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(Created by User:IlL)

Traditional Sowaár music is monophonic. Like in many spheres of Sowaár life, there is a division between elite and folk music. The two styles differ not only in the language used (for elite music, Classical or very posh High Sowaár; for folk music, one of the vernacular Sowaár varieties), but also in instruments, scales and form.

Elite music

The Sowaár were highly influenced by the tetrachordal and heptatonic musical traditions of Hetom and Naquiz, but they made the style their own.

In traditional Sowaár elite society, one was expected to able to play music and to improvise music and poetry. Courts would routinely hold improvisation competitions.


Some instruments used in elite Sowaár music are the lute (ya'óog), various spike fiddles such as the erhu (shjhedgaáñd), the lyre (biliiwíd), various end-blown flutes (joweét'), a reed instrument (ko'kósh), a large drum (khoól) and the woodblock (gho'éeñ). String instruments usually are unfretted but marked at perfect fourths.



The Sowaár tradition takes a purely melodic, rather than harmonic, approach to tuning, unlike the Talman and Bjeheondian traditions. Traditionally, the building blocks of Sowaár scales are genera (tetrachords or pentachords, i.e. divisions of the perfect fourth into three or four intervals). Innovations over the years have led to finer divisions of the perfect fourth being used in elite music. Nevertheless, steps in any genus are no smaller than about 40 cents.

The general term for a genus or a division of the fourth in Sowaár is hambaáj.

The octave may be divided into two perfect fourths plus one whole tone, to form a scale type known as 'áañjh. The perfect fourths divided into hañbaaj may also be stacked on top of each other indefinitely, without regard to octave equivalence, a practice called shiilyohóokhin. The same hambaáj or melody may be imitated a fourth above or below in this case. Or, the melody may be voiced in parallel fourths in an organum-like fashion (the only example of harmony in Sowaár music).

Etsoj Jopah analyzed hambaáj in terms of rational divisions of string lengths. More recently, the theorist Woñjéyi proposed representing the Sowaár musical system by dividing the octave into 58 equal parts. One of his rationales was that the perfect fourth in 58edo is 24 steps, a highly composite number.

Some hambaáj

There are some hundreds of hambaáj.

The numbers shown are approximate 58 equal temperament equivalents of step sizes.


Tetrachords used in elite music prefer to keep very large steps in the middle.

  • beeky'ógh 'áad: 11 10 3
  • beeky'ógh jyek: 10 11 3
  • esyóoñ: 10 10 4
  • cyáañ: 9 8 7 (approximately 9:10:11:12)
  • naajyetóh: 8 8 8 (similar to the equable diatonic genus)
  • see'cyáañ: 7 8 9
  • bajíñd: 7 7 10
  • slót'an: 6 6 12
  • ohkásdiñ: 3 19 2
  • moc'aásh: 2 11 11
  • jook'etóh: 6 6 6 6
  • yiilyí: 7 6 5 6
  • see'yiilyí: 6 5 6 7
  • jhatóñhesh: 3 9 7 3
Larger hambaáj


Elite music is often set to poetic meter. Improvisations, however, are often meterless. There is a smallest note length, and there may be small basic rhythmic figures in the melody, but the rhythms are not organized into measures. When percussion accompaniment is used, "small" percussion such as woodblocks may sound on each "beat" in the music. The drum marks the beginning and end of sections.

Military music and very solemn ceremonial music uses duple meters such as 2/4 or 4/4.


Nyeech’ shaasyoj k’iilyañzhaag bisjhesyagi lowaʔasyiin ch’aayekoot’ shiilyohookhin. (LLLLSLLSSSSSSLLSLLSLL)

Looʔsyah cy’asde bishooladeeñt’ jhewot’igii ʔaañsyok’ jighoosiiñ sjhedaal. (LLLSSLSLSSSLLLSLLSL)

Forms and styles


Much of Sowaár music was traditionally improvised or passed down. Sowaár notation works a little like unheightened neumes: it marks rhythm and rough melodic contours. The hambaáj to be used is also indicated. Much is left to the discretion of the performer, however. In vocal music, just the hambaáj is specified, and the rest is left to the rhythmic and tonal contours of the lyrics.

In modern times, modern Talman staff notation (assuming a 58edo) may be used, although this is often deemed less than satisfactory for Sowaár music.

Folk music


Social context


Folk hambaáj

Folk hambaáj only use tetrachords and pentachords, however all the small steps may occur near one end like in Ancient Greek tetrachords.



Folk songs are meterless while folk dances are metered.

Forms and styles

Modern popular music


The Hosné'eh dialect is the standard language of much of the Sowaár modern popular music canon, though many bands use Hosné'eh-accented High Sowaár, to the chagrin of many a purist. This convention was established by early Sowaár band T'elyamokhliib ("The Grey Ospreys") who hailed from Hosné'eh. Use of High Sowaár is limited to "grandiose" songs with historical, fantasy or religious themes, or songs describing upper-class life.

Famous musicians and composers

  • Dlaác'ox: court composer, erhu player
  • Wonjéyi: theorist and composer
  • Bisrooladéend: musician
  • 'Injolaám: modern artist