NEAR E 296 A: Special Studies in Near Eastern Languages and Civilization

Spring 2021
TTh 12:30pm - 1:50pm / * *
Section Type:
Gabriel J. Skoog
Syllabus Description (from Canvas):

NEAR E 296: Intro to Musical Arts and Technology in the Near and Middle East

Spring Quarter 2021

3 credits

The University of Washington

Tuesday/Thursday 12:30-1:50

Synchronous only

Prof. Gabriel Skoog (

Office Hours: Wed 12:30-1:30

Course Description

This course will look at instrument technology, performance practices, and musical cultures of the Near and Middle East. The course will pay particular attention to the various instruments shared throughout the region. It will also include a general overview of both historical and contemporary music found in region. Using audio and video recordings, students will learn how to identify the songs, instruments and languages of the Near and Middle East. By the end of the course students will be required to identify, by listening alone, the various musical instruments and musical cultures in the region.

No musical or language experience is required. Instruction will be synchronous only. Students are expected to attend every Zoom session. We will need to learn to listen together. But if you are shy, it is okay if you skip the camera some days. I would rather have your ear than see your face.

This lecture course explores the role of music in Middle Eastern lives from the Middle Ages until the 20th century. In tracing the instruments of the region, the course will introduce students to the basic features, contexts, and roles of music in the Middle East.  This course will look at primary and secondary recordings related to the of music in the area. This course will pay particular attention to the connection between music and political, technological, and ideological contexts in the region.  Indeed, students will be expected to make connections about the ways in which music and the performing arts are used in a variety of contexts in the Middle East.


Learning Objectives:

            1-Students will develop familiarity with the wide range of instruments, musical

               genres, and related performance culture in the Middle East

            2-Students will be able to identify instruments and make connections between music and

                historical transformations in the Middle East


Course Requirements- Listening/ Video playlist – YouTube

All required listening playlists will be available on the course website. There are no required readings for this course. Students will be provided with YouTube playlists. This course will have a listening workload of roughly of 2-3 hours a week. Each playlist will be approximately 1 hour; students will be expected to listen to each recording at least three times in order to develop familiarity with instrument styles and performers.

Students in this course must complete the listening by the date assigned on this syllabus, regularly attend synchronous Zoom sessions and complete a weekly listening quiz in class. There will also be two in-class exams: a midterm and a final.  All quizzes and exams are cumulative.

Synchronous Listening Weekly Quiz (and Exam Structure)

There will be 7 separate 20 min weekly quizzes from 12:30-12:50 every Tuesday (first thing in class). (the dates below)

Students must identify previously studied videos from the week before (and give short answer responses, multiple choice and true/false etc.)

Students must identify previously unstudied videos as well.  (and give short answer responses, multiple choice and true/false etc.) As time goes on, students will be required to identify instruments from previous listening playlists.

Students must identify the different terms from the week before and be able to talk about terms and how they relate to musical instruments and performance in the Middle East. 

All listening quizzes and exams are cumulative. Student will be expected to build upon their knowledge of instruments and music culture in the Middle East.

The graded assignments

  1. Synchronous Every Tuesday 12:30-12:50           Weekly Listening Quiz (40pts)     
  2. Synchronous Midterm 4/27                                  First Exam (30pts)
  3. Synchronous Finals 6/3                                         Second Exam (30pts)

Grading scale:

98-100   = 4.0

96-97     = 3.9

94-95     = 3.8  

92-93     = 3.7

91          = 3.6

90          = 3.5

89          = 3.4

88           =3.3     etc.

Weekly Outline


Week 1  

Tuesday 3/30 Instrument types and course introduction

Thursday 4/1 Overview of music context.


Week 2


Tuesday 4/6 (Quiz A) Chordophones instruments 


Thursday 4/8 Aerophones instruments


Week 3


Tuesday 4/13 (Quiz B) Membranophone instruments


Thursday 4/15 Ideophone instruments


Week 4


Tuesday 4/20 (Quiz C) Voice and the body


Thursday 4/22 Electronic instruments and media


Week 5


Tuesday 4/27 Midterm                      


Thursday 4/29 Pre-Modern Spain


Week 6


Tuesday 5/4 (Quiz D) Pre-modern Persians


Thursday 5/6 Ottomans Empire


Week 7


Tuesday 5/11 (Quiz E) Morocco ancient to modern


Thursday 5/13 Modern North Africa


Week 8


Tuesday 5/ 18 (Quiz F) Ottoman diaspora music


Thursday 5/ 20 Sephardic Jews and Israel


Week 9


Tuesday 5/25 (Quiz G) Meditation glamor from Cairo to Beirut


Thursday 5/27 Iran before the revolution


Week 10


Thursday 6/1  Anatolian Rock


Thursday 6/3 Final







Course Information & Online Resources

The plan is to meet via Zoom Video Conferencing.   Access to both Canvas and Zoom is necessary for completing readings and homework assignments and for earning participation points.

I would rather teach this course in person, but we will find a way to make learning a positive experience under the extraordinary circumstances of the COVID-19 era. Let's be patient with each other and keep a sense of humor!!

Types of Communication

In an online course, our communication will visible to all. For private communication, we will use individual email and Zoom office hours.

Online Course Policies

  Expectations of students:

  • Come to class fully prepared.
  • Attend all online sessions and actively participate in the forum.
  • Complete assignments on time. If difficulties turn up (such as illness, caring for others who are ill, technological problems, working from home where children need attention, etc.), let me know. We will figure out what to do to keep your learning on track.
  • Abide by the standards of academic honesty and student code of conduct.
  • Seek help. I’ll do my best to help you succeed in this class.
  • Have access to a camera and audio. The expectation is that you will be visible/audible to me and to your classmates, but you can control those options. If you are not feeling well and want to listen in but not speak up or be seen, we will accommodate those circumstances. And, if the servers/processors/whatevers are overburdened and the video is slowing down or disrupting our communication, we'll adapt as necessary to those circumstances.

For Zoom recordings:  the recording will capture the presenter’s audio, video and computer screen. Student audio and video will be recorded if they share their computer audio and video during the recorded session. The recordings will only be accessible to students enrolled in the course to review materials. These recordings will not be shared with or accessible to the public.

The University and Zoom have FERPA-compliant agreements in place to protect the security and privacy of UW Zoom accounts. Students who do not wish to be recorded should:

  • Change their Zoom screen name to hide any personal identifying information such as their name or UW Net ID, and
  • Not share their computer audio or video during their Zoom sessions.


Course Etiquette:

  • Get to class on time. Test your camera and audio prior to class time.
  •  In general, it is good policy to "mute" yourself during a Zoom meeting, until you are ready to speak to the entire group. Keep phones and other devices from making background noise or disruption.
  • Respect each other.



If you would like to request academic accommodations due to a disability, please contact Disabled Resources for Students, 448 Schmitz, 206-543-8924.  If you have a letter from DRS indicating you have a disability that requires academic accommodations, please discuss with the instructor any accommodations you might need for the class.

In cases of academic misconduct, such as plagiarism or receiving inappropriate assistance on an assignment, offending students will be penalized in accordance with the policy of the College of Arts and Sciences. If you are unsure what constitutes plagiarism or how to properly attribute credit to source materials, consult with the instructor.

 Please keep a copy of all graded work. This is very useful in case the instructor’s record of grades is lost or damaged, or in case the student wishes to discuss a grade.  Protect yourself by keeping a copy.

For additional guidelines on academic integrity, Incompletes, grade appeal, concerns about an instructor, equal opportunity, disability accommodations, absences due to religious observances, sexual harassment, and safety, see the homepage of our course website and the following link: (Links to an external site.) (Links to an external site.)



It is important that we take care of ourselves inside and outside of class by learning how to care for our body, mind, and spirit. Toward that end, there are many different kinds of support services on campus, including the Counseling Center, Hall Health, and the IMA. If you are concerned about yourself or a friend who is struggling, Safecampus, at 1-800-685-7233, is a very helpful resource to learn more about how to access campus-based support services. Please save the number for Safecampus, 1-800-685-7233, into your cell phones.

**It is understood that students may miss class on religious holidays and that these are excused absences. Please inform the instructor if you plan to miss class.

GE Requirements Met:
Social Sciences (SSc)
Last updated:
April 16, 2024 - 6:32 am