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Arab music

The word "music" comes from the Greek word Mousiki which means the science of composing melodies. Ilm al-musiqa was the name given by the Arabs to the Greek theory of music as to distinguish it from ilm al-ghinaa, the Arabian theory. The Arab music tradition developed in the courts of dynasties in the Islamic Empire from the seventh to the thirteenth century. It flourished during the Umayyad dynasty in the seventh and eighth centuries in Syria. Although the major writings of Arab music appeared after the spread of the Islamic religion in the beginning of the seventh century, the music tradition had already begun. Before the spread of Islam, Arab music incorporated music traditions of the Sassanid dynasty (224-651) in Persia and the early Byzantine empire (fourth to sixth century) and of sung poetry from the Arabian Peninsula. Arab music is created using non-harmonized melodic and rhythmic systems. Arabic melodies draw from a vast array of models, or melodic modes, known as maqamat. Arabic books on music include as many as 52 melodic modes, of which at least 12 are commonly used. These modes feature more tones than are present in the Western musical system, including notably smaller intervals that are sometimes called microtones, or half-flats and half-sharps. Arab melodies frequently use the increased second interval, an interval larger than those of most Western melodies. The sound of Arab music is richly melodic and offers freedom for subtle nuance and creative diversity. The rhythmic structure of Arab music is also complex. Rhythmic patterns have up to forty-eight beats and typically include several downbeats (called dums) as well as upbeats (called taks) and rests. To grasp a rhythmic mode, the listener must hear a relatively long pattern. Moreover, the performers do not simply play the pattern; they decorate and elaborate upon it. Often the pattern is recognizable only by the arrangement of downbeats.The order of t...

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