Different Sounds, Same Sentiments? Considering the Zurna and the Oboe in Damascus, Syria


Fri, 03/07/2014 - 3:00pm to Sat, 06/25/2022 - 4:16am

Many Damascenes are well-acquainted with the sounds of both a folk musical instrument known as the zurna, and a symphonic instrument that is considered to be its descendant, the oboe. During research conducted from 2006 through 2010, I heard the zurna frequently on the radio and in the streets as part of urbanized folk bands known as 'arada. Upon my demonstrations of the oboe, many Syrians recalled melodies that they heard played by the instrument their entire lives. The musical styles and particular songs that feature these instruments both recall traditions of the distant past and reflect contemporary nationalist sentiments. Through historical consideration, discourse analysis and musical performance, this presentation demonstrates the way Syrians have considered and used the sounds of these instruments in seemingly divergent ways to evoke nostalgia for a folkloric past and to forge solidarity in striving for a distinctly Arab future.


Dr. Andrea Shaheen joined the UTEP Faculty as Assistant Professor of Ethnomusicology and Oboe Studies in August 2012. She currently directs the UTEP World Music Ensembles and maintains an active oboe studio. Dr. Shaheen also serves as the World Music faculty at the Hartwick College Summer Music Festival in New York. She toured with the Aegean Verdi Festival Orchestra in Greece and was Principal Oboe with the Syrian Philharmonic Orchestra of the High Institute of Music in Syria for the 2009-2010 season. She is a Medici Scholar, FLAS recipient, and a Fulbright Fellow. She is an active member of the Society for Ethnomusicology, the College Music Society, the International Double Reed Society, and the Middle East Studies Association. Her research interests include: Migration and Nostalgia, Nationalism, World Music and Bilingual Education, Syria and Lebanon. Dr. Shaheen also maintains a national and international symphonic performance schedule. In March 2012, she performed Stravinsky's Pulcinella Suite under the baton of Matthew Coorey as principal oboist of the Palestinian National Orchestra.



MENAS Colloquium Series
Friday, March 7, 2014
3:00pm in Marshall 490

Main colloquium page