It is very difficult to find resources for learning Arabic Maqams in English. That's why, I decided to make a simple lesson of the scales from where I came from.
First, Maqams in the Arab Region are mainly used for 2 things:
1. Religious Islamic hymns
2. Old Arabic songs from the 60s until 90s, and also used until now.
Arabic Maqams are usually played with middle eastern / Turkish instruments such as: oud, buzuk etc... Those instruments have quarter-tone fret system. Of course additionally to the known half-tone and full-tone system. Fortunately, a not bad number of Maqams don't use quarter-tones.
Even though you can establish a quarter-tone sound on guitar by bending the string up, It still doesn't sound good as it sounds on typical Middle Eastern instruments. In this lesson, I am gonna put only Maqams that don't have a quarter-tone.
It worth mentioning that a good number of free quarter-tone Maqams can be equivalent to known scales/modes.
1. Hijaz Kar Maqam
Hijaz Kar Maqam has these intervals from the major scale: 1 b2 3 4 5 b6 7.It is usually played in C: C Db E F G Ab B C.When the Maqam is played in G, it is called Shadd Araban.
Shadd Araban Maqam: G Ab B C D Eb F# G.
In other words, Shadd Araban is a transposed version of Hijaz Kar, starting on G.When the Maqam is played in D, it is called Shahnaz.
Shahnaz Maqam: D Eb F# G A Bb C# D.When it is played in A, it is called Suzidil.
Suzidil Maqam: A Bb C# D E F G# A.
2. Ajam Maqam (Major Scale)
The Ajam Maqam has the same intervals of the major scale (Ionian Mode). Bb is the most common Ajam Maqam in the Middle Eastern music.
Bb Ajam Maqam: Bb C D Eb F G A Bb.
The Ajam Maqam sounds western to the ear. That's why, it is called Ajam, which means someone who can't understand Arabic (foreigner).Shawq Faza is a Maqam from the Ajam Maqam family.
Shawq Faza has these intervals: 1 2 3 4 5 b6 7.
It is usually played in Bb: Bb C D Eb F Gb A Bb.
3. Nahawand Maqam
One of the main middle eastern Maqams that is usually played in C.
Nahawand Maqam has two types:The first one is called Nahawand Hijaz which is equivalent to the harmonic minor scale.
Nahawand Hijaz has these intervals from the major scale: 1 2 b3 4 5 b6 7.The second one is called Nahawand Kurd Which is equivalent to the natural minor scale.
Nahawand Hijaz in C: C D Eb F G Ab B C.
Nahwand Kurd has these intervals: 1 2 b3 4 5 b6 b7.
Nahwand Kurd in C: C D Eb F G Ab Bb C.
When the Nahawand Hijaz is played in G, it is called Sultani Yakah.Sultani Yakah Maqam: G A Bb C D Eb F# G.
When Nahwand Kurd is played in G, it is called Farah Faza.Another Maqam from the Nahawand family is the Nahawand Murassah Maqam or Sunbulah.
Farah Faza Maqam: G A Bb C D Eb F G.
Nahawand Murassah Maqam has these intervals: 1 2 b3 4 b5 6 b7.
Standard Nahwand Murassah in C: C D Eb F Gb A Bb C.
4. Nawa Athar Maqam
This Maqam has the intervals of: 1 2 b3 #4 5 b6 7.Usually played in C: C D Eb F# G Ab B C.This Maqam is called Hisar when played in D.
Hisar Maqam: D E F G# A Bb C# D .Another Maqam from Nawa Athar Maqam family is Nakriz Maqam.
Intervals of Nakriz Maqam are: 1 2 b3 #4 5 6 b7.
Nakriz Maqam in C: C D Eb F# G A Bb C.Another Maqam is Athar Kurd Which has the intervals of: 1 b2 b3 #4 5 b6 7.
Athar Kurd Maqam in C: C Db Eb F# G Ab B C.
5. Kurd Maqam (Phrygian Mode)
Kurd Maqam has the intervals of: 1 b2 b3 4 5 b6 b7.C Kurd: C Db Eb F G Ab Bb C.
D Kurd: D Eb F G A Bb C D.
G Kurd: G Ab Bb C D Eb F G.
6. Hijaz Maqam (Phrygian Dominant)
Hijaz Maqam has these intervals: 1 2b 3 4 5 b6 b7.Standard Hijaz is in D: D Eb F# G A Bb C D.When the b6 is played quarter-tone, it is considered Hijaz Rast.
When the b6 is played natural halftone, it is considered Hijaz Nahwand.Zanjaran Maqam is a very popular modulation from Hijaz Maqam.
Zanjaran Maqam has these intervals: 1 b2 3 4 5 6 b7.
Zanjaran in C: C Db E F G A Bb C.
Zanjaran in D: D Eb F# G A B C D.
I hope this humble lesson was helpful for those who are interested in Arabic scales.