The Middle East and Resistance to Colonialism
In the house of lovers, the music never stops, the walls are made of songs & the floor dances ― Rumi
Europe and the Middle East have a long history of enmity, and they of all the cultures of the world resisted the musical colonization we saw in so many other parts of the world. The Congress of Arab Music in 1932 declared, “The use of instruments with a fixed twelve-semitone scale lacked the appropriate microtonal variation which is unique to the sound of Arabic music.” Two Turkish participants also rejected 24-eq as an inaccurate description of the pitches used in their country’s music (which was probably derived from their cultural intermingling with Arabs in the 12th century). In this chapter I talk about the ancient system of seventeen perfect fifths and other ancient Arabic and Middle Eastern tuning traditions that survived even in the face of colonization.
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