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Poetic License

(3,718 words)

Author(s): Geert Jan van Gelder
Whereas the English term implies liberty, the corresponding Arabic term most commonly used, ḍarūra ‘necessity’ (pl. ḍarūrāt or ḍarāʾir), stresses the lack of it, constrained as poets are by the exigencies of prosody: meter and rhyme; but the term ruxṣa (pl. ruxaṣ) ‘license’ is also found (e.g. ʿAskarī, Ṣināʿatayn 156; Ibn Rašīq, ʿUmda I, 269–280). It has been argued (Baġdādī, Xizāna I, 31–34) that the term ḍarūra is in fact a misnomer, since one way or another it should always be possible to avoid violating the rules. But if a poet is unwilling or unable to co…

Music and Arabic Language

(5,831 words)

Author(s): Geert Jan van Gelder
Music and language have things in common. It is even thought by some that they have a common origin and were once indistinguishable. Whatever the truth of this, they share several characteristics: although they can be written down, they are primarily oral/aural; they are organized sound; they progress linearly in time; their constituents use differences in length and pitch as distinctive elements; there is a hierarchy of structured constituents from the smallest ones (notes or phonemes) to large…