Music’s healing properties: Doctor of Philosophy proposes studying Al-Farabi’s work at music schools

Music’s healing properties:  Doctor of Philosophy proposes studying Al-Farabi’s work at music schools

The unique work of Abu Nasr Al-Farabi ‘Kitab al-musiki al-kabir’ or ‘The Great Book of Music’, published in Kazakh language, must be introduced into the curriculum of music schools, colleges, conservatory and the Academy of Music, proposed Doctor of Philosophy and Professor Zhakypbek Altayev.

“The manuscript of over a thousand pages that was completed approximately in the first half of the 10th century, symbolizes a new direction of musicology, namely the originality of the performing culture and musical compositions of Muslim composers, including Persians, Turks, Arabs and others. Al-Farabi not only creatively revised the musicological compositions of his predecessors, including the Hellenes, Al-Kindi and others, but also analyzed his own observations, in order to cover the cultural and historical panorama as broadly as possible. He thoroughly studied the origins of ancient Greek culture through the works of Aristotle, Plato, Ptolemy, as well as the unique culture of nomadic people, the population of Sogdia, Khorasan, the mighty Sasanian Empire and the Kushan Empire, who have also had an impact on the Great Steppe,” Altayev said.

He believes that Al-Farabi’s aesthetic views on the nature of music and poetry have not yet been fully studied. Although there are still some blank spaces, it is clear for sure that the Second Teacher strongly believed that music could heal diseases and ailments. Al-Farabi regarded music as an important component of happiness or harmonious life.

“According to his socio-ethical views, musical art is an instrument, a conductor of virtue, a guarantor and at the same time, a sign of happiness and goodness. Undoubtedly, the oriental commitment to the expression of  feelings through music permeates the work of Al-Farabi. Given the global situation with the novel coronavirus pandemic, the observations of the Second Teacher are highly valuable. There are many positive examples when light music, distracting from the hustle and bustle, opens up the healing channels of the human body. There are methods of prevention and treatment of diseases through music therapy,” Altayev said.

The most exciting part is that in his monumental studies, Al-Farabi proved not only the healing properties and positive therapeutic effects of music, but also its educational value.

The ‘Kitab al-musiki al-kabir’ treatise on music by the medieval philosopher Al-Farabi was translated into Latin, German, Spanish, Dutch, French, English and Russian. The work still has a major influence on world’s musical theory and art.