Muslim Popular Music: An Enchanted Century

Mark Levine, Jonas Otterbeck

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Since its birth and rapid spread over 14 centuries ago, the Islamicate world has comprised dozens of societies and hundreds of cultures and communities that today encompass nearly 50 Muslim majority countries and dozens more with significant Muslim populations, totaling over 1.5 billion people. If as we saw in our previous Chap. 38, “Music in Muslim Contexts,” music has always been a core, if contested, part of Muslim societies, in the twentieth and now twenty-first centuries it has become even more diverse, innovative, controversial, and powerful. This chapter explores the evolution of modern and contemporary music in Muslim societies beginning in the late nineteenth century, exploring how the rapid spread of “new” technologies like the phonograph, radio, and film helped make certain styles, such as Egyptian popular music, Arab tarab, and Turkish Arabesk, regionally and then globally prominent. This occurred at the same time that non-Muslim genres of music, such as European classical, rock, jazz, hip hop, EDM, and “extreme” music, spread throughout the Muslim world, helping shape and in turn being shaped by local musical styles and idioms. We demonstrate how Muslim, Islamicate, and diaspora cultures have been profoundly shaped by the evolution and expansion of music in all its varieties in the last century, with far-reaching if too often little understand impacts on Muslim identities, law, and politics.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of Contemporary Islam and Muslim Lives
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages26
ISBN (Electronic)9783030326265
ISBN (Print)9783030326258
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2021


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