Over the course of an hour, audiences at Doha International Book Fair were enthused yesterday evening by “eternal melodies,” a musical event hosted and supervised by the Music Affairs Center of the Ministry of Culture on the sidelines of the exhibition’s activities. The grandeur of oriental music, its charm and influence were revived on this occasion, especially the musical tunes (maqāmāt) conducted by maestro and flute player Yassin Al-Ayari. The evening activity started off with maqām al bayāt-styled song of the late musician Faraj Abdul Karim “Wāqif ‘alā bābiqum,” written by Sheikh Issa bin Rashid and composed by the late musician Abdulaziz Nasser. Al-Ayari defined the concept of the maqām (singular of maqāmāt), used in the singular form in some countries to denote “tone,” whereas in the Gulf countries it is referred to as the “sound.” In Andalusian musical tradition, it is called “aṭab’” (singular of ṭubū’).

Some define maqām as the musical scale, as is the case in Western music, stressing that it is more than just a scale. It is a recurrent and successive melodic sentence which is fixed in Arabic music. They give the example of maqām al bayāt, pointing out that maqām differs according to the arrangement of the musical sentences, adding that maqām has its own specificity. Then, the audience listened to maqām al ḥijāz through Abdel Halim Hafez’s song “Baḥlem Bīk,” which is composed by Mounir Murad.

Al-Ayari said that the act of composition in the maqām al ḥijāz conveys thoughts about the Hijaz region, its nature, climate, and desert, and this is also present in Western music. Then, the orchestra played maqām al rust through the song “Yā shādī al alḥān,” followed by maqām al kurdi through the song of Rahbani brothers “Nessem ‘alīnā al hawā.” Al-Ayari said that the Eastern “takht” consists of the lute, riq (frame drum musical instrument), flute, qānūn (zither) and other stringed instruments.