Basics of Modulation

When modulation takes place from one maqam to another, there are two possible scenarios. In the first case, the new maqam has the same tonic as the original maqam, e.g. modulation from Maqam Rast on C to Maqam Nahawand on C. In the second case, the new maqam is based on a note from the original maqam other than its tonic, e.g. modulation from Rast on C to Bayati on G (Bayati Nawa). More detailed information on these two possibilities is given below:

 
Modulation to a maqam with the same tonic as the original maqam

These modulations can either take place between maqamat in the same family (i.e. which share a common lower jins), or between maqamat from different families (i.e. which do not have the same lower jins) that have a common tonic.

 

(a) Modulation possibilities between maqamat in the same family

 

Rast family:

Maqam Rast (Rast on C + Rast on G)
Maqam Suzidil Ara (Rast on C + Nahawand on G)
Maqam Suznak (Rast on C + Hijaz on G)
Maqam Nayruz (Rast on C + Bayati on G)
Maqam Mahur (Rast on C + Ajam on G)
Maqam Dil Nishin (Rast on C + Saba on A)

 

Bayati family:

Maqam Bayati (Bayati on D + Nahawand on G)
Maqam Shuri (Bayati on D + Hijaz on G)
Maqam Bayatayn (Bayati on D + Bayati on G)

 

Nawa Athar family:

Maqam Nawa Athar (Nawa Athar on C + Hijaz on G)
Maqam Nikriz (Nawa Athar on C + Nahawand on G)
Maqam Basandidah (Nawa Athar on C + Rast on G)

 

(b) Modulation possibilities between maqamat in different families

 

First group (tonic = C):

Maqam Rast (Rast on C + Rast on G)
Maqam Nahawand (Nahawand on C + Hijaz on G)
Maqam Nawa Athar (Nawa Athar on C + Hijaz on G)

 

Second group (tonic = D):

Maqam Bayati (Bayati on D + Nahawand on G)
Maqam Hijaz (Hijaz on D + Nahawand on G)
Maqam Kurd (Kurd on D + Nahawand on G)
Maqam Saba (Saba on D + Hijaz on F)

 

 

Modulation to a maqam with a different tonic from the original maqam

The most common modulation of this type is to a maqam starting on the base note of the upper jins of the original maqam, which is usually G for maqamat starting on C or D. However, modulations can (theoretically) take place to a maqam that is based on any note of the original scale, although the second and seventh notes are usually avoided. Some examples of common non-tonic modulations from the maqamat Rast and Ajam Ushayran are shown below.

 

Non-tonic modulations from Maqam Rast:

 

Maqam Rast (Rast on C + Rast on G)
Maqam Huzam (Sikah on E half-flat + Hijaz on G)
Maqam Bayati on G (Bayati on G + Nahawand on C)
Maqam Saba on A (Saba on A + Hijaz on C)

 

Non-tonic modulations from Maqam Ajam Ushayran:

 

Maqam Ajam Ushayran (Ajam on B flat + Ajam on F)
Maqam Saba (Saba on D + Hijaz on F)
Maqam Hijaz on F (Hijaz on F + Nahawand on B flat)

 

What actually happens in practice?

From the above it is apparent that an almost limitless number of possibilities exists for modulation from a particular maqam. However, the number of modulations regularly encountered in practice is much smaller, and a sample of these is given below for two of the most popular maqamat, Rast and Bayati.

 

Common modulations from Rast:

 

Maqam Rast (Rast on C + Rast on G)
Maqam Suznak (Rast on C + Hijaz on G)
Maqam Nahawand (Nahawand on C + Hijaz on G)
Maqam Bayati on G (Bayati on G + Nahawand on C)
Maqam Hijaz on G (Hijaz on G + Nahawand on C)
Maqam Huzam (Sikah on E half-flat + Hijaz on G)

 

Common modulations from Bayati:

 

Maqam Bayati (Bayati on D + Nahawand on G)
Maqam Shuri (Bayati on D + Hijaz on G)
Maqam Saba (Saba on D + Hijaz on F)
Maqam Hijaz (Hijaz on D + Nahawand on G)
Maqam Rast on G (Rast on G + Rast on D)

 

 

A number of 'rules' governing modulation have been formulated by the US ethnomusicologist Prof. Scott Marcus (see below) based on what he has observed in practice:

 

  • Modulation between maqamat with the same tonic can happen readily and is very common, e.g. from Maqam Rast to Suznak or from Maqam Bayati to Saba. These pairs of maqamat share the same lower jins and are therefore intimately related.

  • Modulations between the two groups of maqamat based on C and D do not generally occur. However, if you wish to modulate from Rast (on C) to Bayati (on D), for example, you can always transpose the Bayati scale to start on G (Maqam Bayati Nawa) - modulation from Maqam Rast to Bayati Nawa is then possible. The note G is extremely important in modulation.

  • Modulations between maqamat based on C and those based on E half-flat happen readily, as if they were based on the same tonic. However, to modulate from a maqam based on D to one based on E half-flat, you would either need to transpose the D maqam to start on G or transpose the E half-flat maqam to start on B half-flat.

  • Modulations between maqamat based on D and those based on B flat also happen readily, as if they were based on the same tonic. However, to modulate from a maqam based on C to one based on B flat, you would need to transpose the B flat maqam to start on E flat (or possibly C).

  • The maqamat based on F (such as Maqam Jiharkah) need to be considered separately, and there are three different ways that they can be used. Firstly, in modulating from maqamat based on B flat, as F is often the base note of the uppper jins in B flat maqamat. Secondly, in modulating from C or D maqamat, as F is an important note in these scales. Finally, maqamat based on F (as well as some C maqamat transposed to F) can be the target of modulation from the two maqamat Hijaz Kar and Hijaz Kar Kurd.


 

[Note: The information on this page is drawn from the excellent and comprehensive article Marcus, S.L. (1992) 'Modulation in Arab Music: Documenting Oral Concepts, Performance Rules and Strategies', Ethnomusicology, vol. 36, no. 2, pp. 171-195.]

 


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