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Perilous Journey

  1. fauq n-nakhl
  2. yeselim
  3. laz bar
  4. bir demet yasemen
  5. nassam alayna el-hawa
  6. muhabbet
  7. muluya jaana
  8. disko oro
  9. noura
  10. nihna wil amar
  11. sut ictim dilim yandi
  12. rampi rampi
  13. grey eyes
  14. shatti ya diniyi
  15. uskudara gideriken

Total run time: 60:28

Liner notes

by Michael J. Keberlein

fouq n-nakhl

Traditional Syrian tune "atop the palm tree," in maqam hijaz over beledi (masmoudi saghiir) and malfouf rhythms. The opening doulab (introducing the maqam hijaz) is one commonly associated with this song - providing an example of how both B flat and B half flat (awji) are used within the maqam, but the initial descending motif is otherwise not all that common in maqam hijaz.


Instrumental version of turkish folk song about a girl wearing a green cotton dress. Her infidelity caused tuberculosis (verem) in the disappointed composer of this tune. Hicaz makam (Turkish spelling, same mode as arabic maqam hijaz) is played over ayyoub rhythm, but we use the southern egyptian saiidi rhythm in the second section B where the verse lyrics would normally be sung.

laz bar

Our version came from a transcription by Mimi Spencer and is different from what has been recorded under this same title by other artists. Our version is covered with a very different arrangement by Souren Baronian on his Transitions CD. It is an Armenian dance from Turkey, in a 7/8 rhythm referred to as laz or rachinitza, which splits 4-3 in contrast to the Arabic dawr hindi rhythm, which splits 3-4.

bir demet yasemin

A bouquet of jasmine (is the only reminder of my love), an old Turkish love song in nihavend makam that we transpose into g melodic minor. The beledi initial rhythm changes to Turkish ciftetelli (the word meaning "two strings"), which is related to the egyptian rhythm wahida w nuss.

nassam alayna l-hawa

Rhabbani brothers song made famous by Fairuz. The lyrics make a play on words in that hawa can mean love or a breeze of air: O breeze, O love, take me home for the sake of love. We play it in maqam kurd on G with saiidi as the dominant rhythm.


Muhabbet is supposedly Turkish for "excited small talk." Our arrangement comes from Hagopian. The first motif is the well-known Egyptian traditional tune A Ya Zein (Oh, Beauty), which itself is a little too brief to make an interesting performance piece, but it establishes the hicaz makam. The second section sneaks in the B half flat (awji) and the high E natural, a modulation to rast makam (on G).

pesrev muluya jaana

Pesrev is a song form, muluya jaana might be translated as "royal paradise." Maqam saba does not repeat at the octave but instead echoes the shehnaz tetrachord heard at the 3rd (F, Gb, A, Bb) from the 7th (C, Db, E, F). Although it sounds odd to western ears accustomed to tempered scales, this maqam is fingered very naturally on the nay. The rhythm is masmoudi kabiir, the stretched-out version of masmoudi saghiir (beledi).

disko oro

Macedonian Roma Ilmi Jasarov and his son Ferus Mustafov have recorded this tune, but we're still trying to track down its origin. Balkan music connects with Turko-Arabic music via the reach of the Ottoman empire and the distribution of nomadic Romani from the levant into the Balkans. The two part harmony in the second section of this tune is distinctly not Arabic, but we use Arabic rhythms (wahida, saiidii and malfouf).


A song popularized by Farid el-Atrache (but attributed to the vocalist Hameed Al-Shaaria�i) which we do as an instrumental piece featuring Mark on the nay. The maqam is bayati on D, which has an E half flat (sikah) that distinguishes it from the western phrygian (with E flat) and aolian (with E natural) scales on D. The rhythm is maqsoum.

nihna wil 'amar

Lebanese song by the Rahbani brothers popularized by Fairuz in 1960, when she was 35 years old, five years after she had married Assi Rahbani. The title is more properly said to be "niHna wil qamar jiiraan," or "We and the moon are neighbors." (Egyptians pronounce "q" very gently and it is sometimes omitted from transliterations - their dialect gained relative dominance due to the success of their entertainment industry). This song was so popular that one of Fairuz�s many nicknames was "Neighbor to the Moon."

sut ictim dilim yandi

Another simple cover of a Turku instrumental cover based on a popular traditional song from Asia Minor. The rhythm is ayyoub throughout, and the makam is bayati. We might eventually do this as a vocal, once we better understand the rather strange lyrics.


Another old Turkish folk song, the title of which used to come from the first line of the lyrics, cadirimin ustune ship dedi damladi, "rain dripped on my tent." The more popular title "rompi" comes from the scat line of the chorus. The 9/8 karsilama rhythm is regarded as perfectly natural in Turkey and conveys a Romany mood (there is a rhythm actually called Romany, which is 18/8 and blends over two measures of karsilama).

grey eyes

Ukrainian tune that is very distinct from the more familiar Roma song of the same name. Once again we are using an Arabic rhythm (saiidii) to make this tune a bit more danceable for raqs sharqi performers. The G melodic minor tonal center of this piece would be called farahfaza (nahawand on G) within the Turko-Arabic tradition, but of course there is more to the maqam system then just scales.

shatti ya diniyi

As an example of the difference between a maqam and a simple scale, this tune is in maqam hijaz which has the same notes as farahfaza (basically a western g minor) but the root note is actually D4 (293 hz) and the first tetrachord (D, Eb, F#, G) is stable either ascending or descending (cf G melodic minor which would use F natural in descent). The modulation to rast nawa (G, A, B half flat, C) in the B section also marks this as maqam hijaz rather than farahfaza or just the fifth mode of G harmonic minor.

uskudara gideriken

Our arrangement of this Turkish folk song, "While going to �sk�dar" (a suburb across the bridge from Istanbul), features concertina and violin. It follows the form performed by Turku. Rhythms used include wahida and wahida w nuss. The tonal center is simple D minor (aeolian). Violinists may have noticed by now that all our tunes with violin are done with standard Arabic tuning (GDGD).