Music and its Virtues in Islamic and Judaic Writings
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