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Musical instruments as objects of meaning in classical Arabic poetry and philosophy

ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, 2009
Dissertation
Author: Yaron Klein
Abstract:
My dissertation examines representations of musical instruments in medieval Arabic descriptive poetry (wasf ) and philosophical-musicological writings. My analysis explores the symbolic value and meanings ascribed to musical instruments, and how each of the two discourses referred to instruments to make sense of music, the world and human experience. In Part 1, I analyze descriptions of musical instruments by a variety of wasf poets. The flourishing of the wasf genre, together with the rise of the new elite culture of the `Abbasids, suggests that wasf should be seen not only as a literary development of creative art, but also as a literary space that promoted and shaped the new urban culture. I argue that wasf poetry helped establish musical instruments as cultural icons of the elite urban culture as it emerged in the early days of the `Abbasids, together with other objects and practices valued by the elite, such as wine, palaces, gardens and scientific instruments. I also argue that literature, poetry included, should be regarded as one of the extra-musical forces shaping people's enjoyment and "understanding" of musical events, similar to the way program notes and critical reviews affect the reception of music by modern consumers. Part 2 analyzes discussions of musical instruments by al-Kindi (d. c. 256/870), the Ikhwan al-S[dotbelow]afa` (c. 4th /mid-10th century) and al-Farabi (d. 339/950). Arab philosophers regarded musical instruments as products of scientific speculation--as laboratories, in which nature's laws could be tested as well as demonstrated. Al-Kindi and the Ikhwan evinced strong Pythagorean influence in their understanding of music. They regarded music as the audible manifestation of the order of the universe expressed in mathematical ratios, and musical instruments as scientific devices constructed primarily for the purpose of displaying these mathematical proportions and the interconnectedness the of the micro- and macro-cosmos. Al-Farabi's understanding of the nature of music, and consequently, musical instruments, was radically different from that of his Arab-Pythagorean predecessors. He played down Pythagorean ideas in favor of Aristoxenian and Ptolemaic concepts. Music for him was a human project developed in a historical context and not representative of any superordinate mathematical order beyond music. Instruments, in turn, were scientific tools with which to think music: to gather musical data and experiment with various hypotheses.

TABLE OF CONTENTS Acknowledgements viii Introduction 1 Part I: Poetry Musical Instruments in Was/Poetry: The Construction of a Meaningful Object i. Introduction: Wasf'Poetry 11 ii. Birds and Branches 22 iii. Interaction between Musician and Instrument 38 Musician and Instrument as Lover and Beloved 38 Musician and Instrument as Mother and Child 49 iv. Nonverbal Meanings 59 v. Images from Nature 71 vi. Counting 80 vii. Riddles 83 Conclusions 100 Part II: Philosophy The Theoretician's Laboratory Introduction 102 I. Abu Yusuf al-Kindl i. Life and Works 105 ii. Pythagorean Concepts in al-Kindl's Thought 107 iii. Affinities Between the cUd and Nature I l l iv. The Dimensions of the cUd 115 v. The Invention of Musical Instruments by the Philosophers 122 vi. Animals and Music 123 vii. Instruments and Nations 123 V

II. Ikhwan al-SafaD i. The Ikhwan and Their Rasa°il 128 ii. The Harmony of the Spheres 129 iii. The Invention of Music and Instruments by the Philosophers 131 iv. The Dimensions of the cUd 132 v. The Theory of Ethos (taDthlr) and Medicine 136 III. Al-FarabI and the Kitab al-musiql l-kablr i. Introduction 138 i. al-Farabl: Life and Works 139 ii. Kitab al-musiql l-kablr 141 ii. Principles Rejecting the Harmony of the Spheres 146 The Invention of Musical Instruments 147 "Complete" Melodies 149 Instrumental Music 151 Instruments Producing Unnatural Sounds 154 Theory and Practice 155 iii. Instruments as Tools of Thought 156 Experience and Certitude 157 Collecting Data 159 Who Collects the Data from Experience? 161 Natural and Unnatural Sounds 164 Pleasure: a Probe for Naturalness 165 Natural Sounds and Clime 166 The Invention of the Shdhrud 170 Introducing the Notes (on the cud) 171 Experimenting with Musical Instruments: The Limma (fadla) 181 The Ratios of the Concordances 189 The "Theoretical Greek Instrument" 196 The Usefulness of Various Instruments for Explaining Theory 199 Aids for Composing Music 202 iv. The Common Instruments Why a Chapter on Common Instruments? 204 Classification of Instruments 205 vi

(a) Plucked-Stringed Instruments 208 (i) The cUd 208 The Frets on the cUd 209 (ii) Tunburs 215 al-tunbur al-baghdadi 216 al-tunbiir al-khurdsdnl 218 B. The Rabab .222 C. Wind Instruments (the mazdmlr) 225 Acoustics 225 Notes Ratios 226 Flute Types 228 D. Open-Stringed Instruments (macdzif & sunuj) 230 v. Conclusions 232 Bibliography 236 vii

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I would like to extend my deepest thanks and gratitude to my advisor, Wolfhart P. Heinrichs. The depth of his knowledge, his curiosity, the high standards he sets for both himself and his students, as well as his modesty are an inspiration for any apprenticing scholar. I am especially grateful for his careful reading of this manuscript. Throughout my years at Harvard, Bill Granara consistently offered me his good advice and mentorship, and entrusted me with teaching independent classes. Bill Graham and Rob Wisnovsky have been instrumental in my decision to go to Harvard for my graduate studies. Bill Graham also encouraged me to explore new directions and methodologies in my classwork, an advice I am glad to have taken, and which led me eventually to write on music. Kay Kaufman Shelemay inspired me to think of my historical work on music in the medieval Arab world as an ethnography, and encouraged me to see the relevance of my work beyond Arabic studies. Ginny Danielson supported my work, including that related to the Harvard Middle Eastern Music Study Group Ensemble, and helped produce our two CD recordings. Wheeler Thackston has been an inspiring language teacher and a dear friend. Amnon Shiloah discussed with me some of my ideas in part I of the dissertation, and shared his vast knowledge with me. I am indebted to Bassam Saba, my violin and cud teacher, for introducing me to the world of contemporary Arab music, and cultivating my passion for it. At Harvard, I was able to share this passion with my friend Greg White, with whom I spent endless hours talking about Arab music, as well as playing and co-organizing the Harvard Middle viii

Eastern Music Study Group Ensemble. To Ami Asher goes my gratitude for his careful reading of this manuscript and his insightful suggestions. I was fortunate to have had many friends who offered me their friendship and advice over the past years: Nir Eyal, Christian Lange, Roni Jortner, Roni Zirinski, Himmet Taskomur, Gabbi Berzin, Tami Katzir, Liat Kozma, Dan Monterescu and Erez Naaman. Finally, I want to thank my family for their unconditional love and support: my sister, Tammy Klein, for her love and stimulating conversations over the years, my mother, Sara Klein-Braslavy, for her endless love and support, and for inspiring me with her critical thought and passion for knowledge, and my father, Itzhak Klein (1935-1990), who was no longer with me during the years in which I worked on my dissertation, but whose memory, both as a scholar and as a loving father, is very much present in my life. I would not have been able to write this dissertation without my wife, Noa Havilio, who offered me her love, support and patience over my long years as a graduate student, and shared with me the joys and difficulties of life. I am indebted to her, not only for her help with the illustrations in part II, but also for her sharp insights while reading and discussing my work in its various stages. Last but not least, I am grateful to my sons Yuval and Yoel, born in the midst of my writing, for helping me put everything in proportion. IX

For my mother, Sara Klein-Braslavy & In memory of my father, Itzhak Klein (1935-1990) x

INTRODUCTION The musical instrument is the ultimate physical object of music. Unlike sounds or melodies, musical instruments are visible, tangible, and thus receive much of the attention directed at music. Being inanimate objects, which nevertheless seemed to possess a voice, they were intriguing objects for investigation for medieval Arab scholars from different disciplines. Discussions of musical instruments were prevalent in different genres of Arabic literature. Philosophical-musicological works used musical instruments to demonstrate and investigate the principles of music. In addition to their discussions of music theory, they engaged in discussions on the very nature of music, the way it is produced in the imagination, and how it affects the listener. Some philosophers used musical instruments to explain structures beyond the musical realm, those of nature and the universe. Islamic legal literature dedicates lengthy discussions to music and musical instruments. These are usually centered on a controversy as to music's legal status. Many jurists regarded music as a dangerous occupation, considering it an idle pass-time, associated with wine drinking and other moral vices that divert the believer from worshiping God. Others, especially jurists with Sufi inclinations, regarded musical audition more favorably, and held that in certain circumstances, music and musical instruments could even benefit the believers.1 Jurists who were opposed to music called 1 See: A. Gribetz, "The Samac Controversy: Sufi vs Legalist." Stadia Islamica lxxiv (1991): 43-62; Amnon Shiloah. "Music & Religion in Islam." Acta Musicologica 69, Fasc. 2 (1997): 143-55. 1

for the breaking of musical instruments whenever they were displayed in public, so that public breaking of instruments became the most visible manifestation of the legal debate over music.2 Music and musical instruments are a common topic in Arabic belletristic works, in both prose and poetry. Adab literature,3 medieval Arabic belles-lettres, provides a very different source for the study of music, offering exceptionally rich perspectives. From narratives recounting the origins of music, through poems describing musical instruments to anecdotes on excellent and poor musicians, adab works offer fascinating reflections on the meanings conveyed in music and the effects it has on the listener, as well as rich descriptions of the socio-historical context in which music was created. In fact, one of the largest and most famous adab works, the Kitdb al-aghanl of Abu 1-Faraj al-Isfahani, is structured around songs. This work provides abundant information about music and musical practices from pre-Islamic times to the 4"710th century. Adab and poetry anthologies, more often than not, contain sections on musicians and even on musical instruments. 2 Yaron Klein, "Between Public and Private: An Examination of hisba Literature." Harvard Middle Eastern and Islamic Review 7 (2006): 41-62. 3 I will be using the term adab in its sense as medieval Arabic belles-lettres. The term has other usages in the classical sources: polite behavior, the material for the muhadara and an inclusive term for philological studies containing in addition to belles-lettres also grammar. See Wolfhart Heinrichs. "Review of CHAL: cAbbasid Belles-Lettres. Eds. Julia Ashtiany et al." Al-CArabiyya 26 (1993): 129-37; Stephanie B. Thomas. "The Concept of Muhadara in the Adab Anthology with special reference to al-Raghib al-Isfahani's Muhadarat al-udaba\" Ph.D. Harvard University, 2000. 2

In compiling adab anthologies, authors followed the ideal that also dominated the majalis, according to which serious material (jidd) should be mixed with more light- hearted and amusing material (hazl). This created a literary space in which writers could freely explore a variety of new topics and occasionally present them under the guise of humor and comic relief. In the case of music, this approach enabled writers to explore a variety of themes without having to justify their inclusion as serious information. Instruments as a symbol of civilization Al-Mufaddal b. Salama (d. c. 292/905) is the author of one of the earliest Arabic works on musical instruments and music, Kitab al-malahl (The Book of Instruments). He begins his work, as many medieval Arab authors do, by explaining what led him to write his book: I was told that some people who presume to possess knowledge claim that the [pre-Islamic] Arabs did not know the cud, nor is there in their language any terminology for its strings and parts (alatihi). I therefore decided to clarify things regarding the ciid and the other musical instruments: who was the first to build them, and how did the Arabs call these instruments and their different parts.4 A grammarian from Kufa, Ibn Salama felt compelled to write a work about music and musical instruments to defend against what he saw as an attack on Arab identity: a claim, 4 Al-Mufaddal b. Salama, Kitab al-malahi wa-asma^iha min qibal al-muslqi. Edited by Ghattas cAbd al- Malik Khashaba. Cairo: al-Hay°a al-Misriyya al-cAmma li-1-Kitab, 1984: 8. Quoted in A. Shiloah "Malahf', El2. 3

which probably originated in Shucubt circles, that pre-Islamic Arabs did not know the cud or any other musical instrument prior to their encounter with the Persian civilization, and that the Arabic had no technical terminology for instruments. This passage is an early testament to the esteem and centrality ascribed to musical instruments in the emerging urban cAbbasid culture. Musical instruments were seen as a mark of civilization, sophistication and knowledge. By proving that the pre-Islamic Arabs had instruments before the Islamic conquests, Ibn Salama is not only just correcting a footnote about old Arab musical practices, but also defending Arab identity, showing that pre-Islamic Arabs had a respectable and sophisticated culture, no less than that of the ancestors of many of his Shucubl rivals. The social setting: the majalis The literary product of the cAbbasid culture, wasf poetry included, was created for the social elite: educated city dwellers, courtiers, or people who wanted to see themselves as such. The most important site for cultural consumption in these days was the institution of the majlis. The majalis were literary salons, social events, in which members of the 5 The Shu'ubiyya controversy was a literary debate, which peeked in the 3^/9* century. What started as protests by non-Arabs against their discrimination by Arab elements developed into a debate over the position of Arabs and non-Arabs, especially Persians, in the newly emerging cAbbasid culture. Supporters of the Shu'ubiyya ("Shuciibis") often expressed disregard towards the pre-Islamic Arabian heritage, stressing the superiority of the non-Arab, primarily Persian heritage. See Roy P. Mottahedeh "The Shucubiyya Controversy and the Social History of Early Islamic Iran." International Journal of Middle East Studies! (1976): 161-82. 4

elite would gather to enjoy an evening of entertainment, often with some intellectual stimulation. These encounters would be held in royal palaces or in dwellings of rich patrons. Some of these meetings were of a more formal nature, while others were quite informal. The participants were people close to the host. These included members of the royal court, the administration (kuttab), rich merchants, and scholars. Among the latter, who occupied a prominent position, were poets and men of letters, philosophers, astronomers and physicians, grammarians and philologians. The participants would contribute each from their expertise, and often debate one another. Jesters, dancers and musicians would often entertain the guests. These assemblies normally included banquets, in which food and wine were served.6 Caliphs and other dignitaries would include scholars and musicians in their retinue as "boon companions", so that they would be able to participate in these social-cultural events regularly. Other people of wealth would invite scholars and musicians to specific events, and reward them for their participation. To a large extent, medieval Arabic literature may be seen as written for the majalis audience, as preparation material and quarries to be used as "apt quotables," to use Heinrichs' term.7 Poetic expression was 6 On the majalis see: Beatrice Gruendler, Medieval Arabic Praise Poetry: Ibn al-Ruml and the patron's redemption, RoutledgeCurzon Studies in Arabic and Middle-Eastern literatures. London; New York: RoutledgeCurzon, 2003: 5-12; Dominic P. Brookshaw, "Palaces, Pavilions and Pleasure-gardens: the context and setting of the medieval majlis." Middle Eastern Literatures 6, no. 2 (2003): 199-223. 7 W. Heinrichs, "Review of CHAL: cAbbasid Belles-Lettres", 130-31; S. Thomas. "The Concept of Muhadara". 5

highly valued in the majdlis, and was composed not only by professional poets but also by any of the other participants, who were usually "amateur" poets. The majlis, then, was a social institution of great importance, a public sphere in which new ideas were spawned, very similar to the cafes at the time of the French Revolution. The majlis epitomized cAbbasid rule. The caliphs patronized scholars and artists, among them musicians. The weakening of the cAbbasid central power in the 4th/ 10th century, when provincial governors began to establish independent hereditary dynasties at the periphery of the empire, did not impair the privileged status of scholars and artists. On the contrary, as part of their efforts to present themselves as legitimate independent rulers, many of the new sovereigns sought legitimacy by establishing courts modeled upon the cAbbasid court (which itself echoed earlier Sassanian court models). As Mottahedeh pointed out, the competition between these courts provided abundant patronage opportunities for scholars of the time. This meant that scholars had more freedom to switch courts, and were less dependent on the graces of one specific court.8 The result was an increased mobility of scholars and cultural exchange of ideas. Ultimately, the breakup of the cAbbasid caliphate resulted in the emergence of many new centers of cultural patronage, and brought about an unprecedented period of cultural prosperity.9 8 Roy P. Mottahedeh. Loyalty and Leadership in an Early Islamic Society. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1980, 31. 9 Hugh Kennedy. "The cAbbasid Caliphate." In cAbbasid Belles-Lettres, edited by Julia Ashtiany et al. Cambridge [England]; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990: 1-15. 6

One of the most interesting examples of a minor dynasty that established an impressive cultural center through generous court patronage is the Hamdanid dynasty (4th/10th century), whose two branches ruled al-Jazira from Mosul and Syria from Aleppo. The dynasty's most important prince, Sayf al-Dawla (r. 333-56/944-67), the amir of Aleppo, was an avid patron of the arts and sciences, and gathered in his court an impressive number of scholars and litterateurs of various fields.10 Among those patronized were a number of excellent poets: the great panegyric poet al-Mutanabbi (d. 354/955), al-Sanawbari (d. 334/945), known primarily for his descriptive poems, and Kushajim (d. 350/961 or 360/971), a master of descriptive poetry (wasf), who wrote extensively on musical themes. Other scholars of that court were the grammarian Ibn Jinni (d. 392/1002),11 the philosopher al-Farabi (who joined the court in 330/942), author of the Kitab al-muslql l-kablr (The Great Book of Music), and Abu 1-Faraj al-Isfahani (d. c 356/967)n, author of the voluminous Kitab al-aghdnl (Book of Songs). It is interesting to note that many of the people Sayf al-Dawla gathered in his court also wrote about 10 Julie S. Meisami. "Hamdanids." In Encyclopedia of Arabic Literature, edited by Julie S. Meisami and Paul Starkey. London; New York: Routledge, 1998: 268-9. " For an extensive list of the scholars patronized by the Hamdanid dynasty see: Th. Bianquis, "Sayf al- Dawla", EI2. See also Joel L. Kraemer, Humanism and the Renaissance of Islam: The Cultural Revival during the BuyidAge. Leiden: E.J..Brill, 1986: 89-91. 12 Kilpatrick, in her study of the Kitab al-aghanT, questions whether Abu 1-Faraj ever spent time in Aleppo with the Hamdanids. See Hilary Kilpatrick. Making the Great Book of Songs: compilation and the author's craft in Abu l-Faraj al-Isbahanl's Kitab al-aghdnl New York: RoutledgeCurzon, 2003: 19-20. 7

music. The Aleppo court poets were also known for their descriptive poems, many of which addresses musical themes and instruments. The following work examines two different discourses around musical instruments in medieval Arabic literature: the first within the domain of poetry, and the second within philosophy-musicology. It explores the symbolic values and meanings attached to musical instruments, and the ways in which the two genres used instruments to make sense of music, and the world beyond it. Part I analyzes descriptive poetry related to musical instruments. Descriptive poetry (wasf) is a genre that flourished in the early cAbbasid period (around 3rd-4th/8th-10th centuries), and is arguably one of the most important innovations of cAbbasid poetry. It is comprised of short poems, written as "impressions" of an object or a number of related objects. The topics chosen for wasf poems by cAbbasid poets, were carefully selected from among articles that represented the newly emerging urban culture: items related to wine culture, scientific tools, "tamed landscape" (gardens, pools, palaces), as well as musical instruments. As we will see below, wasf poetry became an experimental literary space that allowed reflection on the symbols of the new urban culture, including musical instruments. Part II examines musicological works by two of the most influential philosophers of the 3rd-4s,/9st-10st centuries, Abu Yusuf al-Kindl (d. c. 256/870) and Abu Nasr al-Farabl (d. 339/950), as well as the epistle on music in the compendium on the sciences by the Ikhwan al-Safa° (c. 4"7mid-10th century). These works, each in its own way, viewed musical instruments as scientific devices, laboratories, which facilitate inquiries into the 8

the principles of music, and beyond, as a way to comprehend the all-pervasive structure and harmony of the universe.

PART I: POETRY MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS IN WASF POETRY: THE CONSTRUCTION OF A MEANINGFUL OBJECT 10

1. Introduction: Wasf Poetry The following discussion is dedicated to a unique type of discourse about musical instruments that was conducted within the literary realm of "descriptive" (wasf) poetry, a genre that reached its peak in the 3rd-4th/9th-10th centuries. After discussing the wasf genre and the socio-cultural milieu in which it was conceived, I offer several observations on the significance of the genre in general, and its implications for musical instruments. I then analyze a selection of poems describing musical instruments. In an oft-quoted passage in his handbook, al-cUmda, the 5th/! 1th century literary critic Ibn Rashlq al-Qayrawani states that "almost all poetry is description" (al-shicr ilia aqallahu rajicun ila bdbi l-wasf).13 Nonetheless, Arab literary critics and compilers of poetry have acknowledged an independent genre of poems whose primary purpose is description, and referred to it as wasf. Many critics, such as Qudama b. Jacfar (d. c. 320/932) and CA1I b. cIsa al-Rummanl (d. 384/994) even considered wasf to be one of the main genres of poetry (aghrdd, lit. "purposes") alongside others such as praise (madlh), invective (hijd3), love (nasib), and elegy (mardtht).14 13 Ibn Rashlq al-Qayrawani, al-cUmda. Edited by Muhammad Muhyi al-Din cAbd al-Hamld. Cairo: Matbacat Hijazi, 1934. Vol. II: 278. 14 Qudama b. Jacfar, Naqd al-shicr. Edited by Kamal Mustafa. Cairo: Matbacat al-KhanjI, 1949: 51; Geert Jan Van Gelder, "Some Brave Attempts at Generic Classification in Premodern Arabic Literature." In Aspects of Genre and Type in Pre-Modern Literary Cultures, edited by Bert Roest and Herman Vanstiphout. Groningen: Styx, 1999: 19. 11

Wasf is among the most original and sophisticated genres of medieval Arabic poetry. It originated in descriptive passages in the pre-Islamic qaslda, and evolved over time into an independent poetic genre. The descriptive sections not only gained independence from the rest of the qaslda, but the objects described in these sections changed over time, from pre-Islamic through Umayyad and up to the cAbbasid period. The descriptive sections in the pre-Islamic qaslda were devoted to themes from the life of the inhabitants of the Arabian peninsula. The poets depicted the encampments, where in former times the tribe of the poet and his beloved dwelled together, the desert landscape, whether fertile or not, the elements such as rain, thunder, lightning, clouds, and the vegetation of the desert. They described domestic animals such as camels, horses, hunting dogs, cheetahs, hawks and falcons, as well as the wild animals such as ibexes, antelopes, gazelles, onagers, ostriches, wolves, hyenas and birds, especially birds of prey.15 The expansion of Islam outside of Arabia and the migration of Arab tribes into the new territories introduced major changes into the qaslda. The newly created urban See Albert Arazi, "Wasf (a.)." The Encyclopaedia of Islam - New Edition, edited by: P. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel and W.P. Heinrichs. Brill, 2007. Brill Online; Joseph Sadan, "Wasf" In Encyclopedia of Arabic Literature, edited by Julie S. Meisami and Paul Starkey. London; New York: Routledge, 1998: 806-7. 15 Hasan Numayri and Musa Mahmud. Mukhtar al-wasf: dirasah li-nusus min shicr al-wasf tarajim li- abraz shucaraDih: mutabaca li-mazahir tatawwurih, malamih camma li-shicr al-wasf. Damascus, 2004: 1-9; Arazi, "Wasf"; Joseph Sadan, "Wasf": 806-7. See also Akiko M. Sumi, Description in Classical Arabic Poetry: Wasf, Ekphrasis, and Interarts Theory. Leiden ; Boston, MA: Brill, 2004. 12

centers in the Fertile Crescent stood in stark contrast to the Arabian Desert landscape and nomadic lifestyle. While more conservative poets continued to write nostalgically about the desert, representing a bygone past,16 the new cAbbasid urban culture inspired others to expand the range of their poetry. Since many of the poets were employed at the cAbbasid court and others akin to it, a great number of the poems depicted themes and objects related to court culture. Among these many were related to wine culture, depicting every aspect relating to drinking sessions, from the cup-bearer (sdqt) to wine-cups, and even wine bubbles. They described the palaces and gardens in which many of these sessions took place. Other common themes were hunting scenes and the animals involved in hunting, as well as the variety of tools used by urban professionals, such as scribes and scholars (pens and inkpots, for example) or scientists (compasses, astrolabes, hourglasses, and so on). Finally, poets also described games played by the urban elite (backgammon, nard, and chess, shatranj/shitranf). Wasf gradually came to epitomize a new highbrow culture, and poets were expected to master it if they wanted to be employed in the courts and receive public recognition.17 As the value of wasf rose, poets began dedicating independent poems to wasf. At first, wasf poetry is still attached to the qaslda, and we see poets devoting entire qasldas to wasf themes; such is the Iwaniyya of al-Buhturi (d. 284/897), which describes the palace of Kisra. In the second phase, poets begin to write very short poems (qitac sg. 16 See Rina Drory. "The Abbasid Construction of the Jahiliyya: Cultural Authority in the Making." Studia Islamica (1996): 38-49. 17 See Arazi, "Wasf EI2. 13

qifd), almost "impressions" of an object or a number of related objects, presented independent of the qaslda and its poetic restrictions. By the 4th/10th century, many poets were writing wasf poems independent of the qaslda. A number of poets became known largely for their wasf poetry, such as al-Sanawbari (d. 334/945), Kushajim (d. 350/961 or 360/971), al-Maamum (d. 383/993) and al-Sari al-RaffaD (d. 362/972-3). Others composed a great number of wasf poems alongside poems in other genres, as is the case of Ibn al-Rumi (d. c. 283/896).18 A number of themes became so prevalent that they developed over time into independent subgenres of wasf such as wine poems (khamriyyat), garden poems (rawdiyyat), flower poems (zahriyydt or nawriyyai), and hunting poems (tardiyyat).19 These new genres reflected both a broader and a narrower understanding of wasf. They contained mostly descriptions of actions, while in the narrow sense wasf tried to capture an object through similes and metaphors. As observed by Sadan, over time, many wasf poems began to be constructed as enigmas. These poems described an object without mentioning it by name, turning the poem into a riddle (lughz pi. alghaz). The anthologist usually names the object referred 18 Joseph Sadan. "Wasf." In Encyclopedia of Arabic Literature, edited by Julie S. Meisami and Paul Starkey. London; New York: Routledge, 1998: 806-7. 19 Schoeler considers the poet al-Sanawbari as a turning point with which zahriyydt, rawdiyyat and rabViyyat became genres in their own right, no longer part of wasf. See Gregor Schoeler. Arabische Naturdichtung: die Zahriyat, RabViyat und Raudiyat von ihren Anfangen bis As-Sanaubarl: eine gattungs-, motiv- und stilgeschichtliche Untersuchung, Beiruter Texte und Studien; Bd. 15. Beirut, Wiesbaden: Orient-Institut der Deutschen Morgenlandischen Gesellschaft; in Kommission bei Steiner, 1974. 14

to.20 Arazi points out that wasf poetry introduced more than just a new set of themes for the poet to describe. The new poetry suggested that the mundane and the so-called prosaic world possesses a poetic aspect deserving poetic attention.21 Wasf poetry underwent many developments from its beginnings as an independent genre to its climax in the 4th/10th century and beyond. As suggested by Heinrichs and Sadan, wasf themes became increasingly sophisticated and mannerist with the introduction of the badic repertoire. The audience demanded not realistic but rather artful descriptions, such that developed and elaborated on the various tropes.22 Artistic merit was demonstrated not only in creating new themes or images, but also in elaborating and refining old ones. As for the objects chosen by wasf poets, I argue that wasf poetry not only reflected a change in the material objects of the time, but rather took part in shaping the cultural icons or "key symbols", representing the new elite lifestyle in the urban centers of the 2nd-4th/8*-10th centuries. Taking musical instruments as an example, they did so by directing attention to these objects, constituting them as central representations of highbrow culture, thus increasing their symbolic value. In addition, poems provided a way of "reading" musical instruments by associating them with other valued symbols of high-culture. Wasf poetry gradually turns into an 20 Sadan, ibid. For a detailed discussion of riddle-was/poems, see below: p. 83. 21 Arazi, ibid. 22 See Wolfhart Heinrichs. "Literary Theory: The Problem of its Efficiency." In Arabic Poetry: Theory and Developments, edited by G.E. Von Grunebaum. Weisbaden: Otto Harrassowitz, 1973: 26. Sadan, ibid. 15

Full document contains 263 pages
Abstract: My dissertation examines representations of musical instruments in medieval Arabic descriptive poetry (wasf ) and philosophical-musicological writings. My analysis explores the symbolic value and meanings ascribed to musical instruments, and how each of the two discourses referred to instruments to make sense of music, the world and human experience. In Part 1, I analyze descriptions of musical instruments by a variety of wasf poets. The flourishing of the wasf genre, together with the rise of the new elite culture of the `Abbasids, suggests that wasf should be seen not only as a literary development of creative art, but also as a literary space that promoted and shaped the new urban culture. I argue that wasf poetry helped establish musical instruments as cultural icons of the elite urban culture as it emerged in the early days of the `Abbasids, together with other objects and practices valued by the elite, such as wine, palaces, gardens and scientific instruments. I also argue that literature, poetry included, should be regarded as one of the extra-musical forces shaping people's enjoyment and "understanding" of musical events, similar to the way program notes and critical reviews affect the reception of music by modern consumers. Part 2 analyzes discussions of musical instruments by al-Kindi (d. c. 256/870), the Ikhwan al-S[dotbelow]afa` (c. 4th /mid-10th century) and al-Farabi (d. 339/950). Arab philosophers regarded musical instruments as products of scientific speculation--as laboratories, in which nature's laws could be tested as well as demonstrated. Al-Kindi and the Ikhwan evinced strong Pythagorean influence in their understanding of music. They regarded music as the audible manifestation of the order of the universe expressed in mathematical ratios, and musical instruments as scientific devices constructed primarily for the purpose of displaying these mathematical proportions and the interconnectedness the of the micro- and macro-cosmos. Al-Farabi's understanding of the nature of music, and consequently, musical instruments, was radically different from that of his Arab-Pythagorean predecessors. He played down Pythagorean ideas in favor of Aristoxenian and Ptolemaic concepts. Music for him was a human project developed in a historical context and not representative of any superordinate mathematical order beyond music. Instruments, in turn, were scientific tools with which to think music: to gather musical data and experiment with various hypotheses.