Indiana University Bloomington
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Silk Road:  musical Cultures of Central Eurasia and the Middle East
Catalog number CEUS-U 320/520
Shahyar Daneshgar

This survey course introduces undergraduate and graduate students to the main musical and cultural practices of the peoples of Central Eurasia and the Middle East who constituted the cultures and civilizations of the ancient Silk Road. As a necessary background to the stories of these musics, we will briefly study the geography, history, ethnic, linguistic and religious diversity of the peoples of the  Silk Road. The musical component focuses on four major areas: The Arab World (North Africa, Levant regions and Middle East); the Caucasus and Asia Minor (Azerbaijan & Turkey); Iran and Afghanistan; and Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Mongolia, and Xingjian, the Western province of China known as Uyghuristan or East Turkistan).   

While the course will mainly focus on the Arab, Iranian, Turkic and Central Asian cultures and their peoples, the musical cultures of smaller ethnic groups within these countries and regions such as the Christians, Jews of the Caucasus and Central Asia, gypsies, and other ethnic minorities will also be discussed.  

The course will cover the following genres of music: 

The course is an interactive one in which students will listen to and watch recorded archival materials and to discuss them in the classroom. Occasionally, guest artists of the regions will be invited to talk about their music and cultures.  

Class policy: There are three examinations. Graduate students will also be required to write a final research paper for the class. 

Resources: The course requires readings and watching a number of DVDs and videos of musical performances and practices related to topics to be discussed in the classroom. Students will also listen to many CDs and cassettes, and visit several websites to learn more about the music, the instruments, and the cultures of the Silk Road regions.  

Reading materials: The assigned reading materials will be available through e- reserve and hard copies will be on reserve in the Main Library media reserved section. Listening materials will also be available through “Oncourse.”  

Note: Previous music knowledge is helpful but not necessary for this course.