Oud learning diary XI

04/01/2016 § Leave a comment

It’s been an important couple of weeks over the Xmas period, which accounts for the reason of this late diary entry. Also there was no lesson with Ehsan this Saturday because of the time of year, but I will be going there again this weekend.

Two important things to note – first is the inclusion of the model learning diary. This is vital in showing how the diary at the end of April should be structured and what kinds of things need to be addressed. I should really go through it once more in detail with regard to the kinds of topics covered, but on first reading a couple of points become clear:

1 – the importance of playing in an ensemble as being potentially more useful that one to one tuition

2 – playing stylistically

The first point is something which I should write to SOAS this week about and it was part of the plan. Exactly how I’m going to fit it into my schedule is another matter. I find that two hours of practice on a week night [which is about the current average] is really the minimum that is necessary so how would it be possible to practice more pieces for  an ensemble? This is really quite a concern and one which I should speak to them about also. On the other hand this is really the term to make use of this opportunity and a very good skill going forward, as well as one for making connections. The problem with one to one tuition is that it gives no context, and that’s really something that’s missing.

The lack of context really does not help one to play stylistically. In the model diary the following related the importance of integrating one’s own influence:


The author seems to share exactly the same issues as I – needing to integrate more stylistic playing and not being able to learn to read music until the start of the unit.

The second part of the diary analyses a piece, of which I should choose one myself. On first consideration, the piece chosen would have to be typical of the Iraqi/Turkish style [I am thinking it should be Turkish because my impression is that the Turkish influenced the Iraqi style], should be typical of a samai [10/8 to 6/4 and high technique on the 3rd and 4th hanna] and should switch between maqam. Currently two pieces that spring to mind are the Huzzam and Mahur samai. It might be early to say but I feel one of these pieces could be chosen for the performance.

There is a third possibility which is the Farahfaza which I am currently learning. Another Haydar piece, I was initially quite concerned as to its difficulty. However, the 1st and 2nd hanna are pretty easy, as is the 3rd, to be honest, even the high fa is not that challenging after a few goes. The 4th is where the piece really comes into its own and the first couple of bars are way out of the park in comparison to anything I have played. In spite of this I still don’t think it’s as hard as the Huzzam which took me hours and hours to get to grips with the 3rd hanna and it’s still not really complete. In foresight, I imagine even attempting the first couple of bars of the Farahfaza fourth hanna would get one points in a performance! I am really enjoying the Haydar pieces though, and can see their importance in the development of the oud player. The farahfaza piece has really shown me some important context in how they develop the skill [mentality] of the player.

One thing that need to be done soon is to go through the model diary again and look at the finer elements which could guide my own version. I will continue to work on the Mahur and Farahfaza samais. Videos of the latter on the web are thin on the ground, but here is one which gives a nice rendition:

And the kanun in this version really helps to articulate the melody:

This second video helps me to consider how I may develop stylistics for this piece and others using tremolo. But also the speed of the piece is one which I really enjoy. Ehsan said slow was as much as a technique as fast.


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