MENAME Winter 2019 schedule

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Note: this schedule will be filled in week by week. Note that all assignments are to be submitted via eClass ( Repertoire is listed (with links to listen and read) via

Note also that all repertoire documents are available online in this Google Drive folder. Theory resources on maqamat and durub are available via the main course webpage

Short link to this page:

Week 1: Jan 10

Lecture and exercise segment (6:30 to 7:30)

Course Introduction

  • Welcome! Self-introductions. Please add your intro on eClass and include a photo please so I can match faces to names.
  • Course: Middle Eastern and North African Music Ensemble
    • History of the group and course
    • Disciplinary scope: ethnomusicology, world music
    • Middle East and North Africa. Focus on Music of Nubia and Sudan.
  • Syllabus review, course requirements
    • Combined Performance & Academic course
    • 148 vs. 448 vs. 548
    • No prior musical experience or training required. BUT: I do need your attention and dedication, in and out of the classroom.
    • Performance: Listen, practice.
    • Academic: Read, watch, write.
    • Final concert with guest artist Ensaf Fathi (sponsored by the Sudanese community). Here is one song she proposes to sing with us. This is an amazing opportunity!
  • House rules:
    • No arriving late, no leaving early.
    • Rather: try to arrive early, and leave late.
    • As soon as you arrive please help out by setting up chairs.
    • After class ends please help out by putting them away
    • Socializing is important - but only pre- or post-class and during break
    • No talking during the class except as needed for participation
    • No cell phones whatsoever!
    • No eating in the class. Drinks are ok but take care not to spill them.
    • Keep any printed sheets neatly arranged in a notebook and ready to go.
  • Weekly plan:
    • Lecture segment 6:30 to 7:00
    • Warm-up exercises from 7 pm to 7:30 pm. Be ready to present!
    • On quiz days, we'll use 6:30 to 7:30 for the quiz
    • Rehearsal from 7:30 to 9:30
    • Often a short break around 8:30 (not more than 10 min; please don't disappear)
    • Close at 9:30
    • Concert Friday March 29 is mandatory.
    • Do your homework and submit prior to class on due date. Submit via eClass, not hard copy or email.

Some features of this connected yet diverse region

  • See map
  • Many (>50) languages: Semitic, Indo-European, Turkic, and others...
  • Name "Middle East" is colonial. "North Africa" a bit more descriptive. Not everyone who lives there identifies with this region, but the name has stuck, and it's not entirely arbitrary.
  • Real connectivity through overlapping empires - especially (since the 7th century) due to Islam. "Islamicate." Impact of recited religious texts, especially Qur'anic recitation.
  • In music, centrality of:
    • poetry, mostly of love and longing
    • singer, rather than instrumentalists
    • melody (not harmony)
    • Heterophony, lawazim
    • Ornamentation
    • Microtonal inflections, using voice and fretless stringed instruments
    • Use of overtones
    • Melodic modes: maqam, tab`, dastgah - mostly 7 tone (heptatonic), sometimes 5 tone (pentatonic)
    • Rhythmic modes: darb, iqa`, mizan...
    • Limited improvisation: taqasim, layali, mawwal
  • Socially, importance of:
    • Audience participation in live music: exclamations, gestures that feed back to the musicians and singers
    • Wedding, jalsa, hafla contexts
    • Nightclubs, dance music
    • Concert halls
    • Singing competitions (Arab Idol)
  • Culturally, importance of:
    • Resonances with mysticism, in poetry, sound, instruments, and context
    • Development of emotion: tarab, kayf ... sometimes conflated with mystical feeling: wajd, hal, nashwa ruhiyya
    • Modal ecstasy: saltana
    • Certain aesthetic of longing - bittersweet, nostalgic, mournful ethos is common

Some terms/concepts to know

  • Middle East and North Africa
  • Islamicate
  • mashriq (eastern Arab world)
  • maghrib (western Arab world)
  • Nubia
  • Sudan
  • Regional languages: Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Nubian (Matokki or Kenzi; Fadija or Nubiin), Amazighiya, Kurdish, Hebrew, Syriac, Aramaic, Greek, Armenian, Coptic...
  • Transliteration: Arabic
  • ethnomusicology
  • etic vs emic
  • world music
  • heterophony
  • darb/durub (rhythmic cycles), also mizan or iqaa`
  • maqam (scale/mode), also tab` or nawba or dastgah
  • quarter tones or microtones ("notes between the piano keys")
  • taqsim (instrumental improvisation)
  • layali (vocal improvisation on "ya layl, ya `ayn"
  • mawwal (vocal improvisation on a poem)
  • lawazim (instrumental fills)

Introducing: rhythmic and melodic modes

See "theory" section for visual representations of these rhythms and melodic modes:

  • Durub: 1,2,3,4,8,10
    • 1. Wahda Tayra (fox)
    • 2. Bamb, malfuf, ayub, Aragide (Nubian: dum iss tek tek dum iss tek iss)
    • 3. Fals, Sama`i Darij
    • 4. Wahda, maqsum, masmudi, Sa`idi, Zeffa
    • 8. Masmudi kabir, Ciftetelli
    • 10. Sama`i thaqil
  • Maqamat:
    • Use of "quarter tones"
    • Ajam
    • Rast
    • Nahawand
    • Hijaz

Note: see for links to repertoire and theory. See for additional info on theory

Rehearsal segment:

(see Repertoire folder for all the related documents and audio files)

  • Ah Ya Zayn (Oh beautiful one) - Hijaz, Masmudi. Take turns, alternate choir and instruments.
  • Lamma Bada Yatathanna (When he began to sway) - Nahawand, Sama`i Thaqil
  • Ya Shadi al-Alhan - Rast, Masmudi Kabir

Week 2: Jan 17

Homework (due today)

Remember homework is always due on the day it is listed, before class! You must submit reading reviews for each reading to me by email before class on Thursday! In this review, you should demonstrate that you’ve completed the assignment (by telling me what it’s about), and that you’ve thought about it (by telling me what you think of it). If there's more than one item (reading, listening, viewing) be sure you discuss all of them. You don't have to write much on each. Use the eClass site to submit all assignments. (All assignments due on a particular day will be submitted together, since eClass provides a single link each Thursday.) For more details on assignments, see course outline.

Read & review (submit reviews on eClass)

Browse:, and Theory section of our website, especially for the maqamat and durub we introduced last week.


  • Please be able to recognize and play the rhythms we've introduced thus far, ideally while counting out the beats!
  • Listen to our repertoire and sing along.

Lecture and exercise segment

  • Regional languages and maps
  • Nubia, the Nubians, Sudan, and the Sudanese
    • Kenuz (Matokki language)
    • Fadikka (Fadikka language)
    • Region
    • Ancient history of Nubia
    • Modern history - the Nile dams, and displacement
    • Nubian culture today: Aswan and Cairo
  • Music theory and terminology:
    • Darb (lit. "strike"), plural durub: rhythmic concept (also known as iqa` or wazn or usul). We introduced several durub including wahda - maqsum - masmudi - malfuf. See my charts for definitions.
    • Maqam (lit. "station"), plural maqamat: tonal concept (something like "scale" but using a wider range of pitch material, and including melodic and ornamentation characteristics). There are dozens of different maqamat. See
    • Maqam Rast
    • Taqsim: an instrumental improvisation in a maqam.
    • Mawwal: vocal improvisation in a maqam, with text (which is not necessarily a "mawwal" in the literary sense)
    • Layali: vocal improvisation in a maqam, using "nonsense" syllables, usually "ya `ayn, ya layl".
    • Muwashshah: classical strophic poetry originating in Andalusia; can make use of multiple rhymes and meters
    • Qasida: original form of Arabic poetry, single rhyme and meter
  • Some other terms that have come up...
    • Lawazim: instrumental fills
    • Fairouz: famous Lebanese singer
    • Rahbani brothers: composed for Fairouz
    • Ziad Rahbani: Fairouz's son, also a famous singer/composer in Lebanon


  • Compositions using basics: 1,2,4 (see above)
  • Singing patterns in Hijaz, Rast, Nahawand

See for more on maqam, darb, and forms

See the course's Theory section for more information about maqam, darb, and music theory generally.

Rehearsal segment

(all repertoire is listed via

(see Repertoire folder for other related documents and audio files)

  • Lamma Bada Yatathanna (When he began to sway) - Nahawand, Sama`i Thaqil
  • Dulab Rast (C)
  • Ya Shadi al-Alhan - Rast, Masmudi Kabir
  • Ah Ya Zayn (Hijaz G)
  • Bilafrah (Assiss Wara) (Hijaz G)
  • Dulab Nahawand (C)
  • Lamma Bada (C)


Week 3: Jan 24

Homework (due today)

  • Listen: The Music Of Islam, Vol. 3: Music Of The Nubians, Aswan, Egypt
  • Read: Liner notes (click on the "Related Documents" tab and download the PDF), pp. 38-49 only (if you want to skim earlier sections fine but you don't have to read the whole thing!)
  • Write: Submit (on eClass) a short (1-2 paragraph) review of the notes and recordings, including musical, cultural, and historical observations of Nubian music in Aswan, and a critique of the disc as a representation of the musical traditions it purports to survey (for instance, ask yourself: is this representation complete? what does it omit? how is the music presented in the notes? who seems to have compiled the music and what was the context of performance? why was the disc made and for what audience? might village music sound different? how? These are the kinds of questions you can raise in your critique.)

Note: do not quote readings when composing reviews, except very short excerpts, which must be in quotation marks with a reference to the source. But mainly I want to hear your voice, and not that of the source.

Lecture and exercise segment

  • Arabic greetings
  • Transliterating Arabic (see also
  • Confusion over last week's assignment.
    • If you read about North Africa, review the Nubian article for next week, and vice versa.
    • If you forgot to press "submit" please do.
    • I will not downgrade any assignments for lateness
  • How to write a review? Summarize (what's it about? show me that your read it) & critique (where are its limitations or possible biases? what else can you connect it to? Show me that you've thought about it!). Let's consider the Nubian Music in Cairo article for instance...
  • Durub review
  • Maqam review
    • Nahawand
    • Ajam
    • Rast
    • Hijaz
  • New maqamat: Bayyati and Saba

Rehearsal segment

(see Repertoire folder for other related documents and audio files)


  • Dulab Nahawand
  • Lamma Bada Yatathanna (When he began to sway) - Nahawand G, Sama`i Thaqil
  • Dulab Rast (C)
  • Ya Shadi al-Alhan - Rast, Masmudi Kabir (G)
  • Ah Ya Zayn (Hijaz G)
  • Bilafrah (Assiss Wara) (Hijaz G)
  • al-Ghourba

New repertoire:

  • Shamandoura (traditional Nubian-Arabic, Mohamed Mounir version)
  • Ah Ya Hilu (Bayyati qadd)

Week 4: Jan 31

Homework (due today)

Each of you should have read and reviewed one or the other of the following for Week 2:

1) Whichever one you read and reviewed, please read and review the other one for today (with apologies for this confusion, resulting from a stray eClass link that inadvertently was duplicated from 2018). 1-2 paragraphs maximum. (Optional: Having read also Hearing the Music of the Middle East you might take the opportunity to reflect on the marginalized position of Nubian music within presentations of Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) music.)

2) Also watch and review this important documentary film, Umm Kulthum: A Voice Like Egypt. In your review, include 3 reasons why Umm Kulthum was--and remains -- such an important singer in the Arab world (consider: aesthetic, media, social, cultural, political, or religious reasons), and briefly reflect on what you liked or didn't like about the film. What in your view did the film do particularly well? What do you wish could have been included, but wasn't? 2 paragraphs maximum.

Please submit both reviews via eClass link for Jan 31 (today) (and be sure to hit the submit button!)

ALSO: you should all have learned the durub (rhythms) introduced so far (see above, Week 1, for the list we've covered). During class I'll ask everyone to present a darb. You should be able to say it or clap it (extra credit for being able to count the beats while clapping!)

Here are the rhythms and maqamat you should know for next Thursday (see "theory" section for visual representations of these rhythms):

  • Durub: know the following
    • 1. Wahda Tayra (fox)
    • 2. Bamb, ayub, Aragide (Nubian: dum iss tek tek dum iss tek iss)
    • 4. Wahda, maqsum, masmudi, Sa`idi
    • 8. Masmudi kabir
    • 10. Sama`i thaqil
  • Maqamat. Also listen to the following maqamat on, where you can find recorded examples or click on note heads to hear the scales:
    • Ajam (similar to a major scale)
    • Nahawand (similar to a standard harmonic minor scale)
    • Hijaz (similar to the upper part of a harmonic minor scale)
    • Rast (like major, but introduces quarter tones on the 3rd and 7th)
    • Bayati (like dorian minor, but with quarter tones on the 2nd and 6th)

Rehearsal segment

(see Repertoire folder for other related documents and audio files)



  • Dulab Rast
  • Ya Shadi al-Alhan - Rast, Masmudi Kabir (G)
  • Bilafrah (Assiss Wara) (Hijaz G)
  • Shamandoura (traditional Nubian-Arabic, Mohamed Mounir version)

Week 5: Feb 7

Note: Feb 8: International Week concert in Convocation Hall, featuring the Edmonton Transcultural Orchestra (and lots of world music). 7 pm; free.

Homework (due today)

Listen to Music and History in the Two Sudans. Based on this program, including both narration and audio, compare and contrast music of "the two Sudans" to music of Egypt. What are some of the main historical factors shaping music of this region? Which artists did you enjoy the most and why? Submit a paragraph or two on eClass.

Week 6: Feb 14 - QUIZ #1

First quiz.


No new homework for today....just prepare for the quiz. The quiz is in two parts:

  • Map quiz: simply name the countries identified by letters on this map, which also appeared in your first reading this term, Hearing the Music of the Middle East. Spelling is important; try your best - but you will receive nearly full credit for minor spelling problems. Names that are completely mangled will receive partial credit.
  • Short answer: I'll present you with a selection of four (4) questions from this list of short-answer questions, out of which you'll pick two (2) questions to answer, each in about one prose page of the exam book. Your answers are to be short, but try to cover the key points. Please do not answer using "bullet points". I will not grade on your English language ability and so long as I can understand your answer I will give you the credit you deserve for whatever you've said.

The quiz will be 45 minutes long, from 6:30 to 7:15, after which we'll break for a few minutes before the rehearsal starts. Please arrive on time!

Rehearsal segment

Reviewing our repertoire by Maqam (try to recognize them!)


  • Dulab Rast (C)
  • Sama`i Rast Tatyos (Turkish; 1858 – 1913) initial segment from Salih Abd al-Hayy (1896-1962) version (recorded in Egypt - 1950s?
  • Ya Shadi al-Alhan (Muwashshah)


  • Dulab Bayyati (D)
  • Sama`i Bayyati (D) - with Rast, Hijaz, Saba in the khanat
  • Taqasim and mawwal
  • Ah Ya Hilu (D)


  • Taqasim Hijaz (G)
  • Ass'ess Warak (G)
  • Ah Ya Zayn (G)


  • Dulab Nahawand
  • Lamma Bada (G)
  • Majass intro
  • Bint al-Shalabiyya (C)
  • Ya Banat Iskandariyya (C)
  • Shamandoura (Bb)
  • al-Ghourba (A)


  • So ya so (C)

Week 7: Feb 21 - READING WEEK - no class

But you can use this week to review the songs as well as the maqamat and durub, in preparation for the second midterm quiz, after the break.

Week 8: Feb 28

No written homework, BUT please be prepared to demonstrate competence in the durub, maqamat, and songs we've been studying!

Week 9: March 7

Homework (due today)

Muslim religious chant - adhan and Qur'anic recitations - reflect the various styles of music in the region. They also impact it, because many singers are trained through such recitations. We saw a clear instance in the case of Umm Kulthum, but such training is common to many singers.

NOTE: the database has been down today - if it remains that way I'll extend the deadline on this assignment....

  • Read and review each of the following (just 1-2 paragraphs on each).
  • Read, listen, analyze: what differences do you hear? Submit one more paragraph as follows...
    • Read and listen and submit your comments on the differences you hear between the different styles of performing the Call to Prayer (adhan).
    • Read and listen and submit your comments on the differences you hear between the different styles of performing Qur'anic recitation.

Watch Koran by Heart, a beautiful documentary about a Qur'an competition. (Kristina Nelson served as consultant on this film.). Note: updated link.

Lecture segment: Adhan and Qur'an

About Adhan and Qur'an

  • Two forms of Islamic "language performance" fusing sacred text and non-metric melody
  • Meaning, use, purpose
  • Primary role in vocal training, along with the music of Sufi orders (turuq)
    • Pronunciation; Makharij al-huruf
    • Breath control
    • Improvisation in maqamat
    • Use of cadence (qafla)
  • Relation to melody/music
    • Maqamat
    • "Melodies of the Arabs" (Hadith)


  • Islam's link to Aksumite kingdom in Ethiopia (Habasha) - site of the first hijra; and birthplace of the freed slave Bilal ibn Rabah al-Habashi, Islam's first mu'adhdhin - as well as spiritual progenitor of Keita dynasty (rulers of Mali 12th - 17th centuries) and various sub-saharan subcultures of North Africa (e.g. Gnawa, Stambeli)
  • Origin of adhan (see 1:20:00; from Moustapha Akkad's film, al-Risala, a biopic about the Prophet Muhammad)
  • Map of adhan and geocultural performance styles
    • Melody
    • Group
    • Local musical sound


  • Recitation (tilawa, qira'a, tajwid, tartil) of the Qur'an restricted by 3 sources:
    • the mushaf (Qur'anic text)
    • the 10 (7, or 14) qira'at ("readings")
    • the ahkam al-tajwid: rules of recitation, dictating how to begin and end, when is it necessary, possible, or forbidden to stop for a breath, etc.
    • nowhere is melody determined, and in fact association of a fixed melody is discouraged in favor of improvisation
    • Egyptian reciters tended to be most famous and influential until the recent rise of Saudi reciters
    • One of the great master of this art was Mustafa Ismail, deploying Egyptian maqamat, whose performative interactions with the audience border on tarab.
    • Contrast this performance by Al rama Mouhamadou Sanoussi (from Niger).
    • Muslims are enjoined to beautiful the Qur'an - with their voices, or -- less commonly -- in calligraphy.
  • Koran by Heart, a beautiful documentary about a Qur'an competition. (Kristina Nelson served as consultant on this film.)
  • More on tilawa
  • video from The Guardian, in which a calligrapher speaks and demonstrates his art.
  • The calligraphic representation of the Qur'an.

For those who are interested, here are some links on Arabic script and calligraphy:

More in-depth presentation of Language Performance in Islam


Week 10: March 14 - QUIZ #2

The quiz will take place between 6:30 and 7:15 pm in room 2-20 FAB across the hall from our usual meeting place. Please arrive on time and note the new location.

Also note that the final quiz on April 4 (6:30) will be held in Tory BW1.



Please be able to recognize the following 6 ajnas (singular: jins). A maqam comprises a sum of ajnas at different pitch levels. The principal jins for a maqam starts at its tonic (qarar). Every jins shares its name with a maqam for which it serves as the principal jins. I'm only asking you to identify the ajnas, which are at the core of maqam identity. Here are the 6 ajnas with audio files so you can practice listening:

NOTE: there seem to be problems with google drive of late - if you can't get the following links to work just listen to the files on Dropbox here.

Also be able to recognize a minor pentatonic scale (as in much Nubian music, e.g. al-Ghourba)

You can also practice by associating each jins with a song you know makes use of it. For example, "Ah Ya Zayn" is in maqam Hijaz. You can find each song's maqam in the notes above (see week 6).

Durub. Please be able to identify the following:

  • Durub: 1,2,3,4,8,10
    • 1. Wahda Tayra (fox)
    • 2. Bamb, ayub, malfuf
    • 3. Fals, Sama`i Darij
    • 4. Wahda, maqsum, masmudi, sa`idi, Aragide (Nubian)
    • 8. Masmudi kabir, ciftetelli
    • 10. Sama`i thaqil

You'll find several theory links on for durub, including my own pdf charts, as well as this site and this one.

See for even more information on ajnas, maqamat, and durub

Pieces. Please be ready to identify all the pieces we've performed so far, and say something (1-3 sentences) about them, including the following sorts of information (as available - not all information is available for every song or piece, so don't feel that you need to provide everything for each):

  • the title
  • the maqam and darb (if identified)
  • the names of the composer and lyricist (if known)
  • the singer with whom the piece is associated (if known)
  • the genre (type of music)
  • the source culture or country/region
  • any other associated facts or history

I will play an excerpt from a recording; you will provide as much of the above (or other) information as you can, approximately 1-3 sentences. You don't have to know anything about these songs that hasn't come up through this class (so don't go researching); there isn't always a definite "right" answer; and you don't have to provide every last detail. I'm just looking to see what information you can provide.

Week 11: March 21

Please arrive promptly at 6:30 for our rehearsal in Studio 27.

Please print out everything you need to play/sing our program and place it in a black binder in program order. The tentative program and order is here.

All repertoire is here.

Week 12: March 28 (MENAME Final Concert Friday March 29!)

March 28: Dress rehearsal in Convocation Hall, Old Arts building, 6:30 - 9:30. PLEASE be on time.

March 29, Convocation Hall: Sound check will be around 5 pm, concert at 8. Be backstage by 7:30.

The concert is free and open to the public; please invite all your friends!

Week 13: April 4 - FINAL QUIZ

Final quiz: April 4 (6:30) will be held in our usual room, Studio 27 (not in the other room I indicated previously) because we're not going to be taking a quiz in the usual sense.

Quiz format: Song performance with explications. You will work in groups. Everyone has been assigned one of 11 groups. Please see this link for your group assignment. You can get together in your groups at any point during the week (use eClass to contact other group members).

During the quiz, I will ask each group to perform one or more of the following songs (with singing and body percussion only) and provide some explication of the song's meaning, style, origin, genre, etc. Here are the four songs:

  1. Ah Ya Zayn (Hijaz, Maqsum)
  2. Ah Ya Hilu (Bayyati, Masmudi)
  3. Lamma Bada (Nahawand, Sama`i Thaqil)
  4. Ya Shadi al-Alhan (Rast, Masmudi Kabir)

You don't have to memorize anything - you may bring lyrics or notation sheets. You don't need any instruments - this is for voice and body percussion (clapping, stamping, etc.) only. I probably won't ask for all four songs but you should be ready!

Please come to Tory BW1 promptly at 6:30. I will not necessarily take the groups in numerical order (so group 11 can't plan to be last!).

I may record the performances.

Note: on this day also please return any drums you may have borrowed.