Geography And History of Makams The makam modal system is one of the most extensive modal systems in the world. Besides its obvious ubiquity in Egypt, Syria, Jordan, and Turkey, the system is the basis of most melodic music throughout North Africa (Algeria, Lybia, Tunisia, and Morocco), south in Africa (Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya), in other arab nations (Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman), in parts of Iran and Armenia, in some of the new turkic nations (Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Khazikstan), and in Europe (Greece, Bulgaria, Serbia, Croatia, Macedonia, Albania). Fragments of makam theory can even be found in Uighur music in western China and in newer musics of Malaysia and Indonesia! It is important to note that in every country I mention, there are significant regional variants in the makam system. There is NOT one makam system! It is more accurate to say that makam represents a way of conceiving of tuning and mode that creates a framework to understand a lot of different folk and classical music traditions, particularly in countries that have been ruled under Islam or were part of the Ottoman Empire. This last statement informs us most of the widespread nature of makam. The Ottoman court was, at times, very interested in the (relatively) obscure folk traditions held by its subjects, and would send composers out to transcribe songs and create "new modes" (which tended to be pilfering of old modes in some hithero uncharted region). One could say that the Ottomans were large-scale ethnomusicologists, cataloging the music of their occupied territories in obsequious ways. Because there are so many regional variants in the makam system, any attempt to authoritatively talk about a particular makam, or even a particular set of rules will be met with counters from theorists from another region that shares that same makam. Thus, if I talk about the structure of makam Rast in a Turkish fashion, it won't match the way that the same maqam is perceived in Morocco, in Egypt, or in Bulgaria. There are substantial similarities, however, and with these I will carefully tread onto the turf of describing elements about the makam system and introducing this modal system to a Western audience. from: http://www.musiq.com