How to Learn Balkan and Middle Eastern Music on Guitar
Balkan and Middle Eastern music are rich and diverse musical traditions that span across many countries and cultures. They share some common elements, such as the use of microtonal scales, complex rhythms, and expressive melodies. Learning to play this music on guitar can be a rewarding and challenging experience, but also a lot of fun.
In this article, we will give you some tips and resources on how to learn Balkan and Middle Eastern music on guitar. We will cover the following topics:
The basics of scales and modes
The basics of rhythms and time signatures
Some popular folk songs and tunes from different regions
Some online courses and books to help you learn more
The Basics of Scales and Modes
One of the most distinctive features of Balkan and Middle Eastern music is the use of microtonal scales, which are scales that have intervals smaller than a semitone. These scales are also called modes or maqams, and they can create different moods and emotions depending on their notes and intervals.
Some of the most common modes used in Balkan and Middle Eastern music are:
Hijaz: A mode that has a minor third, a sharp fourth, and a flat seventh. It is often used for sad or melancholic songs.
Rast: A mode that has a major third, a perfect fourth, and a major seventh. It is often used for happy or festive songs.
Nahawand: A mode that has a minor third, a perfect fourth, and a minor seventh. It is similar to the natural minor scale in Western music.
Kurd: A mode that has a minor third, a flat fourth, and a flat seventh. It is similar to the Phrygian mode in Western music.
Huseyni: A mode that has a minor third, a natural fourth, and a natural seventh. It is similar to the harmonic minor scale in Western music.
These modes can be played on a fretless instrument, such as an oud or a violin, but they can also be approximated on a fretted instrument, such as a guitar. One way to do this is to use alternative tunings, such as drop D or open G, which can create more possibilities for playing microtones. Another way is to use bends, slides, vibratos, or quarter-tone pedals to alter the pitch of the notes.
Here are some examples of how to play these modes on guitar using standard tuning: