Rhythm in Arabian music

Wazn wahdah sayirah, a relatively short measure of four beats

Rhythm in Arabian music is analysed by means of rhythmic units called awzan and iqa'at.

Wazn and Iqa'

A rhythmic pattern or cycle in Arabian music is called a "wazn" (Arabic: وزن; plural أوزان / awzān), literally a "measure", also called darb, mizan, and usul [1] as is in Ottoman classical music). A Wazn is performed on the goblet drum (tarabuka), frame drum (riqq or tar), and kettle drums (naqqarat).[2]

A wazn is only used in musical genres with a fixed rhythmic-temporal organization including recurring measures, motifs, and meter or pulse.[3] It consists of two or more regularly recurring time segments, each time segment consisting of at least two beats (naqarāt, plural of naqrah). There are approximately one hundred different cycles used in the repertoire of Arab music, most shared with Turkish music. They are recorded and remembered through onomatopoetic syllables and the written symbols O and I.[4] Wazn may be as large as 176 units of time.[5]

Iqa' (Arabic: إيقاع / īqā‘; plural إيقاعات / īqā‘āt) are rhythmic modes or patterns in Arabian music.[6] There are reputed to be over 100 iqa'at,[7] but many of them have fallen out of fashion and are rarely if ever used in performance. The greatest variety of iqa'at (ranging from two to 48 beats) are used in the muwashshah.

List of iqa'at

See also


  1. Touma 1996, 210.
  2. Touma 1996, 49.
  3. Touma 1996, 47.
  4. Touma 1996, 48.
  5. Touma 1996, 48.
  6. Waugh, Memory, Music, and Religion: Morocco's Mystical Chanters, 201.
  7. Randel, Apel, The New Harvard Dictionary of Music

Cited sources

External links

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