It was the late eighteenth-century Bengali "mystic"-musician-metaphysician Lalon Fakir's songs which once led me to think of m...

Lalon Fakir and Arab Musicology || Azfar Hussain

6:09 AM Editor 0 Comments

It was the late eighteenth-century Bengali "mystic"-musician-metaphysician Lalon Fakir's songs which once led me to think of musical production in terms of its connections to nature and the body. Taking cues from our age-old rural saying in Bangladesh--"Jaha nahi dehobhande taha nai bissho-brommande" [That which doesn't reside in the body doesn't reside in the world/nature and vice versa]--I even got lost in the poetic modality of thinking through this question: How can one listen to music well if one doesn't know how to listen to nature and to the (human) body itself? In fact, Lalon's own songs suggest in a variety of ways that the human body is the site and source--as nature is--of the production of musical sounds, and that the human body itself is rhythmical, to begin with. 

And I keep thinking of some early Arab thinkers. I see that the ninth/tenth-century Arab historian and geographer Al-Masudi--who also theorized music--suggests that there's a correspondence between the human body and what's called "nature," and that the humors of the body are variously tuned to the vibration of music. And then another ninth/tenth-century Arab thinker Al-Farabi--who was not only a philosopher and cosmologist but also a musicologist in his own right--tells us that rhythm contributes to the beauty of nature, and that the human body itself is rhythmical. 

Of course, Arab music aesthetics and musicology cannot be reduced to a few ideas. It's really a vast area, and I gotta explore more. But, meanwhile, I also keep thinking of a street-singer I met at a time when I was leaving my high school in Faridpur, I think. I never knew that singer's name, but he was famously known in the area for his form of "Zikr" (or "Dhikr") that included recitation and singing and even dancing. Once he told me this: "Listen to your body well. You may hear the Most Beautiful 99 songs!"


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