Music in Judaism and in Islam

Syllabus for a seminar at UCLA, 1998/9 by Prof. Edwin Seroussi

Content and format of the course

Music is one of the major venues of Sephardi cultural expression. Therefore an understanding of the uses, functions and meanings of music in the Sephardi societies in exile may add new dimensions in the critical examination of the Sephardi phenomenon. Moreover, music plays a interesting role in the construction of a Sephardi historical memory and narrative in the twentieth century.

The course will start with the definition of the concept of “music” itself in Jewish culture and the inextricable relation between music and its cultural and performance contexts. It will continue with an overview of genres defined according to several criteria, such as time, space, gender and structure. Also the roles individuals who were involved in the preservation, publication and performance of their music will be discussed.

The lectures are intensively illustrated by recorded examples which will be discussed and analyzed in class. The course is intended for graduate students in ethnomusicology.