Middle Eastern Ensemble (MPF4358.01)

Joseph Alpar

This ensemble will introduce students to playing the music of the Middle East and neighboring areas. Students will learn a diverse repertoire of traditional urban, village, and popular music drawn from Arabic, Armenian, Greek, Hebrew, Kurdish, Ladino, Persian, Turkish, and other ethno-linguistic backgrounds. We will also study music by artists who have successfully blended traditional styles with more contemporary sounds and ideas, with a focus on odd meters and traditional rhythmic cycles (7/8, 10/8, etc.), as well as traditional Arabic modes and their place in contemporary composition and improvisation.

As the repertoire of these communities is primarily taught through oral transmission and emphasizes ornamentation and improvisation, we will primarily learn in this way. Rehearsals will begin with an aural warm up in call-and-response format, in order to work on hearing the particularities of the various musical modes, to tune up, and to develop a coherent ensemble sound. Rehearsals will include learning to play rhythmic patterns on percussion (darbuka and frame drum) in alternation with melody instruments; learning words to songs so that we can accompany ourselves; learning dance steps for dance music repertoire. Student, faculty and staff singers and instrumentalists of all types (strings, percussion, woodwinds, brass, etc.) are welcome in this ensemble.  The term will culminate with a final concert, featuring acclaimed guest artists. Be prepared to sing, play, improvise, and dance!


Learning Outcomes:
By the end of the semester, you will:
• be able to identify several music genres and styles of Middle Eastern music.
• recognize the differences between musics of different regions based on cultural context, instrumentation, dance styles, language, and other criteria.
• learn a variety of rhythms and meters and their associated functions in Middle Eastern music.
• play an assortment of Middle Eastern percussion instruments, understanding their function in an ensemble/ritual/folkdance context.
• be able to participate in class discussions about the music we learn and how it relates to the everyday lives of the people in the region.
• sing in a variety of languages (Arabic, Turkish, Greek, Judeo-Spanish (Ladino), Kurdish, Armenian, Hebrew, Lazuri)
• perform in a concert centered on the music of the Middle East.



Delivery Method: Fully in-person
Prerequisites: Audition and instructor approval required.
Corequisites: Attendance at any relevant music events during the term (concerts, lectures). Dates will be announced at the start of term.
Course Level: 4000-level
Credits: 4
M/Th 7:00PM-8:50PM (Full-term)
Maximum Enrollment: 25
Course Frequency: Once a year

Categories: All courses , Performance , Fully In-Person
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