Friday, November 14, 2014

Abdullah Ibrahim: Zikr



In The Music of Life, the Sufi master Hazrat Inayat Khan wrote:
What does music teach us? Music helps us to train ourselves in harmony, and it is this that is the magic secret behind music. When you hear music that you enjoy, it tunes you and puts you in harmony with life. Therefore man needs music; he longs for music. Many say they do not care for music, but these have not heard music. If they really heard music it would touch their souls, and then certainly they could not help loving it. If not, it would only mean that they had not heard music sufficiently, and had not made their hearts calm and quiet to listen to it and to enjoy and appreciate it. Besides, music develops that faculty by which one learns to appreciate all that is good and beautiful in the form of art and science, and in the form of music and poetry one can appreciate every aspect of beauty.
The performance here is by the great South African pianist and composer Abdullah Ibrahim. Aside from being gorgeous, moving, and powerful, this song demonstrates some nice musicology. Zikr is a form of Islamic prayer, yet the melody has strong Christian tones, reminding me of the classic hymn The First Noel. And the chanting, I think, must have some indigenous roots, too. This, my friends, is globalization done right. Oh, and perhaps it goes without saying, music done right. Let the sound pour over and through you.

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