Kurdish Music

Language and history

This project will concentrate on Kurdish music from Northern Iraq because, as discussed earlier, a significant part of Nashville’s Kurdish population is from the north of Iraq.[1] The language of northern Iraq is a form of Kurdish called Kurmânji.[2] The Iraqi maqam refers to a genre of urban songs that date from the Abbasid dynasty, which existed from 750 to 1258 Anno Domini (A.D.).[3] Typically, pieces are performed by a singer (qari) accompanied by santur (hammered dulcimer), juzah (upright fiddle), and doumbek (drum), and riqq (tambourine) or daff (large frame drum), and the ensemble itself is known as a jalghi.[4] Other sources substitute some of the instruments with the following: the djoze (four stringed fiddle), naqqāra (kettledrum), darbuka (a single-head goblet drum), and the nay (end-blown flute).[5]

General features of the maqam

            The Iraqi maqam utilizes music based on maqam modes, such as the Rast, Nahawand, Nikris, and Kurd, which are seven note scales that can be divided into tetrachords.[6] This project will concentrate on the Rast scale (see figure 2).

 

Figure 2. Rast scale of the Iraqi maqam[7]

 

Everyone in an ensemble plays the same melody and heterophonic textures are created by vocalists adding melismas and instrumentalists improvising.[8]

Notation

Some features of the maqam can easily fit into Western notation while others cannot. The maqam is notated using Western notation and utilizes microtonal accidentals.[9] However, it does not use a time signature and traditional barlines and a barline typically marks the end of a phrase.[10]

Lesson plans

My research revealed that there are not many maqam lesson plans designed for English speaking students. This is an area where a contribution can be made to the literature.

Footnotes

[1] “Nashville's Growing Community of Kurdish Americans.” The Kurdish Project. June 22, 2015. Accessed July 03, 2017. http://thekurdishproject.org/latest-news/us-kurdish-relations/nashville-growing-community-of-kurdish-americans/.

[2] Hari S. Vasudevan, Shri Prakash, Mujib Alam. 2004. The Global Politics of the Iraq Crisis and India's Options. India: Aakar Books.

[3] Marshall Cavendish. 2006. World and Its Peoples, Volume 1. Tarrytown, NY: Marshall Cavendish Corporation, 218.

[4] Marshall Cavendish. 2006. World and Its Peoples, Volume 1. Tarrytown, NY: Marshall Cavendish Corporation, 218.

[5] Sherifa Zuhur, 2001. Colors of Enchantment: Theater, Dance, Music, and the Visual Arts of the Middle East. The American University in Cairo Press. 323.

William J. Conner, Howell, Milfie, and Atayan, Robert. “Naqqāra.” Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press, accessed July 12, 2017, http://0-www.oxfordmusiconline.com.sultan.tnstate.edu/subscriber/article/grove/music/19571

[6] Simms, Rob. 2003. The Repertoire of Iraqi Maqam. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 14.

[7] Simms, Rob. 2003. The Repertoire of Iraqi Maqam. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 14.

[8] William Alves, 2013. Music of the Peoples of the World. Schirmer Cengage Learning, 89.

[9] Simms, Rob. 2003. The Repertoire of Iraqi Maqam. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press.

[10] Simms, Rob. 2003. The Repertoire of Iraqi Maqam. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press.

Kurmânji Text

Yek ziman hîç bes e

IPA: jεk zɪmaːn hiːt͡ʃ bεs ε

Resources for "One Language is Never Enough"
Section 2 (mm. 21-25)
There are two vocal parts in this section:
Soprano 1/Alto and Soprano 2/Baritone

Rast Scale and Soprano 1/Alto Melody 

Rast Scale and Soprano 2/Baritone 

Both Parts

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© 2020 by Felicity Mazur-Park