The Making of the Musical World - A Story in Sound - Andrew Killick

The Making of the Musical World - A Story in Sound - Andrew Killick

The Middle East: Another Way of Thinking

The Making of the Musical World - A Story in Sound - Andrew Killick

Andrew Killick [+-]
University of Sheffield
Andrew Killick has been teaching and writing about the world’s music professionally since 1998. His passion for all forms of music has led him literally around the world, including studies at the University of Edinburgh, the University of Hawaii, and the University of Washington, periods of fieldwork in India and Korea, and teaching at Illinois State University and Florida State University before taking up his current position at the University of Sheffield in 2003. Originally trained as a classical pianist, he also plays the Korean gayageum zither and an English bagpipe, the Northumbrian smallpipes. His academic publications include two books on Korean music topics, about twenty refereed journal articles and book chapters, and substantial contributions to the Garland Encyclopedia of World Music and the Continuum Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World. In his spare time he likes to compose “rounds” in a wide variety of musical styles.


The root of the “music tree” that extends from America to Europe does not end there, for the European tradition itself was to a great extent a product of influences from elsewhere. This is demonstrated initially through the history of musical instruments, many of which can be traced to origins in the Islamic cultures of the Middle East. Even the instruments of the drum kit are traced back, via American and European marching bands and the exoticist “Turkish marches” of European classical composers, to ancestors in the military bands of the Ottoman Empire. Once more, having introduced the region through its contribution to music that is widely known around the world, we try to understand the musical culture on its own terms. The rather uneasy relationship between music and Islamic teachings provides a key to the diversity of musical practices in the region and their varying status and prestige. It also provides an example of a different “way of thinking” from European assumptions about music, including the positive connotations of the word “music” itself (as in “music to my ears”). Middle Eastern music also illustrates a different way of organizing both pitch and rhythm from anything we have encountered so far, and our vocabulary for talking about musical features is expanded by looking at Middle Eastern melodic and rhythmic “modes” and the use of “quarter-tones” that lie between the notes of the piano keyboard.

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Killick, Andrew. The Middle East: Another Way of Thinking. The Making of the Musical World - A Story in Sound. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. Sep 2022. ISBN 9781781793411. Date accessed: 16 Jul 2020 doi: 10.1558/equinox.27324. Sep 2022

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