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calligram assignment

on calligram assignment:

For my calligram assignment, I chose to compose a short musical piece that, on the sheet music, spelled out the word “Allah.” Listen and view the music here.  The piece, like Western sheet music, is read left-to-right, rather than the right-to-left of Arabic — yet the word remains in shape. I performed the selection on my trombone and recorded it.

The course concept this calligram relates to is the idea of sound as religious experience. The Quran is famous for its aural beauty, shaping stories such as the Umar ibn Al Khattab’s conversion to Islam after hearing the gorgeous Quran, or how Navid Kermani notes in God is Beautiful that disbelievers would refuse to listen to the Quran, for if they did, they would be spell-bound by its beauty and convert (Kermani 47). I was inspired to pursue the medium of sound in my calligram when Professor Asani used the image of the divine coming through the pinhole of the hear in lecture. Music, and its creation, has always been a very transcendent experience for me, and I tried to represent that power of aural beauty in my compositional piece.

As I am trained in the Western style (as a trombonist, but certainly not as a composer), the music draws off a musical tradition that is separate from Islam. And yet, the strange beauty of my work remains, connecting to the transcendent concept of Allah that is beyond our comprehension, and cannot be understood fully through theology, or indeed, human-created methods like this piece. I attempted to build tension throughout the work and create confusing and majestic, yet strangely comforting sounds to represent the Usma Al-Husna, the many sides of Allah. And yet, in trying to capture the divine in sound, something still escapes comprehension. Please enjoy.

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