Punjab Research Group

The Hermeneutics of Sikh Music (rāg) and Word (shabad)

Posted in Conferences by Pippa on May 8, 2010

May 21-23, 2010 Hofstra University Organized by the S.K.K.Bindra Chair in Sikh Studies

Is music a language? Is there meaning in music? Perhaps universal meaning – given the popular platitude that music is the only universal language. Or is the meaning in music mediated by culture to such an extent that one is hard put to speak of universals? If the latter then does that imply a cultural limit to the supposed universal nature of the Gurū Granth Sāhib arguably the musical text par excellence? If the Word needs to be translated across linguistic contexts then does Sikh music also require translation into culture-specific and musical idioms to be efficacious? How to interpret and translate musical meaning? Is it even possible?

The purpose of this conference is to bring these two crucial dimensions of Sikh thought and practice, philosophy and aesthetics, together to initiate an academic dialogue between the Word (language, meaning, interpretation) and its performance in Music and Song (rāg/melody, tāl/metric cycle, laya/tempo, bhāv/expression, instruments etc). The conference aims to grapple with a hermeneutics that can cater for both musical evocation (kīrtan) and philosophical contemplation (kathā) as one phenomenon.
Full details: http://www.hofstra.edu/Academics/Colleges/HCLAS/REL/SIKH/sikh_hermeneutics_may2010.html

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