From Arabic to Latin: Moving sciences of music around the Mediterranean (Rosy Azar Beyhom)

The sciences of the Arabs started to travel and transfer through traders, merchants, diplomats to everywhere in the world, where some of these connections to music already existed (like Persia, India) or not. I am mainly interested with the transfer of musical knowledge from the Arab world to the Northern part of the Mediterranean, reaching notably Italy, France, which was carried in the old Latin language, now considered a dead language. This transfer would constitute a part of the unknown history of theory and practice of music, the part that would explain probably why “European” music shifted from the common maqām root that was present in the old world up until the 14th century at least.

My investigation addresses in the same time, the history of musicology as a field and the problematic of terminology in its narrow relation to translation, both within the bigger frame of “migrating” or “moving” musical sciences between old worlds. The fundamental question I ask in this frame is double-folded: was the practice of music influenced and confused by inadequate translation in the old Latin world? In that case, did “poor translation” lead to the creation of a new musical system in the Latin world with time and a separation from the practices existing at that time?

Author: Rosy Azar Beyhom