An Analysis of a New Style and Aesthetic in Arabic Fusion Music: Blue Flame by Simon Shaheen

MM Khalaf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Few Arab composers have been able to create fusion musicthat preserves an essence of traditional Arabic music. In thispaper, I analyze the fusion in Simon Shaheen’s composition entitled Blue Flame in order to explore Shaheen’s style. The core of this study is the transcription and in-depthanalysis of Blue Flame. The following issues are discussed inthe analysis: (1) large-scale form and, within it, the dramaticfunction of each section in the musical narrative; (2) the style and, within it, the issue of fusion; (3) tonality/modality,especially in terms of the fusion of the Arabic maqam andthe Western major-minor system; (4) improvisation; and, (5)sonority/instrumentation. Other parameters of the music,including rhythm, tempo changes, rubato, dynamics, specialeffects, and more, will be treated when they are signifcant.I argue that Shaheen created a new Arabic fusion style thatproved to be meaningful for both the Arab and the international public. Shaheen’s music is an attempt to create a compositional and performance style that has strong roots in theArabic tradition and that produces, in the modern milieu, an ecstatic effect similar to the old Arabic tradition. To thebest of my knowledge, this is the frst study that is based onthe transcription and analysis of Shaheen’s composition andproposes an aesthetic appreciation of Shaheen’s art
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32-61
Number of pages31
JournalEtnomüzikoloji Dergisi
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2022

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Query date: 2023-08-16 15:20:37


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