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Author: Subject: Where's my 'E' String?
stargazer200529
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[*] posted on 8-7-2015 at 06:15 PM
Where's my 'E' String?


Hi everyone. I inherited my Great Uncle's oud. From the label it looks like a 1939 Sam Varjabedian oud.

I've used some resources online and have started playing. I love it so far.

It looks like my Uncle never used the 11th string. I've been playing to the tuning EABead, so it would be the E string that's missing. But if I wanted to add it, it looks like it would be positioned opposite to everything I've seen online and in the books I've bought. Has anyone seen this before? I've uploaded some pictures.

http://imgur.com/0OMk31F

http://imgur.com/sZEWi8B
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majnuunNavid
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[*] posted on 8-7-2015 at 07:06 PM


The only Oudist I know who play with the bass string where the highest string is usually placed is Munir Bashir.

If this Oud is made by an Armenian (Varjabedian, Armenian name no?), I am surprised that it would be created like this... I'm not greatly familiar with Armenian builders, but I often see Armenian players play in Turkish tuning and with Turkish Ouds.

Any thoughts anyone?





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Jody Stecher
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[*] posted on 8-7-2015 at 08:53 PM


As one will discover from perusing recent posts on this forum, the bass string towards the ground was common in earlier times.
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ameer
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[*] posted on 8-8-2015 at 04:51 AM


Many players who play with 5 instead of 6 courses leave the bottom slot open rather than the top.
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Luttgutt
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[*] posted on 8-8-2015 at 10:24 AM


Totally agree With Ameer!

You can either use ff strings, or move all the strings downwords and put E on top.

P.s. MajnuunNavid:

It is actually Jamil Bashir who started this way of playing With the base Down.. NOT Mounir.
But Mounir has managed somehow to "steel" all his Brother Jamil's achivement after his early Death.

Watch particularly at 1:06

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K1f8fNnVB5M




The wood might be dead, but the oud is alive.
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hamed
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[*] posted on 8-8-2015 at 10:53 AM


Hello,

I think there is a gentlemen on this forum named Jonathan that is the grandson of the luthier who built your oud. I remember several yrs ago he was asking if anyone had ony of these ouds... May be interesting for him if you could post more pictures of the oud
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Jody Stecher
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[*] posted on 8-8-2015 at 03:24 PM


At least 3 Iraqi students of Şerif Muhiddin Haider (Targan) strung their ouds that way: Both Bashir brothers and Salman Shukur did this for sure. I am pretty sure Targan tuned this way as well. But so did older players on older ouds in Arabic lands as well Armenians and Turks. Enough older ouds still exist with the single string hole on the bridge towards the ground and corresponding nut slots, and which do not appear to be made for left handed players. Photos confirm this.
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Jack_Campin
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[*] posted on 8-11-2015 at 11:56 PM


This layout seems to have been by far the commonest for six-course ouds in former times.

Does anybody know why? Is there some kind of melodic pattern that works better that way, or was it to optimize the stresses on the neck somehow?

(I don't understand the point of re-entrant tuning on the ukulele either...)




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majnuunNavid
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[*] posted on 8-12-2015 at 08:29 PM


If I were to speculate, it would be because the low bass string was not primarily used in melody perhaps? It's not easy to descend or ascend a scale when the strings are not logically parallel. It's possible to play melodically with re-entrant tuning, but it's not straightforward.



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Jonathan
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[*] posted on 8-13-2015 at 07:56 AM


After a hiatus of years, and lurking about the forums, I just had to post something here. Stargazer, I would love to see more pictures of that oud. Sam was my grandfather, and I am always interested in seeing instruments that he created. Feel free to send them to my email, Jonathan 323 AT mac.com, or post them here. I would be extremely grateful

Thanks, Hamed, for thinking of me.




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francis
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[*] posted on 8-13-2015 at 11:39 AM


May be a lefty oud?
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hartun
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[*] posted on 8-13-2015 at 02:00 PM


The answer to this question is found in this video interview of Richard Hagopian:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yuCXl_9XTZY

According to Richard originally Turkish ouds had 5 courses as still found in some Arabic ouds but some of the "old timers" would put a high single "cheater" string on to play high without having to go up the neck. Remember most of the old timer "kef" musicians used to play their songs with the tonic on A rather than on E as is standard in classical turkish music, so they would have to play that high.

A good friend of mine has a 1920's Arshag Keoseyan oud made in Istanbul, which has the same string layout.

Although as Richard says this practice died out after the 1920s, no doubt there were immigrant musicians (almost all of whom would have arrived prior to 1924) who still wanted ouds made that way in 1939 Detroit.

You're going to have to drill an extra hole in the bridge, make a notch in the nut, and move all the strings down if you want to play the way most people do.

Of course if you just play "kef music" you can get away with never using the E string by playing in A all the time :) And then its actually easier for you as a beginning to hit the low A as an accent string, in my opinion. Unless you already play guitar and stuff. Although if you play in Rast then you don't have an accent for that....well anyway i suggest making another hole.
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Jody Stecher
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[*] posted on 8-13-2015 at 07:44 PM


Quote: Originally posted by hartun  
The answer to this question is found in this video interview of Richard Hagopian:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yuCXl_9XTZY



I think the answer depends on whether the single hole is very small in diameter or whether it is larger than the holes for the lowest double course. Same for the notch on the bridge. If it is narrow, then hartun is right. If it's wide, then the single course was a bass course in the old style position. And if the holes and notches *all* get progressively bigger when the oud is held in the position for playing right handed, then this is an oud designed to play lefty.

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Jonathan
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[*] posted on 8-13-2015 at 08:49 PM


I'm not sure that the bridge is original, although it may be.

But, is the peg box made for 11 strings?

What you describe is not uncommon for an older oud, and Hartun (via Richard Hagopian) gave a good answer. I have older Turkish ouds just llike this. In years past, I know I have had discussions with Peter Kyvelos regarding this finding, and he gave essentially the same answer as Richard Hagopian

While Sam was an Armenian that learned oud making in central Turkey, he found that in America he needed to make ouds that catered to Arabs as well. So, his ouds can be found in typical Turkish string lengths, as well as more typically Arabic string lengths. Ornamentation can go from very sparse (typical of Turkish ouds), to more detailed, with inlays, as is sometimes more typical of Arabic ouds.

I can't see much from the two pictures, but my gut tells me that this is a Turkish sized oud, with perhaps just a touch more decoration in the soundboard than would be typical. An interesting blend of styles.

Jonathan Varjabedian




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[*] posted on 9-8-2015 at 11:46 AM


Is anybody on the forum happen to know any contact email for the original poster? I am very curious to learn more about this oud, but he seems to have left the board, and I don't know how else to reach him

Thanks

Jonathan Varjabedian




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adamgood
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[*] posted on 9-8-2015 at 01:31 PM


I haven't seen this thread until today and figured I'd put in a couple of cents. Mavrothis and I were talking about this idea of having a bam string closest to the floor and I thought he had a great suggestion that I haven't seen above, that having a bam string beneath your highest pitched string will give you the opportunity to make rest strokes otherwise not available.

My favorite idea so far!

I don't see the point of a single high pitched "cheater" string...no reason that shouldn't be doubled.
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[*] posted on 9-8-2015 at 10:56 PM


Hi

did any of you actually played a oud with the single high G or high F string ?

If yes any impresions ?

regards

eric
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