Music in the Dīwān of Samuel ha-Nagid

Jonathan Vardi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The dīwān (book of poems) of the eleventh-century polymath and Hebrew poet of Granada, Samuel ha-Nagid, contains unexpected musical aspects. This article reveals a formerly unknown comment by the poet’s son, which indicates that the shorter poems of the book were all set to music and performed in the poet’s court. The article discusses the implications of this discovery and its importance for understanding both ha-Nagid’s poetry and the musical practices of al-Andalus. Unique literary phenomena such as poem-cycles and “twin poems” that share similar structure are examined through their relations to the early Andalusian nawba (suite) and to the practice of composing contrafacta respectively.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)358-390
Number of pages33
JournalMedieval Encounters
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Brill Academic Publishers. All rights reserved.


  • Andalusian music
  • Granada
  • Hebrew poetry
  • Jewish music
  • Samuel ha-Nagid
  • al-Andalus
  • contrafactum
  • medieval music
  • music
  • nawba
  • song-cycles


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