Taqsim (/ALA-LC: taqs m; , ), is the name of a melodic improvisation style that could be metric or non-metric, which usually precedes a composition in Arabic, Greek, Middle Eastern or Turkish music. The taqsim is usually performed by a solo instrument, yet sometimes the soloist can be backed by a percussionist or an instrumentalist playing a drone on the tonic of the maqam. In vocal music, a similar style is called layali.
It is widely seen as an art of improvisation in a specific maqam, but usually modulation to other maqams are present in a taqsim.
Taqsim traditionally follows a certain melodic progression. Starting from the tonic of the maqam, the first few measures of the improvisation remains in the lower ajnas of the maqam, by that introducing the maqam to the ear of the listener. Following the introduction, the improviser is free to move anywhere in the maqam and even modulate to other maqams, as long as he returns to the original. Taqsim is considered by many to be a connection to the spiritual world.
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