David (Daud) is revered in the Abrahamic faiths of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam variously as a king, prophet, and musician, providing the inspiration for what can be called the “Davidic tradition,” expressed in text, sound, ideology, and image. The scriptures associated with David are central to this tradition: within Judaism and Christianity they are the Psalms, human praises or entreaties to God; within Islam, the Zabūr is revered as a divine prophecy revealed to the prophet Daud, according to the Qurʾān. David’s musicianship and the identity of his instruments are understood differently in Jewish-Christian and Islamic traditions, and are interpreted in accordance with contrasting theological precepts of music and sound. A number of Christian-Muslim encounters in the seventeenth century resulted in dialogue, debate, and observations about the divergent religious interpretations of David, and the relation of these to music. This article examines accounts of such encounters invoking David, from Aceh, Spain, Hungary, Socotra, Turkey, and the Maldives, and explores aspects of the complex relationship between Psalms, Islam, and music, from Christian and Islamic viewpoints.

Author Biography

David R. M. Irving is Senior Lecturer in Musicology at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, University of Melbourne. He researches the role of music in intercultural exchange, colonialism, and globalization. His publications include the monograph Colonial Counterpoint: Music in Early Modern Manila (Oxford University Press, 2010), numerous articles and book chapters, and the edited collection Intercultural Exchange in Southeast Asia: History and Society in the Early Modern World (I. B. Tauris, 2013), co-edited with Tara Alberts. As a baroque violinist he has performed with many early music ensembles in Europe and Australia. He is the 2015 recipient of the McCredie Musicological Award from the Australian Academy of the Humanities, of which he has also been elected a Fellow.

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