During week 3 with the topic of Qur’an recitations, we talked a lot about the importance of the oral and aural experience of the Qur’an. I am very much moved by the aural experience as a musician myself. Since I myself do not know the Arabic or the tajwid/tartil described in the “External Rules of Qur’an Recitation” or featured in the documentary “Koran By Heart” necessary to properly recite the Qur’an, I decided to pick another important melodic theme from Islamic faith.

One of the important aspects of Muslim prayer is the adhan, the call to prayer. It has the purpose of both bringing people together to worship God as well as words that assert God’s greatness. The first part, the takbir shows that God is Greater than anything that can be imagined or conceived, beyond analysis. And the second part is from the shahadah, or the creed of faith, distinguishing those who are muslims, or submitters, from those who are Muslims, or followers of God.

As we saw in class, there are many different renditions of this call to prayer, depending on the context in which it is created, developing various “religious soundscapes.” This is similar to the variations in the style of the Qur’an recitation, as seen in the readings “The Qur’an in Indonesian Daily Life” and “The Sound of the Divine in Daily Life.” We heard examples from One of the performances that I really enjoyed is the one below:

I really like the calm it creates and it is so beautiful it almost gave me the chills! This inspired me to create my own interpretation of the adhan, based on my context of musical styles and abilities. A recording of the “Improvisation on the Adhan” that I played on my violin is linked below:

Improvisation on the Adhan

(If the above link does not work, you can access the recording at “http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/jming/files/2014/03/Improvisation-on-the-Adhan.m4a”).

I use the main theme from the adhan in the sense of following the theme that is created during the takbir and repeated it using different variations in octave, style, tempo, and dynamic. Then, I also include the change in the melody that is a result of the two lines, Hayya ‘ala ‘s-salah and Hayya ‘ala ‘l-falah. Finally, I end it again with the melody based on the line that praises Allahu akbar!.

The fact that I used music, however, brings up another concept that we discussed in class–the correctness of the representation of the Islamic faith using Music. There is still much debate around the use of Music as either an extension of worship or as sacrilegious. Through this Meditation of a piece, I hope to express my thoughts and have no intention of being offensive.

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