The Path Beyond
Music from the Edges of Islamic Civilization
Jewish, Christian, and Islamic music from medieval Spain, North Africa, Turkey, Iran, and the Balkans.
This recording features music and musical styles from several of the regions that historically had contact with the Arabic Islamic world, and often were Muslim themselves, especially in the medieval and Ottoman periods.
The music is decidedly pre-modern. It does not feature modern instruments (with the exception of a few modeled on earlier designs), Western influences, or obvious innovations in style from the twentieth century. Five songs are of historical and traditional origin, while the others are improvisations or compositions that reflect the spirit of that same ancient heritage.
Some of the original pieces were composed or devised prior to the recording, while others were created "on the spot", capturing true improvisations in the moment that they were created. Improvising remains a standard musical practice throughout the Islamic world, and was an important feature of music in medieval Europe.
The album's title refers to both the "path beyond" the Arabic geographical center of Islamic culture and influence to these other lands, as well as "beyond" in the Sufi sense of leaving the mundane path of everyday life to travel the mystic path. The Sufis have often used music in ceremony, the most famous being the followers of Rumi, the "whirling dervishes", who spin ecstatically to musical accompaniment.
While the pieces on this recording are not necessarily intended to be spiritual in nature, it is nevertheless hoped that they will convey some of the sense of richness and mystic wonder of the cultures that produced or inspired them.