This chapter examines how ritual drummers fit into the larger sociocultural world of music making in South and West Asia. The Shiʻi wedding Muharram Ali attended in Lahore is an example of a ritual sequence with contrasting emotional overtones. The idea that individuals relate to elements in the ways that music might structure other such events and sequences raises the problem of reception. Before discussing how we understand musical meaning in complex events, the chapter situates the musical actors in the sociocultural structures and institutions of South and West Asia. It then considers the role of the individual in religious or other events that diverse populations attend and participate in, as well as the ways actors in such complex events bring forth emotionally coded musical components that themselves have a differential impact on participants' emotional conditions. It shows that the very performance of emotive acts such as music, recitation, sermons, and certain kinds of bodily practice have an effect on those who are collectively making that statement.
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