Arab music tradition is the urban-based music of the eastern Mediterranean region ranging from Cairo to Beirut, Damascus and Aleppo. This music consists predominantly of precomposed songs that is, pieces in which a composer has determined the form and content of the music to be performed. With such a repertoire, the musician's role is that of interpreter, charged with artistically rendering someone else's creation. The Arab instrumentalist is, however, accorded the opportunity to improvise his own creations in a genre called taqasim (singular and plural in this usage). Individual taqasim are not simply free-formed products of the instrumentalist's fancy; instead, the instrumentalist improvises according to a complex set of preestablished rules and conventions. Because taqasim gives the instrumentalist the opportunity to present his own creation rather than rely on another's composition, it is a highly valued musical genre.
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