A musical story of survival

  • July 3, 2018
A musical story of survival

Tala Jarjour is holding an event in Cambridge to launch her new book on music, emotion and survival in Aleppo.

A Gates Cambridge Scholar is holding an event in Cambridge to launch her new book on music, emotion and survival in Aleppo.

The event for Tala Jarjour's book Sense and Sadness will be held at Trinity Hall next week.

The book is described as "an innovative study of music modality in relation to human emotion and the aesthetics of perception". It is also a musical story of survival, with Christian traditions under huge threat as a result of the war in Syria

Focusing on chant at St George's Syrian Orthodox Church of Aleppo, Tala puts forward the concept of the emotional economy of aesthetics, which she says enables a new understanding of music modality.

Chant is one of the most historically and musically distinctive features of the Syrian Orthodox tradition and Tala, who is currently a visiting fellow at Yale, has commented on how writing her book feels like she is chronicling a tradition that may not be the same for long.

An interdiscipilnary study, the book combines insights from musicology and ethnomusicology, sound and religious studies, anthropology, history, East Christian and Middle Eastern studies and the study of emotion. Drawing on imagination and metaphor, Tala brings to the fore overlapping, at times contradictory, modes of sense and sense making, portraying events, writing, people, and music as they unfold together through ritual commemorations and the devastating, ongoing war in Syria.

Tala [2005​], who grew up in Damascus, did her PhD in Music at Cambridge on music and religion in the Middle East. 

*Sense and Sadness is published by Oxford University Press. For more information, contact Tala on tala.jarjour@yale.edu. Picture credit: Tala with Gates Cambridge Provost Barry Everitt.

 

Tala Jarjour

Tala Jarjour

  • Alumni
  • Syrian Arab Republic
  • 2005 PhD Music
  • Trinity Hall

Tala Jarjour is a scholar of music, religion and anthropology who studies the Middle East and the Arab world. She has a background in Ethnomusicology, Historical Musicology and violin Performance. She is particularly interested in intersections between politics, culture and religious musics in and from the region – especially Levantine traditions such as Christian and Sufi musics. Her research interests include arts and humanities higher education in the Middle East.

As a Gates Scholar and recipient of the Overseas Research Studentship Award Scheme, Tala wrote her PhD on Syriac chant in the Syrian city of Aleppo. Her past and current research examines emotion, aesthetics, modality, identity, minority and ethno-religiosity, society and performance, survival, cultural heritage, nation and power, peace and war studies, as well as migration and integration.

Dr Jarjour held Assistant Professor positions in music and anthropology at New York University Abu Dhabi and the University of Notre Dame where she was also Faculty Fellow of the Kroc Institute of the Medieval Institute, the Kellogg Institute for International Studies, and the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies. Previous visiting faculty positions include Yale University’s Music Department and the University of Salzburg. Research positions include Yale University and the Excellence Initiative at the University of Tübingen. She is currently Associate Fellow of Pierson College at Yale and Visiting Research Fellow at King’s College London.

Dr Jarjour has worked with and consulted for a number of academic, nonprofit, as well as private and public sector entities in Europe, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the Middle East. Those include L’Arche, The Clerk’s, Al-Fanar, the Manchester International Festival, the University of Salzburg, and the Vienna Phonogrammarchiv of the Austrian Academy of Sciences. She has appeared on national and international media such as the BBC Radio 3 and CNN International, and has published articles in cultural media in the Arab world, such as Annahar and Assafir weeklies.

Her book Sense and Sadness, Syriac Chant in Aleppo was recently published with Oxford University Press. For a sample of Dr Jarjour’s academic writings, and contact information, see http://talajarjour.academia.edu/

Latest News

Bridging the public health data gap

When Anwesha Lahiri  [2021] was doing her master’s fieldwork in India, she visited a tribal village in a remote area on top of a mountain between two districts. Only around 500 people lived there and there was no proper road leading to the village. At the heart of the problem was the dangerous ascent needed […]

Tracing the origins of our political beliefs

What makes some people more vulnerable to extremism than others? How do we build cognitive resilience against extreme ideologies? And how does the brain react to misinformation on social media? These are some of the key political questions that political neuroscientist Leor Zmigrod [2016] is exploring, putting the science into our understanding of radicalisation.   Leor […]

A leading woman in STEAM

A Gates Cambridge Scholar has been selected as one of the 75 leading women in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics in India. Yama Dixit will feature in the second edition of the book She Is, published by the Red Dot Foundation in partnership with the Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser, Government of India to mark 75 […]

Tackling the obesity epidemic in Africa

When she left school, Paula-Peace James-Okoro [2022] intended to become a medical doctor, but after starting a degree in Biochemistry she discovered a passion for the subject and for using it to address one of the major health challenges facing Africa – obesity. She says: “In Africa, the rates of metabolic diseases, like obesity and […]