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Music, peacebuilding, and interfaith dialogue: transformative bridges in Muslim-Christian relations.


An ever-increasing need to find creative approaches and mission models to engage with Muslim neighbors exists. Studies have shown that musical performance can evoke transformative moments that enhance communication and restore broken relationships. In this article, I explore the intersection of music, peacebuilding, and interfaith dialogue in light of Muslim-Christian relations. I ask how music contributes to peacebuilding among peoples of differing faiths by investigating the roles music plays in promoting peace and living with the other in sustainable ways. I suggest a theoretical framework of transformative music communication and practices of interfaith dialogue as bridges in Muslim-Christian relations.


peacebuilding, interfaith dialogue, transformative music communication, Muslim-Christian relations


In an era when sounds of violence and war are deafening, something unusual is taking place. Musicians and performing artists are initiating peacebuilding and interfaith dialogue among religious peoples through music-making. Drawing on the multiple processes inherent at music events, these artists are pursuing the creation of positive cultures of peace among and between peoples of faith. In Tripoli, a Western classical pianist interacts with a local Libyan oud player to listen to and share their music traditions, resulting in a nationally televised concert. In Beirut, Lebanon, performance of classical Arabic music, scripture, and poetry brings together Muslim and Christian musicians and clerics on the same stage in normally walled-off venues, while in Fez, Morocco, the Festival of World Sacred Music offers a transnational event that draws worldwide participation. Meanwhile, in Indonesia, a Muslim youth rock band joins forces with a Christian rock band from the United States. Village women outside of Yogyakarta, both Muslims and Christians, come together to sing, while a Grammy Award-winning world music group from Sumatra sings about common, shared life among Muslims and Christians. (1)

What is going on? What does each of these music-making scenarios have in common? In this article I explore the contribution of music to peacebuilding and interfaith dialogue. While music is a universal phenomenon with multiple levels of interaction, I limit my discussion to considering what happens when peoples of differing faiths come together through shared music performances. Although for some people the place and impact of music in Islamic traditions are contested topics, Muslims and Christians historically share a plurality of musical and religious experiences as lived traditions, many still practiced in the twenty-first century. (2) As a social resource, music and the performing arts engender spaces for human encounter and experience, including encounters among Muslims and Christians. Based on a five-year qualitative study, (3) I suggest an initial theoretical framework of musical processes and practices for pursuing Muslim-Christian relations. I first consider what scholars in the fields of peacebuilding, interfaith dialogue, and ethnomusicology have accomplished and then present the grounding concept of musicking as a foundation for launching into a theoretical framework of the dynamics and processes of transformative music communication, with specific application to Muslim-Christian relations.

Convergences in troubled times

Troubled times are provoking the setting of priorities to address specific needs and concerns. Heightened misunderstanding and conflict between peoples of differing faiths in the twenty-first century, particularly among Muslims and Christians, have moved peacebuilding and interfaith dialogue to the top of academic agendas. The quest for living at peace with one another includes theologians and missiologists seeking common theological ground, with a view to creating understanding and encouraging human encounters that foster respect and dignity for all peoples. (4) A major challenge is creating spaces and means for "rubbing shoulders with diverse people in an increasingly pluralistic world." Not only is there a call to "rub shoulders" with diverse peoples, but the call is to love our neighbors--our religious neighbors--in ways that push relational boundaries. Miroslav Volf argues that living with the "other" in peace is "an expression of our God given humanity. We are created not to isolate ourselves from others but to engage them, indeed to contribute to their flourishing, as we nurture our own identity and attend to our own well-being." (5) Interfaith dialogue has emerged as a major means for interacting with peoples of different faiths that work toward achieving such goals. (6)

Similarly, scholars in peacemaking are searching for nonviolent approaches that lead to sustainable peacebuilding. Lederach asks, "How do we transcend the cycles of violence that bewitch our human community while still living in them?" (7) Peacebuilding is considered a relational approach to increase dialogue, mutual understanding, and trust between two conflicting groups. In praxis, peacebuilding reframes contexts of violence as opportunities to improve upon broken relationships and increase awareness of areas of commonalities and mutual interests. (8) In seeking to transcend cycles of violence, peace work is characterized by "intentional efforts to address the natural ebb and flow of human conflict through nonviolent approaches," (9)

Enter ethnomusicologists. Known for their studies in the intersection of music and culture, ethnomusicologists in the last ten to fifteen years have begun addressing similar issues. They are fully engaging with questions of music's role "in solving or exacerbating contemporary social, political, medical, and environmental problems." (10) The major theme of music, war, and conflict is currently under investigation. (11) Such studies are particularly well suited to drawing on rich, thick ethnographic descriptions of music-in-context in the midst of contemporary settings in regions where conflict and violence are taking place. The bulk of the work has focused on the multiple ways music of a particular context or region reflects how conflict is understood conceptually and in applied domains. Instances of ethnic nationalism and religious activism in relation to music production playing into the recent rise of global unrest feature prominently. The point has been to show "through field research how music either promotes peace or perpetuates discord," (12) resulting in a continuum of roles for music from "war" on one end to "peacemaking" on the other." (13)

Transformative Music Communication: A theoretical framework

Transformative Music Communication presents a way of understanding the dynamics and processes inherent in music-making and musical performance, offering nonviolent ways to approach peacebuilding and interfaith dialogue. (14) Major components are (1) the concept of music as a verb, known as musicking, (2) musical spaces as arenas of relating, (3) the music event as transformative communication, and (4) musical dialogues in interfaith contexts. My purpose is to clarify the dynamics and processes inherent in music-making and musical performance for developing effective mission practices that lead to positive, sustainable, and peaceful relationships, especially between Muslims and Christians.

The concept of musicking

Music is more than a noun; it is not merely a commodity to be plugged into an event. Rather, music is participatory and evokes an image of people engaging with people. As meaningful and enjoyable as musical sound is in and of itself, there is more to music than meets the ear. While there is universality in music, there is also a particularity of contexts; that is, music is culturally embedded. Scholars argue that "the fundamental nature and meaning of music lies not in objects, not in musical works at all, but in action, in what people do. It is only by understanding what people do as they take part in a musical act that we can hope to understand its nature and the function it fulfills." (15) Small argues that music is a verb, what he terms "musicking." For him, musicking is an action, not an object. It serves as an action verb: "to music is to take part, in any capacity, in a musical performance." (16) Musicking includes the full range of activities surrounding music events, that is, performing, listening, rehearsing or practicing, composing, dancing, ushering, taking tickets, and offering refreshments. Meaning, impact, and significance emerge from what people are doing as they participate in music events. For example, when I attended the Fez Festival of World Sacred Music in Morocco, the significance of the concert in the royal outdoor stadium, the Bab El Makina, arose from a combination of the offering of Arabic coffee by local, traditional servers as a symbol of local hospitality, sitting with elegant Moroccan members in the audience, observing the entrance of the queen, and mixing with the members of the transnational audience, which included Australians, Europeans, French dignitaries, Middle Easterners, Africans, and American tourists seeking spirituality as expressed in the music. This combination set the stage for the music performance, with each activity contributing to the totality of meaning gained from the performance of music from both Christian and Muslim origins. More than just a set of activities, musicking is a form of human encounter "in which everyone who is present is taking part, and for whose success or failure as an event everybody who is present has some responsibility." (17) Musicking as human encounter with its myriad array of processes provides a critical foundation for understanding transformative music communication. It widens the circle of investigation to encompass the entire set of relationships that constitute musical performances and that are critical for peacebuilding and interfaith dialogue.

Musical spaces as arenas of relating

Musical performance engenders social spaces for relating with one another. Performance is a rich and complex social affair wherein group meaning is processed and negotiated. Opportunities to engage with people take place on multiple levels. Both insiders and those outside of one's immediate sphere of relationships are afforded occasions for entering into safe spaces of relating. Music-making is not only about each individual's engagement with the music, but even more so about groups of individuals coming together within public spaces surrounded by a musical environment, entering into safe spaces of relating for the duration of the music event. Musicologists maintain that "music's primary meanings are not individual at all but social." (18) Thus, musical spaces foster the processing of relationships, both good and bad. As encounter with the other and engagement are safely entered into, shifts toward an openness to attachment with one another are initiated.

The provision of social spaces for processing relationships, for example, is a major feature of the Fez Festival of World Sacred Music. Established in 1994, at the time of the first Gulf War, its purpose was to gather the great musical traditions drawn from sacred, spiritual, and world music (19) from the Arab world. The intention was to use this totally new concept of performing music of the Middle East side by side with Western sacred music as a means of engaging with the world at large. The various festival venues, with audiences ranging in number from 200 to 2,000, have brought transnational audiences into a local Moroccan arena where Christians, Muslims, and secularists participated in enjoying the music of each other. As the audiences participated in multiple performances over a period of ten days, each interaction produced a growing sense of encountering the other, with perceptions shifting toward stronger views of a shared humanity. Such a venue welcomes people entering and engaging with the other on an attitudinal continuum from exclusion to embrace. (20) (See fig. I.) (21) The only major requirement for attendance is the purchasing power required for travel and attendance at the event. This factor reveals the participants' ability and willingness to attend, as well as their presumed openness to hearing and to experiencing sacred and spiritual musical forms from both Eastern and Western traditions. (22)

The music event arena thus brings together an interface between musical sound and society, "a set of recognizable behaviors that link music to various broadening social and expressive spheres," and can be viewed as transformative, particularly in the emotional domain. (23) Furthermore, musical spaces of relating encourage participants to experience a freedom or escape from the routines of their daily life, from their normal locations, and from their prescribed social identities. They find themselves entering into musical spaces and, either consciously or unconsciously, interacting as equals as they turn their focus to nonintrusive elements such as the delight and pleasure of experiencing music. As participants increasingly move toward one another, the musical experience affords recognition of the other (even when hearing a music foreign to one's own), gives new perspectives on each other's common humanity, offers dignity and respect, and lays the groundwork for building trust. Major transformative components of peacebuilding thus arise as these public and expressive cultural practices articulate "collective identities that are fundamental to forming and sustaining social groups, which are, in turn, basic to survival." (24)

The music event as transformative communication

Transformative music communication provides rich, complex sets of broadened social interaction. For example, in Beirut, Christian and Muslim musicians performing music based on common religious themes and poetry focused on "Annunciation" (the announcement of the incarnation by the angel Gabriel) and produced sonic spaces for negotiating differences and commonalities among the participants. As a special kind of communication and experience, musical sounds "draw upon and draw out different parts of the self." (25) Such musical experiences are transformative by generating multiple shifts in perception and attitudes toward one another. (See fig. 2.) (26)

Music as an expressive art is communication, an ephemeral yet memorable, irreversible means of expressing inner thoughts and deeply held emotions of individuals and their communities, as they are brought into public domains. A convergence of musical functions occurs within the music event, a type of simultaneous musical swirl wherein creative synapses and new connections are generated. As people are gathering and relating within the musical environment, communication transactions are launched, with people negotiating for mutual understanding within emotional, cognitive, and behavioral realms. In the midst of such transactions, music functions to produce transcending, imagining, processing, and sonic bonding. Transcendence is a common experience and a critical element in how music is perceived and conceptualized. (27) In the case of Arab music culture (in both secular and Islamic mystical traditions), musically induced states of ecstasy are deeply emotional occurrences that leave people without words to adequately articulate the phenomenon.


At the same time, music and the arts ignite the imagination, creating "sensory, emotional and physical effects." Often caught off guard or surprised by one's thoughts and feelings, people listening to music can envision possibilities within the realities of specific actualities--political exigencies, time periods, physical locations, and religious differences. A processing of one's own life experiences, attitudes, and values often takes place, leading to "social integration that make us whole." (28) Whether participating together in performance, listening intently to music, or helping to facilitate the production of music events, we find that a sense of community occurs where sonic synapses are forged. An interconnected sense of "sonic bonding" fosters the emergence of interconnected and participatory relationships capable of enduring beyond the music event itself. The possibility of peacefully living together is sparked in the midst of the actualities of life, momentarily creating a Tumerian sense (29) of musical communitas that bonds people together. (30)


Musical dialogues in interfaith contexts

As musical performances gather people together, multivalent dialogical elements emerge in the midst of achieving musical solidarity. (31) These dialogical elements take place in the musical swirl of sonic environments through multiple convergences of forming sonic bonds, igniting the imagination, and transcending complex life issues. Among peoples of world faiths, such as Muslims and Christians, dialogues of musical collaboration, spiritual experience, theological exchange, social action, and daily life are involved. (32) Depending on the music event and local context, this set of dialogues occurs in different combinations and in varying depths of intensity. Each of the following practices of interfaith dialogues via musicking provides essential fuel for establishing sustainable peacebuilding as they collectively form the growing webs of relationship essential and critical to sustainable peacebuilding processes. (See fig. 3.) (33)


Dialogues of musical collaboration. Musical collaboration generates the possibilities for musicking across musical boundaries and cultures. It begins with musicians envisioning and willingly initiating the journey of discovering the other through cultural musics representative of each group. The processes include shared listening, creating music together, learning from one another, and performing together. (34) Although sometimes awkward because of historical differences and misunderstandings, each step requires learning to trust one another and working toward positive relationships of acceptance. Rehearsals foster mutual interdependence between musicians, which further enhances sonic bonding. Interactive dynamics between musicians, both sonically and metaphorically, develop cooperation and acceptance of the other in a person's life and in society. As musicians perform in public spaces, they display human encounter on stage, serving as embodied metaphors of peaceful relations.

Music peace catalysts play critical roles in bringing together the multiple life dynamics and processes of artistic production that encapsulate the essentials of human encounter. There are two major types of music peace catalysts: musicians and nonperformers committed to musicking as a social resource. Musicians who are deeply committed to religious faithfulness and who perform music at a high level (including composing and arranging) have unique leadership abilities. They reveal profound intuitive insights for creating effective music events. Nidaa Abou-Mrad, for example, drawing from his in-depth knowledge of classical Arab music traditions, as well as his Orthodox heritage, formed the Classical Arab Music Ensemble in Beirut. Bringing together Muslim and Christian performers on stage, the ensemble performs adaptations and arrangements based on the convergences of common Abrahamic traditions and common culturally specific musical genres to perform musical narratives such as "Annunciation" and "Divine Love." Abou-Mrad serves as the key initiator and regularly brings together groups of Muslims and Christians through their common music traditions and common practices of spirituality. (35)

Nonperforming music peace catalysts likewise engage through music, although on another level. They may draw from multiple digital resources, such as YouTube and MP3s, to initiate relationships as a means of getting acquainted, discovering one another, and building levels of trust. Seeking to welcome Muslim refugees into the American context, social workers in Southern California, for example, are discovering the impact of simply asking to learn about refugees' favorite musics, suddenly finding themselves propelled into learning a people's culture through music (and dance), and thereby gaining access into their homes and lives. Relationships are being established for ongoing assimilation into the new living environment. (36)

Dialogues of spiritual experience. Living with the ambiguities of irreconcilable issues requires a deep spirituality, one that generates credibility and trustworthiness among participants. Dialogues of spiritual experience take place in two domains: internally and externally. Sharing in and experiencing musico-religious and secular cultural musics of the religious other trigger an internal processing of attitudes toward one another. Not ignoring the need for truth and justice, Lebanese children from diverse social and religious backgrounds, themselves victims of war, successfully came together in the 1980s through the establishment of local choirs and music ensembles. The choirs were based on the premise that peace "begins with inculcating peace with God, peace within self, and finally peace with others." (37) Father Marcel Akiki, who established the choirs, recognized and utilized the role of spirituality as a moral force for moving people toward one another. Such musical leaders, who practice and live out their deep spirituality as they engage in promoting peaceful relations in interfaith contexts, facilitate the reimagining, reconfiguring, and restoring of relationships. Externally, experiential dialogues of spirituality occur as peoples from differing religious backgrounds enter into the worlds of musico-religious piety of the other. The embodiment and visualization of prayer and worship on the same public stage, such as at the Fez Festival, when Greek Byzantine monks and the AlKindi Sufi Ensemble from Damascus performed together, represent a bold and vulnerable sharing of spiritual practices. (See fig. 4.) Both Muslims and Christians alike were exposed to, listened to, and experienced each other's musico-religious traditions that were being offered in an open arena. Though participants in the audience and on stage did not understand all that was taking place, they were predisposed to being open toward the other as they experienced and engaged in what is usually practiced only among insiders.


Dialogues of theological exchange. As performers sing, the lyrics form dialogues of oral theological exchange. Immediate and direct voicing of Holy Scriptures, devotional materials, and religious poetry are offered within liminal moments of transcendence, igniting the processing of deeply held beliefs and life experiences. Additionally, dialogues of theological exchange take place during preconcert envisioning and conceptualizing of music events, as well as during concerts, when religious leaders are given space to discuss the significance of the texts and the importance of embodying them through song. Theological exchange can also begin with concert program notes. For example, the notes from a 2009 performance in Beirut entitled "Songs of Divine Love: An Islamic/Christian Spiritual Concert," by the Classical Arabic Music Ensemble, explain common theological concepts as they are embodied in the music. (See fig. 5.) The notes state, "Christian and Muslim mystical paths have as their goal the sanctifying union of humans with the divine light. These paths serve a quest for human love of God, which responds to the infinite and inconceivable love which God bears for humankind." (38)

Dialogues of social action. As Muslims and Christians engage in shared projects for peace, dialogues of social action occur. Musicking may include a series of main events or be integrated into a larger project that incorporates multiple activities as part of ongoing peacebuilding processes. Peace Generation, an educational peace project in Bandung, Indonesia, incorporates music-making into its overall program. The Mahad, a high school Muslim rock band through which peacemaking principles are taught, joined together with a Christian rock band from the United States in a mutual peace project. After getting acquainted through sharing music and composing a new song together, both groups participated in an open-air, public concert entitled "Rock the Peace." (39) As Tan argues, "Peace Generation music events are safe places for the youth to explore their identity and to freely express themselves using the genres of music they resonate with. The breadths of these expressions articulate the new consciousness of local roots and global belonging." (40) Mutual projects foster the building of relational identity and shared affiliations that turn people away from stereotypes by providing opportunities to create narratives of positive encounters and to move toward healing previous negative encounters. Scholars and musicians from the "Songs of Peace and Reconciliation Project", for example, joined together to perform at the French Cultural Center in Yogyakarta. The concert brought together international scholars from Egypt, the USA, and Indonesia, who performed alongside local Java village musicians, Duta Wacana Christian University choir, and the Indonesian Grammy award winning ensemble, Suarasama.



Dialogues of life. Finally, dialogues of life form the bedrock of music cultures, the place where music-making intersects with life events. Indeed, music cultures provide the raw materials for all kinds of musical performance, laying the foundations of sonic environments. Weddings, funerals, baby-naming ceremonies, and religious rituals--indeed all the major and minor life events where music plays significant roles in the daily rituals of life--are dialogical in nature. Dialogues of life via musicking encompass a lifestyle "where people strive to live in an open and neighborly spirit, sharing their joy and sorrows, their human problems and preoccupations." (41) They are family and community oriented, and offer opportunities to include religious neighbors. When practiced and envisioned with nuanced intentionality, music-making at major life events contributes to nourishing ever-growing webs of interlinked relationships.


Musical performance serves as a social resource that proffers opportunities for broadened social engagement. Musicking, with music practiced as a verb, engenders arenas of relating and musical dialogues among religious people. When practiced with intentionality, music events provide social spaces wherein new webs of human connectivity occur. Transformative music communication evokes relational bridges for living together peacefully as neighbors as it initiates, nourishes, and replenishes communities in the midst of entangled realities of difference. Music's contribution to peacebuilding among Muslims and Christians is the provision of "an array of processes, approaches, and stages needed to transform" attitudes, perceptions, and behavior, all of which can work powerfully toward "more sustainable, peaceful relationships." (42)

DOI: 10.1177/2396939316636884

Roberta R. King

Fuller Theological Seminary, School of Intercultural Studies, Pasadena, CA, USA


(1.) See Roberta R. King and Sooi Ling Tan, eds., (un)Common Sounds: Songs of Peace and Reconciliation among Muslims and Christians (Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2014). Video clips of cited cases may be viewed at

(2.) See Anne K. Rasmussen, "Performing Religious Politics: Islamic Musical Arts in Indonesia," in Music and Conflict, ed. John Morgan O'Connell and Salwa El-Shawan Castelo-Branco (Urbana: Univ. of Illinois Press, 2010); Anne K. Rasmussen, Women, the Recited Qur'an, and Islamic Music in Indonesia (Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 2010); and David D. Hamish and Anne K. Rasmussen, eds., Divine Inspirations: Music and Islam in Indonesia (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 2011).

(3.) This article is based largely on findings from Songs of Peace and Reconciliation among Muslims and Christians, a research project generously funded by the Henry Luce Foundation, 2009-13, Roberta R. King, lead investigator.

(4.) See Miroslav Volf, Ghazi bin Muhammad, and Melissa Yarrington, eds., A Common Word: Muslims and Christians on Loving God and Neighbor (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2010).

(5.) Miroslav Volf, "Living with the 'Other,'" in Muslim and Christian Reflections on Peace: Divine and Human Dimensions, ed. J. Dudley Woodberry, Osman Ziimriit, and Mustafa Koylu (Lanham, MD: Univ. Press of America, 2005), 7, 12-13.

(6.) See Stephen B. Bevans and Roger P. Schroeder, Constants in Context: A Theology of Mission for Today (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2004), 383-84; and Veli-Matti Karkkainen, "Theologies of Religions," Evangelical Interfaith Dialogue 1, no. 2 (Spring 2010): 3-7.

(7.) John Paul Lederach, The Moral Imagination: The Art and Soul of Building Peace (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 2005), 5.

(8.) Qamar-ul Huda, "Memory, Performance, and Poetic Peacemaking in QawwaliMuslim World 97, no. 4 (October 2007): 678-700.

(9.) John Paul Lederach, The Little Book of Conflict Transformation (Intercourse, PA: Good Books, 2003), 20-21.

(10.) Timothy Rice, "Ethnomusicology in Times of Trouble," Yearbook for Traditional Music 46, no. 3 (2014): 191-209.

(11.) Rice's article "Ethnomusicology in Times of Trouble" summarizes some of that work with reference to particular case studies organized around six themes: (1) music, war, and conflict; (2) music, forced migration, and minority studies; (3) music, disease, and healing; (4) music in particular tragedies; (5) music, violence, and poverty; and (6) music, climate change, and the environment.

(12.) O'Connell and Castelo-Branco, Music and Conflict, 12.

(13.) See John Morgan O'Connell, "Music in War, Music for Peace: A Review Article," Ethnomusicology 55, no. 1 (Winter 2011): 112-27.

(14.) Transformative Music Communication as a theory is applicable beyond the scope of this article and not limited to the specific applications made in this article. I am applying it here in relation to peacebuilding and interfaith dialogue.

(15.) Christopher Small, Musicking: The Meanings of Performing and Listening (Middletown, CT: Wesleyan Univ. Press, 1998), 8.

(16.) Ibid., 9.

(17.) Christopher Small, "Prologue: Misunderstanding and Reunderstanding," in Music and Solidarity: Questions of Universality, Consciousness, and Connection, ed. Felicity Laurence and Olivier Urbain (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 2011), x.

(18.) Small, Musicking, 8.

(19.) "World music" encompasses many different styles of music from around the globe, such as folk music, ethnic music, traditional music, indigenous music, neotraditional music, and various fusions thereof, often resulting in what is termed "world music pop."

(20.) See Miroslav Volf, Exclusion and Embrace: A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1996).

(21.) Roberta R. King and Sooi Ling Tan, "Musical Pathways toward Peace and Reconciliation," in (un)Common Sounds, ed. King and Tan, 272, fig. 19.

(22.) For a fuller discussion of the Fez Festival, see Roberta R. King, "Musical Gateways to Peace and Reconciliation: The Dynamics of Imagined Worlds of Spirituality at the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music," in (un)Common Sounds, ed. King and Tan, chap. 6.

(23.) A. J. Racy, Making Music in the Arab World: The Culture and Artistry of Tarab (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2003), 11.

(24.) Thomas Turino, Music as Social Life: The Politics of Participation (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 2008), 2.

(25.) Ibid., 1-2.

(26.) King and Tan, "Musical Pathways," 284, fig. 22.

(27.) See Ruth Flerbert, "Reconsidering Music and Trance: Cross-cultural Differences and Cross-disciplinary Perspectives," Ethnomusicology Forum 20, no. 2 (2011): 201-28; Judith Becker, Deep Listeners: Music, Emotion, and Trancing (Bloomington: Indiana Univ. Press, 2004); and Gilbert Rouget, Music and Trance: A Theory of the Relations between Music and Possession, trans. Brunhilde Biebuyck (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1985).

(28.) Turino, Music as Social Life, 13,1.

(29.) A momentary suspension of social status where a community of people experience themselves on equal footing, as developed by the twentieth-century British anthropologist Victor Turner.

(30.) See Sooi Ling Tan, "Peacesongs: Forging Musical Peace Communitas among the Youth of Indonesia," in (un)Common Sounds, ed. King and Tan, chap. 12.

(31.) See Laurence and Urbain, Music and Solidarity.

(32.) This typology of musicking as interfaith dialogue is derived from categories offered by Bevans and Schroeder, Constants in Context, 383-84; Karkkainen, "Theologies of Religions," 3-7; and M. Thomas Thangaraj, The Common Task: A Theology of Christian Mission (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1999). It is applied to the intersection with musicmaking, plus incorporates the additional dialogue of musical collaboration.

(33.) King and Tan, "Musical Pathways," 286, fig. 23.

(34.) See Jared Holton, "Performing toward Peace: Investigations into the Process of Peacebuilding through Shared Music in Libya," in (un)Common Sounds, ed. King and Tan, chap. 7.

(35.) See Nidaa Abou Mrad, "Cantillation as a Convergence Point of the Musical Traditions of the Abrahamic Religions," in (un)Common Sounds, ed. King and Tan, chap. 7. For clips of the Arabic Classical Music Ensemble performing cantillation, see

(36.) Fuller student project based on the idea of entering someone else's garden as a way to enter into intercultural dialogue via music, involving Syrian and Egyptian refugee families in Orange County, December 2015.

(37.) King and Tan, "Musical Pathways," 287.

(38.) Roberta R. King and Sooi Ling Tan, "Prologue," in (un)Common Sounds, ed. King and Tan,

(39.) In Bandung, Indonesia, on April 24, 2010.

(40.) Tan, "Peacesongs," 260.

(41.) Thangaraj, Common Task, 95-96.

(42.) John Paul Lederach, Building Peace: Sustainable Reconciliation in Divided Societies (Washington, DC: United States Institute of Peace Press, 1997), 20.

Author biography

Roberta R. King is associate professor of communication and ethnomusicology at the School of Intercultural Studies, Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, California. Based in Nairobi, Kenya, for twenty-two years, she helped build Daystar University, served as interim director of the Institute of Christian Ministries and Training, developed programs in Christian Music Communication, and served as an ethnomusicologist with World Venture across Africa.


This research is based on a generous grant from the Henry B. Luce Foundation and the Brehm Center for Worship, Theology, and the Arts at Fuller Theological Seminary.

Corresponding author:

Roberta R. King, School of Intercultural Studies, Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, CA 91 101, USA. Email:
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Author:King, Roberta R.
Publication:International Bulletin of Missionary Research
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2016
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