Sense and Sadness: Syriac Chant in Aleppo

Sense and Sadness is an innovative study of music modality in relation to human emotion and the aesthetics of perception. It is also a musical story of survival through difficulty and pain. Focusing on chant at St George’s Syrian Orthodox Church of Aleppo, author Tala Jarjour puts forward the concept of the emotional economy of aesthetics, which enables a new understanding of modal musicality in general and of Syriac musicality in particular. Jarjour combines insights from musicology and ethnomusicology, sound and religious studies, anthropology, history, East Christian and Middle Eastern studies, and the study of emotion, to seamlessly weave together multiple strands of a narrative which then becomes the very story it tells. Drawing on imagination and metaphor, she brings to the fore overlapping, at times contradictory, modes of sense and sense making. At once intimate and analytical, this ethnographic text entwines academic thinking with its subject(s) and subjectivities, portraying events, writing, people, and music as they unfold together through ritual commemorations and a devastating, ongoing war.