Oud learning diary XIV

06/02/2016 § Leave a comment

Today’s lesson concentrated all on the new Bayat piece. Due to the last couple of week’s business with other academic pursuits I didn’t have a lot of time to spend on the piece, trying to do as much as possible yesterday. This taught me a valuable lesson in that it’s just not possible to learn a piece in a day. One may be able to play it with a minor degree of confidence at the end of the day, but the next day most of it will be forgotten – and even if some of the tune is known, the positions of the notes on the fingerboards won’t be. It really takes a good few weeks to know a piece thoroughly to the point where you’re not thinking about it, or at least to the point where you’re thinking about the NEXT bit when you’re playing. If you’re only thinking about the current part that you’re playing, it means you don’t have the knowledge to look ahead yet, and consequently you don’t know the piece.

That’s certainly what I found today. On attempting to play the piece today it seemed that I had forgotten a lot of it, in spite of the fact that I must have listened to the piece about five times on the way in. As Naveed says, when you can sing a piece, you know it. And I can’t sing the piece at all. Older pieces, I can do, and I would say I know them inside out [e.g. Longa Yorgo, Nihavend Longa, Huzzam as well by now].

So what problems do this new piece present? Certainly not as many as the Haydar or really must else I have learned. This is one of the easiest pieces I have been given. The only things that are difficult are the rhythms in the second and third hanna, but apart from that, the piece should be playable with a good degree of confidence in a fortnight.

The structure of the piece seems to lay in Bayat for the first and fourth hanna, and then Rast on Re for the second and third. The fourth hanna contains a 6/8 rhythm, which according to Ehsan is quite common. I’ve been used to 6/4 but 6/8 is apparently common as well.

I have noticed my ability to sight read improving. There is no difficulty in picking out do, re, sol, si in both reading a playing. It really is a slow process. In time it will improve. I have no idea but it’s true that the ‘lines’ are easier to remember than the ‘spaces. On another positive note my fear about playing high up the oud neck is really disappearing, and I have Haydar to thank for that [as well as Bashir]. The three pieces [Hussam, Flying Birds and Farahfaza samai] have done a lot to quell the concerns I have playing up there.

Playing in an ensemble is unfortunately something which is not happening at the moment. The one-three hours I have in the evenings are not really enough in order to give time to both Ehsan’s pieces and anything else for SOAS – even though I did write to EE and he hasn’t come back with any suggestions on regular workshops as yet, but then the timings are a little tricky.

Will continue with the Bayat samai in the next two weeks and pay particular attention to the rhythms of the second and third hanna. It’s still in the first stage of the learning process at this point. One thing I should also do is get to grips with the 10/8 samai thaqil rhythm and see how this works with the pieces:


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