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.