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098 – The ḥijāz maqām, Nedhamuna



002-NAM A Nadrah Amin, Ma Htiyali I 008-ALM-1-A, Ali Mahmoud, Ya Nasim Elseba I


The ijāz is the sixth maqām, derived from the bayyātī and the sīkāh: it is a bayyātī with a high third, or a sīkāh whose second and third are more than one full tone apart.

This maqām is among those positioned on the dūkāh key at the ijāz aspect, and at the bayyātī aspect on the ḥusaynī. Furthermore, the aspect can be changed according to the piece’s majra (course).

The jahārkāh is altered at the ijāz and replaced by the ijāz positioned between the jahārkāh and the nawā –closer to the jahārkāh than to the nawā.

Theijāz scale is as follows: dūkāh, sīkāh, ijāz, nawā, ḥusaynī, awj, kardān, and muayyar –as the dūkāh’s jawāb to complete the dīwān.

To Sheikhs, the second note on the ijāz scale is the sīkāh, not the kurdī as stated in academic books. In practice, the ijāz’s second is closer to the sīkāh than to the kurdī.


Mustafa Said says about the ijāz maqām:

The ijāz maqām is of a “moderate” nature: neither joyful nor “gripping”, it includes sobriety and coquetry/playfulness at once, and joy and sadness if required.

Some say that this maqām was named ijāz because it was born in the Ḥijāz region… a logical explanation…

While to other theoreticians, it was named ijāz because it is the key of the adhān. I have doubts about this explanation because the adhān is not necessarily to the ijāz: in the past, the adhān of each prayer was called to a specific maqām: the adhān of the Fajr (dawn) prayer was called to the abā, or abāthat we will discuss later; The adhān of the Ẓohr (noon) prayer was called to the bayyātī, and to the muayyar on Fridays, …etc. The point is that the adhān was not limited to the ijāz key, even if this was the case in the beginning.

Indeed, to this day, the most famous adhān are called to the ijāz


Indeed, most adhān today are called to the ijāz

…Please bear in mind that we are talking about those who still actually call the adhān, not those who should be arrested by the adhān police!

As mentioned earlier, the ijāz is sober and coquettish/playful at once: it is thus often used in religious inshād as well as in the ‘ālima’s aqṭūqa, added to many dawr, muwashsha, and instrumental pieces.

aqṭūqa “Al-ḥinna al-ḥinna” for example…


…is among the oldest and most famous coquettish and playful aqṭūqa composed to the ijāz.

The ijāz key is produced by the bayyātī and the sīkāh. I think it is closer to Ṣafiyy al-Dīn al-Armawī’s sīkāh pattern that is as follows: ¾-tone, tone, ¾-tone…


This pattern is still followed in Iran, while, in Arab music, we play an incomplete fourth.

The ijāz’s third is one full tone higher than its second…


And its second is shorter than the bayyātī, but it should rather be named sīkāh than kurdī


I have an anecdote concerning the ijāz:

Five or six years ago in Turkey, I heard someone playing the ijāz like this…

(♩) (in its original form)

He defined it as a Turkish ijāz, then played it like this…

(♩) (with the adjusted equal intervals) 

and defined it as an Arabic ijāz.

I told him he was wrong, so he said: “Wrong? But many Arab instrumentalists told me that this is the Arabic ijāz, and that the other is the Turkish ijāz”. To which I answered: “This is the piano ijāz. It is not Arabic. Any instrument –keyboard instruments for example– with equal temperament would play the ijāz like this. The Arabic ijāz is different. All ijāz, including the Arabic, Turkish, and Persian ijāz called the humāyōn, or the ijāz in North Africa, are played in the same manner. The piano ijāz is not the Arabic ijāz.” I succeeded in convincing him, especially after I made him listen to ““Yā nasīm al-ṣabā”, the dialogue between Sheikh ‘Alī Maḥmūd and Sāmī al-Shawwā. 

In my opinion, discussing Arab music following an occidental logic, with the conviction that this is the right way, is wrong. Generations upon generations are doing this, and those who do not are, unfortunately, considered “out of tune”. I hope one day we will be able to follow more than one way.


Sayyida Nādira Amīn

Sayyida Nādira Amīn

Amīn al-Buzarī

Amīn al-Buzarī



Our first sample to the ijāz key is the bashraf al-qudūm ijāz or bashraf kuzum ijāz whose composer is unknown, performed by the takht of Amīn al-Buzarī (nāy), Sāmī al-Shawwā (kamān), and ‘Abd al-Ḥamīd al-Quḍḍābī (qānūn), and recorded around 1924 by Polyphon on two sides of a 27cm record, matrix # 3199 AR and 3200 AR.


The most famous muwashsha to the ijāz include “Mā iḥtiyālī” composed to the 9-pulse aqāq rhythm. Let us listen to it performed by Sayyida Nādira Amīn, recorded in 1930 by His Master’s Voice/Gramophone, # 30-3796 and 30-3797, matrix # BG 440 and BG 441.


Let us now listen to a qānūn taqsīm to the ijāz played by Muḥammad al-‘Aqqād, recorded electrically around 1927 by His Master’s Voice/Gramophone on two sides, # 7-219437 and 7-219438, matrix # BF 2675 and BF 2676. Side 1 includes a taqsīm mursal, and side 2 includes a taqsīm ‘ala al-waḥda.


Many sub-maqām are derived from the ijāz, including the: humāyōn, ijāz dīwān, ijāzkār, shāhnāz, ijāzkār kurdī, shatt ‘urbān, nahāft, etc. 

Let us now listen to dawr “Farīdu al-maḥāsini bān” to the ijāz dīwān sub-maqām, performed by Dāwūd Ḥusnī, recorded during the sessions of the Cairo Congress of Arab Music held in March 1932, matrix # OK 1027 and OK 1028. 


The best improvised dialogues to the ijāz and to many of its sub-maqām include the ibtihāl dialogue “Yā nasīm al-abā taḥammal salāmī” performed by Sheikh ‘Alī Maḥmūd, in a murasala and a violin interpretation with Sāmī al-Shawwā, recorded around 1926 by Odeon, order # X 55581/1 and X 55581/2, matrix # XE 3072 and XE 3073.


We have reached the end of today’s episode of “Niẓāmunā al-Mūsīqī”.

We will meet again in a new episode.


035-MAQ-A Mouhamed El Aqqad, Taqsim Hijaz Ada & Wahde 017 ABZ 1 A, Amin El Buzari, Bashraf Kuzum Shahnaz I


  2015  /  Podcast  /  Last Updated February 12, 2015 by Amar  /  Tags:
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