Engel,C - The Mode Asbein
Type of Spiritual Experience
He says it was ecstasy, I have put ecstasy, but I have my doubts
The mode asbein is actually a chromatic scale of music with two chromatic modes that appear to be of interest - the Zeidan and the L'sain-sebah - the correct name for the scale - of the Mauretanian Arabs
I know no more but have recorded this finding in the hope someone can shed more light on this.
Later on in the story we find that “Now, after the performance, the Frenchman accidentally learnt that the musician was a Jew.” But I also found modern singers and musicians from Tunisia who can play this, for example, Nawbah Asbain (Mâlouf) - Extrait de la suite en mode Asbain – notice the spelling change however.
Much of the traditional music of Tunisia owes its roots to Berber music and it is notable that the Berber villagers use the rebab, a one-stringed fiddle, the lotar lute, hand drums, and a bell.
The Berber music of the Tuareg region uses rhythms and vocal styles similar to the music of other Berbers and Arab music. In contrast to many of the region's peoples, however, Tuareg music is mostly the domain of women, who play the imzhad, a string instrument like a violin. So in effect, the musical instrument used could have been any number of things.
A description of the experience
Musical Myths and Facts: Volume II 1876 – C. Engel
A modern writer on Arabic music, as it is practised in Algiers and Tunis, mentions among the various modes used at the present day a peculiarly impressive one, called Asbein, which the Mohammedans believe to have been especially appropriated by Satan for the purpose of tempting man.
They have a long story respecting its origin and demoniac effects. The writer alluded to, a Frenchman, had the gratification of hearing a piece or two played in this Mode by a musician, who had the reputation of being one of the best performers in Tunis, and who used to entertain the frequenters of a certain coffee house in a suburb. To this the Frenchman repaired and induced the musician to play in the Mode Asbein. To surmise from his description of the performance there must have been something really frightful in the degree of ecstasy which the player exhibited