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  5. al-Kindi: the ancient foundation of makam therapy

al-Kindi: the ancient foundation of makam therapy

Abu Yusuf Ya’qub ibn Isaaq al-Kindi, “Philosopher of the Arabs” was born in Kufa to an ancient royal family, in 800 AD. He is considered the first universal scholar of the Islamic empire as he was a master of many disciplines, and his writings made him famous also in the Western world. In Bagdad he was the advisor of three caliphs in succession.

He aimed to structure the Arab philosophy and sciences on the basis of the system of the Ancient Greeks.

His interest and knowledge in both music and medicine allowed him to build up a system of correlations between the two disciplines. His system provides some of the basic Turkish makam tones but has less to do with today’s makam system. Nor is his music therapy, if al-Kindi really used it, comparable with Oruç Güvenç’s makam therapy.

The use of music therapy was common already before al-Kindi. But al-Kindi as Neo-Platonian was the one who explained the effects of music on the soul by the doctrine of ethos.