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SOAS scholar publishes Mamluk text

Book cover

11 June 2014

Owen Wright, Emeritus Professor of Musicology of the Middle East at SOAS, University of London provides a critical insight in the only text representative of musicological discourse in Cairo during the early fourteenth century CE in his latest book.

Music Theory in Mamluk Cairo, published by Ashgate, examines the ġāyat al-maṭlūb fī ‘ilm al-adwār wa-'l-ḍurūb by Ibn Kurr, the most significant work of music theory to survive from the Mamluk period. It provides both a critical edition of the text and a detailed commentary and analysis. The introduction situates the work in relation to the dominant theoretical tradition of the period and provides biographical information about the author, active in Cairo during the first half of the fourteenth century.

The text is important because of the richness of the information it provides with regard to modal and rhythmic structures, and also because of the extent to which the definitions it offers differ from those set forth in the dominant theoretical tradition spanning the period from the middle of the thirteenth century to the late fifteenth. Alongside the presumption of transregional uniformity these texts suggest, it consequently asserts the significance of local particularism.