Reviews

In a collective work devoted to the question of nostalgia in music (see also in infra 378 my review of Sultanova), this paper proposes a large overview of the issue of emotion in traditional classical Iranian, Central Asian, and more generally ‘Oriental’ music.  The text begins with a short historical report on the treatment of ethos in medieval, notably in Farabi’s, literature on music.  The author exposes the evolution of the functions of affects on the basis of a therapeutic conception of musical modes (seen as world representations).  J.D. then explains why the opposition between nostalgia and optimism has kept the debate on between ‘traditionalists’ and ‘modernists’.  He presents the political uses of “musical painfulism” in Iran, and the musical transformations born from the application of “optimistic” political doctrines (Soviet in Uzbekistan, Maoist in China).  From his viewpoint, modernists entertain a too simple vision of nostalgia, and they did not understand how this ethos, which he defines as a “feeling of closeness of the past”, is structurally linked with the conception of Tradition.  Then analysing the suffering concept in falak and katta ashula repertoires of songs in Central Asia, and how it supposes a transcendence towards the Divine, J.D. focuses on the necessity expressed by musicians to carry pain (dard) inwardly, and on its interpretation.  The oriental classical singer should control psychical moods in order to let the auditor feel a “objectless” but living emotion.  The question of the singer’s ‘morality’ is then evocated to define the hal (emotional condition) as a “fugitive moment” structurally articulated with nostalgia and the notion of Tradition.  Finally, J.D. deals with the status of intervals (see infra 374 my review of his paper on intervals), seen as hal producers and guarantors of national authenticity of music as well as of the expressive authenticity of the interpreter.  So doing J.D. bases the difference between the ‘nomadic’ musical cultures (horizontal singing turned toward earth and telluric powers) and the ‘sedentary’ ones (ascendant singing with transcendent aim, linked with the influence of Islam).  The paper ends up with the story of an Uzbek bard’s nostalgia:  In a short but dense text, the author provides keys for the analysis of the difficult—if not fundamental in the ethnomusicology of the Orient—question of emotion, and of its grasp by musicians and by auditors—to say nothing of ethnomusicologists themselves.

Ariane Zevaco, French Institute of Research in Iran, Tehran
CER: I-4.5-373