J-Term 2022: Engaging Khaleeji Musical Heritage

Visiting Assistant Professor of Music Ghazi Al Mulaifi brings NYUAD students to learn about Khaleeji music and heritage through performance and seminars.

Visiting Assistant Professor of Music Ghazi Al Mulaif is teaching a J-Term 2022 class taking students through an interdisciplinary course that meets at the intersection of applied ethnomusicology and heritage studies. 

The class, titled  “Engaging Khaleeji Musical Heritage: An Introduction to Applied Ethnomusicology” aims to lay the foundation for an ongoing Arabian Gulf, or Khaleeji, percussion ensemble where students and community members will participate and perform on campus and locally.  

“The most engaging part of the course lies in the liminal space between practice and scholarship. Students are asked to read and respond to a specially curated and interdisciplinary collection of scholarship befitting a rigorous liberal arts program and then invited to perform Khaleeji musical rhythms where they will also be invited to interject their own interjections,” he said. 

The class is divided into two daily segments: a hands-on percussion workshop and a seminar. The seminar portion draws from the disciplines of performance studies, ethnomusicology, ethnography, documentary traditions, music and technology, and heritage studies. 

Al Mulaifi said that by establishing an Arabian Gulf, or Khaleeji, percussion ensemble and music diwaniya it paves the way for an in-depth understanding of both Khaleeji Arab music, and culture more broadly. 

Musicians from well respected Kuwaiti musical families are invited  to participate with the students and in so doing, creating a Khaleeji musical diwaniya at NYUAD, culminating in a musical performance. 

“Among the highlights of this course will be performing the Kuwaiti Sea Arts with members of the incoming guests and also, conducting ethnographic interviews with them in order to deepen their knowledge about Khaleeji seafaring music,” Al Mulaifi said. 

He aims for students taking the three-week intensive course to leave with the ability to understand the diversity and beauty of the music of the Khaleej and the greater Western Indian Ocean music world.