MI week 2

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Tuesday (2a)

Due today

Report including the following four works - address each in 1-2 paragraphs, and submit on eClass 2a.

Also: memorize Surat Ikhlas (chapter 112 of the Qur'an) -- containing just four short verses -- and try to perform along with the recording, using this website: http://quran.com/112. Note that you can turn transliteration on or off, and listen. The Qur'an contains 114 chapters or suras, arranged roughly from long to short. Surat al-Ikhlas (chapter of Sincerity), also known as Surat al-Tawhid (chapter of Unity) is said to contain the essence of the Qur'an as a whole.

Watch this video from The Guardian, in which a calligrapher speaks and demonstrates his art. Have a look at the calligraphic representation of the Qur'an.

For those who are interested, here are some links on Arabic script and calligraphy:


  • Discuss film Koran by Heart. What did you learn about Muslim societies through this presentation of Qur'anic recitation and competition? Why is memorization important? What is the role of sound, melody? Aesthetics? Relation of sound to text? Issues: gender roles, Arabic language, ethnicity/culture, nationalism, Islamic fundamentalism, politics (Maldives, Egypt, Tajikistan), secular/religious educations. How do you think memorization differs between those who speak Arabic, and those who don't? (Meaning vs. Sound). What do you think of the idea of competition? How fair was it?
  • From this film: What do you learn about Islam through its sonic dimension that you might not learn otherwise?
  • What is the value in examining the "sounds of Islam"? "Music of Muslim societies" from an Islamic perspective? Course goals.

Review, Overview

  • Some general aspects of Islam and Islamicate
  • Sounds of Islam
    • Language - especially Arabic language - is central
    • Oral and written word are transmitted together: constraining, reproducing...
    • Islam's focus on "the word" (kalima): "language performance" as key concept (textual - sonic - social). All ritual centers on "al-kalima".
    • Abstract word is rendered sensible (in sound, in text) - e.g. Qur'an: in tilawa and mushaf, or in calligraphy
    • Sound as invisible social binder, carrying information beyond text, below discursive radar
  • Basic facts about the "Islamicate" (Islamic civilizations) and its music
    • Ramification (adaptation to the local): sound and text - "Language performance"
    • Maqam (tonality) and Iqa` (rhythmic cycle) as twin principles of music in the core Islamicate (Middle East, North Africa, Central Asia)



  • Revelation: 610 - 632 CE. Mecca, Medina. (Hijrah in 622)
  • Word of God - essentially oral, then written
  • Seven ahruf (letters) - 10 qira'at (readings)
  • Recensions: Abu Bakr, Uthman.
  • The structure of the Qur'an. The word - written (mushaf), recited (tilawa)
  • Ordering in time (beginning with Surat al-Alaq), in text (beginning with al-Fatiha)
  • Major themes of the Qur'an
  • Overview of Qur'anic recitation: tilawa. Mujawwad, murattal. Women reciters. Contexts for recitation.
  • Ahkam al-Tajwid - manuals, some online
  • Calligraphy: Surat al-Ikhlas[1]
  • Recitation: Surat al-Ikhlas comparisonsteaching Malaysian woman
  • Surat Yusuf: multiple versions. How does recitation convey ideology without varying the text? [2]
  • Learning Qur'an (kuttab) and its implication for musical training and discovery of talent. Memorization is central. The Hafiz (memorizer) has a special status.
  • The recorded Qur'an. What are the implications of recording?

Islamicate Music

  • Readings in Shiloah
  • Mostly what we know is the elite, court music... “art music"
  • Formation through Islam as catalyst (connecting people through empire, language, religion; gathering wealth) and also restrictions (e.g. primacy of the voice)
  • Commonalities
    • Focus on language, combined with sound system: tonal and temporal
    • music: tonality, temporality
      • maqam, microtones
      • iqa (darb, wazn, usul)
    • Shaped by Islamic discourse and practice (tilawa, Sufi hadra)
    • Shaping local Islamic practices
  • Variations:
    • ideological differences, e.g. Sunni and Shia
    • language, dialect, pronunciation
    • culture, contexts, articulation with pre-Islamic culture
    • social and political factors: immigration/borders/state policies
    • Ramification of sound: localization adaptation

Language Performance

  • Language Performance: LP (ppt on adhan - ICTM seminar)

Thursday (2b)

No class today, but please submit assignments on time. Note assignments for Week 3 under the appropriate link on the main outline page.

Due today

Report including the following four works - address each in 1-2 paragraphs, and submit on eClass 2b.

(you can submit this assignment as late as midnight tonight - there is no class, so you may use the class time to watch one of the films)


No class today! Please watch one of the above films.