International Council for Traditional Music

A Non-Governmental Organization in Formal Consultative Relations with UNESCO

Report of Ankara Joint Symposium (December 2014)

Joint Symposium of the Study Groups on Maqām and Music in the Arab World (Ankara, Turkey, 17-21 December 2014)

The Joint Symposium of the ICTM Study Groups on Music in the Arab World and on Maqām took place in Ankara, Turkey on 17-21 December 2014 on the theme “Maqām Traditions Between Theory and Contemporary Music-making”. It was hosted by the Yıldırım Beyazıt University State Conservatory for Turkish Music, the Turkish Ministry of Culture General Directorate of Fine Arts, and the Baskent University State Conservatory.

The gathering witnessed presentations and debates that were based on shared traditional musical values in the Middle East and Central Asia concerning maqam. The overall themes addressed current research issues on concepts, interpretations, practice, music-making, reproduction and creativity, Ottoman influence on traditional regional repertoires, and modern teaching of traditional music. Speakers’ approach varied and ranged from historical to ethnomusicological, analytical and pedagogical.

In his first debut as a member of the Music in the Arab World, Nasser Al-Taee presented a paper entitled “Maqam and Taqsim between Tradition and Contemporary Music Making the Arab World.” The paper traced changes to the genre of taqasim in the second half of the twentieth century and argued for fluidity, resiliency, and creativity of Arab ‘ud artists in response to the immense Western influences on Arab music. Scheherazade Hassan presented a paper entitled “The Function of Iraqi Maqam in the Prophet’s Birth Ceremonial: al mawled al nabawi.” In her paper, Hassan discussed how the ceremony of the mawled continues to be performed by mixing Iraqi maqam as genre and maqam as melodic mode during performances that reflect flexibility, multiplicity, and innovation. Jean Lambert’s paper “The Ottoman Presence in Yemen and its Influence on Music (16th-20th Century)” traced the Ottoman influence in Yemen, especially through the introduction of the Turkish kopuz, which was “yemenized” as qanbus, to refer to the lute. Anne van Oostrum offered a paper on Snouck Hurgronje’s collection of recordings and artifacts made in Jeddah in the early years of the 20th century, providing one of very few glimpses into the richness of this collection held at the University of Leiden.

Study Group members also benefitted from the work of their colleagues in the closely-related ICTM Study Group on Maqām. These presentations ranged from Jürgen Elsner’s theoretical work on concept and practice of maqam and Okan Öztürk’s key concepts to understanding Turkish makam practice, through descriptive and historical studies such as Alexander Djumaev’s paper on Shashmaqam in Bukhara in the 18th and 19th centuries, Sanubar Baghirova’s work on Azerbaijani mugham in performance, and Jean During’s rendering of musical practice in Sufyana Kalam. We heard new work from Gisa Jänichen on the practice of maqam in the music of Malay society in Singapore. Our Turkish hosts provided a session dedicated to the music theorist and philosopher Abd al-Qadir al-Maraghi. We were treated to a wonderful new film by Sanubar Baghirova, “The Ancient Arts of Mugham and Ashiq in the XXI Century.” These few examples show highlights of an enlightening and entertaining program. The full program is available here.

Aside from the papers, participants attended a musical performance in Konya of the whirling dervishes for the commemoration of Rumi’s birth and various other concerts by faculty and students of Yildirim Beyazit University State Conservatory for Turkish Music. The closing reception featured a welcome speech by Dusen Kasseinov, Secretary General of TURKSOY.