Iraqi Maqam Classes in NYC

Sunday Afternoons 1:30pm-2:50pm
 March 4-May 20, 2012
10 sessions: No class Easter Sunday (4/8) or Mother’s Day (5/13)

In this class, students will learn to sing and play melodic phrases of the Iraqi Maqam, which are mostly rhythmically free and meditative, in addition to learning the rhythmic formulae and popular songs, known as pestaat, that are performed alongside the maqam. This class serves as a great introduction to the maqam system, its vocabulary, and intonation for students wishing to familiarize themselves with Arab and Middle Eastern music. It is also an opportunity for students of the Arabic language to learn poems from the incredibly rich poetic tradition of the Arab world. The Iraqi Maqam is one of the oldest models of maqam practice and one of the most refined of the many maqam traditions found throughout the Arab and Muslim world.

Read more about the Iraqi Maqam as researched by Amir.

Class Structure: In each session, Amir ElSaffar teaches singers and instrumentalists to sing/play melodies of the Iraqi maqam in a call and response fashion, focusing on intonation and the subtle melodic details that comprise this tradition. ElSaffar also outlines the structure of each maqam composition, which are often episodic and contain pathways and modulations to other maqams of this interrelated repertoire. Vocal students will learn to sing the lyrics, which are drawn from the vast body of Arabic poetry, although knowledge of the Arabic language is not required. Each session ends with the students learning a pesteh, or lighthearted rhythmic piece, which students will learn to sing and tap the rhythms to.

Group Instruction Pricing:

Single/Trial $20
4 classes $75 ($18.75/class)
8 classes $140 ($17.50/class)
10 classes $170 ($17/class)

Group Instruction Policies

  • *One trial class may be taken per student. If a student decides to enroll in a package of classes, the trial session will count as the first lesson of the package and its price will be deducted from the overall cost.
  • Students enrolling in a single class or package of 4 or 8 may choose to attend any session throughout the semester.
  • If a student decides to enroll in a package after taking one single trial class, the trial session will count as the first class of the package and its price will be deducted from the overall cost.
  • Combination packages available and customizable to student’s preferences
    (e.g. 4 classes Iraqi Maqam + 4 classes Arabic Percussion=$150)
  • Class will be held so long as a minimum number of students is met by the end of the registration period.

To register for classes or private lessons (click here to learn more about private instruction) for the March 3-May 25 semester, email with:

  • Class(es) you’re interested in taking
  • Number of sessions in which you’d like to enroll
  • Level and/or experience (so we can get an idea of the class composition, all levels encouraged to attend!)

Make sure to mention if you are a member of Alwan – many of our membership levels receive 10-15% discounts on lessons! Click here to learn more about membership options and view discount.

Final registration deadlineThursday March 1st, 2012
Ongoing registration subject to availability and teacher discretion, email for details.

**Students may attend classes without registering by paying the “single” class price of $20 cash or check made payable to the Alwan Foundation, but please check the website to confirm that class is meeting on the day you decide to attend, and, if possible, email to let us know when you plan to attend.