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 MaqamHijaz 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 MaqamOne 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.
Nahawand Hijaz in C: C D Eb F G Ab B C.
- The second one is called Nahawand Kurd Which is equivalent to the natural minor scale.
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.
Farah Faza Maqam: G A Bb C D Eb F G.
- Another Maqam from the Nahawand family is the Nahawand Murassah Maqam or Sunbulah.
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 MaqamThis 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.