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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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Samāᶜ Intertwined in Practice: Eight Treatises from the 9th to the 15th Centuries

Samāᶜ Intertwined in Practice: Eight Treatises from the 9th to the 15th Centuries

(p.126) 7 Samāᶜ Intertwined in Practice: Eight Treatises from the 9th to the 15th Centuries
The Music Road

Lisa Nielson

British Academy

In the 9th century, Ibn Abi al-Dūnya’s treatise the Dhamm al-Malahi (Censure of Instruments of Diversion) was among the first to argue that samāᶜ (listening), specifically the act of listening to music, was not allowable under religious law. The question of listening had already appeared in other treatises concerned with music but became subject to deeper scrutiny from the 9th century onward. Samāᶜ has been studied as it relates to music and Sufism, yet how different uses and definitions of samāᶜ intertwined in practice has not been thoroughly investigated. To consider these intersections, this essay uses a collection of treatises concerned with samāᶜ held at the National Library of Israel, ranging from the 9th to the mid-15th century. Although all are aligned against listening, these treatises paint a vivid picture of the musical landscape of the medieval Islamicate world, and how the blending of different musical expressions influenced music discourses.

Keywords:   medieval Islamicate music, listening, samāᶜ, singing, Ibn Abi al-Dunya, Sufi

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