From Makam to Dastgah: A Comprehensive Guide to the Melodic Modes of Turkish and Persian Music

Turkish makams and Persian (Iranian) makams (also known as dastgahs) are both systems of melodic modes used in the traditional classical music of their respective cultures. Despite sharing some similarities, they have significant differences in terms of structure, approach, and performance practices.

  1. Terminology:

    • In Turkish music, the term "makam" is used, while in Persian music, the term "dastgah" is used.
  2. Structure:

    • Turkish makams are primarily based on a hierarchical system of tetrachords (four-note segments) and pentachords (five-note segments) that are combined to create a specific melodic structure. The system contains around 100 makams, with some being more popular and commonly used.
    • Persian dastgahs are based on a system of seven primary dastgahs, each with its own set of melodic characteristics, motifs, and gushehs (short melodic phrases). These seven dastgahs are further divided into five secondary avazes (modes), resulting in a total of 12 primary and secondary modes.
  3. Microtones and intervals:

    • Both Turkish and Persian systems use microtones (quarter-tones), which allow for smaller intervals than those found in Western music. However, the way these microtones are used and the specific intervals in each system differ between the two traditions.
  4. Modulation:

    • In Turkish music, modulation between makams is common, allowing for transitions from one makam to another within a single piece of music.
    • In Persian music, modulation is less common, and the focus is on developing the melodic structure within the dastgah or avaz. However, modulation can still occur between related dastgahs or avazes.
  5. Performance and improvisation:

    • In both Turkish and Persian music, improvisation plays a significant role. Turkish music has a specific form of improvisation called "taksim," which is a solo instrumental improvisation that often precedes or appears between composed sections. Persian music has a similar concept called "avaz," which is an improvised vocal or instrumental performance within the structure of a dastgah.
    • Persian classical music is often based on a radif, which is a collection of gushehs that serve as a basis for improvisation and composition within the dastgah system. The performer uses the radif as a starting point to create an improvised performance.
  6. Instruments:

    • Both Turkish and Persian music feature unique instruments, but they also share some common instruments such as the oud, ney, and kamancheh. However, the playing techniques and tunings of these instruments may differ between the two traditions.

In summary, while Turkish makams and Persian dastgahs share some similarities due to their modal structures and the use of microtones, they are distinct systems with different approaches to melodic development, improvisation, and performance practices.

For more about Turkish Music Makam: Turkish Music Makam Guide



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