The author presents a musicological analysis, with the difficult ambition of a cognitive appraisal, of Oriental music, based on the example of the shash-maqam traditional repertoire of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. Through a structuralist study of “musical language”—which in her view, is represented by the maqam—, R.S. searches what makes the maqam an “emotional development epicentre.” Which comes out of the study of the repertoire’s highest moments (‘awj: zenith): It concerns first the sound’s pitch, the ascendant and progressive melodic development, as well as melodic ornamentations. The second characteristic is the combination of several rhythmic values, linked with poetry. Last, the form of the musical piece itself with the simultaneous progression of melodic and rhythmic principles, which create an “imperceptible” emotional originality. The author gives, all along the musical analysis, comparisons with the theoretical bases of Western classical music, emphasising that the emotional expressiveness of maqam is not perceptible by a non-trained ear. The paper ends with a rapid presentation of differences between ‘nomadic’ and ‘sedentary’ cultures.