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Ultimately from Arabic مَقَام (maqām).


maqam (plural maqams or maqamat)

  1. (music) A modal structure characterizing the art of music of countries in North Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia.
    • 2008 January 14, Ben Ratliff, “Jazz Showcase Fever Propels a Mini Marathon”, in New York Times[1]:
      Elsewhere in the evening the young Iraqi-American trumpeter Amir ElSaffar, who has studied both jazz and traditional Arabic maqam patterns and combines them in modal pieces for improvisers, demonstrated with his sextet (including an oud and a santoor, the Persian hammered dulcimer) how hungry jazz still is for sources older than itself.
    • 2008 May 1, Erica Goode, “A Fabled Iraqi Instrument Thrives in Exile”, in New York Times[2]:
      At 18, late for a professional musician, he took up the oud, studying the mysteries of the Iraqi maqam, the complex system of tonal sequences and improvisation passed from master to student.
    • 2009 April 2, Ashante Infantry, “Baghdad jazz”, in Toronto Star[3]:
      But he hesitated when approached to do a project that combined maqam with jazz, even though that had been his pre-quest intention.