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Synopsis

How does a Middle Eastern community create a modern image through its expression of heritage and authenticity? In Among the Jasmine Trees: Music and Modernity in Contemporary Syria, Jonathan H. Shannon investigates expressions of authenticity in Syria's musical culture, which is particularly known for embracing and preserving the Arab musical tradition, and which has seldom been researched in depth by Western scholars. Music plays a key role in the process of self-imaging by virtue of its ability to convey feeling and emotion, and Shannon explores a variety of performance genres, Sufi rituals, song lyrics, melodic modes, and aesthetic criteria. Shannon shows that although the music may evoke the old, the traditional, and the local, these are re-envisioned as signifiers of the modern national profile. A valuable contribution to the study of music and identity and to the ethnomusicology of the modern Middle East, Among the Jasmine Trees details this music and its reception for the first time, offering an original theoretical framework for understanding contemporary Arab culture, music, and society.

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