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The Music RoadCoherence and Diversity in Music from the Mediterranean to India$
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Reinhard Strohm

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780197266564

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197266564.001.0001

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Mysticism’s Musical Modalities: Philosophies of Audition in Medieval Persian Sufism

Mysticism’s Musical Modalities: Philosophies of Audition in Medieval Persian Sufism

Chapter:
(p.103) 6 Mysticism’s Musical Modalities: Philosophies of Audition in Medieval Persian Sufism
Source:
The Music Road
Author(s):

Reinhard Strohm

Publisher:
British Academy
DOI:10.5871/bacad/9780197266564.003.0006

For many Persian poets, Sufis in particular, the ethereal modes through which music communicates with its listeners embodied the somatic ‘taste’ (ẕauq) of the suprasomatic divine realities. Through a dialectic of revelation and concealment—or in the Qur’anic terms often employed by the Sufis, ẓāhir and bạ̄tin, exoteric and esoteric—proper musical experience (samāᶜ) becomes both a means of accessing the transcendent harmonies of the cosmos and conduit to the very transcendence of music itself. Proper hearing is not delimited by the audible range of the material ear, for this external sense (ḥiss-i ẓāhir) must yield to an internal sense (ḥiss-i bāṭin), signified by the gūsh-i jān and gūsh-i dil, the ‘ear of the soul’ and ‘ear of the heart’. These auricular metaphors express a deeply Pythagorean but specifically Persianate philosophy of audition, one not (only) grounded in the rationality of mathematical ratios, but (also) modelled upon Pythagoras’ cosmic auditory powers, bestowed through ritual purity.

Keywords:   harmony of the spheres, Platonism, Sufism, samāᶜ, Niẓāmī Ganjavī, Shihāb al-Dīn Suhrawardī, Jalāl al-Dīn Rūmī

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