MENAME course outline Winter 2019

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Middle Eastern and North African Music Ensemble: Music 148, 448, 548

Quick link to this page: Quick link to the assignments page: Quick link to the eClass page:

Repertoire and some readings are stored in a Google Folder, right here.

Note: 448 counts for the Certificate in International Learning.

Focus: Music of Nubia and Sudan (Map of Musical Places)

Use MENAME eClass site to submit all assignments (short link:

Find current repertoire here.

Note: our final concert is now scheduled for 8pm, Friday March 29, in Convocation Hall. Please mark your calendars! We will have sound checks from 6 pm. Attendance is mandatory.


Professor Michael Frishkopf
Meetings: Winter 2019, Thursdays, 6:30 pm - 9:30 pm , Studio 27, Fine Arts Building
Office: 334D Old Arts Building
Office hours: Signup at
Tel: 780-492-0225, email:

Course description, objectives, requirements

Course description

This course is an introduction to music and culture of the Middle East and North African (MENA) region, by combining academic and performance study of music, its culture and society. This term our focus will be Nubia and Sudan. Performance includes rehearsals and occasional public performances as well, including the final concert (Friday March 29). Undergraduates should enroll in Music 148 (intro level) or Music 448 (intermediate level); graduate students should enroll in Music 548.

Course objectives

  • To introduce you to music of the MENA (Middle Eastern and North African) region, broadly defined, beyond a strict geography, potentially to include music of Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Hebrew, Kurdish, Berber, Nubian, Armenian, Greek, Swahili and other cultural-linguistic groups, through performance and academic study. During this term, our focus will be music of Nubia and Sudan.
  • To become attuned to the rich culture and history of the MENA region, through its music
  • To gain theoretical and practical understanding of music concepts, including melodic modes (maqamat) and rhythmic cycles (durub)
  • To develop musical skills, including the ability to perform in the modes, and some facility in improvisation.
  • To learn, practice, and polish a core repertoire of songs and instrumental pieces.
  • To present performances of this repertoire to the University and Edmonton communities as opportunities arise.

Course requirements

  • Participation: Your grade will depend on regular, punctual attendance, and active, energetic involvement. We will take attendance every Thursday. It is essential to arrive on time, as we must begin promptly at 6:30. You will be marked absent if you don't arrive on time and actively participate until the end of the class without a valid excuse.
  • Listening, and practicing: it is crucial to listen and to practice as much as possible.
  • Attending the FINAL CONCERT, Friday March 29 (sound check 6 pm, concert at 8 pm).
  • Organization: keep all handouts in a binder, such that you can find them quickly. Bring your binder to each class, and don’t take more than one copy of each handout. For concerts, use a smaller, black binder containing needed handouts in order.
  • Homework: Please complete readings, listenings, viewings, and study maqamat and durub prior to the class for which they are assigned (in the sections below).

For each reading, each listening, and each film submit a 1-2 paragraph review (in two parts: (A) summary; (B) critique) via eClass. Please do not email assignments to the instructor. Prepare your assignments in a text editor of your choice, then copy and paste into the text box on eClass (no uploads). In this review, demonstrate that you’ve completed the assignment (by telling me what it’s about), and that you’ve thought about it (by telling me what you think of it). This review is due prior to class on the due date; late assignments will be downgraded. All reviews due on a particular day should be included together on eClass, which will provide you with a single link for this purpose.

  • Self-assessment: a two to three page (1.5 line spacing, 1” margins, 12 pt font) self-assessment is to be submitted by April 3, in which you’ll document your progress in the performance of MENA music during the term, including a list of pieces, songs, modes (maqamat), and rhythms (durub) mastered, and a discussion of difficulties encountered. The student should be prepared to demonstrate this mastery to the instructor during the final quiz. HOWEVER NOTE THAT YOU WILL NOT BE GRADED ON YOUR MUSICAL ABILITY! I'm interested in seeing progress and perseverance, which is the basis for your grade, not talent. Late assignments will be downgraded one full point per day.
  • Midterm quizzes are scheduled for Feb 14 (quiz #1, academic, 6:30 – 7:15; short answer and map quiz) and March 14 (quiz #2, demonstration of performance and aural competence, 6:30 – 7:15). No makeups will be allowed without a valid excuse.
  • Final quiz: April 4, 6:30 to 7:30, combining academic and performance questions of the types characterizing the two midterms, followed by individual meetings centered on the self-assessment.
  • Graduate students should consult with the instructor to arrange for preparation of a research paper centered on an approved topic (20 pages, 1.5 line spacing, 1” margins, 12 pt font, not including bibliography). Due: April 11.

Additional notes

  • You will NOT be graded on musical ability! Anyone can take this class and receive a top grade. Quizzes assessing musical level are diagnostics, to help me help you to learn. I'm interested in your dedication (attending, actively participating) and progress, not your level.
  • In keeping with many ensemble courses, there is no final exam, but there are short quizzes to evaluate your knowledge and skills.
  • Neither the ability to read musical notation nor prior musical or cultural experience is required.
  • Aural training is central; everyone can acquire aural skills.
  • The first half hour of each class will be devoted to academic material (lectures, films, discussions); the second half hour to practical exercises, including ear training. From 7:30 to 9:30 we will focus on rehearsing our repertoire. The repertoire will be specified on the main MENAME site:
  • Private music lessons are not available through this course, but arrangements may be possible; see instructor. Also see the instructor if you wish to purchase any instruments.
  • Some percussion instruments are available for borrowing.
  • Singing is central to this music and the chorus can accommodate any number of participants. Please do sing!
  • All continuous-pitch instruments are welcome, even if they are not traditional in music of the region. Violin, viola, cello, and bass all work especially well. Other instruments can also be used selectively (e.g. guitar may have trouble on maqamat incorporating quartertones), except that we cannot accommodate keyboardists.
  • All percussion instruments are welcome; however we may have to assign parts to achieve a harmonious timbral and dynamic balance.
  • We will experiment with ornamentation and improvisation in the melodic modes (taqasim).
  • You will require access to the Internet in order to obtain course materials, and receive email announcements (please be sure to provide your email address on the attendance sheet.)
  • Undergraduates should enroll in Music 148 (intro level) or Music 448 (intermediate level); graduate students should enroll in Music 548.
  • Please come to class on time! We will start punctually at 6:30. Missing any portion of the first half hour will result in a mark of “absent” for that day.
  • Please limit mid-class breaks to 10 minutes (usually 8:30 to 8:40 PM).
  • Leaving class early (before 9:30) is not allowed without prior permission and will result in an absent mark.
  • If you are a student, encode your Onecard to provide access to Studio 27. Ask in the Music Office (382 FAB) for details. There is only one designated day for encoding early in each term. If you are not a student but wish to have access, please see the instructor.


Assignments and weights

NB: Performance quizzes evaluate musical growth, while academic quizzes and assignments evaluate knowledge and critical thinking. In evaluating performance, beginners will not be penalized for being beginners, nor will virtuosos be rewarded for being virtuosos; rather, each will be evaluated according to her or his musical development over the term.

For Music 148 and 448 (undergraduate level; note that 448 will be graded at higher standards than 148, including a different grade curve):

  • 15% participation and general involvement, including attending the final performance, Friday March 29.
  • 5% self-assessment
  • 30% two midterm quizzes (15% each), Feb 14 and March 14
  • 25% reviews (submitted on eClass)
  • 25% final quiz, April 4 (last day of classes)

For Music 548 (graduate level):

  • 10% participation and general involvement
  • 10% self-assessment
  • 20% two midterm quizzes (10% each), Feb 14 and March 14
  • 15% reviews (submitted on eClass)
  • 15% final quiz, April 4
  • 30% research paper


  • Unexcused late assignments will be downgraded one quarter point per day.
  • When page counts are given they refer to 1" margins, 1.5-spaced, Times New Roman font, or equivalent. "References cited" or "bibliography" does not count towards the page total.
  • Be sure to cite all references using the (author year:pages) format, and list all references cited at the end of your paper. I strongly suggest use of a bibliographic database tool to assist in organizing sources and recommend Zotero ; another possibility is "Refworks. Both are free.

Grading scale

Evaluations of each assignment are on a scale from 0 - 100, or a 4 point scale, or an outstanding (4.3)/satisfactory (3.5)/unsatisfactory (3.0) scale, with equivalences as below. These scores are combined according to the percentages indicated in order to produce a final numeric grade. This grade is rounded to the nearest numeric value in the table below, in order to determine the final letter grade.

  • A+: 4.3 (100)
  • A: 4.0 (95)
  • A-: 3.7 (92)
  • B+: 3.3 (88)
  • B: 3.0 (85)
  • B-: 2.7 (82)
  • C+: 2.3 (78)
  • C: 2.0 (75)
  • C-: 1.7 (72)
  • D+: 1.3 (68)
  • D: 1.0 (65)
  • D-: .7 (62)
  • F: 0 (58)



  • This syllabus, including its many links to readings, listenings, viewings
  • The class website:
  • The Repertoire Folder, on Google Drive (look here for all lyrics, scores, audio files)
  • Nubian and Sudanese music resources
  • Handouts (music notation and lyrics). Please keep these arranged alphabetically in a binder for easy reference. NB: We may not be able to provide many handouts this year due to xeroxing restrictions, so please print your own from the Repertoire Folder
  • Instruments (mainly percussion, available for signout and practice in the instrument room adjoining Studio 27)
  • Other members of the ensemble.
  • Reserve shelf (Rutherford Library).


Arab Music - Films and Audio online

Maps, Timelines

Databases and archives

Schedule (with assignments)

Click here for MENAME Winter 2019 schedule and assignments

Official statements

Course prerequisites: none
Course-based ethics approval, Community service learning: NA
Past or representative evaluative course material: see instructor
Additional mandatory instruction fees: No

Policy about course outlines can be found in Section 23.4(2) of the University Calendar. (GFC 29 SEP 2003).

Academic Integrity
“The University of Alberta is committed to the highest standards of academic integrity and honesty. Students are expected to be familiar with these standards regarding academic honesty and to uphold the policies of the University in this respect. Students are particularly urged to familiarize themselves with the provisions of the Code of Student Behaviour (online at ) and avoid any behaviour that could potentially result in suspicions of cheating, plagiarism, misrepresentation of facts and/or participation in an offence. Academic dishonesty is a serious offence and can result in suspension or expulsion from the University.

Learning and working environment
The Faculty of Arts is committed to ensuring that all students, faculty and staff are able to work and study in an environment that is safe and free from discrimination and harassment. It does not tolerate behaviour that undermines that environment. The department urges anyone who feels that this policy is being violated to: • Discuss the matter with the person whose behaviour is causing concern; or • If that discussion is unsatisfactory, or there is concern that direct discussion is inappropriate or threatening, discuss it with the Chair of the Department. For additional advice or assistance regarding this policy you may contact the student ombudservice: ( ). Information about the University of Alberta Discrimination and Harassment Policy and Procedures is described in UAPPOL at

Academic Honesty:
All students should consult the information provided by the Office of Judicial Affairs regarding avoiding cheating and plagiarism in particular and academic dishonesty in general (see the Academic Integrity Undergraduate Handbook and Information for Students). If in doubt about what is permitted in this class, ask the instructor. Students involved in language courses and translation courses should be aware that on-line “translation engines” produce very dubious and unreliable “translations.” Students in language courses should be aware that, while seeking the advice of native or expert speakers is often helpful, excessive editorial and creative help in assignments is considered a form of “cheating” that violates the code of student conduct with dire consequences. An instructor or coordinator who is convinced that a student has handed in work that he or she could not possibly reproduce without outside assistance is obliged, out of consideration of fairness to other students, to report the case to the Associate Dean of the Faculty. See the Academic Discipline Process.

Recording of Lectures:
Audio or video recording of lectures, labs, seminars or any other teaching environment by students is allowed only with the prior written consent of the instructor or as a part of an approved accommodation plan. Recorded material is to be used solely for personal study, and is not to be used or distributed for any other purpose without prior written consent from the instructor.

Attendance, Absences, and Missed Grade Components:
Regular attendance is essential for optimal performance in any course. In cases of potentially excusable absences due to illness or domestic affliction, notify your instructor by e-mail within two days. Regarding absences that may be excusable and procedures for addressing course components missed as a result, consult sections 23.3(1) and 23.5.6 of the University Calendar. Be aware that unexcused absences will result in partial or total loss of the grade for the “attendance and participation” component(s) of a course, as well as for any assignments that are not handed-in or completed as a result. In this course, 10% of your grade depends on regular attendance and energetic participation.

Policy for Late Assignments:
See section on Evaluation, above.

Specialized Support & Disability Services:
If you have special needs that could affect your performance in this class, please let me know during the first week of the term so that appropriate arrangements can be made. If you are not already registered with Specialized Support & Disability Services, contact their office immediately ( 2-800 SUB; Email; Email; phone 780-492-3381; WEB ).

Media Archives and Departmental Broadcasting of Audio-visual Material
Audio or video recording of performances, lectures, seminars, or any other academic or research environment activities are carried out by the Department of Music for archival purposes. These archives may be collected and housed in the Music Library. Recorded material is to be used solely for non-profit, educational, research, and community outreach purposes, and is not to be used or distributed for any other purpose without obtaining the express permission from all parties involved. Please be advised that your solo or group performance may be featured on the University of Alberta's Department of Music website and/or social media platform(s). If you object to this use of audio and/or video material in which you will be included, please advise your instructor or the Department of Music in writing prior to participating in any performance, lecture, seminar or public event held by the Department of Music.