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08.10.2019

LECTURE on Middle Eastern Tuning Theory and Practice

Dr.Stefan Pohlit

*Julien Ja**lâl Ed-Dine Weiss: Middle-Eastern Tuning in Theory and Practice*

*Abstract* The Swiss-Alsatian qānūn virtuoso Julien Jalâl Ed-Dine Weiss (1953-2015) is remembered as one of the most prominent performers of maqām music on the world music stage. During the 1980’s, he moved to Aleppo and founded the Al-Kindi Ensemble with which he would deliver key interpretations of the historic repertoire. As an outspoken critic of Western equal-semitone temperament, he invented a tuning system in just intonation to capture and unite the characteristics of various regional contexts. Weiss’s qānūn with extended pitch supply emerged as the last heir of the great Aleppian tradition and its distinctive tuning customs. While most of Weiss’s instruments have been lost during the Syrian war, uncertainty has also befallen his written legacy, such as his last composition in which he explored the potentials of his theory. *Spiritual Journey/Sinfonia Sacra*, the most time-consuming project of Weiss’s career, was premiered in 2011 and completed shortly before his death. As a curious amalgamation of influences from the Ottoman repertoire, Iran, and India, the score expands the maqām principle towards a novel concept of prolongation, symmetry, and foregrund-background relationships.

*Biographical Notes* Stefan Pohlit studied Composition and Music Theory in Germany, Switzerland, France, and Turkey. Around the turn of the millennium, he discovered Islamic mysticism and *maqām*, eventually emerging as an expert of Turkish music. In 2011, he received his Ph. D. from the Istanbul Technical University with a dissertation on Julien Jalâl Ed-Dine Weiss’s Just Intonation tuning system for the *qānūn*. Between 2008 and 2015, he taught at several conservatories in Turkey, including the Istanbul Conservatory of Turkish Music. Combining neo-Pythagorean *Harmonics* with structural mythology, he currently investigates concepts of interdependence in microtonal and cross-cultural music. His works appear at major international venues.

*Stefan Pohlit* (Ph.D.)
www.stefanpohlit.com
https://independent.academia.edu/StefanPohlit
info[at]stefanpohlit[dot]com
pohlitstefan[at]gmail[dot]com