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Written in fRoots issue 258, 2004
 

BOOK
The Repertoire of Iraqi Maqam
Rob Simms

Scarecrow Press  ISBN 0-8108-4758-2 (2004)
Hardback £37.95

Written by a Canadian musician and academic, this is probably the most complete study in English of the repertoire of Iraqi classical music, with a systematic exposition of scales, transcriptions of performances drawing on a number of Iraqi recorded sources, and descriptions of the structure and history of the scales and maqams, plus an introduction setting them in a wider overview of Middle Eastern modal forms. Initially skipping the pretty dense, thesis-style text and going straight to the music brings one up against some signs unfamiliar to the average music-reader, such as flats with lines across them to indicate quarter-tones, so a plunge into the text is necessary to find the brief note on notation on pages 6 and 7. An easily located symbol key would have been a help.
      I passed the book to Syrian qanun virtuoso Abdullah Chhadeh for his much more informed opinion. Heís finding it useful; Iíve just had to borrow it back from him to get the publisher details. www.scarecrowpress.com


© 2004 Andrew Cronshaw
 


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