The Spirit of Sounds
||Jean During, Ph.D.
An exceptional musician and an unrivaled master of the sacred art of tanbur, an ancient Kurdish lute with an unusually captivating sonority, Ostad Elahi (1895-1974) considered his music above all as a means of delving within, discovering truths, and reaching the stage of divine love. Born and raised in a remote village steeped in centuries of classical mysticism, it was not long before Ostad transcended the traditional repertoire of the tanbur and the ancient hymns that accompanied it, renewing and elevating this music to an entirely new level.
Drawing on a number of diverse sources, the author succeeds in bringing the uniqueness of this intricate art into relief by analyzing it in its original context and tracing its genesis and development through a series of biographical elements, rich anecdotes, and detailed accounts by those who were close to Ostad. Although the mystical power of sounds has been debated for centuries, it is perhaps the first time that we have such precise, reliable, and firsthand data at our disposal on a contemporary musician who was a veritable magician of sounds.
Jean During, an accomplished ethnomusicologist and Director of Research at the CNRS (National Center for Scientific Research in Paris), has published several works on the music of Central Asia, particularly its relationship with eastern culture, mysticism, and thought. As a result of his multi-faceted approach, the present study constitutes an original and unique contribution to aesthetics as well as religious anthropology and eastern mysticism.