Language Issue

Read in this Issue

Traditional knowledge and techniques of palm cultivation in Marwi, Northern Sudan
This study describes the environmentally friendly traditional techniques that the Marwi people use i...

Awashir, good omens and Alawlah: A field study of the connotation of agricultural activities in Tébessa, Algeria
Rituals, practices and celebrations are part of folk beliefs and cultural heritage. The rituals func...

Houbi Dance, a reminder of legendary times
The Houbi is a popular group folk dance performed by the people of the Ougarta region in Béni...
Issue 40
You can download the issue (PDF) from this link
Adaptation in music: Sociological criteria for adaptation
Issue 40

By Qassim El-Baji, Tunisia


The effects of adaptation (which is associated with spontaneous musical performances) on an audience are dependent on practicalities. The adaptation usually meets the desired meaning and goals of the music. The majority of researchers and musicians believe that the spontaneous performance using Western instruments for all types of music is merely an example of adaptation.


The way that Arab music is performed must adapt to the sociological aspects of the musical discourse (for example to elicit sadness or to inspire). The spontaneous performance produces sounds that are recognised and used to serve functions. The way that people respond to such sounds is affected by the climate, environment, their personal tastes, and psychological factors. These factors make the sensory tangible.


Experiments with adaptation involve distinct ethnic features that emphasise the role of the environment and climate, leading to what is known as ‘cultural ecology’. When a musician learns through experimentation, he implements some changes.


The quality of performance is influenced by the composition, maturity and behaviour, and the combination of these contributes to each stage of adaptation.


In conclusion, we realise that in the Arab world, adaptation depends on technical factors and on the musician’s ability. The relationship between the technical factors and the musical balance creates what musicians call the ‘fingerprint’. Although there are clear differences among cultures, adaptation is affected by social factors ranging from education to intellectual identity that are translated into music depending on the musician and his skills, and this satisfies many different tastes.