e-ISSN: 2625-378X
p-ISSN: 2701-2689


Globalism and Mediterranean Modal Musics: The Case of the Tunisian Ṭubū’

Jared Holton

ASIAN-EUROPEAN MUSIC RESEARCH JOURNAL 10 (2022)     pp: 61-68     2022-12-07

Stichworte/keywords: Tunisia, Andalusian, Musical modes, Performance practice, Globalism

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Holton, J. (2022). Globalism and Mediterranean Modal Musics: The Case of the Tunisian Ṭubū’. ASIAN-EUROPEAN MUSIC RESEARCH JOURNAL, 10 , 61-68. doi:10.30819/aemr.10-8
doi = {10.30819/aemr.10-8},
url = {},
year = 2022,
publisher = {Logos Verlag Berlin},
volume = {10},
pages = {61-68},
author = {Jared Holton},
title = {Globalism and Mediterranean Modal Musics: The Case of the Tunisian Ṭubū’},

Modal musics in the Mediterranean have a resilient past and an enduring present for many people. If “the global” is defined as a set of contingent relations across multiple places, then the scalar structure, microtonal variation, and taxonomies of these modes constitute a global coherency for the region. But the performance practices of these modes are unique and challenge that coherency. How do musicians hedge interconnectedness by these practices? What does such nuanced musical interaction say about the makings of a “global history”? The Tunisian modes, called the ṭubū‘, provide a relevant case study to examine both global coherency and expressions of difference. Understood to derive from Muslim Spain in the 9th century, the ṭubū’ are sedimented structures of sound that network histories of Arab-Andalusi migration, the enslavement of Black sub-Saharan peoples, art music legacies of the Ottoman court, and expressive cultures of modern Arab identity. Today, Tunisian musicians in formal music schools qualify in not one but two modal systems: the ṭubū’ and the Eastern Mediterranean ‘maqāmāt’. As they bifurcate, fuse, juxtapose, and overlap the ṭubū’ and maqāmāt systems on stage and in classrooms, these musicians and pedagogues both promote and circumvent globalism. Based on ethnography in Tunisia (2018-2019) and also Tunisian scholarship, this paper describes and analyzes such nuanced discourses to demonstrate a variety of globalism that is non-Western, proportioned, and richly historical.
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