Music and its Virtues in Islamic and Judaic Writings: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Music and its Virtues in Islamic and Judaic Writings

1st Edition

By Amnon Shiloah


332 pages

Purchasing Options:$ = USD
New in Paperback: 9781138375123
pub: 2019-01-11
SAVE ~$11.20
Hardback: 9780754659181
pub: 2007-09-28
SAVE ~$37.00
Currently out of stock

FREE Standard Shipping!


A fascinating aspect of the study of music in medieval Islamic and Judaic writings is the broad and interdisciplinary nature of the works and treatises in which it is covered. In addition, such works verbalize an art that was transmitted orally and took shape spontaneously, typically with improvisation during performance. As a result of this outlook the musical concept (or science) is often intertwined with practice (or history). This second collection by Amnon Shiloah brings together twenty-two studies exemplifying such multi-faceted viewpoints on the world of sounds and its virtue. The first studies concern the origin and originators of music and to how its essential constituents came into being; included here is the art of dance along with the controversial attitudes towards it. Next comes the symbolic, philosophical and metaphorical interpretation of music; one of the major ideas epitomizing this approach claimed that the pursuit of knowledge is the path to human perfection and happiness. There follow studies on the transmission of knowledge, along with some annotated key works dealing with therapeutic effects. The last articles focus on cultural traditions elaborated on European soil developing a particular style and musical practice, centred on the Iberian Peninsula, which was the scene of one of the most fascinating examples of cultural interchange.


'… this is a valuable collection. Shiloah's concise and clear survey articles provide particularly useful teaching material. Much of the material covered here touches on topics of continuing wide interest such as music in the Bible and the place of music in Islam. For the specialist scholar, Shiloah's meticulous exploration of texts puts valuable but little known material into the public forum. Finally, his inclusion of Jewish and Arabic materials side by side reminds the reader of important musical and scholarly relationships and interactions, which are all too easily overlooked by scholars without the rare linguistic expertise to explore both these musical, scholarly and religious canons side by side.' Ethnomusicology Forum

Table of Contents

Contents: Preface; Part 1 Theories of Origins: The beginning of things: theories of origins in Arabic and Hebrew sources; A passage by Immanuel ha-Romi on the science of music; Biblical references to music as interpreted in Arabic treatises; The davidic traditions concerning music; The singing birds; Réflexions sur la danse artistique musulmane au moyen âge. Part 2 The Symbolic, Philosophical and Metaphorical Interpretation of Music: L' approche humaniste et métaphorique dans les premiers écrits arabes sur la musique; La musique entre le divin et le terrestre; 'Ên-kol' - commentaire hébraïque de Å em Tov ibn Å aprût sur le canon d' Avicenne; Jewish and Muslim traditions of music therapy. Part 3 The Transmission of Musical Knowledge: Qalonimus ben Qalonimus, 'Ma'amar be-mispar ha-hokhmôt'; Musical concepts in the works of Saadia Gaon; Some comments of the cantillation of the 10 Commandments; A propos d' un 'petit livre arabe de musique' (with A. Berthier); Notions d' esthétique dans les traités arabes sur la musique; L' évolution de la vocalité et de la technique vocale dans les traités anciens de la musique arabe. Part 4 The Ideological Attitude Towards Music: Music and religion in Islam; Maïmonide et la musique. Part 5 Music in Contact: The Romaniot musical tradition (revised version); Development of Jewish liturgical singing in Spain; Muslim and Jewish musical traditions in the Middle Ages; Andalusian instruments of music and instruments of entertainment; Index.

About the Author

Amnon Shiloah is Professor of Musicology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel.

About the Series

Variorum Collected Studies

The first title in the Variorum Collected Studies series was published in 1970. Since then well over 1000 titles have appeared in the series, and it has established a well-earned international reputation for the publication of key research across a whole range of subjects within the fields of history.

The history of the medieval world remains central to the series, with Byzantine studies a particular speciality, but the range of titles extends from Hellenistic philosophy and the history of the Roman empire and early Christianity, through the Renaissance and Reformation, up to the 20th century. Islamic Studies forms another major strand as do the histories of science, technology and medicine.

Each title in the Variorum Collected Studies series brings together for the first time a selection of articles by a leading authority on a particular subject. These studies are reprinted from a vast range of learned journals, Festschrifts and conference proceedings. They make available research that is scattered, even inaccessible in all but the largest and most specialized libraries. With a new introduction and index, and often with new notes and previously unpublished material, they constitute an essential resource. 

For further information about contributing to the series please contact Michael Greenwood at

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General
MUSIC / Ethnomusicology
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Jewish Studies