Oud lesson XX

11/04/2016 § Leave a comment

Things seem to be changing a lot of the time with regard to what I should be doing for the performance exam. The Bayat Samai is still part of it, but after today’s lesson with E he thinks that a longa should be included, and that including another samai would not give me enough time. We have therefore agree to not do the farahadaza samai – which is a bit of shame because I feel it’s one of the¬†pieces that has arguably advanced me as a musician, and replaced it with the Longa Yorgo. This piece is one that I have known for several months and have played many times, it is quite familiar to me, but it is still not that much of an easy piece , it has some awkward fingering around bars 19 and 20 and 25 to 29:

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The tempo, fortunately enough, although appearing awkward with the large amounts of triplets is quite instinctive and natural. It is only the fingering that is awkward  Рesp bar twenty demands the 1st, 2nd and 3rd finger to be utilised in close proximity in quick succession Рand this can be remedied by just playing the piece slowly and getting reacustomed to it, and then speeding up as necessary. This longa is known by other names such as Longa Sultaniyegah, Longa Sirtu or Sultaniyegah Oyun Havasi in Turkish.

As for the Bayat piece, we are still keeping this – but to my dismay E didn’t like any of my ornamentations that I had been so keen on! He told me not to do it and play the piece more or less how it is written as ‘bare bones’ [my words not his]. I am a little concerned about this because I think it will be quite boring for some people in the audience – especially those who are already familiar with the piece since it is quite well-known, and what makes familiar Middle Eastern music interesting to seasoned listeners is hearing new interpretations from the player who can similarly exhibit their understanding of the piece and technical skill, but E thinks it is best to do it simply. He said the fact that it was in Bayat and included quartertones is enough.

That only leaves the scales. I asked him why, for instance, I should concentrate on Saba from Re, Mi, So, La and not Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La, and I was told that the maqam from Fa is too difficult and that it was difficult to ‘feel’ instinctively. However, he thinks that I should not be concentrating on playing maqams for performance on anything other than their main tonics and that concentrating on the other transposed tonics should be done for future learning. Therefore he thinks that the following should be run through in Performance just from the main tonics:

Ajam

Nahawand

Hijaz

Rast

Kurd

Saba

Hijaz kar

Lami

Nikriz

I could always include others such as Nawa Athur, Shuri and Husseini but maybe this is enough. He said it might also be worth transposing one of the maqams [e.g. Nahawand on Re rather than on Do].

As for an improvisation in Bayat as a taqsim, E’s only advice here was that I play what I liked. A few weeks ago when I asked him to teach me the art of taqsim he said, “how can I teach you taqsim?! It is something in your blood” so I can deduce from that that it is only something that will come over a long amount of time. For now I will play a Bayat taqsim that showcases my understanding of the maqam as well as including the idiomatic phrases from Munir Bashir.

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Oud learning diary XIX

05/04/2016 § Leave a comment

Saturday’s lesson with Ehsan was cancelled – or at least postponed – due to the fact that he had some people over from Sweden he was entertaining, exactly what the context was for that I’m not certain. Therefore if the lesson goes ahead this Saturday it will have been three weeks since the last one. In the mean time I have been almost exclusively playing the Bayat and Farahfaza samais. I don’t really know what more I can do for them with regard to learning them, I’m confident that I have their structure and order correct. Really from this point on I want to be concentrating on individual stylistics for each piece but I want Ehsan to be able to approve those that I have been employing, that is to say mainly the use of tremolo and the rhythm that I developed three weeks ago as given in diary entry XVII. He may or may not think that they are appropriate but at this point it’s difficult to say. I hope the lesson goes ahead this Saturday since I want some guidance on that front with regard to the ornamentations.

This brings me to the scales to learn. Last entry I specified Saba, Rast, Hijaz Kar and Nikriz but I am confused about the starting tones he has given me for this maqamat. For instance, he has given me Re, Mi, Sol, La for the Saba, but I don’t understand why this is not Re, Me, Fa, Sol, La. Likewise for Rast has has given me Do, Re, Fa, Sol, not Do, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol. I really want this clarified. Additionally, I am surprised that he has not given me Nahawand and Hijaz at least from some tonics, since these are such common maqamat. I really need this cleared up by next time by the final diary entry [entry XX].

One final thing is the bayati improvisation. I made reference in my last entry to the traditions of bayati, eg that the F [mi bemol] should contain vibrato whereas the sikah does not. I want to integrate more knowledge of these traditional rules into my knowledge of the maqam, such as the fact that even though the sekah does not normally contain any kind of vibrato it does have other ornamentation such as neighbour tone, turn etc. My lessons with Ehsan are very ‘traditional’ in the sense that most of the learning is done verbally – of course there is sheet music to accompany each samai – but a lot of the work in done by listening, watching and repeating. I came across this Munir Bashir improvisation which I would a good starting point to learn from with regard to the bayati taqsim. I notice certain idiomatic phrases within there which have been played by him in other recordings. I will examine the piece and notate these idiomatic phrases in my final entry.

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