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Kamran Scot Aghaie, Chair CAL 528 | 204 W 21st St F9400 | Austin, TX 78712-1029 • 512-471-3881

Fall 2007

MES 381 • MUSIC IN THE MIDDLE EAST

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
43209 M
2:00 PM-5:00 PM
MRH 3.134
SEEMAN, S

Course Description

The region of the world labeled as "the Middle East" encompasses a myriad of linguistic, ethnic, and religious communities. As the birthplace of the dominant Abrahamic traditions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) these areas are the seat of significant religious discourses that effect and shape musical practice. Contemporary musical practices are informed by elaborate musical theoretical systems that continue a legacy of neo-platonic Hellenic philosophy. Political changes have also significantly changed musical performances and ideas about music. Late 18-19th century modernization trends imposed from colonization and from local political institutions have shaped pedagogy, musical style, musical forms, and instrumentation. Local models of nation-states accelerated these processes through the 19-and early 20th century. Despite Western portrayals of the Middle East as backwards, regional participation in developing media, technology have imprinted changes in political ideology, religious debates, class formations. These factors have intertwined to produce new forms of musical expression and fueled social movements.

This course will survey the complexities of this region by tracing the development of theoretical traditions from Medieval Arabic treatises, while also examining ongoing art, popular and regional practices in court, rural, and urban contexts prior to the pre-19th century. We will look at debates on modernization and Westernization, and trace the tensions between political impositions and local strategies evident in musical pedagogy, changes in musical forms, performance styles, and instrumentation. We will also explore musical changes that are evident in shifts that resulted from adoptions of Western-European derived nation state models in the 19-20th century. We will look at the emergence of broadcast media and mass reproductive technology in the 20th century, and their effects on musical practice. Finally, we will trace the impact of transregional political discourses such as the European Union, non-government organizations, and transregional political alliances.

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