(b Baghdad, July 779; d Samarra’, July 839). Arab musician. He was a son of the Abbasid Caliph al-Mahdī and a Persian slave at court called Shikla. He became famous for his fine and powerful voice with its range of four octaves, and first took part in court concerts during the reigns of Hārūn al-Rashīd (786–809) and al-Amīn (809–13). Proclaimed caliph in 817 in opposition to al-Ma’mūn (813–33), he had to abdicate after barely two years and went into hiding. In 825 he was pardoned and became a court musician once more under al-Ma’mūn and his successor al-Mu‘taṣim (833–42). He was a follower of the school of Ibn Jāmi‘ and represented a ‘soft’ style, probably influenced by Persian music, which also allowed freedom in rendering older works. His rival Isḥāq al-Mawṣilī accused him of stylistic uncertainty; fragments of their polemic writings are quoted in the Kitāb al-aghānī al-kabīr...
(b Manchester, Aug 7, 1963). Palestinian singer, musician and musicologist. Her father came from Ya'bad, near Jenin, her mother from Nazareth, and Kilānī was born in England but brought up in Kuwait. She studied Western classical music as a child and started singing in public at an early age. After graduating in zoology from Kuwait University, she worked as a scientific assistant researcher. At the same time she built her reputation as a concert performer, at first mainly of jazz and then increasingly of Arab music. By the time Kilānī left Kuwait for London in 1989 she was a well-established performer. She has since built up an international career as a leading performer and researcher of Palestinian music. Her repertory includes traditional songs, improvisations and settings of contemporary Palestinian poetry. Through her workshops on music and dance for children, she communicates the Palestinian heritage to younger generations. She has given many concerts in Britain, and has toured North America, Europe and the Middle East. She has also worked as a performer, composer and adviser on numerous films, TV and radio programmes....
Joseph S.C. Lam
[given name, Shangquan ]
(fl 1522–72). Chinese composer, singer and theorist . He played a central role in developing the Kunshan qiang, a regional singing style of the Kunshan area of Jiangsu province that had first emerged in the middle decades of the 14th century, into a national genre of operatic music known as Kunqu that came to dominate the Chinese theatre from the late 16th century and the 17th.
Details of Wei’s biography are vague, but available data describe him as a singer of ‘northern arias’ (beiqu) from Jiangxi province who, after moving to Taicang in Jiangsu province, devoted himself to the development of Kunshan qiang. Finding the original Kunshan qiang bland and lacking in interest, he yet realized its expressive potential, and refined it by incorporating aspects from other contemporary vocal styles. His new version of the Kunshan qiang style featured melismatic melodies perfectly matching the linguistic tones of the lyrics, floating around the accompaniment of ...
Bonnie C. Wade and Inderjit N. Kaur
(b Jahaj, near Baroda, 1897; d Bombay, 1967). North Indian (Hindustani) classical music vocalist, educator, and musicologist. He was born to an impoverished military family. In about 1909 a wealthy Parsi patron sent him for musical training in the Gwalior style of singing to Vishnu Digambar Paluskar’s Gandharva Mahāvidyālaya in Bombay. In 1916 Paluskar assigned Thakur the position of principal of the school’s Lahore branch; there he became acquainted with the Patiala Gharānā style. In 1919 he started his own musical institution, the Gandharva Niketan, in Broach. He regularly performed the patriotic song Vande Matram at the annual sessions of the Indian National Congress and in the 1920s served as president of the Broach District Congress Committee.
Thakur was among the first Indian musicians to perform widely in Europe, and between 1933 and 1954 he gave concerts in many cities. His Khayāl style differed in important ways from the Gwalior ...
revised by Robert Atayan and Aram Kerovpyan
[Gomidas Vartabed; Soghomonian, Soghomon]
(b Kütahya, Turkey, Oct 8, 1869; d Paris, Oct 22, 1935). Armenian composer, ethnomusicologist, choral conductor, singer and teacher. One of the first Armenians to have a classical Western musical education, as well as instruction in the music of his own people, he laid the foundations for a distinctive national style in his many songs and choruses, all of which are deeply influenced by the folk and church traditions of Armenia. His work on Armenian folksong is also of musicological importance.
Robert Atayan, revised by Aram Kerovpyan
Both of his parents (his father Gevorg Soghomonian was a cobbler) had gifts for music and poetry; in 1881, however, the boy was orphaned and sent to Armenia to study at the Gevork’ian Theological Seminary in Vagharshapat (now Edjmiadzine), and was ordained as a celibate priest in 1894, being given the name Komitas (a 7th-century Catholicos who was also a hymn composer). There his beautiful voice and his musical talents attracted notice, and under Sahak Amatuni’s guidance he mastered the theory and practice of Armenian liturgical singing. He also made decisive contact with folksong, to the collection and study of which he gave himself wholeheartedly. When he had only just learnt Armenian modern notation he set about recording the songs of the Ararat valley peasants and immigrant Armenians of other regions. Although he had no knowledge of European music theory, he harmonized these songs for performance with a student choir at the academy. His earliest surviving collection of folk melodies dates from ...
Matthew Harp Allen
(b Madras [now Chennai], India, Aug 13, 1927; d Hartford, CT, Sept 10, 2002). flutist, vocalist, and ethnomusicologist of Indian birth. Born into a family of musicians and dancers, he received his musical training from his mother T. Jayammal and from flutist T.N. Swaminatha Pillai, an MA in economics from Annamalai University (1951), and a PhD in ethnomusicology from Wesleyan University (1975).
He first came to the United States as a Fulbright scholar at UCLA (1958–60), was reader and head of the department of Indian music at the University of Madras (1961–6), and returned to the United States, where he studied ethnomusicology at Wesleyan University (1967–1970), taught at the California Institute of the Arts (1970–5), and then worked in the faculty of Wesleyan University (1975–2002).
He was honored in India with the Kalaimamani Award by the government of Tamil Nadu (...