Universiteit Leiden

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PhD project

PALESTINIAN MUSIC IN THE WEST BANK, TRACKING NATIONAL IDENTITY AND PERFORMANCE PRACTICES, 1967 -1993.

The research will focus on music-making in the West Bank, including Jerusalem, from 1967-1993, a historical period with a wide range of musical productions that was defined by politics, cultural policy, exile, class, and socioeconomic factors. It will explore music-making as processes linked to the conditions that musicians adhered to while under military occupation and the experiences they went through.

Contact
Issa Boulos

At the time where the story of Palestinian music and its lyricists, singers, composers is still unknown to many, we currently have within reach a reasonable collection of historical material that is sufficient to establish a narrative; one that will shed the light on the evolution of Palestinian music during this specific period and examine its state and impact. The research will focus on music-making in the West Bank, including Jerusalem, from 1967-1993, a historical period with a wide range of musical productions that was defined by politics, cultural policy, exile, class, and socioeconomic factors. It will explore music-making as processes linked to the conditions that musicians adhered to while under military occupation and the experiences they went through. These processes may be reflected through form, maqam selection, melodic structures, rhythms, social function, context, lyrics, and venues. While focusing on musicians, lyricists, trends, groups and bands, I shall examine how and what musical instruments are used and how musicians utilize compositional and instrumental techniques. I’ll also investigate how and when they apply ornaments and embellishments, how they perceive rhythms, timbre and textures. My focus on maqams (scales and modes), pitches, selected tempo and dynamics, will help understand the reason that make musicians choose to perform in a certain way in any context, including folk or classical genres. I will examine how they negotiate their own point of reference, i.e., the classical traditions that preceded them and track how they as individuals change in terms of their sense of identity and artistry.

My active role as a Palestinian musician working in the West Bank as well as my academic training and my involvement in education and research are exemplified through my works and publications and are marked by an objective approach that is based on inquiry, asking critical question, and attempting to provide a truthful overview of issues. Subsequently, I shall conduct my study in person through interviewing artists, composers, activists and witnesses who were directly linked to music-making in the West Bank during those years. I’ll be responsible for traveling from one country to another and from region to another when needed. The areas that I will cover will be Palestine, Jordan, Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, France, U.K., Tunisia, the U.S.A., Canada and other countries if needed. I shall engage in interviews with composers, lyricists, performers, and organizers and will ultimately hear the stories of those who participated in making music and go into more details about their own works. These interviews will provide clarity on how music-making in the West Bank was carried and explore who and what and where and when. Some of this fieldwork has already taken place and currently archived by the Palestinian Institute for Cultural Development NAWA, a research organization that I co-founded in 2001. My final doctoral submission will be in book form and will be organized as follows: 1- Introduction; 2- Music and song in Palestine during the first half of the 20th century; 3- The impact of Pan-Arabism on Palestinian music-making; 4- Cultural policy in the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), since 1968; 5- Music in the West Bank since 1978 to Oslo.
It will be primarily text while utilizing other supporting material as references and primary source materials such as musical transcriptions, images, videos, and audio.

 

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