Weighing Diverse Theoretical Models on Turkish Maqam Music Against Pitch Measurements: A Comparison of Peaks Automatically Derived from Frequency Histograms with Proposed Scale Tones

Bozkurt B., Yarman O., Karaosmanoglu M. K., Akkoc C.

JOURNAL OF NEW MUSIC RESEARCH, vol.38, no.1, pp.45-70, 2009 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 38 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2009
  • Doi Number: 10.1080/09298210903147673
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.45-70
  • Istanbul Technical University Affiliated: Yes


Since the early 20th century, various theories have been advanced in order to mathematically explain and notate modes of Traditional Turkish music known as maqams. In this article, maqam scales according to various theoretical models based on different tunings are compared with pitch measurements obtained from select recordings of master Turkish performers in order to study their level of match with analysed data. Chosen recordings are subjected to a fully computerized sequence of signal processing algorithms for the automatic determination of the set of relative pitches for each maqam scale: f0 estimation, histogram computation, tonic detection+histogram alignment, and peak picking. For nine well-recognized maqams, automatically derived relative pitches are compared with scale tones defined by theoretical models using quantitative distance measures. We analyse and interpret histogram peaks based on these measures to find the theoretical models most conforming with all the recordings, and hence, with the quotidian performance trends influenced by them.