Week 3: God’s Word as Sacred Sound and the Concept of Prophethood

During week three of class, we focused on the Quran as sacred sound: the Quran is the word of God as God transmitted the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad (Nelson 257). Listening to the Quran then becomes an act of communion with the savior, or, as Nelson puts it, “a testimony to the miracle of human and divine interaction” (Sells 184; Nelson 257). Consequently, when the Quran becomes a part of the soundscape, whether it is on the radio or at a mosque, sound becomes something powerful (Nelson 260-261).

While it has been a long time since I have taken classes in music theory, I have chosen to compose a music piece in response to week three. As I do not understand the chord progression of the Ayat in the Quran, I have attempted to compose music phrases, or verses, that reflect what I think the Ayat we have heard in class sound like. I have specifically used the lower voices of the instruments – the two pianos, guitar, and base – to reflect the voices of the typical human being in Islam: one who is suffering due to his or her forgetfulness of God (Lecture 1.28.16). I have also chosen three instruments to reflect the different communities of interpretation involved in the religious tradition. Consequently, each instrument that I use repeats the same verse but sounds different due to the different communities of interpretations’ interpretations of the verses (Daftery 163). I have also used two pianos in order to represent male and female voices within communities of interpretation because in countries like Indonesia, individuals can even hear women reciting the Quran publicly (Rasmussen 30).

Ultimately, my goal is that through this artistic piece, both the listeners and myself will experience something somewhat sacred and powerful: if these voices are able to work together in producing a coherent music piece, then the different communities of interpretation and men and women can work together in harmony in society as well.

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