2.10.1 Common notation for non-Western music

This section discusses how to enter and print music scores that do not belong to the Western classical tradition, also referred to as Common Practice Period.


Extending notation and tuning systems

Standard classical notation (also known as Common Practice Period notation) is commonly used in all sorts of music, not limited to ‘classical’ Western music. This notation is discussed in Writing pitches, and the various note names that may be used are explained in Note names in other languages.

However, many types of non-Western music (and some types of Western folk and traditional music) employ alternative or extended tuning systems that do not fit readily into standard classical notation.

In some cases standard notation is still used, with the pitch differences being implicit. For example, Arabic music is notated with standard semitone and quarter-tone accidentals, with the precise pitch alterations being determined by context. Italian note names are typically used, while the init file ‘arabic.ly’ provides a suitable set of macros and definitions extending the standard notation. For more details, see Arabic music.

Other types of music require extended or unique notations. Turkish classical music or Ottoman music, for example, employs melodic forms known as makamlar, whose intervals are based on 1/9 divisions of the whole tone. Standard Western staff notes are still used, but with special accidentals unique to Turkish music, that are defined in the file ‘makam.ly’. For further information on Turkish classical music and makamlar, see Turkish classical music.

To locate init files such as ‘arabic.ly’ or ‘makam.ly’ on your system, see Other sources of information.

Selected Snippets

Makam example

Makam is a type of melody from Turkey using 1/9th-tone microtonal alterations. Consult the initialization file ‘ly/makam.ly’ for details of pitch names and alterations.

% Initialize makam settings
\include "makam.ly"

\relative c' {
  \set Staff.keySignature = #`((6 . ,(- KOMA)) (3 . ,BAKIYE))
  c4 cc db fk
  gbm4 gfc gfb efk
  fk4 db cc c
}

[image of music]

See also

Music Glossary: Common Practice Period, makamlar.

Learning Manual: Other sources of information.

Notation Reference: Writing pitches, Note names in other languages, Arabic music, Turkish classical music.


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