[extropy-chat] Fwd: CNN features amazing user with autism

Amara Graps amara at amara.com
Sun Feb 25 18:06:21 UTC 2007

spike66 at comcast.net :
>Jef I noticed that most of her song consists of actual pitches that can be
>found on a piano keyboard.  The fact that perhaps 10% were not close to a
>standard pitch makes it even more interesting.

Wow! I didn't know you have perfect pitch, Spike.
I think it is possible she was singing in a maqam mode ... ?

In the western world, the mode of music evolved from a variety of modes
invented by the Greeks: Aeolian, Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian,
Locrian, and Mixolydian, into the Major (the pattern from Ionian) and
Minor (the pattern from Aeolian) scales that western musicians use
today. In the equal temperament tuning system, the octave is divided
exactly in twelve notes, where the distance between each note is a half

Unlike the Major and Minor modes, the Arabic maqam (plural: maqamat) is
built on top of a scale that is generally generally made up of a 24 note
octave. Each maqam may include microtonal variations such that tones,
half tones and quarter tones in its underlying scale are not precisely
that. E.g. the E in maqam Bayati is tuned slightly lower than the E in
maqam Rast. These variations must be learned by _listening_ not by
reading, which is why the oral tradition is the correct way to learn
Arabic music. The tuning of the maqmat are probably historic, based on
string instruments, but especially the oud.

When you listen to the maqam, you might notice that the modes are more
complex and richer due to the large variety of specific Oriental tone
scales. There are dozens of Arabic maqamat, including many Persian and
Turkish hybrids, many local maqamat are used only in some regions of the
Arab world, and unknown in others. The maqam are grouped by melodic
development, patterns, and relationships between the notes. These rules
describe which notes should be emphasized, how often, and in what order.

The following are some maqamat, that I like, that can give a idea of how
these sound. These samples are in RealPlayer format.

 From the Maqam Rast: Here is a Violin (Maqam Rast on C)

and an Oud (Maqam Rast on C).

 From the Maqam Kurd, here is an Oud (Maqam Kurd on G),

 From the Maqam Rast Yakah, here is a sample piece: Muwashah Mubarqa'ul Jamali.

These are *extra* wonderful:

Longa Hijaz Kar Kurd Seboukh

Samai Hijaz Kar Kurd Tatyos

I never get tired of listening to this kind of music.



Amara Graps, PhD      www.amara.com
INAF Istituto di Fisica dello Spazio Interplanetario (IFSI), Roma, ITALIA
Associate Research Scientist, Planetary Science Institute (PSI), Tucson

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