This volume of original essays is dedicated to Owen Wright in recognition of his formative contribution to the study of music in the Islamic Middle East. Wright’s work, which comprises, at the time of writing, six field-defining volumes and countless articles, has reconfigured the relationship between historical musicology and ethnomusicology. No account of the transformation of these fields in recent years can afford to ignore his work. Ranging across the Middle East, Central Asia and North India, this volume brings together historical, philological and ethnographic approaches. The contributors focus on collections of musical notation and song texts, on commercial and ethnographic recordings, on travellers’ reports and descriptions of instruments, on musical institutions and other spaces of musical performance. An introduction provides an overview and critical discussion of Wright’s major publications. The central chapters cover the geographical regions and historical periods addressed in Wright’s publications, with particular emphasis on Ottoman and Timurid legacies. Others discuss music in Greece, Iraq and Iran. Each explores historical continuities and discontinuities, and the constantly changing relationships between music theory and practice. An edited interview with Owen Wright concludes the book and provides a personal assessment of his scholarship and his approach to the history of the music of the Islamic Middle East. Extending the implications of Wright’s own work, this volume argues for an ethnomusicology of the Islamic Middle East in which past and present, text and performance are systematically in dialogue.

part I|170 pages

Ottoman legacies

chapter 1|19 pages

New light on Cantemir

chapter 3|31 pages

Not just any usul

Semai in pre-nineteenth-century performance practice 1

chapter 6|19 pages

At the House of Kemal

Private musical assemblies in Istanbul from the late Ottoman Empire to the Turkish Republic 1

chapter 7|21 pages

Kâr-ı nev

Elongation and elaboration in recordings of a Turkish classic

chapter 8|25 pages

Measuring intervals between European and “Eastern” musics in the 1920s

The curious case of the panharmonion or “Greek organ” 1

part II|130 pages

Historical and theoretical themes in the music of the Islamic world

chapter 9|26 pages

“Words without songs”

The social history of Hindustani song collections in India’s Muslim courts c.1770–1830

chapter 11|21 pages

Theory and practice in contemporary Central Asian maqām traditions

The Uyghur On Ikki Muqam and the Kashmiri Sūfyāna Musīqī 1

chapter 13|20 pages

Whispering to God

Monājāt, a sung prayer in Iranian Khorasan

chapter 14|20 pages

Between formal structure and performance practice

On the Baghdadi secular cycles 1

chapter 15|8 pages

Al-Fārābī’s polychord

A re-exposition of Ptolemy’s kanōn as a didactic instrument for the tone system

chapter |10 pages


Interview with Owen Wright 1