Oud learning diary XVII

15/03/2016 § Leave a comment

There are two important points to make in this learning diary entry. The first is about progression of performance styles, the second is about performance itself.

I have been learning the bayat piece consistently since the last entry. I am at a place whereby I feel I have got to know the piece very well, but getting an accurate rhythm to play alongside the piece is very important. I have been playing along with a sampled 10/8 samai rhythm and it is VERY different to playing without. Far more difficult. I have  now annotated the whole piece to point out the quavers where the second and third dums appear [6th and 7th]. Learning the piece alongside this rhythm would mean that the player would always know where they were in the bar if they knew the samai rhythm intimately alongside it.

Knowing the piece as well as I do now means that I have begun to develop a slightly rhythmic idiosyncratic feel which I can demonstrate as:


This pattern can be applied to other passages also and pieces, such as in the Farafaza samai.

The second point is about performance itself. Last week when I was at E’s place he asked me to play the Bayat piece a number of times with no success. I notice that when I am in my own environment playing is no issue but when in front of others it is. Even the simplest passages which I’ve played many times become difficult. The reason for this is not because the piece is not known. It is because of how the mind operates in such an instance. The mind, when relaxed, focuses on the piece overall, thinking several bars ahead. When put under pressure the mind thinks only about the note one is playing at that second. The result of this is that there is no preparation for which note[s] to go to next so one is far more likely to get lost and make mistakes. If one focuses on something other than what one is playing one can relax more. But like Bulletproof Musician says, it’s not all about relaxing. It’s about a moderate amount of anxiety and knowing how to use it to your benefit.

This weekend I will be going back to E’s to play the bayat and the farahfazah again, hopefully with more concentration and just the right amount of anxiety. Maybe the problem is continually seeing anxiety as a bad thing, rather than something that can be used to one’s benefit to aid concentration. Trying not to care is not the answer. Managing what’s already there is, because attempting to squash it won’t work. It’s about using it to one’s advantage. When I’m at E’s I will also get a definitive list of maqams to practise for theory.


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