Mikhail Mishaqa

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Mikhail Mishaqa (1800-1888 or 1889; Arabic: ميخائيل مشاقة‎; also transliterated Mikha'il Mishaqah, Mīkhā 'īl Mishāqā, Miha’İl Mishaqa) born in Rashmayyā, Lebanon is "the first historian of modern Ottoman Syria"[1] as well as the "virtual founder of the twenty-four equal quarter tone scale".[2]

Mikhail's great-grandfather, Jirjis Mishaqa I, converted to Greek Catholicism. Jirjis' father, Youssef Petraki, an ethnic Greek, moved from Corfu, Greece to Tripoli, Lebanon to pursue the silk trade and was Greek Orthodox. As such he named himself after an Arabic term describing the process of filtering silk fibers, mishaqa (مشقة). Mikhail's father, Jirjis Mishaqa II, moved to Deir al-Qamar, then controlled by the Shihabs, to escape the religious repression of al-Jazzar, the governor of Sidon. He begun a career as a goldsmith but became a scribe and then chief treasurer for the Amir of Mount Lebanon, Bashir II's household.[3]

According to Touma [4] Mishaqa was the first theorist to propose a division of the octave into roughly twenty-four equal intervals (24-tone equal temperament, quarter tone scale, About this sound Play ), this being the current basis of the Arab tone system. However, Mishaqa's work Essay on the Art of Music for the Emir Shihāb (الرسالة الشهابية في الصناعة الموسيقية [al-Risāla al-shihābiyya fi 'l-ṣinā‘a al-mūsīqiyya]) is devoted to the topic but also makes clear his teacher Sheikh Muhammad al-‘Attār (1764–1828) was one of many already familiar with the concept, although al-‘Attār did not publish his writings on the subject.[2]

Mishaqa's most important works as a historian include the much quoted al-Jawāb `alā Iqtirāḥ al-Aḥbāb (1873) and, possibly, Miha’il Dimashqi's highly similar Ta’rih Hawadit Jarat bil-Sham wa-Sawahil Barr al-Sham wa-l-Jabal (1843).[3]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Zachs (2001).
  2. ^ a b Maalouf (2003).
  3. ^ a b Zachs (2005).
  4. ^ Touma (1996), p. 19.


  • Habib Hassan Touma (1996). The Music of the Arabs, trans. Laurie Schwartz. Portland, Oregon: Amadeus Press. ISBN 0-931340-88-8.
  • Maalouf, Shireen (2003). "Mikhii'il Mishiiqa: Virtual Founder of the Twenty-Four Equal Quartertone Scale", Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 123, No. 4. (Oct. - Dec., 2003), pp. 835–840.
  • Zachs, Fruma (2001). "Mikhail Mishaqa - The First Historian of Modern Syria", British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, Vol. 28, No. 1 (May 2001), pp. 67–87.
    • (2005). "Miha'il Mishaqa", Historians of the Ottoman Empire (ottomanhistorians.com).