Inside Arabic Music: Arabic Maqam Performance and Theory in the 20th Century
The music of the Arab world has been little understood outside the region, yet in recent years it has gained enthusiasts worldwide. Coauthors Farraj and Abu Shumays have written both an engaging guide for general readers and a valuable resource for musicians and scholars. The book focuses on the musical “Golden Age” from 1930–1970 that encompassed the region from Egypt to Syria. The book’s topics include Arab and Arabized instruments, ensemble types, song and instrumental genres and the art of ornamentation. Its guide to rhythms includes those that accompany muwashshahat, sung poems that arose in al-Andalus that are still loved today. The book also delves deeply into maqam, the system that guides melodic structure, development and improvisation. Inside Arabic Music’s greatest strength lies in its generous presentation of Arab music as an accessible, living art that today’s musicians can learn and that general readers can understand and appreciate.