Sunday, January 2, 2011

A master of the oud in the golden sun

Afif Tain, via Youtube

I suspect at least a few admirers--in the west--of Middle Eastern music, are drawn to it not so much by romanced versions of exotica (colonialism or Orientalism) as by a Bookish sense of familiarity.

The book(ish) Christian Bible is in and of the Middle East, however much it has been organized by decisions of early Church fathers in conferences not dissimilar to those of the Modern Language Association where scholarly debates about meaning in Emily Dickinson or Henry James have been fierce, though lacking the consequence of war and schism, slaughter and abomination, as is the case in the history of Christianity.

And of course the Tanakh, over half of that Bible, is read by a smaller but bookish religion and is even sandier and of the desert.

I went to a Protestant Sunday School every week until I was thirteen or fourteen (and refused to go anymore). We read "Old" and "New" testament.  That's quite a few impressionable years. A part of my imagination lives in that land, mythical or otherwise. There are oher reasons and other readings which account for this imagined ease.
Given the level of Bible interest in the USA and Europe, even spurious interest simply masks hate and disappointment, it is no surprise people (some people?) who are quite western admire and/or hear echoes of familiar mysteries in Arab musical instruments and the golden sun.

The music is beautiful.

And there is my poem, "Windows scare me." (much visited on this site), in which an oud features subtly.

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