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Middle Eastern Music Archive


The Middle Eastern Music Archive (MEMA) is a collection of sheet music, lyrics, flyers, and learning materials from the entire lifespan of the William & Mary Middle Eastern Music Ensemble (MEME). Established more than 15 years ago in 1994, the Middle Eastern Music Ensemble at the College of William and Mary has accumulated over five file boxes of sheet music along with ephemera including concert programs, fliers, and other communications. Starting with a Monroe summer research project in 2010, Tiffany Schoneboom has digitized and catalogued these materials in order to preserve MEME's history in an accessible manner, and also explore the nature of music knowledge transmission in a university world music ensemble. MEME has collaborated with numerous guest musicians of Arab, Turkish, Persian, Armenian and Greek music traditions, and has collected much sheet music through these connections. The music in the archive itself (about 300 pieces) includes handwritten transcriptions, digitally created scores, and copies from publications transmitted to the ensemble through collaborations with guest artists, teachers, and scholars of Middle Eastern music. The Middle Eastern Music Archive is currently in the process of being completely uploaded and modified to include more types of ephemera such as concert programs, photos, flyers, and other multi-media.

The purpose of MEMA is to be a virtual exhibit of the unique history of the Middle Eastern Music Ensemble. By including multiple sheet music versions of pieces that were and are used in MEME, the archive attempts to create an ethnographic roadmap of MEME's performance history. Because of the nature of traditional Middle Eastern music as nonharmonic and improvised, the sheet music often is composed of just a basic melody line. In actual performance of the music, however, improvised ornamentation of the main melody occurs among musicians in order to create a rich and heterophonic texture which remains unwritten in the sheet music. As a result, different people will have varying ideas about how the same melody should be written out on the music. MEMA includes the sheet music shared with the ensemble by all of its collaborators and friends over its lifespan. All contextual data around pieces in the archive was gathered from interviews with Professor Anne Rasmussen and physical materials in the archive.


MEMA began as a 2010 Monroe summer research by Tiffany Schoneboom, the student assistant director (2011-2012) of the William and Mary Middle Eastern Ensemble. In the Fall of 2011, the archive was available online in its introductory phase. Additional sheet music and other ensemble ephemera are still in the import process. Any feedback is welcome. Contact: thschoneboom@email.wm.edu.

Recent Submissions

    Traditional (0000) (maqam: Hijaz)
    Kasoypas, B. (0000)
    Traditional (0000) (maqam: G minor)
    Traditional (0000)
    Turath; Traditional (0000) (maqam: Hijaz Kar)
    Turath; Traditional (0000) (maqam: Hijaz Kar)
    Traditional (0000) (maqam: Hijaz)
    Turath; Traditional (0000) (maqam: Hijaz)
    Barrett, Bill (0000) (maqam: Bayyatti)
    Traditional (0000) (maqam: Bayyatti)
    Traditional (0000) (maqam: Huzam)
    Turath; Traditional (0000) (maqam: Hijaz)
    Turath; Traditional (0000) (maqam: Hijaz Kar)
    Traditional (0000) (maqam: A minor)
    Turath; Traditional (0000) (maqam: Bayyati La)
    Turath; Traditional (0000) (maqam: various)
    Azzam, Nabil (1996) (maqam: Bayyati La)
    Gamil, Alfred (0000) (maqam: Bayyati)
    Traditional (0000) (maqam: G minor)
    Turath; Traditional (1990) (maqam: Bayyati La)

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