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a scale in Arab and Iranian professional music. It is related to the makoms in Tadzhik and Uzbek music, the mugams in Azerbaijani music, and the mukams in Uigur music.
The classical system is comprised of 12 maqams, the names of which stem from musical characteristics (nawa, “the melodious scale”; buzurg, “major scale”), localities (the iraq, isfahan, and hijazi scales), and other sources. The maqams are diatonic scales of seven tones, with intervals of large and small half-tones and large and small whole-tones. According to the theoretical works of Safi al-Din (13th century), the classical 12 maqams form part of a complex 84-scale system based on the combination of seven types of tetrachord (a four-tone chord) with 12 types of pentachord (a five-tone chord). The maqams are the scalar base for one-part vocal and instrumental works composed by professional musicians; these works are highly developed in terms of intonation, melody, and composition.