Mike's Oud Forums
Not logged in [Login - Register]
Go To Bottom

Printable Version  
Author: Subject: Taksim passages not always resolving?
Lysander
Oud Junkie
*****




Posts: 405
Registered: 7-26-2013
Location: London, UK
Member Is Offline


[*] posted on 4-4-2014 at 10:53 AM
Taksim passages not always resolving?


I hope this topic makes sense. It might be extremely obvious to Middle Eastern ears but not to Western ones. I think I might have made headway into getting my taksims to sound more genuine.

I was just listening to a Rast taksim by Haig Yazdjian and I realised that the small passages played [i.e. the groups of only a few notes] don't always resolve - he doesn't always stop on the tonic/octave or the dominant note before moving on. In fact, he seems to stop on any note at all that works. In this way it makes far more use of the makam and you're not limiting yourself to always resolving small passages on the tonic, dominant or octave every few notes.

This has been something that has been troubling me for months. When playing taksims I always resolve a passage every few notes. But now I realise that Middle Eastern players don't do it all the time, in fact, they only do it the minority of the time to round off a long passage or to introduce a new section of the taksim.

Does this make sense and is it correct? If so, I may have unravelled one of the mysteries to making things sound more like they should.
View user's profile View All Posts By User
DoggerelPundit
Oud Junkie
*****




Posts: 138
Registered: 7-28-2010
Location: Pacific Northwest
Member Is Offline

Mood: Odar

[*] posted on 4-5-2014 at 08:29 AM


Lysander,

Listen closely to see if you are hearing his modulations (moving on) begin on the fourth or fifth note of the dominant maqam.

It has been my experience that you may break your heart in the quest to reconcile Eastern musical methods with Western.

-Stephen
View user's profile View All Posts By User
MatthewW
Oud Junkie
*****




Posts: 1031
Registered: 11-5-2006
Location: right here
Member Is Offline

Mood: Al Salam

[*] posted on 4-5-2014 at 08:30 AM


I would agree with both of you; whatever note works, sounds right, feels right, and gets you from A to B with style is a good place to start.
As Duke said, 'it don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing..'
:airguitar:
View user's profile View All Posts By User
Lysander
Oud Junkie
*****




Posts: 405
Registered: 7-26-2013
Location: London, UK
Member Is Offline


[*] posted on 4-6-2014 at 05:58 AM


This is a complex topic which I don't think I've addressed well enough in my OP.

I've written a blog post on this going into a little more detail as to why it happens. It's really down to the Western mindset and conditioning we've received to play and listen in certain ways. Some parts of a taksim we understand - because we recognise them - and other points we ignore or just don't see at all. But these other points can be pivotal important junctures of improvisation to a Middle Easterner.

Here's what I've written on it, it would be useful to know peoples' ideas on this.

http://lyscriber.wordpress.com/2014/04/06/resolving-or-attempting-t...
View user's profile View All Posts By User
Brian Prunka
Oud Junkie
*****




Posts: 2583
Registered: 1-30-2004
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Member Is Offline

Mood: Stringish

[*] posted on 4-6-2014 at 07:24 AM


I don't think this "resolution to tonic, dominant or octave" is a western characteristic at all. Perhaps it could be something in how westerners hear eastern music, but western music makes use of suspenseful quasi-resolutions at least as much as eastern music does.

The logic of the jins is something that is not melodically similar to western music, and this is the thing that needs a lot of focus. The best thing I have found is to spend time listening to and absorbing the masters . . . actually learning their words, phrases and sentences.

Think of it like learning a language. You are focusing on an abstract grammatical concept. While possibly helpful, it would be more helpful to just learn vocabulary and sentences.




View user's profile Visit user's homepage View All Posts By User
MatthewW
Oud Junkie
*****




Posts: 1031
Registered: 11-5-2006
Location: right here
Member Is Offline

Mood: Al Salam

[*] posted on 4-6-2014 at 09:10 AM


I've read your blog, and though I might be missing what your point is, to my mind I am not sure I would agree entirely with what make a taqsim sound more middle eastern as opposed to 'mimicking' it... perhaps we need to look at other factors.

John plays a very nice Bayati ( I wouldn't call it simple, just short perhaps)- is he mimicking someone else he may have heard play a bayati or is he playing what he actually is feeling, from his heart and mind?
You put on a Miles Davis track and he plays some really nice stuff; a trumpet player living in Cairo into Miles Davis plays something and it sounds nearly as good, or as good (of course no one is as good as Miles ) -Is he 'mimicking' Miles Davis, or has he listened to that style of jazz over and over for years since that is what he wants to play and not an oud, and has absorbed the nuances of that style of jazz trumpet playing enough to make it his own? Yes he has mimicked Miles to a point, but then he takes it from there if he has any knack for playing at all. he makes it his own.

If I understand your blog, I think most musicians start out trying to 'mimic' a player or sound that they like or try to aspire to, both those living in the east and in the west. Once they absorb the 'basics' and get the sense of where and what it's all about, they hopefully can make it their own and are able to improvise. Perhaps in the case of the oud, most all the great players have come from a culture where they grew up listening to that music, it was all around them and so second nature to them and 'in their blood'.

Look at the great Hindustani/North Indian classic music traditions, which to my mind is really tough and has made some of the most beautiful and intricate studies of music anywhere. Ravi Shankar, one of the greatest musicians on any instrument spent seven years with his guru just mimicking and absorbing to memory the various nuances of ragas by singing them BEFORE he even picked up a sitar. Can you imagine doing that today? (Note: I meant to write that Ravis music guru taught him by singing the phrasing/nuances of the ragas to Ravi for 7 years without ever picking up the sitar, as Jody points out below)

That sort of training still goes on to some degree in India and places in the west, it is by 'mimicking' the great players and all the scales/ragas -all the various combinations back to front of 1000s of ways of improvising a raga that makes one a great player and gives one the foundation to be able to go off and take it from there- to make it his/her own and now show us what you can do on the instrument bud.

It seems that with learning and impovising on and within both the maqam and the raga, what you have observed as staying and improvising and exploring within a set group of notes that make up the maqam/raga and then moving 'up' (or down or sideways) gradually with style and taste is the way it's done a lot. I played with some Indian musicians a few times, and while I was ready to go from one end of the 'scale' to the other in a relatively shorter length of time, the Indian musicians would go from the tonic for example to the third and then back, explore various ways of improvising with these notes...then they went up to the 4th, then the 5th and so on.

so what makes a taqsim work? perhaps a combination of knowing the maqams, having established a good playing technique, getting the notes that flow, that sound right, that feel right, that say something, that get you from A to B with style and grace and have interest and most important that the player needs to put something of him/herself into it all...it don't meant a thing if it ain't got that swing.

Lol, I think I better wrap this up before I ramble on too much. To me 'mimicking' isn't east or west or what makes something sound more east or west, though it is probably has been useful to musicians from east and west perhaps at some time in their musical journey.

What makes John's bayati work is, to my mind, is that he has put his heart into playing music and the oud, has though probably mimicked and listened to many players in the past on his own personal musical journey (correct me if I'm wrong John), but was able to absorb it all and to make it his own and bring his own self-expression into it, not so much that he is an 'Eastern Puerto-Rican :cool:,
the same with Brian, he plays excellent oud, he is not 'eastern' but has absorbed it very well.

Then we need to consider that some modern oud music is also in a state of change; the way some players express themselves in the 21st century can be different than 20th century oud playing.

So what makes a taqsim sound more middle eastern? :shrug:
View user's profile View All Posts By User
Jody Stecher
Oud Junkie
*****




Posts: 1170
Registered: 11-5-2011
Location: California
Member Is Offline


[*] posted on 4-6-2014 at 01:43 PM


Sure, I don't just imagine it, I do it. If I can sing it I can play it. if I can't sing it I might not play it as accurately . (I'm assuming you mean that over a 7 year period RS vocalized each phrase before playing it on his sitar, rather than he sang for seven years before he laid a hand on the sitar.). The former is very practical, not as austere as it may sound. On the other hand all descriptions (and a few recordings and film clips) of (Ravi Shankar's guru) Allauddin Khan's teaching methods involve him singing or playing a phrase and the student directly playing it back.


Quote: Originally posted by MatthewW  


Ravi Shankar, one of the greatest musicians on any instrument spent SEVEN YEARS with his guru just mimicking and absorbing to memory the various nuances of ragas by singing them BEFORE he even picked up a sitar. Can you imagine doing that today?


View user's profile View All Posts By User
MatthewW
Oud Junkie
*****




Posts: 1031
Registered: 11-5-2006
Location: right here
Member Is Offline

Mood: Al Salam

[*] posted on 4-6-2014 at 02:01 PM


Quote: Originally posted by Jody Stecher  
Sure, I don't just imagine it, I do it. If I can sing it I can play it. if I can't sing it I might not play it as accurately . (I'm assuming you mean that over a 7 year period RS vocalized each phrase before playing it on his sitar, rather than he sang for seven years before he laid a hand on the sitar.). The former is very practical, not as austere as it may sound. On the other hand all descriptions (and a few recordings and film clips) of (Ravi Shankar's guru) Allauddin Khan's teaching methods involve him singing or playing a phrase and the student directly playing it back.


Quote: Originally posted by MatthewW  


Ravi Shankar, one of the greatest musicians on any instrument spent SEVEN YEARS with his guru just mimicking and absorbing to memory the various nuances of ragas by singing them BEFORE he even picked up a sitar. Can you imagine doing that today?





you're right Jody, I should have made that clearer-Allauddin Khan ( Ravis musical guru) taught Ravi by singing the phrases to him without picking up a sitar for 7 years. still pretty amazing.

can you imagine taking oud lessons for one full year with a great oud player, and the teacher just sang all the phrases- taqsims of various maqams to you? and to do this for 7 years?
View user's profile View All Posts By User
Jody Stecher
Oud Junkie
*****




Posts: 1170
Registered: 11-5-2011
Location: California
Member Is Offline


[*] posted on 4-6-2014 at 02:46 PM


Yes, I can imagine such an oud teacher, and would like it a lot!. To form an idea of a particular maqam I listen to singers (mawwal, qasida, Koran, and the various middle eastern Christian liturgies etc) at least as much as to oud players. Allauddin did not play sitar (not very well anyway). Sarode, sursringar, and violin were his favored instruments. And he was left handed. He played regular right handed instruments upside down. So if he were to demonstrate sitar technique on a right handed sitar that really wouldn't be very helpful.

I was also taught raga music entirely through the medium of singing. My teacher ZM Dagar was a vina player. He taught me sarode and (mostly) sursringar entirely by singing the phrases. His brother Fariduddin taught me the same way. This still goes on. It's not a thing of the past and not at all a strange way to go about it. It develops the ear of the student and it instills a vocal quality to the string music which is part of the aesthetic of raag sangeet (Indian classical music).
I also studied for 3 years with Ali Akbar Khan in California. This was earlier. 1968-70. He taught entirely through the medium of singing. But it wasn't La La La. He would sing the mnemonics of the up and down strokes and also identify the pitches by their names through the "sargam" (solfege) system. So a lot of information is given. Every once in a while he would take up a sarode and demonstrate. He also gave many demonstrations of various ragas while playing as did ZM Dagar. Many many. But not during my personal lesson time. It's really not a big deal and the student doesn't feel deprived. The voice is a living musical instrument. the student strives to make his instrument sound alive, and not like an inert "thing".


Quote: Originally posted by MatthewW  
Quote: Originally posted by Jody Stecher  
Sure, I don't just imagine it, I do it. If I can sing it I can play it. if I can't sing it I might not play it as accurately . (I'm assuming you mean that over a 7 year period RS vocalized each phrase before playing it on his sitar, rather than he sang for seven years before he laid a hand on the sitar.). The former is very practical, not as austere as it may sound. On the other hand all descriptions (and a few recordings and film clips) of (Ravi Shankar's guru) Allauddin Khan's teaching methods involve him singing or playing a phrase and the student directly playing it back.


Quote: Originally posted by MatthewW  


Ravi Shankar, one of the greatest musicians on any instrument spent SEVEN YEARS with his guru just mimicking and absorbing to memory the various nuances of ragas by singing them BEFORE he even picked up a sitar. Can you imagine doing that today?





you're right Jody, I should have made that clearer-Allauddin Khan ( Ravis musical guru) taught Ravi by singing the phrases to him without picking up a sitar for 7 years. still pretty amazing.

can you imagine taking oud lessons for one full year with a great oud player, and the teacher just sang all the phrases- taqsims of various maqams to you? and to do this for 7 years?
View user's profile View All Posts By User
bulerias1981
Oud Junkie
*****




Posts: 740
Registered: 4-26-2009
Location: Beacon, NY
Member Is Offline

Mood: John Vergara Luthier Lord of the Strings instrument making and repair

[*] posted on 4-7-2014 at 07:09 AM


When I was studying Charbel Rouhana in Lebanon, he told me during a lesson that he had just got back from Syria where he performed a concert. After the concert a man came up to him, and said he was a painter, and that during a taqsim Charbel was doing, he was imagining himself doing a painting. According to the artist, things were flowing along, the brush strokes were long and creativity came, because Charbel was doing all the right things. However, at some point the creativity juices stopped, and he could no longer continue his mentally projected painting.. so he told Charbel.

Now.. Charbel wasn't upset or offended. He realized something had gone wrong during the improvisation. Maybe he lost his flow.. he himself wasn't painting with nice long strokes. Whatever the case, he was grateful to the painter, because that was very good insight, compared to the usual "great good", which we usually hear after a concert.




http://www.johnvergaramusic.com
Instagram: lordofthestrings_johnvergara
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/lordofthestringsbeacon/
View user's profile Visit user's homepage View All Posts By User
Lysander
Oud Junkie
*****




Posts: 405
Registered: 7-26-2013
Location: London, UK
Member Is Offline


[*] posted on 4-7-2014 at 01:59 PM


Quote: Originally posted by MatthewW  

So what makes a taqsim sound more middle eastern? :shrug:


This is a very good question. And though yourself and Brian may think I'm overcomplicating things, I'm still like a dog with a bone with this one. From all my listenings of Middle-Eastern music so far, it's probably easier for me to say what people don't do a lot of rather than what they do do a lot of. And this would consitute what forms part of the concept of what makes something sound more Middle Eastern than something else.

However, I am open to the idea that it is possible to overanalyse something to an unnecessary end. And a lot of Middle Eastern music, though following taksim and seyir rules, has a lot to do with feeling, which can't be put down on paper.

Just tonight I was reading Bruno Nettl's book on concepts in Ethnomusicology when I came across this section where he compares 16 different taksims in nihavend. Now, as far as I am aware, Nettl is not an authority in makamlar, though he may be on ethnomusicology. I cannot copy and paste this section so I will have to write it out. This is what he gleaned for 16 nihavend taskims after splitting them up and analysing them:

"it was possible to distinguish three types of structure: 1) the taqsim consists of a number of minuscule short sections followed by a single long one, 2) it is comprised of more or less regular alternation of a short section with one of medium or great length, 3) after an initial long section, it consists of a small group of short sections followed by one of medium length, and this sequence is repeated...."

"...how was this practise of modulation consistent or variable? There was patterns but no clear typology, and a rather common kind of distribution: one taqsim modulated to no secondary maqam, two each modulated to only one, or to five; five performances modulated to two secondary maqams, and three each to three or four - something like a bell-shaped curve."

Now, it seems to me that this is a case of overanalysis. Nettl would of course have found inconsistencies when analysing the amount and points of modulation because a lot of this is done on feeling rather than rule. It seems to be taking analysis too far, and when splitting maqamat up in this way, you're left with a load of numbers and answers but you're no further along with understanding why these things are as they are.

View user's profile View All Posts By User
Brian Prunka
Oud Junkie
*****




Posts: 2583
Registered: 1-30-2004
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Member Is Offline

Mood: Stringish

[*] posted on 4-7-2014 at 04:54 PM


My point is not about analysis, over- or not . . . it's that analysis has a place regarding larger structure, but in my experience most people (myself included) don't spend enough time imitating and learning basic vocabulary, without which all the analysis in the world is near-meaningless. Being able to emulate the grammar of taqsim is not helpful if you don't know any words.




View user's profile Visit user's homepage View All Posts By User
danieletarab
Oud Junkie
*****




Posts: 211
Registered: 1-18-2009
Location: Palermo (Italy)
Member Is Offline

Mood: No Mood

[*] posted on 4-11-2014 at 04:20 PM


It's so beautiful having the chanche to follow such an intresting discussion run by very expert and wise members :) God bless Mike's oud!!! :) :)
View user's profile View All Posts By User This user has MSN Messenger
SamirCanada
Moderator
******




Posts: 3358
Registered: 6-4-2004
Member Is Offline


[*] posted on 4-11-2014 at 05:06 PM


You are right DanielTarab,

After reading this thread, it made me think we used to have a Taqasim of the month thread. It was a great way for members to present their version of an improvisation on oud and the other members could provide some advice and critique in a positive way. I am thinking we should restart this.

Good idea?




@samiroud Instagram
samiroudmaker@gmail.com
View user's profile View All Posts By User

  Go To Top

Powered by XMB
XMB Forum Software © 2001-2011 The XMB Group