The spiritual aesthetic in badakhshani devotional music

Benjamin D. Koen

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


This article explores the sounds, symbols, and metaphors at the center of the maddâh aesthetic. The ritual performance of Badakhshani devotional music relies on the creation and maintenance of a spiritual sound ideal, which resides at the nexus of performance. Maddâh is the preeminent genre of devotional music among the Isma'itis of Tajik Badakhshan. Symbols and metaphors from the genre, local religious belief and cosmology, as well as the natural and built environments, interact to create the spiritual aesthetic necessary to achieve the goals of maddâh. Performers and listeners aim to embody the meaning inherent in maddâh, and to carry the spiritual aesthetic from the performative, sacred space of the maddâhkhane into daily activities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-90
Number of pages14
JournalWorld of Music
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2003

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Music


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