8. When jazz and maqamat meet
In this chapter we will look at the shared points from the point of view of a vocalist, improviser, composer and arranger. As a singer, when I play or practice a traditional and classical jazz standard the first thing that I do is to learn the melody, the lyrics, and the meaning of the song. The next stage is to connect the melody with the harmony, to play the chords and the bass line. In jazz I feel that the chords give the colours to the melody and I like to feel this connection and express it in my phrasing or improvisation. I improvise on the chord changes while knowing and practicing the scale of each chord and noticing the key changes, the bass line and the rhythm, beats and feeling of the song.
Below is my list of the factors which in my opinion together form a jazz song:
• Chords changes
• Bass line
• Rhythm- swing, Latin, bosa, ballad etc..
• Rhythmic phrasing and feel (syncopation, triplet, metric modulation and more..)
• different scales- each chord has its own scale
• Tonic change (according to the chords changes)
• Language, Jazz syllables
• Standard improvising on the chord’s changes.
When I encounter an Arabic song, I won’t search for the harmony or a bass line, I will first learn the melody, and find the maqam/scale inside the melody line. Then I turn to the lyrics, the question and answer lines, and then the rhythmical pattern which sometimes connect and support the melody but other times doesn't. So my system is to first concentrate on the melody and then connect it to the rhythmical pattern, and clap it to see if there are polyrhythmic parts. I listen for the colour of the song, the changes of the maqams and the feeling of the melody, and can then improvise in this space with trills and my own orientation.