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Blog 9 Hong

The Mevlevi was founded to honor Mevlana Celeladdin Rumi, who was a mystic and a strong supporter for music. Mevlevi is one of the orders of the branch of Islam Sufism. According to the textbook, all of the orders of Sufi “share a belief in a universal God with whom it is possible to experience direct spiritual union,” (315) and like Rumi, Mevlevi emphasizes music to achieve this spiritual union. During the Sema ceremony, the music is important because it along with the dancing helps to symbolize the spiritual connection between the people and God. The music also helps facilitate the ceremony by relaxing both the dancers and the listeners. The music is split into two distinct sections: the Taksim, which is improvised by one instruments and outlines the scale of the ceremony, and the Pesrev, which has a more exact composition with multiple instruments and a specific meter (slide 3).

Similarly, gospel music also uses hymns as a medium to worship God. Specifically, Bernice Johnson Reagon’s version of “Amazing Grace” is meant to help the entire congregation sing the hymn well. She first lines out a single line of “Amazing Grace” by singing it clearly and with little pitch movement, then repeats the line with more embellishment. This is repeated for each line. The initial singing of each line helps the rest of the congregation know the words of the hymn without needing a book in front of them. These two traditions are similar in that the music initially helps prepares everyone by establishing an essential part of the song, which is the scale for the Sema ceremony and the melody/lyrics for the gospel music. However, the Sema ceremony uses improvisation in the beginning and then changes to a composition piece, while the gospel music seemingly reverses the order, with the main melody provided first and the improvisation done later.


2 Comments

  1. Hey Joshua! I like how you used specific musical elements to describe “Amazing Grace”. Also, you clearly showed the similarities and differences between both pieces of music. I completely agree with the fact that the Sema ceremony begins with improvisation and then the main composition, while the gospel music begins with the main melody and shifts into improvisation. I like that you picked up this difference between the Sema ceremony and Amazing Grace.

  2. I like how you incorporated both a similarity and a difference with the improvisation for the Mevlevi and in the gospel music. You also describe the pieces of music very well.

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