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H 245 x W 174 mm

212 pages

55 figures

Published Dec 2021



Paperback: 9781789699326

Digital: 9781789699333

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Music; Arab Music; Arabian Peninsula; Islam; Folk Music; Musical Theory

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Arab Music: A Survey of Its History and Its Modern Practice

By Leo Plenckers

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This book offers a comprehensive survey of the history and the development of Arab music and musical theory from its pre-Islamic roots until 1970, as well as a discussion of the major genres and forms practiced today, such as the Egyptian gīl, the Algerian raï and Palestinian hip hop; it also touches upon musical instruments and folk music.



Sources of illustrations ;

Foreword ;

Recorded Music ;

Transliteration of the Arabic letters ;

Introduction ;

Part I: Historical background ;
Introduction ;
The legacy of past centuries ;
Egypt and Mesopotamia ;
From the third century BCE to the seventh century CE ;
Arab music before the arrival of the Islam ;
The Bedouins ;
Mecca and Medina ;
Musical instruments ;
The early Islamic period and the Umayyad Caliphate (600 - 750) ;
The muḳannaṯ ;
Damascus ;
The Golden Age of the Abbasids (eighth and ninth centuries) ;
Music at the court of Harun ar-Rasid ;
The emergence of Andalusia ;
The beginning of the Andalusian music tradition: Ziryāb ;
Music theory ;
The tenth to the thirteenth century ;
Music theory in the Mashriq ;
Developments since the tenth century in the Maghreb ;
From circa 1250 to 1600 ;
Musical life ;
Music Theory ;
Rhythm ;
Forms of compositions ;
The organization of the modes and cosmology ;
Musical instruments ;
From the late fifteenth to the mid-nineteenth century ;
From 1850 to the end of the twentieth century ;
The period of the Arab renaissance, the nahḍa ;
The twentieth century ;
The lyric theatre ;
The music film and Muḥammad ʿAbdū-l-Wahhāb ;
The radio and Umm Kulthūm ;
The turāṯ or musical heritage ;
The seventies, a change of generations ;

Part 2: The Modern Time ;
Introduction ;
The tone system ;
Temperament ;
The jins ;
The maqam ;
Meter and rhythm ;
The classical urban music ;
The tradition of Iraq: al-maqām al-ʿirāqī ;
The classical tradition of Syria and Egypt, the waṣla ;
Classical traditions in North Africa: the nawba ;
Popular music ;
Firqa songs ;
The Egyptian šaʿbī ;
The Egyptian gīl ;
The Algerian raï ;
The Moroccan šaʿbī (chaâbi) ;
The Arab hiphop ;
Folk Music ;
The Middle East ;
The Maghreb ;

Bibliography ;

Discography ;

List of recorded music ;

Websites ;


About the Author

Leo Plenckers’ chief specialisations are music theory and ethnomusicology. He obtained his doctorate with a dissertation on the Algerian classical nawba tradition and published articles about various aspects of Arab music and music theory. Until his retirement he worked at the Musicological Institute of the Amsterdam University.