ʿERĀQ, musical mode mentioned for the first time in the 11th century by Kaykāvūs b. Eskandar (p. 196) among some ten modes; it is also listed as one of twelve frets (parda) by Nīšābūrī (p. 100) toward the end of the 12th century. According to Nīšābūrī, transposing the register of ʿErāq a half-tone downward produces Moḵālef; both modes, as well as Eṣfahān (q.v.), were played at midnight (Qoṭb-al-Dīn Šīrāzī, p. 102, cf. Forsat-al-Dawla, p. 16). This association or similarity with Moḵālef (which is today very close to Eṣfahān) is confirmed by later authors, such as Ṣafī al-Dīn Ormavī (1967, p. 54), and Ḡaznavī (s.v.) of the 16th or 17th century.
Ṣafī-al-Dīn Ormavī (d. 693/1294) counted ʿErāq among the twelve cycles known as šodūd and later as maqāmāt (Šarḥ-e Mobārakšāh, p. 376). A reliable measure from it was given by Qoṭb-al-Dīn Šīrāzī (d. 710/1311): G, A-comma, B-comma, C, D-comma, E-comma, F, F# (+ comma), G. This scale presupposes a variable seventh note. Ebn al-Afkānī (d. 749/1348; Shiloah, p. 36) counted ʿErāq among the four oṣūl, each of which generates two forūʿ, for a total of twelve maqāms (bardāwāt). In the Safavid treatise Maʿrefat-e ʿelm-e mūsīqī (p. 793) ʿErāq is said to generate or to possess two šoʿbas, namely Maqlūb and Moḵālef.
In Persian classical radīf ʿErāq is played in the context of Māhūr(after Šekasta and before Rāk), Rāst, Afšārī, or Nevā; in the last its scale is G, A, B p, C, D, Eb, though certain masters play mip. In practice, when ʿErāq is played in the context of Afšārī, it is common to lower the B to Bp. ʿErāq includes several phases and developments transposed a half-tone higher, which lend it the status of a large gūša or an āvāz (q.v.), although it is rarely played alone except in the Azeri tradition. Its introduction is the gūša (q.v.) Nahīb, and its development is a transposition of the upper fourth (F), called Moḥayyer and Āšūrāvand. The return to the initial key is achieved by means of successive descending figures, namely Eṣfahānak (an association attested in the old treatises), Ḥazīn, Kerešma, and Zangūla.
In the Azerbaijani radīf (repertoire) ʿErāq is a transposition an octave higher of Rāst (ʿErāq-Panjgāh) or Māhūr, also played before Rāk; it can also be played in Rahāb and Šahnāz. Formerly it was played in Čahārgāh (q.v. ).
ʿErāq or ʿArāq is also the term for a modal structure in the maqām traditions of Kashmir, Central Asia, and the Uighurs, but this structure has nothing in common with the present Persian and Azari forms.
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Originally Published: December 15, 1998
Last Updated: December 15, 2011
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Vol. VIII, Fasc. 5, pp. 537-538