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SceneNoise to Host Session on Reviving Arabic Microtonal Music at XP

Nancy Mounir, Ghassan Sahhab, and Qais Rajaa will discuss the history and future of microtonality at XP Music Futures 2023.

Scene Noise

SceneNoise to Host Session on Reviving Arabic Microtonal Music at XP

Since the standardization of 12-tone equal temperament tuning - which divides the musical octave into 12 fixed notes for tuning compatibility - instrument manufacturers, software developers and music technology at large have unquestionably adopted this largely Western piece of music theory as the default, developing almost exclusively around it.

However, this wholesale commitment to compatibility comes at a cost; the neglect of tuning systems that include notes or intervals outside of the 12 fixed subdivisions of the Western octave, as in the case in Arabic maqams and many other Eastern tuning systems. As a result, microtonal music composition has become difficult to achieve in modern production software.

At this year’s edition of XP Music Futures, SceneNoise will be hosting a panel to discuss the future of microtonal music, how to make the best of the software available today, and the intricacy of the tuning systems and instruments that have led to the development of this section of music theory. Mediated by Qais Rajaa - Jordanian artist and leader of synth-pop outfit Albaitil Ashwai - the panel will see pioneering Egyptian alternative artist and violin player Nancy Mounir, and Beirut-based musicology researcher, composer and qanun player Ghassan Sahhab explore the nuanced world of microtonality.

Join us on day 2 of XP Music Futures, which will take over Riyadh Jax District from December 7th to the 9th. Get your tickets by heading to