Event details

What future for Arabian music after two centuries of musicological Orientalism?

Click on poster to maximize

Public research seminar


Thursday, March 30, 2017


Musicology is a fairly recent science, practically born with the great Western expansion of the 19th-20th centuries. It is based on axioms compatible with Western music of the Common Practice period (“tonal”, or “classical”) and served ideologically one main purpose: to establish the superiority and standardisation of Western music.

What were the mechanisms used for this purpose, and what were the consequences for music in the realm of maqām?

The lecture will first demonstrate the falsity of the axioms in use in this so-called “science of music”, mainly based on a biased reading of ancient Greek writings on music. It will be elaborated on the practical means used to instil, and sometimes to impose, these axioms in two main domains, Byzantine chant and, more generally, maqām music. It will then explain the material and psychological consequences of this process on the given societies and their music, concluding with a general scheme of the Orientalism process in music.

Two Lebanese composers, one in the realm of so-called “modern” Arabian music and the other in Jazz, shall participate with explanations and examples, while helping the author animate the post-presentation debate.

The presentation is partly based on the book of the author on Arabian Byzantine chant (see http://foredofico.org/CERMAA/archives/584) and mainly on his research on Hellenism in musicology, notably the dossier for NEMO-Online No. 5 (see http://nemo-online.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/INTERNET-5-04.-Article-NEMO-n%C2%B05-Amine-Beyhom-161130-S.pdf) and other articles on modality (see http://foredofico.org/CERMAA/publications/publications-on-the-site/publications-amine-beyhom).




Amine Beyhom is redactor in chief of NEMO-Online (http://nemo-online.org/) and director of the CERMAA (Centre de Recherches sur les Musiques Arabes et Apparentées), a research center affiliated to the FOREDOFICO foundation in Lebanon. He holds a PhD (2003) in music and musicology as well as an Habilitation à diriger les recherches (2010) from the Université Paris-Sorbonne in France. He is the author of Théories de l᾽échelle et pratiques mélodiques chez les Arabes. Une approche systématique et diachronique (Paris 2010) (downloadable at http://foredofico.org/CERMAA/publications/publications-on-the-site/publications-amine-beyhom) and Théories byzantines de l’échelle et pratique du chant byzantine arabe: une approche comparative et analytique proposant une solution inédite pour le système théorique de Chrysanthos le Madyte (Beyrouth 2015). He has taught musicology and ethnomusicology in universities in Lebanon and animated seminars in Lebanon, France and Tunisia.