Maqsoum, vs Masmoudi Saghir... and the Masmoudi Kabir

topic posted Fri, March 17, 2006 - 9:07 AM by  Ayana
This is a cross post - it says below that I want to hear from a drummer's perspective, but it doesn't need to be limited to only drummers. :-)

(original post from another tribe):
I'd be interested in knowing, from a drummer's perspective, your take on the following rhythms:

Masmoudi Saghir (4/4) (also called a Beledi rhythm by just about everyone I've run into)
Masmoudi Kabir (8/4)
Maqsoum (4/4) (I've also been told that some call THIS a beledi)

With Morocco's recent visit to Houston, I've discovered that there are different definitions for the above rhythms depending on what part of the US one is in, and I'd love to know how everyone defines them. :-)

I've taught them in my classes a certain way for a long time... and now, I'm learning that others define them differently. Sometimes, the difference is no more than a doum versus a tek in the time of a 16th... which cam make it quite hairy to distinguish between the "basic rhythm" and a flourish, fill or variation.

The variation of a 'double doum Maqsoum' (which sounds like a really fun name for a band) is an interesting one, and a variation I've not heard before. It almost turns the maqsoum into a masmoudi saghir... one 16th and a tek off, from what I can hear...

This one almost reminds me of trying to explain musical theory to a non-musician... "Well, the B flat is also an A sharp, depending on your key signature"... at which point the non-musician throws their hands up in the air and declares the whole thing completely illogical. ;-)

Any takers for this one? :-) Thanks!
posted by:
  • Have you checked them out on Jas' site:

    Depends on training, if it's from a dancers or musicians perspective, what country the style is based on, style of music being played, etc etc... They can be really open or horrendously filled. I usually have to change them slightly based on what or who I am playing for.

    There are many names for all of the rhythms. It has happened where I'll be in the middle of a show and the lead drummer will yell out a rhythm for me to switch to knowing that I know it, but using a name that I have never heard before. Jeeze.

    Beledi (Masmoudi Saghir), Maqsoum, Saiidi, Fallahi this whole family of rhythms as well as the variations are just called Maqsoum by a lot of people. Even variations on Ayyub could be thrown into this.

    • Thanks, yes - I do frequent Jas' site, and that matches what I've always taught. ;-)

      I have learned from both a dancers and musicians perspective... style of music definitely.. though not many distinguish between countries in my experience. Could just be that I've not spoken to the right people in all cases. ;-)

      Appreciate the feedback!
      • Greatings.
        I would like to add one thing .the beats you are talking about go in family groups.
        the maqsoum is the root beat for Baladi and Saiiedi.. the laff is the root for the the khaliji beats like Adani Laff soudi and Ayoub.
        The wihdi is the root of wihdi wa nus- cheftitelli- wihdi tawilli.
        if you are able to group them this way it makes it easier to name them and know wich beat to play.
        the most I noticed that most poeple do not know that Maqsoum,Baladi and Saiiedi are the same beat but the Dum is switched around .
        the tirm Masmoudi sagher was used for Baladi in the old days and now everybody calls it Baladi. the is a conflect was created by two known drummers that one of them is calling the beat Baladi and the other one is totally dimissing the tirm Baladi. this creats confusion to the student,it is important to be able to difrintiate the beats and there names. other wise you have to say (play 4/4 or 6/8 or 7/8 without naming them just the count)
        Good lock with your teaching and all the best
  • Unsu...
    Morocco is absolutely correct.

    I've played Maqsum for Egyptians and they said, "That is Baladi!" and played what we call Baladi, and they've said, "That's Baladi too!" and when I played Saidi... well "That's definately Baladi!"

    Baladi means "of the people/country" ... so to whomever I was playing for yes those rhythms were "theirs"... they didn't seem terribly interested in the whole naming/categorizing thing...

    There is a kind of standard between us here in this country as the style is taught... we've dropped some words, added some words, etc.

    1. Most of us don't use the "Saghir or Kabir". I've only heard arabic people who teach use this terminology... Most other teachers (especially American) will not...

    2. Maqsum is the cleanest form of this family: D T . T D . T .

    3. Baladi has two Doums in the beginning: D D . T D . T .

    4. Saidi has two doums in the middle: D T . D D . T .

    5. "Masmoudi" means the 8/4 one (no Kabir)

    It's good to learn from different people.. so you get different opinions....

    • Hi Carmine,

      You've just laid out exactly what I was taught by dancers.

      What was interesting was Rocky calling what I had called a beledi (or baladi) a maqsoum... my eyebrows raised, and she explained... then I did further research, and have seen more of what she and the others haver mentioned...

      From what I can gather between the comments here and other research, it very much differs depending on whether you're hearing from a dancer's perspective or a musician's perspective, and where they are from. There are also 2 separate camps on the "baladi" issue: of the country can mean 2 things... of the people/country can mean "from Morocco, Egypt, etc"... or 'of the rural people', giving a more specific designation to a part of a particular country instead of meaning the whole country. Further gray area when trying to define a particular rhythm.

      Because I was a musician first, I tend to look at things from specifically a musical point of view - and I believe that any dancer participating in the music (playing zills, for example) should understand the music from a musician's point of view. Not always a popular opinion, but I'm an oddball, anyway. ;-)

      The feedback so far is great, and I am enjoying seeing the different perspectives and learning along the way. :-)

    • As an Arab drummer in America I played with both Arab and American drummers and musicians.
      and throughout the years I noticed who knows what they are doing and who doesn't. and it was clear to me that the ones who did not care for the diffrences are the least aducated about arabic and middle eastern music especially drummers.I have a few American friend drummers who really care and understand that you have to know the differenc between the beats and they know the proper use of each rhythm,even the melody becomes subject to these different beats.
      when I work with a band I expect the musicians to know what are they talking about when they ask me to play Masmoudi Kabir or Baladi or Saidi. the names of the beats were not created just for showoff, rather they were created to make an agreement about witch beat to play next .
      I play the more complex genre of Arabic music the Muwashahat style, and this style really requires the musician and the drummer to know the correct names of beats.
      I totaly apreciate your opinion, and as an arab musician I care a lot abou educating American musicians abou our music because the Americans are our hope to keep this tradetion alive,and I am so gratefull to the American musicain who care about eastern music
      and willing to learn it correctly.
      All my respect.
      pleas eforgive me for any missspelling of words
      • so here's another question for this thread...does the term "wallking maqsoum" then refer to the specific rhythm, D T T D T (what Ive always known simply as Maqsoum), to differentiate between it and the Beledi and Saiidi, for those who refer to all the rhythms in this family as Maqsoum?whew... thanks!

  • I'm not a musician. When it comes to maqsum and people call it "balady" I understand they mean the style, not that the rhythm is called baladi (that would be masmoudi saghier). Like Tahtil Shibbak is maqsum rhythm and at the same time balady style how it is sung and danced. Like a saidi rhythm can also be danced in playful coaxy balady style or else with a more folkloric, traditional saidi flavour (heavier drums then and mizmar would ask for that).
    I'd be glad if all you wise musicians could correct me if I'm wrong with this assumption?
  • Here's a few points of view triggered by a couple of talks I had with Reda Darwish and that Faisal, Tobias and I have had some discussion about. You could actually play any rhythm just with doums or teks on the pulses in the rhythm structure if they are correctly placed. In other words while the predominate way to explain (and unfortunately play) saidi is DT-DD-T-, this is incorrect. Likewise to do the same with maqsoum and play it DT-TD-T- brings you to a similar circumstance. The internal structures do not always fall exactly on the beat, depending on how you count them out.

    You could very easily play what is usually considered a maqsoum pattern and actually be playing baladi. You can play maqsoum and use two doums to start off and not be playing baladi. It is highly unlikely that the chops you have worked out in either maqsoum or baladi will actually fit in saidi if you are playing saidi correctly.

    Similar to D, I have had all kinds of references called out on stage, like 4/4 for ayoub and 2/4 for maqsoum. As Faisal stated the people with the technical knowledge to go along with their musicianship are going to be a lot clearer in their communication. Grouping the rhythms as families is an excellent way to start, then look for the nuances that really separate them within the families. It's much easier to discuss issues like this in person with drums, zils, recordings, and something to drink handy. I hope I haven't confused the issue (well,too much anyway).
    • "In other words while the predominate way to explain (and unfortunately play) saidi is DT-DD-T-, this is incorrect. Likewise to do the same with maqsoum and play it DT-TD-T- brings you to a similar circumstance. The internal structures do not always fall exactly on the beat, depending on how you count them out."

      Mark, help me out here. In my American Creole (great name!) the base Saiidi, a 4/4, is played:


      Usually I play the first one and play the third against someone playing the first or second. But most of the ME music I've heard is pretty tight on the beat, except for that trance inducing Moroccan stuff which I love. I guess I don't know what you're referring to in your post.
      • I think the "common" versions of Baladi, Maqsoum and Saidi are taught together to beginner drummers because rhythmically they are similar. But as you get into more details of the different versions of each rhythm you start to see them as quite seperate rhythms by themselves. For me I tend to follow the cabaret as the names describe not only the ascent pattern but timing as well. So Baladi is a Masmoudi accent pattern in 4/4, Masmoudi is a Masmoudi pattern in 8/4.

        So for me, I recognise Maqsoum as having a Doum at the beginning and middle and the doums are equal distance apart. If you play it double speed in a certain variation it becomes Fellahi. In fact I think folkloric naming system calls both the 2/4 and 4/4 versions fellahi and what the cabaret and classical naming system calls Maqsoum 4/4 is a variation of Masmoudi Sagir that is missing a doum in folkloric.

        For Baladi there is a group of doums, commonly a pair but sometimes a triplet or syncapated, and one doum in the middle. Any doum pattern you can do for Masmoudi Kebir, you can do for Masmoudi Sagir.

        Saidi is a beast onto it's own. I think it is a rhythm that has the more permutations of versions and variations amongst all the 4/4 rhythms I've come across in a cabret environment. It's signature is that there is a group of doums in the middle of the rhythm, usually a pair but sometimes a triple. The beginning of the rhythm can be taks or doums.
  • There's a very nice article by Aleta Quinn here:

    I really like the term "American creole" to describe how we generally name rhythmic patterns in this country. It really is a creole, blending terms from many different cultures, but standardizing (at least somewhat) for communications among Americans who mix all these different traditions.

    Like all creoles, ther's really no single "authority" bu I think using the terminology that Jas adopted at is about as good as we can get to talk about rhythms among Americans.

    Sure it's a melting pot, but at least we can standardize the alloy.


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