one of the principal instrumental genres of Arabic and Turkish classical music. A taqsim is ordinarily improvised and consists of several sections; it is usually (though not always) nonmetric. A taqsim may be a movement of a suite, such as the North African nauba or the Turkish fasil, but taqsims may also be performed alone or as introductory pieces to vocal performances. Performance of a taqsim may take anywhere from 1 to 15 minutes. A taqsim is cast in one principal maqam, or mode, but, usually in the course of its performance and once the main maqam has been thoroughly established and explored, the improvising musician modulates for brief periods to other maqamat and returns at the end to the original mode. Although any melodic instrument can be used to perform taqsim, those most often used in Arabic music are the 'ud (short-necked lute), buzuq (long-necked lute), and qanun (plucked dulcimer) and in Turkish music, the ney (end-blown flute)

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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