Companion site to the book Ambient Sufism: Ritual Niches and the Social Work of Musical form (University of Chicago Press, 2020) by Richard C. Jankowsky

RITUAL REFLEXIVITY: Musicality, Sufi Pedigrees, and the Masters of “Intoxication”

Audio Example 2.1

‘Īsāwiyya of La Marsa reciting the opening verse (fātiḥa) of the Qur’an to begin their devotional ceremony (ḥaḍra) during their pilgrimage to the shrine of Sīdī ‘Alī Ḥaṭṭāb.

Audio Example 2.2

Tempo increase of the ‘Īsāwiyya of La Marsa recitation at their devotional ceremony (ḥaḍra) during their pilgrimage to the shrine of Sīdī ‘Alī Ḥaṭṭāb (12:50–14:02 of the ‘Īsāwiyya ḥizb).

Audio Example 2.3

Further tempo increase and rise in pitch of the ‘Īsāwiyya of La Marsa recitation at their devotional ceremony (ḥaḍra) during their pilgrimage to the shrine of Sīdī ‘Alī Ḥaṭṭāb (16:02–19:13 of the‘Īsāwiyya ḥizb)

Audio Example 2.4

Deceleration and pitch drop preceding maximum tempo at 21:33-22:28 of the ‘Īsāwiyya ḥizb at their devotional ceremony (ḥaḍra) during their pilgrimage to the shrine of Sīdī ‘Alī Ḥaṭṭāb.

Audio Example 2.5

Maximum tempo of the ‘Īsāwiyya of La Marsa recitation at their devotional ceremony (ḥaḍra) during their pilgrimage to the shrine of Sīdī ‘Alī Ḥaṭṭāb (26:22-28:32 of the ‘Īsāwiyya ḥizb).

Audio Example 2.6

Acceleration, pitch elevation, and temporal contraction in the dhikr of the ‘Īsāwiyya ḥizb.

Audio Example 2.7

Opening line of Qaṣdī Anẓur Ilīk (My Goal is to See You), from the ‘Īsāwiyya shishtrī section of their devotional ceremony (ḥaḍra). Performed by Walid Mennai of the ‘Īsāwiyya of La Marsa.

Video Files

Video Example 2.1

‘Īsāwiyya of La Marsa reciting the liturgy (ḥizb) to begin their devotional ceremony (ḥaḍra) during their pilgrimage to the shrine of Sīdī ‘Alī Ḥaṭṭāb.

Video Example 2.2

‘Īsāwiyya of La Marsa performing the Shishtrī section (Andalusī song) of their devotional ceremony (ḥaḍra), beginning with the song “Qaṣdī Anẓur Ilīk”, during a ceremony at the shrine of Sīdī Belḥassen. Excerpt illustrates the concept of Sequential Intensification with rhythmic modulations from bṭāyḥī to dkhul brāwil to khatm.

Video Example 2.3

Song, Wird al-qudūm (“arrival liturgy”), accompanying the arrival of the dancers to the ritual space of the ceremony (ḥaḍra) of the ‘Īsāwiyya of La Marsa.

Video Example 2.4

Song, “Al-Kās Ydūr” (The Cup Goes Round), in the five-beat mjarred rhythm of the ceremony (ḥaḍra) of the ‘Īsāwiyya of La Marsa.

Video Example 2.5

The shaykh al-ḥaḍra claps his hands to mark the transition from the mjarred section to the ḥaḍra trance section of the ceremony (ḥaḍra) of the ‘Īsāwiyya of La Marsa.

Video Example 2.6

Trancers in the final section, the brāwil, of the ceremony (ḥaḍra) of the ‘Īsāwiyya of Ariana.

Additional Analysis

‘Īsāwiyya ḥizb : Ascending tonal clusters (read left to right) and increasing tempo (read top to bottom) of the first 10:41 of the ḥizb (tonal center in boldface) analyzed in chapter 2. Section titles of fātiḥa and isti‘ādha refer to genres of prayer, while the remainder are named after the first line of text of each section.

SectionTempoTonal Clusters
fātiḥa 168CDE
fātiḥa 272 DE F#
fātiḥa 380 E F# G#
isti‘ādha90 F GAb
bismillah97 F GAb
tawakkaltu 1-3108 F GAb
lahu110 F GAb
jazā allah 1-2118 G A B C#
jazā allah 3122 Ab Bb C D
rabbanā 1-3122 Ab Bb C# D#
a‘ūḍu 1-3124 Ab BbCb
bismillah 1-3128 ABC D E
subaḥān 1-3131 ABC D E

Tawakkaltu ‘alā al-ḥayy iladhī lā yamūt : As the reciters begin this opening line—tawakkaltu ‘alā al-ḥayy iladhī lā yamūt (I place my faith in the Living who never dies)—the group briefly introduces a new pattern of strong metric regularity featuring a sixteen-beat phrase divided into two equal halves, repeated three times, that will later become a formal template and basis for intensification. This symmetrical pattern is quickly abandoned, as the following six phrases consist of 59, 47, 42, 26, 41, 40, and 80 beats, successively. Five of the six phrases are repeated three times, giving formal regularity to this metric irregularity. Qur’anic references and themes of praise and supplication continue into this section, with lines from the Qur’an integrated into the text (indicated in bold above; see Dermenghem 1954: 305-6).

tawakkaltu ‘ala al-ḥāyy iladhī lā yamūt (3x) I put my trust in the Living One who never dies (3x)
al-ḥamdu lillahi aladhī hadānā wa-mā kunā li-nahtadī lawlā ina hadāna allah laqad ja’t rusul rabanā bil-ḥaqqi Praise God who led us, without whom we could not be rightly guided; the messengers of our Lord have come with the Truth
jazā allah ‘anā sayyadnā wa-nabīna muḥammad ṣalī allah ‘alīh wa-salam afḍal mā huwa ahlahu (3x) May God reward our lord and Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings upon him, the most deserving (3x)
rabanā lā taza‘u qulūbana ba‘da idha hadaytanā wa-haba lanā lidhtuka al-raḥma inaka anatim al-wahhāb (3x) Our God, do not mislead our hearts after guiding us, and give us your mercy, for you are the Giver (3x)
a‘ūḍu bil-kalimāt allah al-tāmmāti min sharmā khalaqa (3x) I seek refuge in the perfect words of God, against the evil he created (3x)
bismillah iladhi lā yuḍuru ma‘ asamihi sha ‘in fil-‘arḍ walā fil-samā‘i wa-huwa al-samī‘ al-‘ālī (3x) In the name of God, with whose name nothing is to be feared on earth or in heaven, for he is the Listener/All-Hearing on high (3x)
subḥān rabbi al-‘aẓīm wabi-ḥamadihi walā hawala walā quwatu illā billahi al-‘alī al-‘aẓīm (3x) Glory to God the Magnificent, there is nothing more powerful than God the Exalted, the Magnificent (3x)
istighfar allah al-‘aẓīm aladhī lā illaha illā huwa badī‘ samawāti wal-‘arḍi wa-mabīnahuma mina jamī‘ juramī wa-ẓulami wamā janītuhu ‘alā nafsī wa-atūbu alayhi (3x) I ask forgiveness from God the Magnificent, without whom there is no god, who created the skies and the earth and all that is between them; for all my sins and offenses that burden my soul I repent before Him (3x)
Musical example 2.1w. Corresponds to Audio example 2.4. Marked deceleration and pitch drop preceding the accelerando to the maximum tempo of 395 bpm (21:33-22:28).
Musical example 2.2w. Call and response at highest speed.
Deceleration in the ḥizb leading up to the highest tempo:

As the reciters begin this opening line—tawakkaltu ‘alā al-ḥayy iladhī lā yamūt (I place my faith in the Living who never dies)—the group briefly introduces a new pattern of strong metric regularity featuring a sixteen-beat phrase divided into two equal halves, repeated three times, that will later become a formal template and basis for intensification. This symmetrical pattern is quickly abandoned, as the following six phrases consist of 59, 47, 42, 26, 41, 40, and 80 beats, successively. Five of the six phrases are repeated three times, giving formal regularity to this metric irregularity. Qur’anic references and themes of praise and supplication continue into this section, with lines from the Qur’an integrated into the text (indicated in bold below; see Dermenghem 1954: 305-6).