George Dimitri Sawa’s Arabic Musical and Socio-Cultural Glossary of
Kitāb al-Aghānī is the first comprehensive lexicographical study of Umayyad and early Abbāsid-era music theory and practices. It defines melodic and rhythmic modes, musical forms, instruments, technical terms and metaphors used in evaluating compositions and performances, and the emotional effects of ṭarab. It explains the processes of composition and learning, performance practice, musical change and aesthetics, and addresses the behavior of court musicians to help understand societal views of music. Medieval dictionaries, reference works on Arabic literature, theoretical treatises as well as full quotations from the
Aghānī are used. This glossary will be of interest to scholars and students of the music and socio-cultural history of the early Islamic era.
George Dimitri Sawa is an independent scholar. He taught Middle Eastern Music History: medieval, modern and sacred music,
at the University of Toronto (1987-1995) and York University (1982-1986, 1994, 2006-2007)