THE YENI MAKAM SERIES World Music Challenges for Bassoon, Violin, Cello, Clarinet and Percussion Introducing Yeni Makam 5 for Alto Saxophone Trio
I. Introduction Yeni Makam (New Modes) is a series of original works written by composer Edward J. Hines using ancient Turkish and Arabic modes called makams. Makams are based on the same Pythagorean principles of construction as Western modes and scales. Makams, however, are Middle Eastern in concept and predate equal temperament; makams reflect ancient theory and intonation.
Classical Turkish composers and performers regarded makams as rules of composition rather than simply as scales. While any makam may be reduced to scale form, their application is most significant in the context of melody. In this context the tonic and dominant are central as in Western modes and scales. The ancient intonations of makams appear at different scale degrees, according to the particular makam in use, and are microtonal in measurement. The result is a diatonic melody containing a pitch or pitches which are "out of tune" by standards of Western equal temperament. But to the trained ear, makams are a highly organized approach to pitch interpretation which lead to a variety of colors and sensations unfamiliar to Western ears.
II. Objective The objective inYeni Makam is to familiarize the performer with the art of makam and its synthesis with Western composition. The compositions borrow and expand on makams typically found in Turkish classical and folk music. (Turkish classical music encompasses two styles common during the Ottoman period, 1453-1923: art music of the Ottoman court and music written for the Mevlevi or Whirling Dervishes. Turkish folk music, while generally not associated with the Ottomans, often reflects elements of makams.) Each work of Yeni Makam contains pitches characteristic of certain makams, which also function as the theoretical principle for the invention of new pitches.
III. Interpretation of Intervals The Yeni Makam Series incorporates pitches whose intonation is adjusted by intervals of less than a tempered half-tone. (The tempered system used in defining pitches of theYeni Makam Series replicates the performance practice of the proportional Turkish modal sytem. Tempered half-tones measured at 100 cents and whole-tones at 200 cents are equivalent to their respective Turkish tones of 90 and 204 cents.) The fundamental interval is small, approximately one eighth-tone, and is added to or subtracted from whole and half-tones to form new pitches. A pitch may be adjusted by one or more eighth-tones.
Performance of Pitches Adjusted by Eighth-tones The fundamental eighth-tone is measured at approximately 24-25 cents and is also known as a Pythagorean comma. To achieve an eighth-tone adjustment, the performer slightly raises or lowers the original pitch until the effect of moving away is first recognized. An eighth-tone adjustment can be described as a rounding off or pushing up of an intonation, or playing just under or over the pitch. However, the performer must be certain to maintain the integrity or general focus of the original pitch without moving into the realm of the neighboring half-tone. If elements of the neighboring half-tone become apparent, the pitch has been altered by a quarter-tone (two eighth-tones).
Performance of Pitches Adjusted by Quarter-tones The quarter-tone is defined as that pitch which exists midway (48-50 cents or 2 Pythagorean commas) between any two half-tones, with neither half-tone predominating. To locate the quarter-tone, move away from the original pitch to the point where traits of both the original pitch and its neighboring half-tone are recognized and heard. It has a distinct quality which simultaneously is characteristic of both surrounding half-tones, yet is neither half-tone. Quarter-tones are sometimes referred to as neutral tones and are the basis of Arabic maqamat.
With time and practice, the performer will develop sensitivity for how the eighth-tone and quarter-tone change pitch. This, in turn, will lead to greater overall sensitivity to the nuances of intonation. Electronic tuners calibrated in cents are an ideal means of accurately measuring and identifying eighth and quarter-tones. Musicians around the world have long used these small intervals to create microtonal melodies rich in color and feeling.
The fundamental principle of the development of Turkish classical music may be expressed as the cultivation of its melodic side on the basis of the Pythagorean theory. In this direction the Turks have gone farther than all the (Eastern) peoples and their experiment in this sphere should be studied since it very probably will be exploited in the future development not only of the melodic, but of the harmonic music of the world.- Victor Belaiev, Turkish Music, The Musical Quarterly, July, 1935