• Transforming Space: The Production of Contemporary Syrian Art Music

    Shayna Silverstein (see profile)
    Ethnomusicology, Global & Transnational Studies, Global Musical Modernisms
    Arabic music, Avant-garde, Ethnomusicology, Modernity, Music theory
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    Book chapter
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    In the first decade of the twenty-first century, a young generation of Syrian experimental composers conceived a space for musiqa mu‘asira, or contemporary art music. Informed by debates on critical aesthetics, modernity, and subjectivity in the Arab world and beyond, these composers drew on particular compositional devices and techniques to mediate global discourses of avant-gardism. In this essay, I discuss how their work transformed aesthetic concepts of musical space, and situate musiqa mu‘asira in the context of contemporary Syria. In particular, this essay focuses on selected compositions by three composers—Zaid Jabri, Shafi Badreddin, and Hassan Taha—who collectively articulate the possibilities for transforming modern Arab music into a contemporary space for experimentation. By situating this art world within the discursive and artistic practices by which composers, performers, and audiences become subjects of their own histories and experiences, I demonstrate how expressive forms and musical performance are shaped by social spaces and spatialized practices. Musiqa mu‘asira seeks to intervene with physical space in ways that articulate the very contemporaneity of music in Syria today. In other words, I will link the particularities of contemporary Syrian art music to the historical conditions, social structures, and discursive spaces from which it arises and which it may yet transform.
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    1 year ago
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