Oud learning diary XIX

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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