Additional Reviews of:
Harmonic Secrets of Arabic Music
Arabic Musical Scales
Harmonic Secrets of Arabic Music and Arabic Musical Scales have become my bible. End of story. Simply outstanding.
Cameron, I have your book. It has been very very helpful to me. I have several source books that I use in my studies of middle-eastern music, and your is one of the few go-to books. Great job! Thank you. It’s nice to have this opportunity to communicate with you!
It was very kind of you to send those books to me: Harmonic Secrets of Arabic Music, Arabic Musical Scales and Play the Nay. I really enjoyed the Nay book. I have recommended them to others.
R Kazn Young
Thanks for coming out with such a nice book, and recordings of the Maqam! I can right now maybe start singing along with the Maqam tunes for practice even if I don’t have an instrument yet, as I really want to learn it. Neither a Oud, or a Tanbur, Saz or even a Ney is not available here in Mumbai or in India. Can’t wait for a single day to get started!
Fascinating book. May 12, 2013 This book is a very comprehensive study on “Just Intonation” and it’s role in the music of the Middle East in particular, although other types of world music are given scant mention. I personally had a bit of trouble understanding the concept of “musical ratios”, so to speak, and how the math & musical physics of that all works out on a fundamental level until reading the first few chapters of the book. It really helped clear up a lot of confusion on my part, and also supplies much more additional information that I haven’t yet encountered. If you aren’t familiar with “Just Intonation” or the flaws of equal temperament, I suggest doing some research, especially if you are a musician. I have been playing music for over 10 years and am just now realizing that most musicians, myself included, have really been compromising the integrity of the harmony of the music we play by playing in what is called “Equal Temperament”. Virtually all of the notes we play on a piano or guitar or whatever are out of tune. There are other tuning systems based on the harmonic overtone series, and “pure” ratios based on whole numbers, and that’s about half of what is in this book. It’s a real eye opener. The other half of the book is about the Maqamat, which are Middle Eastern musical scales. I have been fascinated by Middle Eastern sounding music since I began playing music, basically, so I find this kind of thing to be very valuable. If you are interested in Middle Eastern Music, or play the oud, saz, ney, rebab, sitar, sarod (yes, this stuff applies to Hindustani Music as well), or any fretless instrument, then this may be your cup of tea. It’s very well written.
Just Intonation September 6, 2011 Most of us have been brought up in the musical world with equal temperament in our musical scales. However, equal temperament is an approximation of convenience from the more pure sounding of just intonation. Cameron explains all of this very nicely. Tthe bulk of the book’s writing is focused on the mid eastern Oud which is played in just intonation. All Oud players would find the book interesting.
A Few of Many Reviews “Already your book has opened my mind to a totally different way of listening to intervals and harmonic relationships…” “Man, what a book! It is simply the best!! Something like this, so badly needed, should be available in every single music shop in the land.”
Dave The Flute
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 12, 2016
Useful if you are a musician.
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book for anyone interested in non-western music intonation
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 25, 2015
This book is very useful for someone interested in non-western intonation & temperament. The author tries to prove that these Arabic maqams (scales) fit into just intonation, in which all notes on the scales are related to the root in mathematical ratios. I’ve heard a scholar saying that this is too much ‘purist’ approach and that actually our ears can adjust to different intonations easily, whether it is natural or artificial ones. Anyway, it is still a useful resource for learning the maqams. Useful sound recording examples not to be missed. However, they don’t come with the book, but you can download them as MP3s on CDBaby website. Layout of the book makes the book look amateurish though, otherwise it is perfect.
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating book.
Reviewed in the United States on May 12, 2013
This book is a very comprehensive study on “Just Intonation” and it’s role in the music of the Middle East in particular, although other types of world music are given scant mention. I personally had a bit of trouble understanding the concept of “musical ratios”, so to speak, and how the math & musical physics of that all works out on a fundamental level until reading the first few chapters of the book. It really helped clear up a lot of confusion on my part, and also supplies much more additional information that I haven’t yet encountered.
You should be aware that when ordered through Amazon or bookstores this book does not come with the CD’s that are mentioned in the description. That is the only reason this book did not receive a 5 star rating. The CD’s can be ordered separately, but the description of the book is a bit misleading at the end where it says it comes with CD’s. It doesn’t. It’s a bummer because when you are dealing with learning music outside of the context of equal temperament, it is really almost necessary (unless extraordinarily gifted) to have audio examples of the scales being described since they all involve what Westerners would call “micro tones”.
If you aren’t familiar with “Just Intonation” or the flaws of equal temperament, I suggest doing some research, especially if you are a musician. I have been playing music for over 10 years and am just now realizing that most musicians, myself included, have really been compromising the integrity of the harmony of the music we play by playing in what is called “Equal Temperament”. Virtually all of the notes we play on a piano or guitar or whatever are out of tune. There are other tuning systems based on the harmonic overtone series, and “pure” ratios based on whole numbers, and that’s about half of what is in this book. It’s a real eye opener.
The other half of the book is about the Maqamat, which are Middle Eastern musical scales. I have been fascinated by Middle Eastern sounding music since I began playing music, basically, so I find this kind of thing to be very valuable. If you are interested in Middle Eastern Music, or play the oud, saz, ney, rebab, sitar, sarod (yes, this stuff applies to Hindustani Music as well), or any fretless instrument, then this may be your cup of tea. It’s very well written, but like I said, no CD’s with the book. I’m going to go ahead and buy them anyway, but it really would have been nice if the description was more clear about it.
5.0 out of 5 stars In-depth knowledge
Reviewed in the United States on January 20, 2019
Arabic musical scales and Harmonic Secrets of Arabic Music Scales are unbelievably Important and I recommend them to all who seek the knowledge. In regards to the CD’s that accompany these. I have not been Able to find them following the instructions in the book. Of course it was published thirteen years go. *Does anyone know where I can find these CD’s for both books* Please Help. As far as I’m concerned they should have came with the books in the first place. If anyone has information on this please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you. Anyway CDs or not get the book.
5.0 out of 5 stars Clear and Reliable book for beginners
Reviewed in the United States on November 29, 2007
This is the best book I have found for American beginners. My musical education is heavily weighted in the western classical style, which makes it difficult for me to appreciate much of Arabic music. My ears tend not to hear what is being played. They hear what they think is the equivalent in western scale systems. I do not have the CD to this book, which is prabably a shame. Even so, Arabic musical vocabulary is so important that I benefit immensely from reading the text. The print is large, well formated, adequately cross-referenced, and I understand it. It is supplemental to lessons. The only quibble is possibly that the book does not contain more material. But then it would not be a beginner’s book.
3.0 out of 5 stars Basic
Reviewed in the United States on September 25, 2016
This is quite an elementary introduction to the subject of where the “bent” notes go in maqam scales. There is less discussion of why and when to use them.
4.0 out of 5 stars cute
Reviewed in the United States on October 20, 2012
Powers writes that he included more than 40 maqamat; i see 27, plus a few identical scales that start one whole tone higher.
The book is very nice, the maqamat are beautiful.
5.0 out of 5 stars Worldly
Reviewed in the United States on December 23, 2016
Expand you knowledge base of the World, shed that skin.
William H. Kitley
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book!!!
Reviewed in the United States on October 23, 2008
Excellent book. I would highly recommend the CD’s that are sold seperately as well. They are very well done. Very informational and also has improvised demonstrations of the scales so you can hear each scale in a musical setting.
David M Wane
5.0 out of 5 stars Music of the Middle East de-mystified.
Reviewed in the United States on July 5, 2014
An excellent resource for those who wish to further their knowledge of world music and exotic scales. Powers is concise and consistent and perfectly informative.
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book for introduction to maqamat
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 27, 2013
The other review for this book seems to be unfairly negative. True, it doesn’t ship with the CDs and it doesn’t explain that sometimes maqamat can descend differently to how they ascend. However, these are minor points if you are starting out in this area and have no knowledge of maqamat.
Before I got this book I knew nothing about the Arabic musical modes. In the West we are generally used to hearing the same kinds of scales over and over, whereas in the Middle East there is a different common set of scales, a lot of which can sound quite mystical or exotic to us. This book will take you through over 40 of them, though it emphasises that just 17 are enough to have a very good grasp of the modal system. This isn’t as hard as it sounds because sometimes a maqam can have just one note difference from another in the same family, though others can, of course, be widly different.
What I really like about this book is how Cameron gives a brief description of the moods associated with a lot of the maqamat, from certain ones which are bright and happy to others which are sacred and mysterious, to others which express sadness, sorry and grief. This book also introduces the concept of quartertones, something else which the Western brain generally has no knowledge or experience of. It’s good to start with those maqamat which don’t include them at first, I’ve found, then gradually move onto the quartertone ones over time. There I was thinking that some Middle Eastern melodies were just ‘out of tune’ at times, but it was just that I was unfamiliar with quartertone melodies. Shows my ignorance in this area.
If you are relatively acquainted with maqamat you would presumably find this book rather limiting, but if you are just starting to get into this area it’s an excellent resource for improvisation and taqsim. I have been putting into practise what I have learned from this book every day for months with good results.
5.0 out of 5 stars The Maqam world easily explained
Reviewed in Italy on April 12, 2019
This book offers a clear and simple analysis of Oriental and Maqam scales. I bought it to better understand how to tune my Turkish Qanun in accordance with the maqam system. Excellent book
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy this book!
Reviewed in the United States on June 26, 2007
Having been playing percussion in Middle-eastern music for over 15 years, and also being a string player, I finally wanted to learn the way to play the music with melodic instruments. I bought a baglama saz and began messing around, but was not satisfied with my knowledge of the scales used in this music.
Cameron has been a friend of mine for roughly 6 years and I have always enjoyed his mastery of the oud, ney, and voice in Middle-eastern music.
I told him that I wanted to learn more and he suggested I study this book.
It is, by far, the best source of the kind of information I was looking for that I have yet encountered. Since studying this book my level of playing has grown exponentially!
5.0 out of 5 stars Une bonne référence.
Reviewed in the United States on September 12, 2009
C’est concis, assez complet (difficile d’être exhaustif avec les maqamat). Il ne faut pas s’attendre à un ouvrage développé, c’est plutôt un tableau des maqamat les plus populaires, nécessaires à un répertoire varié d’improvisation. Je conseille cependant de comparer avec d’autres ouvrages ou d’autres sites car les noms et les formes de ces modes varient d’une source à l’autre.
It is concise, quite complete (difficult to be exhaustive with the maqamat). One should not expect a developed work, it is rather an array of the most popular maqamat, necessary for a varied repertoire of improvisation. However, I recommend comparing with other books or other sites because the names and forms of these modes vary from one source to another.