East is east…
If you listen to any of Broken Drum Records’ acts, such as Secret Archives of the Vatican or Thousand Yard Prayer, you’ll have noticed that we like to use Middle Eastern scales and modes. One of these scales is known as a maqam in Arabic, a makam in Turkish. Other parts of the Middle East and Central Asia have related musical systems.
This article isn’t the place to go into the traditional rules and applications of these scales – and, quite frankly, we don’t know enough to use them properly. We do, however, love the sound of them.
One of our favourites is maqam Hijaz. If it sounds a little familiar, it’s because it’s what Hollywood uses to approximate oriental music in films set in the eastern world.
Maqam Hijaz is usually played starting on the note D and includes these notes: D Eb F# G A Bb C D.
There are a couple of complications, however. A traditional musician will play the Eb a little sharp and the F# a little flat. Many musicians will also play the Bb as B about a quarter tone flat when ascending the scale but not detuned when descending.
This series of intervals can, of course, be played from notes other than D.
Here are some of our tunes which have used maqam Hijaz.