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Project Overview

October 14, 2009

The ARChive of Contemporary Music, The Columbia Global Center in Amman, Jordan, the Arts Initiative at Columbia University, and the Columbia University Libraries present the first-ever Music Day to celebrate the diversity, beauty and cultural importance of Muslim music.

The Muslim World Music Day combines elements from the “teach-Ins” of the sixties, a crash course and a modern electronic town hall meeting.  In this way a collection of individuals and institutions, from a variety of disciplines, working together, will create awareness and understanding of a chosen subject, in a compressed time frame.

The Internet has greatly expanded our notion of participation, sharing and access, and The Muslim World Music Day will be a live online attempt to identify and catalog all the Islamic music in the world, in one day. In this way we will take the first necessary steps in making the study and enjoyment of this culturally significant body of work readily available to all.

Secular and sacred, isolated and integrated, the music of Islam is both root and branch to much of the World’s music.  It nourishes the jazz of Ahmed Abdul-Malik and improvisational genius of Anouar Brahem, the gentle pop of Yusuf Islam and the Pakistani rockers Junoon, the epic song of Mali and raucous Algerian Rai, the Mevlevi Sufi music and pop arabesk of Turkey, the formal Egyptian firquah orchestral music and the street sound of Cairo’s yalla.  Flamenco, qawwali, sayang-sayang, haqueeba, ghazal, liwa and taraab music are just a few of the diverse genres unified by this common heritage.  Muslim World Music Day will transcend borders and bias, promoting the positive contributions by musicians.

The Muslim World Music Day is 100 people in a room and 100,000 people online.

A host site will act as the ‘hub’, providing the technical expertise and hosting the interactive website.  Hundreds of libraries, archives and cultural organizations, ‘satellites’, will  send metadata on their holdings, creating the discography.  Collectors, fans, scholars, artists, labels, distributors and media outlets will contribute song lists, videos, essays, lectures, cover art, biographies, instrument and genre definitions, bibliographies, electronic press kits, festival info, local scene overviews, text scans, photos, links, tweets and audio files.

The ARChive will present a concert by our newest Board Member, Youssou N’Dour.  Youssou, a Senegalese Muslim, has received worldwide acclaim for his CD, Egypt.

We will invite the satellite sites around the world to join us in presenting concerts, seminars, course study and musical instructions – any and all events that will create awareness of the project and the music.

The immediate goal of the Muslim World Music Day is that by the end of the 24 hour time frame we will have created something that did not exist the day before – a free, permanently available, online listing of more than 50,000 recordings and where to find them.  The long term goal is a broader understanding of Islam through one of its greatest cultural assets, its music.

Muslim World Music Day is April 12, 2011

B.George, Director, ARC, NYC

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