Arabic Music plays a central role in both the secular and sacred cultural world of the Arab people. in the East, Baghdad developed into a hub for musical activities, including composition, performance, and research; these reached their height with the establishment of the music school in the Court of Caliph Al-Wathiq (847-852), headed by Ishaq Al-Mousili (767-850), the most prominent musician of that period. Al-Mousili was the first to invent new fingering for performance on the 'oud, and to establish rhythmic modes. Another major contribution was made by the philosopher Al-Kindi (d. 873), who added a fifth string to the four- stringed 'oud in order to expand its melodic range. Al-Kindi wrote many treatise discussing the phenomenon in sound, intervals, and rules for compositions. Among his many writings, were studies on the relationship between arab modes, rhythms, and the construction of the oud.

In Moorish Spain, the tradition established in Baghdad was transmitted to Al-Andalous (Andalousia) where many scholars and musicians gathered to study art, sciences, philosophy, and literature. Zaryab (a Persian man) (d 850), a student of Ishaq Al Mousili in Baghdad, was a freed slave who moved to Cordoba and became a higly respected singer, oud player, and music teacher. He established the "Zaryab school for Music" to which many Arabs and Western Europeans came to learn music under his tutelage. It is considered to be the first music conservatory ever. Zaryab is credited with compiling a repertoire with 24 Nawbaat (vocal and instrumental suites), each of which was a composti vocal and insturmental piecs in a certain melodic mdoe. The Nawbah (Singular) included a new vocal form called al-Muwashshah, known for its elaborate text and highly ornamented vocal melodic passages. The Nawbah and Muwashshah in particular survived as musical forms in North Africa and in the Levant, especially in Greater Syria and Palestine.

After the fall of the Arab Empire in Andalusia (1492) the Ottomans (1517-1917) took over much of the Arab world. The Turkish occupation resulted in an artistic exchange between the Arabic and Turkish musical systems. for example, many Arabic melodic and metric modes were adopted by the Turkish music repertoir, which also incorporated Islamic religious music. From the 17th to the late 19th centuries this interaction genres, such as the Sama'i and the Bashraf (Turkish court and religious Sufi music) to arabic music repertories, it became an essential part of the Egyptian Waslah and the Syrian Fasil; both were similar to the North African Nawbah.

The renaissance of Arabic music ocurred in the 19th century after 400 years of Ottoman rule. In Cairo, Egypt, and Aleppo Syria, Arab musicians revived the old classical traditions and created innovations in musical forms and structuers. Among the traditional forms were the Muwashshah, which featured strophic text with refrain, and the Qasidah, the classical Arabic poetry which used a single metric rhyme. Among the revivalists in Egypt wer Abdu al-Hamuli (1843-1901), Salameh Hijazi (d. 1921) and Sayyed Darwish (d. 1923). They created many innovations, including instrumental introductions; al-Waslah, a vocal suite; the Dawr, a vocal composition using colloquial text sections of improvised sections of imporvised call-and-response between solist and chorus; and the Taqtouqah the ancestor of today's popular Arabic song. In Syria, Ali Al-Darwish and abu Khalil al-Qabbani revived the Muwashshah and created the Fasil. In Aleppo, a traditional was revived called Al Qudud al-Halabiayyah, which was derived from local poetry.

Many immigrants from Syria, Egypt, and Lebanon came to America at the turn of the 20th century. The musical traditions and repertories of the 19th century. The musical traditions and repertoires of the 19th centry were carried to the United States by the musicians who performed at ceremonies and social gatherings and by the people who treasured the recordings brought with them from their homelands.


Maqam:(pl. maqamat):

is equivalent to a western mode or scale, but in a far more complex way. The major difference between western music and Arabic music is that in the latter the existence of the microtones (or quarter tone versus half tones in western music) leads to microtonal based scales-based on a division that does not exist in western scaler system.

Iqa'at (sing. iqa'):

are metric or rhythmic modes used to accompany vocalist and instrumantalists on a percusive instrument such as the dumbek (a pear-shapped hand drum) a riqq (a small tambourine), or a tar, daff or bendir (large frame drums). Three variables define the Iqa' and they are: -the number of existing beats: it may vary between 3 to 48 and in rare cases more -the sounding and silent beats of the mode - the timbre of the sounding beats: they could be either a dum (a dull, low-pitched sound), or a tak ( a bright, high pitched sound).


The muwashshah (pl. muwashshah) :

is a strophic song that originated in Andalusia. It is a multi-rhymed an multimetered poem in median or in fus-ha or classical Arabic. The melodies and structures of muwashashaat can vary in sophistication. The genre is performed by a chorus alternating with a soloist, who is accompanied by a small group of instrumentalists. The muwashshah is often composed using a complext rhythmic mode, or ... The lyrics in a muwashshah are written in fus-ha or classical Arabic, and deal often with the subject of love (often unrequited love). The structure of a muwashshah is comprised of various sections (dawr, silsilah, lazimah, khana, qiflah) each having particular characteristics with respect to range and the form.

The qasidah (pl. qassaid) :

is a song form in which the text is monorhymed and monometered and in fus-ha This genre can be sung with or without chorus refrains. The quasidah can also be sung or be improvised ametrically. The quasidah is composed to a simple rhythmic mode (2/4, 4/4, or 4/8) the subject of the genre's lyrics varies, but might deal with love, patriotism, or death as well as other issues.

The taqtouqah (pl.taqtouquaat) :

is a strophic popular song of a light character and simple structure. Its text is written in colloquial Arabic and uses different couplets to the same melody. Only simple rhytmic modes are used in taqtouqah. The taqtouqah was popularized in Egypt early this century.

The dawr (pl. adwaar) :

is a vocal genre sung in colloquial Arabic, which developed in 19th centry Egypt. It includes two sections, madhab and ghusn , the latter being characterised by choral responses to the soloists's ornamented improvisation on the syllable "ah". Only simple rhythmic modes are used in the dawr. The dawr usually starts with a dulab.

The ughniyah (pl. ughniyat or aghani) :

or literraly "song" is a term applied to songs having colloquial text This genre is found in a variety of forms including ughniyah shaabiyah (popular song) ughniyah folkloriyyah (folkloric song), ughniyah wataniah (patriotic song) and ughniyah riffiyyah (country song)

The qadd (pl. qudud) :

also known as qudud halabiyyah (qudud from Aleppo), is a popular song genre that originated in Aleppo, Syria. It is a light in character, makes use of refrains, and is simple in structure and melody Although the text in the qudud deals mostly with love, they were originally composed as religious songs.

The waslah(pl. waslat ):