there are three types of makam as a whole:
This makam is thought to be identical to the Western C-major scale, but actually it is misleading to conceptualize a makam through Western music scales. Çârgâh makam consists of a çârgâh pentachord and a çârgâh tetrachord starting on the note gerdâniye (G). Thus, the tonic is C (note çârgâh), the dominant is G (note gerdâniye), and the leading tone is B (note bûselik).
The çârgâh makam though is very little used in Turkish music, and in fact has at certain points of history been attacked for being a clumsy and unpleasant makam that can inspire those hearing it to engage in delinquency of various kinds.
This makam has two basic forms: in the first basic form (1), it consists of a Bûselik pentachord plus a Kürdî tetrachord on the note Hüseynî (E) and is essentially the same as the Western A-minor; in the second (2), it consists of a Bûselik pentachord plus a Hicaz tetrachord on Hüseynî and is identical to A-harmonic minor. The tonic is A (Dügâh), the dominant Hüseynî (E), and the leading tone G-sharp (Nim Zirgüle). Additionally, when descending from the octave towards the tonic, the sixth (F, Acem) is sometimes sharpened to become F-sharp (Dik Acem), and the dominant (E, Hüseynî) flattened four commas to the note Hisar (1A). All these alternatives are shown below:
This much-used makam—which is said to bring happiness and tranquility to the hearer—consists of a Rast pentachord plus a Rast tetrachord on the note Neva (D); this is labeled (1) below. The tonic is G (Rast), the dominant D (Neva), and the leading tone F-sharp (Irak). However, when descending from the octave towards the tonic, the leading tone is always flattened 4 commas to the note Acem (F), and thus a Bûselik tetrachord replaces the Rast tetrachord; this is labeled (2) below. Additionally, there is a development (genişleme) in the makam's lower register, below the tonic, which consists of a Rast tetrachord on the note D (Yegâh); this is labeled (1A) below.
In Turkey, the particular Muslim call to prayer (or ezan in Turkish) which occurs generally in early afternoon and is called ikindi, as well as the day's final call to prayer called yatsı, is often recited using the Rast makam.
This makam consists of an Uşşâk tetrachord plus a Bûselik pentachord on the note Neva (D); this is labelled (1) below. The tonic is A (Dügâh), the dominant—here actually a subdominant—is D (Neva), and the leading tone—here actually a subtonic—is G (Rast). Additionally, there is a development in the makam's lower register, which consists of a Rast pentachord on the note D (Yegâh); this is labeled (1A) below.
In Turkey, the particular call to prayer which occurs around noon and is called öğle is most often recited using the Uşşak makam.