University of Alberta Middle Eastern and North African Music Ensemble

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This course will be available for credit in Winter 2020. Enroll using Bear Tracks.

If you are enrolled (or on a waitlist) be sure to fill out this form by the end of November 2019. The first meeting - 9 Jan 2020 - will be a meeting for consent, when I will ask everyone to sing or play something. Only those enrolled for credit need attend. The second meeting - 16 Jan 2020 - will be our first proper rehearsal.

Sign up for the MENAME email list.

New members click here for more information about the group. We meet in Studio 27, in the Fine Arts Building, Thursdays at 6:30 - those not taking the course for credit can generally come at 7pm. Here's a map.

MENAME (Middle Eastern and North African Music Ensemble) (Music 148, 448, 548)

short URL for this page: or or ""


The University of Alberta Middle Eastern and North African Music Ensemble (MENAME) is a University of Alberta course and a community group for the study and performance of music from Arabic, Turkish, Persian, Berber, Hebrew, Nubian, Kurdish, Armenian, and other musical-linguistic communities of the Middle East and North Africa, as well as fusions thereof. Our aim is to learn and appreciate these musical traditions, to use music as a gateway towards broader intercultural understanding, and as a means of forming and maintaining a harmonious intercultural musical community here in Edmonton, bridging all divisions, especially those of ethnicity, nationality, language, and religion.

Our repertoire covers various gamuts, from specialized "high art" to participatory folk, from local to regional, from old to new. Besides studying pieces from the region (mostly songs), we also focus on regional musical concepts (tonal and rhythmic) in theory and practice, through a series of in-class exercises developing the ears in new directions.

The group gathers diverse members: musicians interested in traditions of the region; university students studying the region's culture, society and history; members of language communities; and anyone else who wishes to participate. MENAME was founded by director Michael Frishkopf in 2005 as the Arab Music Group; its scope has gradually expanded to include the Middle East and North Africa.

Technically the course is listed under University of Alberta's "open studies" program, and thus is accessible to anyone who wants to enroll. And everyone interested is encouraged to do so. Neither musical training, nor fluency in musical notation, nor the ability to play an instrument, nor fluency in regional languages is a prerequisite. All I ask is that you make a firm commitment to the group for one full year, and participate with energy and enthusiasm.

Besides regular meetings, there are also various occasions to perform in public. Minimally, I expect all group members to participate in the world music sampler, and in the final concert (see performances link, below).

The course provides 3 course weights per semester and combines performance and academics, the latter including:

  • readings and films
  • weekly short lectures, films or analytical listening
  • a midterm and final, including performance and academic components

Meeting place and time

We meet every Thursday evening, fall and winter terms, usually from 6:30 to 9:30 pm (but sometimes we start later, or end earlier - join the mailing list to be in the know), in Studio 27, Fine Arts Building (FAB) of the University of Alberta campus (between the Timms centre and HUB mall, and next to the bus stop). Studio 27 is just north of the FAB central stairwell, on the second floor. It's on your left as you cross the breezeway from HUB mall to FAB. All are welcome!

MAP of key locations (Studio 27, Convocation Hall, etc.)

For prospective members

MENAME prospective students click here.

For members

Modify subscriptions to our MENAME email list
Join our MENAME Facebook group (Note: log into Facebook before clicking)

Course outlines and schedules

Click here for the winter 2020 course outline

Click here for the winter 2019 course outline

Click here for the winter 2018 course outline

Click here for the fall 2016 course outline

Click here for the winter 2016 course outline

Click here for the fall 2012 course outline



Near Eastern Ensemble tapes (located off-wiki)

Repertoire content (located on-wiki)

Suggestion box. Please feel free to add...

Middle Eastern Dance pieces

MENAME performance programs: past and present

Links contain schedules; each performance is linked to its program.

MENAME Final performance Winter 2019

Performance Winter 2018

Performances (Fall 2012)

Performances (2011-12)

Performances (2010-11)

Performances (2009-10)

Performances (2008-09)

Performances (2007-08)

Other past concert programs

Other online resources

MENAME recordings

YouTube videos of MENA area songs

Performances by MENAME:

Regional musics

Oud Migrations

Arab music URLs

Turkish music URLs

Iranian music URLS

Kurdish music URLs

Israeli music URLs

Dance URLs

Theory, ear training, practica

MENA music theory and practice

MENA = Middle East and North Africa...what follows are the relevant links for music theory.

Michael's resources: PDF files providing basic maqamat and iqa`at (rhythms) for Arab music of Egypt/Levant (with a separate folder for Maghrib)

MaqamWorld: extensive treatment of maqamat, instruments, forms, and iqa`at (durub) (for Egypt and the Levant only)

Maqam Lessons: an excellent theoretical overview, with practical lessons and illustrative analyses

Alsiadi maqamat

Ja's Middle Eastern Rhythms: detailed treatment of rhythms (you'll find dozens!) featuring a remarkable MIDI rhythm generator that will play any rhythm notated using special symbols to indicate the various drum strokes

Finger cymbal patterns


Maqam places. The word maqam can mean: a literary genre, a saint's shrine, a musical mode, or a place or rank. And in fact many maqam names come from places. This map shows some of them. (Others -- along with the names of scale degrees -- are derived from the Persian numbers, coming ultimately from Indo-European: yek, doh, se, chehar...)

Western music theory training

introductory music theory, simple introduction to Western music notation, for those who'd like to learn.

Tutorials in music theory: more advanced training in Western music notation and music theory.


All about the nay (reed flute)

George Sawa's qanun (plucked zither) page

Oud for Guitarists, a site designed to teach oud and Arab music to guitarists

Microtonal saxophone fingerings from Dan Schnee


A440 tuning fork

Microphone tuner (use it to practice singing quartertones!)

Ear work

and this new one :

Transliterating Middle Eastern / North African languages

International Journal of Middle East Studies standard


Summary of Romanization standards