What is Maqam?

Maqam is the musical system at the root of traditional Arabic music, played by Jewish, Christian, and Muslim seculars and mystics alike, across the Middle East.  A Maqam is more or less a set of notes that comprise a scale; the arabic scales rely on quarter tones - notes unfamiliar to a western ear raised on western music. Each maqam is also a map - a guide to the musician and his audience, as to where musical ecstasy, taraab, may lie.

Below is a key to the map of this site.  Each image leads to another website; these sites have functioned as sources for the creation of this project, and can function as further paths of investigation for those whose interest has been sparked.  We are grateful for each of these sources.


Upper Left Corner - Chanting of the weekly Torah portion, in the Syrian tradition.

Lower Left Corner - Syrian Jewish catalogue of the maqam.

Center - Episode # __  +  Rabbi James Stone Goodman's text.

Upper Right Corner - English translation of the weekly Torah portion.

Middle Right Corner - Basic Music Theory for each Maqam.

Lower Right Corner - Literary sources for the poetry.


This is the beginning and the end

As if the linear does not apply

It’s a circle a cycle a spiral

We ascend with the ending 

We begin Genesis

The end implies the beginning

By the beginning we are not naïve to the end.

Ouroboros, the self-devouring serpent

first living being     


Turn it and turn it

For everything is contained within

By Yochanan Ben Bag Bag        

Who knew the chambers of the Torah. 



Timaeus, 33

Avot 5:22

Tosefta Ketuvim 5:1 

Sefat Emet on Genesis