The Sacred Bridge: Muslim and Jewish Soundscapes of the Middle East (MHI2245.01)

Joseph Alpar

In an increasingly geo-politicized world, Muslim and Jewish identities are often seen in opposition to one another. Yet this is actually a new perspective, one that neglects the long, intertwined histories of these religious groups. Large Jewish populations lived in the lands of Islam without interruption from the early 7th century through the 20th century and some continue to this day. There was an intense interaction between Islam and Judaism at all levels of culture and religion, especially music. From the perspective of music and sound, we will try to build a nuanced understanding of Muslim and Jewish collaboration, distinction, struggle, and cohabitation across the geographic region of the Middle East, encompassing present-day Turkey, Iraq, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Israel and Occupied Palestinian Territories, Iran, Morocco, and elsewhere. In this course, we will combine the study of music history and culture with hands-on music-making, dividing class time equally between lecture/discussion/listening and applied and active musical participation. We will study regional musics in their historical and religious environments from the early modern period to the present day. Our work will explore sound practices of the synagogue, mosque, religious festivals, life cycle events, folk song, art traditions and up to contemporary popular music. Other dimensions will include examining the relationship between Qur-anic recitation and Jewish cantorial chant, connections between Sufi mysticism and Kabbalah, improvisation, and how sound is necessary to the experience of ritual. Throughout the course we will welcome guest practitioners and scholars who will guide and deepen our understanding and care of the sound practices and traditions we are studying.


Learning Outcomes:
Students will:
•become familiar with many different and varied Muslim and Jewish musics of the Middle East over time, and their relationships with one another.
•be able to recognize, and apply an analysis to, a number of different Jewish and Muslim sonic practices, as well as the related beliefs, rituals, and embodied experiences implied in their performance
• become acquainted with these practices through applied methods involving singing, chant, playing percussion, and movement.



Delivery Method: Fully in-person
Corequisites: Attendance at any relevant music events (concerts and lectures) that are scheduled during the Fall 2021 term
Course Level: 2000-level
Credits: 4
W 10:00AM - 11:50AM & W 2:10PM - 4:00PM (Full-term)
Maximum Enrollment: 14
Course Frequency: Every 2-3 years

Categories: All courses , Society Culture and Thought , History , Fully In-Person , Ethnomusicology
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