In your blog posts, I expect two to three paragraphs (around 160 words) in which your ideas are supported by musical or textual evidence. This means that along with giving your thoughts or opinions, you need to provide specific reasons why you have given that answer. Points are given based on your use of evidence and the length of your posts.
For full credit, you need to comment on at least one of your classmates’ responses. Since blog posts are due Saturdays at 11:59pm, your comment will always be due before class time the following Monday (10:45am). These comments should be two to three sentences long and be more than a simple “that’s cool,” “I agree,” or “You’re wrong.” It’s fine to disagree or support their point, but provide specific reasons why. Or, if you think of something interesting that relates to or builds on their point, feel free to share that as well.
The Mevlevi make up a sub-order of the Islamic branch called Sufism. There are many Sufi orders pertaining to the Mevlevi, but all of them believe in one God. They believe that through meditation, they can be closer to God. The Mevlevi pay special attention to music and dance. They created a ceremony called Sama, in honor of Mevlana Celeladdin Rumi. This type of music and dance sends the performer’s body into a physical state that exudes gracefulness.
The opening service of Yom Kippur starts off with “Kol Nidre,” which is a prayer. Just like the Mevlevi, Jews use this prayer to become closer to God. Through this prayer, they ask God for forgiveness. “Sama” and “Kol Nidre” are similar in that the people who follow these traditions perform “actions [that] reflect the ideal of surrendering one’s identity to the all-encompassing universalism of God” (263.) For example, in the Mevlevi video, the person in the middle of the circle is wearing headgear and a white skirt as a way of concealing his ego. Jews might not wear headgear when saying the “Kol Nidre” but they do perform it with an “austere melody” (270.) Instead of surrendering themselves to God with their egos intact and other luxuries, they are surrendering themselves with modesty, thereby, stripping themselves of their identities to try and become one with God, just like the Mevlevi.
The Mevlevi, also known as the Whirling Dervishes, are a sub-order of Sufism, the mystical branch of Islam. The Sema ceremony is a ritual practiced by the Mevlevi. This ceremony is one that is symbolic of the soul’s passage to God. Within the Sema ceremony, music plays a very important role in instructing the bodies of the dancers in a “slow dance of graceful and ecstatic turning.” The dancing that goes along with the music in the Sema ceremony are believed to create a greater connection between the individuals and God. The video portrays the slow spinning movements of the dancers along with the soft, calming instrumental that accompanies their dance. Through meditation and contemplation, the Mevlevi are also able to experience this deeper connection with God. The music played in the Sema ceremony is meant to induce meditative feelings and ultimate calmness.
Buddhist chants are similar to the music in the Mevlevi tradition. They are similar in their purpose, as both hope to achieve a meditative state to bring worshippers closer to their respective God. A clear difference in the two types of worship are that the Buddhist use chanting and focus on memorizing the verses that are important to their religion, while the Mevlevi use their dancing and body movements which are unique to their religion and how they express a connection to God.
The Mevlevi order, also known as the Whirling Dervishes, is a sub-order of Sufism mostly located in Turkey. All Sufi orders believe in a universal God and in order to experience “direct spiritual union” they practice meditation and contemplation. Within the Sema ceremony, music is significant as it guides the dancers in a slow dance which they initially participated to further their relationship with God. For example, the dancers (samazan) enter “slowly, with their arms crossed and hands on shoulder, a posture meant to represent the oneness of God.” Overall, the music accompanies the dancers’ “graceful and ecstatic” movements. The music consists of instruments like the ney (flute), lutes, and percussion instruments (drum and cymbal). The verses that are sung during the ceremony originate from religious poetry found in Islam’s religious scripture, the Qur’an.
This was similar to the Buddhist chants we learned about in that the text used were from ancient scriptures. In the worship ceremony, Buddhist monks also intend to become more spiritually connected to God just as those of the Mevlevi order. What I found was interesting is that Buddhist music was focused much more on meaning rather than being pleasing to the ear. Their harmonic singing is something that was unique to American music which I am more familiar with. It’s interesting that in the Mevlevi, there are dancers who dance in order to become one with God while the Buddhists take a different approach by focusing and disciplining their minds in order to reach that same state of peace. The intentions of the music are to meditate and reach their ultimate goal of union with the supreme being, but the way in which they do so differs.
Within the Mevlevi Sama, music plays a very spiritual role. During all the rites of the Sufi orders, there is a belief that there is a direct spiritual union with a universal god. In the textbook, “Music and Spirituality”, it is stated that, “The Mevlevi place a strong emphasis on music, which sends the practitioner’s physical body into a slow dance of graceful and ecstatic turning.” (315). With this, it is notable that in the Mevlevi ceremony, as seen in the YouTube video, that the music is not just an accompaniment, but a necessary component of the Mevlevi, in order to transcend to a state of “ecstatic turning”.
With “Amazing Grace”, however, the use of this piece is different, in terms of for what the song is used for. The textbook states that “Amazing Grace” is used for “commemoratory events [but more] particularly funerals” (p. 288). With this, the song can be used in Church for mass, however, it could also be found in events such as funerals. The end result is that, while the Sema Ceremony is strictly only found with the Mevlevi, a piece such as “Amazing Grace” is not limited to a certain event or faith.
The musical and dance performance of the Mevlevi are very much connected to each other. According to the textbook, the Mevlevi is an aspect of Sufism, and despite there being different techniques involved in becoming connected to a higher being, the main goal with these techniques is spiritual union with God. The textbook also states that there is a big emphasis on connecting to God through music because it allows people to enter a state of “graceful and ecstatic turning” through dance. This dancing is performed in a ceremony called Sema, which symbolizes the soul reaching God while in this graceful state of being. After watching the video of the Mevlevi Sema ceremony, I was able to see how the music being played matched the graceful spinning of the dancers. In the Sema, the music was very calming and smooth sounding, to the point where it seems easy to enter a peaceful trance. This makes sense given that being in a peaceful and happy state physically and mentally allows for people to connect to a higher being much easier. According to the video, the Sema performance involves instruments such as the flute, kettle drum, cymbal, and at least one vocalist. These different musical parts of the ceremony help to create an overall calm and “out of body” feeling, especially since the soft sounding instruments are played at a seemingly slow tempo.
In comparison to the Mevlevi music and dance, the musical performances of Buddism are pretty different in that they don’t intend to make their music sound pleasing. The textbook states that the Monks ” chant verses to memorize and meditate upon the Buddha’s teachings, to center their minds, and to sublimate improper desire”. In other words, the Monks focus more on the text itself in order to become more spiritually connected. Given that there is more emphasis on the text and not the actual music, the music is heavy on vocals. These vocalists need to be in a completely relaxed physical state to perform, while there is more movement involved in the Sema (although the dancing is subtle, there is still more physical movement involved). But with this in mind, the overall requirement of being relaxed physically and mentally is seen in both practices.
The Mevlevi, also known as the Whirling Dervishes, are part of the mystical Sufi tradition of Islam. According to the textbook, there are several different sub-orders of Sufism but they all share a common belief in a universal God in which they can experience a spiritual union. Music and dance is an important aspect of the Mevlevi Sufi Order. The textbook states, “The Mevlevi place a strong emphasis on music, which sends the practitioner’s physical body into a slow dance of graceful and ecstatic turning” (pg 315). A way in which the Mevlevi can experience a spiritual connection with God is through meditation and contemplation, in the Sema ceremony the music and dance allows them to achieve the spiritual union. In the video, the dance shows a sense of grace and peacefulness.
Buddhist chants have similar purposes as the music of the Mevlevi. According to the slides, one purpose of Buddhist chants is to quiet and center the mind, the music allows people to meditate. According to the textbook, “Buddhist musical practice has generally remained simple. The focus is on scriptural meaning rather than sonic beauty” (pg 280). Buddhist chants play an important role in Buddhist ceremonies because they help to memorize verses and meditate upon teachings.
Cornelius Steven, and Mary Natvig. Music: A Social Experience. Routledge, 2019
During the Sama ceremony, the Mevlevi performs a spiritual dance in order to achieve meditation and contemplation. According to the textbook, “The Mevlevi place a strong emphasis on music, which sends the practitioner’s physical body into a slow dance of graceful and ecstatic turning” (Pg 129). The dance consists of the performer entering the space slowly with their arms crossed and their hands on shoulders to represent the oneness of God. After the spinning dance begins, the performer reaches out their right palm towards heaven to receive God’s blessings and turns their left palm downwards to transfer that power onto Earth. This dance is primarily accompanied by the soothing sound of the flute. In the video of the Mevlevi performing the “whirling dervish” dance, many instruments are being played such as the flute, kettle drum, and cymbal. It creates a sense of peacefulness during the dance. The music and dance within the Sama ceremony are significant to the Sufi tradition of Islam since it allows the performer to surrender their identity to God.
Music and dance can play a vital role in creating a spiritual connection with God. Similar to the Mevlevi, Buddhist monks chant ancient texts to achieve meditation. This allows them to reach enlightenment and an awareness of the divine. The main purpose of creating this kind of music is to “memorize and meditate upon Buddha’s teachings, to center their minds, and to sublimate improper desire” (Pg 113). As the monks are singing, they produce two tones at the same time, also known as harmonic singing. This type of chanting requires steady breathing and a lot of focus. Likewise, in the Sama ceremony, the Mevlevi was solely focused on the rhythm and dance. Both the Sama ceremony and the chanting of the Buddhist monks are important for creating a spiritual connection with their God.
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.
The Sema (Sufism) Ceremony is a dance accompanying with worship ceremony. People participate in this tradition to have a spiritual connection with Mevlevi Slides. The Music assists the dancers spin in a counter clockwise spin while concentrating with the beat. They also put their hands on here shoulders and cross arms. In the tradition, the sema ceremony uses instruments like percussion (Drums), flute and cymbal and Kettle. It helps the performers to be engaged to fulfill the spiritual meaning or reaching god. I compared the Mevlevi to the Buddhist Chant because they both are very similar in their meaning. They both follow the spiritual narrative. They Meditate which guides the scared mind and spiritual meaning. The performers say chants, their music is free meter and is very open, sounding like they are chanting anything comes in their mind. Just like the Mevlevi, it uses percussion. The only big difference is that in the mevlevi, they are dancing and in the chant, they are only chanting. However, Both seem very peaceful and appeasing. They’re not honoring anything besides their love to god and the spiritual meaning to their soul.
The Mevlevi is a very spiritual dance. It is said it can bring you closer to God and is usually performed by someone seeking a religious experience. When the creator of the Mevlevi passed away, the “Mevlevi Order” was founded. It is now known as the “Whirling Dervishes”. The dance itself is incomplete without the music, the music is the part that truly submerges the dancer into the religious spirit. You can hear in the video that the music has a very unique sound to it. It is said, “The Mevlevi place a strong emphasis on music, which sends the practitioner’s physical body into a slow dance of graceful and ecstatic turning” (textbook page 315).
The song “Amazing Grace” was written in a way that it does not require music, especially when sung by a group. However, an instrument that may be used for this song is the bagpipes. The music gives the song a feeling of remorse and a hint of closure. It can also have a religious feeling to it depending on the setting. Both songs have a spiritual feeling to it. Amazing Grace is best for someone who was once a sinner, and is now on the path of God while the Mevlevi is best for someone who is already on the path of God but wishes to get closer to Him.