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Encyclopedia > Arab tone system

The modern Arab tone system, or system of musical tuning, is based upon the theoretical division of the octave into twenty-four equal divisions or 24-tone equal temperament, the distance between each successive note being a quarter tone (50 cents). Each tone has its own name not repeated in different octaves, unlike systems featuring octave equivalency. The lowest tone is named yakah and is determined by the lowest pitch in the range of the singer. The next higher octave is nawa and the second tuti. (Touma 1996, p.17-18) However, from these twenty-four tones seven are selected to produce a scale and thus the interval of a quarter tone is never used and the three-quarter tone or neutral second should be considered the characteristic interval. (ibid, p.23) This page is about musical systems of tuning, for the musical process of tuning see tuning. ... In music, an octave (sometimes abbreviated 8ve or 8va) is the interval between one musical note and another with half or double the frequency. ... Equal temperament is a scheme of musical tuning in which the octave is divided into a series of equal steps (equal frequency ratios). ... A quarter tone is an interval half as wide (aurally, or logarithmically) as a semitone, which is half a whole tone. ... The cent is a logarithmic unit of measure used for musical intervals. ... This article is about music. ... For the numerical computation software, see GNU Octave. ... In music, pitch is the perception of the frequency of a note. ... Human voices may be classified according to their vocal range â€” the highest and lowest pitches that they can produce. ... In music, a scale is a set of musical notes in order by pitch, either ascending or descending. ... A neutral second is a musical interval half-way between a minor second and a major second. ...

In practice far fewer than twenty-four tones are used in a single performance. All twenty-four tones are individual pitches differentiated into a hierarchy of important pitches, "pillars", which occur more frequently in the tone rows of traditional music and most often begin tone rows, and scattered less important or seldom occurring pitches (see tonality). (ibid, p.24-25). For the various types of hierarchy, see hierarchy (disambiguation) A hierarchy (in Greek: Î™ÎµÏÎ±ÏÏ‡Î¯Î±, it is derived from Î¹ÎµÏÏŒÏ‚-hieros, sacred, and Î¬ÏÏ‡Ï‰-arkho, rule) is a system of ranking and organizing things or people, where each element of the system (except for the top element) is subordinate to a single other element. ... In music, a tone row or note row is a permutation, an arrangement or ordering, of the twelve notes of the chromatic scale. ... Tonality is a system of writing music according to certain hierarchical pitch relationships around a center or tonic. ...

The specific notes used in a piece will be part of one of more than seventy modes or maqam rows named after characteristic tones which are rarely the first tone (unlike in European-influenced music theory where the tonic is listed first). The rows are heptatonic and constructed from augmented, major, neutral, and minor seconds. Many different but similar ratios are proposed for the frequency ratios of the tones of each row and performance practice, as of 1996, has not been investigated using electronic measurements. (ibid, p.18) Actual practice is estimated to vary within a quarter tone from notation. In music, a mode is an ordered series of musical intervals, which, along with the key or tonic, define the pitches. ... In Arab music a maqam [sic] (plural maqamat) is, a technique of improvisation that defines the pitches, patterns, and development of a piece of music and which is unique to Arabian art music. ... Tonic may mean: A concept from musical harmony and musical theory: see Tonic (music); A carbonated beverage flavoured with quinine, used in cocktails: see Tonic water. ... In music a heptatonic scale is a scale (music) with seven (hepta) degrees. ... The musical interval of a minor third is the relationship between the first note (the root or tonic) and the third note in a minor scale. ... A major second is one of three commonly occuring musical intervals that span two diatonic scale degrees; the others being the minor second, which is one semitone smaller, and the augmented second, which is one semitone larger. ... A neutral second is a musical interval half-way between a minor second and a major second. ... A minor second is the smallest of three commonly occuring musical intervals that span two diatonic scale degrees; the others being the major second and the augmented second, which are larger by one and two semitones respectively. ...

The current tone system is derived from the work of al-Farabi (d. 950 CE) (heptatonic scales constructed from seconds) who used a 25 (unequal) tone scale (see tetrachord), with Mikha'il Mishaqah (1800-1889) first presenting the 24 tone equal tempered division. (ibid, p.19) Al Farabi (870-950) was born of a Turkish family and educated by a Christian physician in Baghdad, and was himself later considered a teacher on par with Aristotle. ... The tetrachord is a concept of music theory borrowed from ancient Greece. ... Mikhail Mishaqah (1800-1889) was the first theorist to propose a division of the octave into twenty-four equal tones (24-tone equal temperament, quarter tone scale), this being the current basis of the Arab tone system. ...

• Habib Hassan Touma (1996). The Music of the Arabs, trans. Laurie Schwartz. Portland, Oregon: Amadeus Press. ISBN 0931340888.

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