The musical genre of taarab is played for entertainment at weddings and other festive occasions all along the Swahili Coast in East Africa. Taarab contains all the features of a typical 'Indian Ocean' music, combining influences from Egypt, the Arabian Peninsula, India and the West with local musical practices. In Taarab, Music in Zanzibar, Janet Topp Fargion traces the development of the genre in Zanzibar, from the late nineteenth century to the end of the twentieth. Of special interest is the role of women. Although men play the main role in the composition and performance of the genre, Topp Fargion argues that the modernization of the genre owes a debt to the participation of women - as audiences and primary consumers, but also as poets and innovators of musical concepts. The book weaves together the historical, social, economic, religious and political dynamics involved in the development of the genre, and investigates how these are played out in the performance of taarab music on Zanzibar.
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Throughout the course of the twentieth century, as newly formed nations sought ways to develop and formalise their national identity and acquire a range of identifiable national assets, we find new musical canons springing up across the world. But these canons are not arbitrary collections of works imposed on the public by the authorities. Rather they acquire deep resonance and meaning, both as national symbols and as musical repertoires imbued with aesthetic value. This book traces the formation of one such musical canon: the Twelve Muqam, a set of musical suites linked to the Uyghurs, who are one of China's minority nationalities, and culturally Central Asian Muslims. The book draws on Uyghur and Chinese language publications; interviews with musicians and musicologists; field, archive and commercial recordings, and aims towards an understanding of the Twelve Muqam as musical repertoire, juxtaposed with an understanding of the Twelve Muqam as a field of discourse. The book brings together several years' work in this field, but its core arises from a research project under the auspices of the AHRC Centre for Music Performance and Dance.
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