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Diasporic Musings

March 18, 2018

Returning to Mysticism

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — fatemaelbakoury @ 5:56 pm

I wanted to explore the ways in which I could participate in the practice of Sama’. As a woman, I always notice how these rituals are relegated to men, and women are at most allowed to participate in a peripheral manner. When I did research on the Sama’ practice and the whirling dervishes, this video came up. While I was moved by their cohesion, and the clarity of their commitment to a higher power, I was still wondering why I have never seen a woman do that. So I did some more research and came across this album of meditative Sufi music. While the woman is not seen spinning around, she repeats the phrase “La Illaha Illa Allah.” Her voice is beautiful and atmospheric. I wanted to highlight that, so I added an echo effect to her voice during the edits. I also lowered the men’s voices so that her’s took precedent. I did not want to demarcate or dismiss any particular practice, so instead, I decided to bring the two voices together. There are times where the instruments of one crash with the other, and the two voices create a jubilance of sound and communion. I debated whether I should attempt to splice the two tracks such that a harmony joined the two, but I liked the atmospheric chaos that the two voices brought together.

In Carl Ernst’s piece, he states, “The mass reproduction of Sufi music for new audiences in the twentieth century and the performance of Sufi music and dance on concert stages have to some extent redefined the spiritual practice as an aesthetic event for spectators in which music takes priority over the word” (198). I felt that the whirling dervishes defied this notion through their repetitive phrases, as does the woman who repeatedly states that there is no God but Allah. I wanted to try returning to an older time with my own, potentially modern sentiments for equity and representation. I wanted to harness a duality between man and woman; old and new; loud and quiet; the sharpness of drums and the soft vibrations of guitar strings. The piece I created has a steep ebb and flow, but it is one that I felt mirrors my own tumultuous yet tranquil relationship with Allah. My hope is that a different but also traditional meditative experience is cultivated so that I too can listen with my heart. 


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