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Author: Subject: Arabic speakers please (al-sham & shamsi?)
majnuunNavid
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[*] posted on 8-26-2015 at 09:17 PM
Arabic speakers please (al-sham & shamsi?)


Dear Arabic speaking members,

I have a questions about referring to the Oud playing styles of al-sham area. Could you refer to it like this... ash-shamsi? Or in English could you say, Shamsi Oud (referring to playing)?

How would you refer to the distinct taqsim/Oud style of Palestinian Oud players? (Of which I am so fond of..)

Thanks in advance!
Navid




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Alfaraby
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[*] posted on 8-27-2015 at 02:50 AM


Navid dear,
As to your first question:
Sham is the other name of Damascus, the capital of what's called Bilad Al Sham (Greater Syria) including Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and western Jordan, therefore everything related to Sham is called Shami or Shamy .

Shams in Arabic is sun and shamsi may mean anything related to it. Shamsiah means umbrella and in oud context it means rosette.
In Turkish it is Shameli or Shamli as I've seen in other posts about Qadamany Brothers.

As to your second question:
Well, this's a much more complicated issue, that needs to be studied, inquired and researched.

Yours indeed
Alfaraby




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hussamd
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[*] posted on 8-27-2015 at 12:48 PM


That would be Shami.
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majnuunNavid
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[*] posted on 8-27-2015 at 03:43 PM


Thank you very much! That's exactly what I was looking for.

Best regards!




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Alfaraby
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[*] posted on 8-29-2015 at 02:25 AM


Quote: Originally posted by majnuunNavid  
How would you refer to the distinct taqsim/Oud style of Palestinian Oud players

Here are some thoughts I'd like to share:

As far as I conceive, there are 3 major oud schools: Egyptian/Syrian, Turkish & Iraqi.
But is there a Palestinian Oud School ?
The answer seems to be NO !

This's a frequently asked question in the last decade, after many Palestinian oud players became well known through the net, namely: Simon Shaheen, Taiseer Elias, Kamil Shajrawi, Adel Salameh, Nizar Rohana, Ahmad Al Khateeb, Joubran Brothers and some less known names such as Emil Bishara, Ramsis Qassis, Haitham Safeyyeh, Khaled Joubran, Waseem Odeh, Michael Maroun, Elias Wakeeleh and many more skilled and shrewd musicians.

This fast boom of the Palestinian oud may be attributed in general to the academic opportunities that became more available this millennium, especially after the Oriental Music Department in the Academy of Music and Dance in Jerusalem started graduating oud graduates; and after the up-growing expansion of conservatoires in the Holy Land, both in Palestine and in Israel. More and more Palestinians and Israelis are exposed to musical education and training while the increase of music events allowed the young players to mount more stages. Oud fever has struck them and their audience as it had struck others all over the world.

But does this mean that a new oud method or a "school of thought" has been established, or is it an old school that had come back to life ? Was there ever such a school ?

Simon Shaheen was asked this specific question in an interview on Al Mayadeen TV, a Lebanese channel, and he answered as follows:
"Yes of course, there's my father and Rohy Al Khammash" !
With due respect to Simon's family and to Khammash's talent, I can't see they've launched a new method or a school, or that their students are now oud tutors passing their heritage to youngsters, like the Iraqi neo-classical school of Sherif Mohieddine Haidar Tarqan or the old Egyptian classical school of Qasabji, Sunbati, Farid or Naqshabandi in Syria etc, or the Turkish.
Having hundreds or thousands of oud players all over the planet does not mean in any way that a new method or school has revived. None of the Palestinian oud players ever established a new method; put aside a method of teaching. Simon himself is a loyal student of Farid's style, maybe much more sophisticated and open to other cultures, but still he's the most significant example of the Egyptian/Syrian school. All the Palestinian oud players are still playing in the Syrian/Egyptian schoolyard, some with some influences of the other major schools, some without !

In order to build a new method of playing, a master should burst the borders of an existing school, showing there are different styles, much more convincing and progressive than the old one, not less. He should build a method for teaching this new approach and consistently pass it to as much students as he can. He can't just master his oud without having a long term teaching project, starting from KG up to high level accomplished players.

None of the great names has ever had such a project, except maybe for Taiseer Elias who has been teaching his new method for the past 20 years. He grew up in the traditional school. However, he has been introduced to other cultures, from which he derived the most appropriate characteristics for oud playing and implemented them in his new vision: right hand techniques, fingering, variable sound production and more.
in this context, I'd mention Mustafa Sa'eed of Egypt as a good example of a new vision producing unprecedented sounds from the oud. He's young, talented, and diligent working as a tutor, but does this mean he has a school of his own. Well, time would tell.

Yours indeed
Alfaraby




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[*] posted on 8-29-2015 at 09:25 AM


Hello,

I can only answer from my view as a Turkish guy and for that it is important to understand the Ottoman Empire.

If you look at this:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ottoman_Syria
and
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Damascus_Eyalet

you will see that this area was called the Şam province, so someone or something from Şam is called "Şamlı" (from Şam) like Alfaraby explained.

As we know, after the WWI the British and French people divided that one area into many countries. And today we see the results of this divisions. So I don't think there is a "Palestinian School", you would call it the "Şam School" but I only view it from the geographical and historical view. Musicologists/Musicians may find other arguments.




A bit off-topic:
Quote: Originally posted by Alfaraby  
like the Iraqi neo-classical school of Sherif Mohieddine Haidar Tarqan or the old Egyptian classical school of Qasabji, Sunbati, Farid or Naqshabandi in Syria etc, or the Turkish.

I don't understand how you count Şerif Mhiddin Targan as the Iraqi School.
Yes, he was the son of the last Şerf of Mekka (Grand Sharif of Mecca), see:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E2%80%98Al%C4%AB_%E1%B8%A4aydar_P%C4%...
and his family tree (roots) includes the Prophet Muhammed, so his roots are Arabic, but we can't consider him as Arabic really. It is like saying American people are Europeans because their roots are from Europe.

Anyway, what I want to say is, that Targan is not Iraqi or belongs to any Iraqi (musical) culture/traditions.
Yes, he was the founder of the conservatory in Bağdat (Baghdad). At the age of 44 he was invited from the government of Iraq in 1936. And he worked there for 12 years and then came back. So at most we can say that this Iraqi School is a part of the Turkish School, a sub-School, a following/arm/extension of the Turkish School (don't know if you meant that conservatory and followings as Iraqi School?).
Maybe, in the last 50-60 years a new Iraqi School after him evolved but his school is the Turkish School.

To tell more about Targan.
He was born, like his father, in Istanbul and graduated at the age of 22 from the University of Istanbul in 1914. Then he moved a lot, such as Medina and Şam, came back, went to USA, came back, went to Iraq, came back and died in 1967 in Istanbul.

He learned music from the most renowned people of that time such as Ali Rıfat ağatay (also the teacher of Mnir Nreddin Seluk), Ruf Yekt Bey (who is one of the founder of the Modern Turkish Music Notation as we use today) and Ahmet Irsoy (and many others).
Ali Rıfat Bey was his oud teacher, Ruf Yekt Bey his teacher for nazariyt (musical theoretics) and Ahmet Bey his teacher for usl (rhythm (?)).

He got Nevres Bey's techniques/styles (d Nevres Bey / Oudi Nevres Bey) from Ali Rıfat Bey. So he is a part of that school.
But it is said that he developed his own style, a technique which is very close to Western techniques, more than Alaturka.
But as oud players you should know this already and understand/explain it better than me as I am not into ouds.

So maybe it is a better description, when we talk about him, that he is not a part of the Turkish School, that he is a part of the Targan School. So a part of his own school as he created a solely exceptional school, nothing like the other existing schools.

I don't get the connection how this school can be called as Neo-Iraqi School. Could you explain?
Either it is the Turkish School or the Targan School in my opinion.
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[*] posted on 8-29-2015 at 01:44 PM


Dear DivanMakam, your question about Targan was directed to Alfaraby I think but I hope you will tolerate a partial answer from me. Today there is a "school" of playing that is derived from the way of playing developed by the students of Targan from the time he was in Iraq. It has elements of other musics besides the music and technique he taught but those who today play a high-tuned floating bridge oud with the bass string toward the ground would not be doing this if it were not for Targan, even though he played a fixed bridge oud. Munir Bashir and Naseer Shamma are the biggest influences today. The latter was also influenced by Jamil Bashir, whose own playing was much closer to Targan's than his brother's was. These people are all Iraqi. Their technique mostly derives from what Targan learned in Turkey and what he developed himself but their music has elements of Iraqi Maqam, of the music of their Assyrian community, of various folk musics of Baghdad and nearby, and of the ways of playing oud in Baghdad before the arrival of Targan. All of this can be called Iraqi, no?

But a better answer is that the music of each of the Bashirs, of Salman Shakur (another outstanding student of Targan) and the music of Naseer Shamma does not sound Turkish, including those who continued to play a fixed bridge oud. Their intonation is not that of Turkish oud players or other Turkish makam musicians. Listen to any good Turkish oudist or other instrumentalist play a well-known composition and then listen to any of those who are these days thought of as "Iraqi school" players (or listen to Jamil Bashir who is quite different) and you will never think that any of the latter are playing Turkish music.
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[*] posted on 8-29-2015 at 02:55 PM


Thank you for your answer and every answer is welcomed by me, anyone is free to post his opinion and knowledge. I guess Alfaraby will think like that too, so no problem.

Yeah, in my posting above I assumed sth like that, that he might refer to the lineage after Targan but I was not sure. If you read that one line of quote from him again, you may understand that I found it a bit odd. I mean he was talking about schools, on the one hand he counted the Turkish School, on the other Hand the Iraqi School of Targan. I asked to myself "Wait, isn't Targan supposed to be also Turkish, so he belongs to that School with of course the creation of his own school?". But now with your clarification I understand what he meant and I think his choosing of words was perfect with "Iraqi Neo-Classical School of Targan". As with this description it is explained that Targan is supposed to be the milestone in this matter but with the statement that this is "Iraqi" because of what you explained.
Sorry, it was a misunderstanding from my side.

2 questions,
I am not literate with the Arab world, which oud players were famously known before Targan in that area? I mean what kind of heritage was there before that milestone in that Iraqi area?
And how about the Arabian Peninsula, to what school do they belong? I'd say Egyptian but I'm not sure as I know barely something about them (it seems when talked about the Makam world, nobody talks about the Arabian Peninsula which is a bigger place then all the other places combined (Turkey + Syria + Egypt + Iraq ))?
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[*] posted on 8-31-2015 at 09:15 AM


Thanks everyone for your contributions to this discussion. Very interesting.

I was looking for a more informal way of referring to their style of Oud playing.

I may be alone in this, but I think there is a distinct style among the players of that region. I wouldn't necessarily call it a "school of Oud", but more like a distinct dialect.




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[*] posted on 9-29-2015 at 12:34 PM


Quote: Originally posted by Alfaraby  
As far as I conceive, there are 3 major oud schools: Egyptian/Syrian, Turkish & Iraqi.


So what about the Maghrebi and Iranian "schools" of oud playing? :shrug:




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[*] posted on 9-29-2015 at 01:55 PM


The oud is not really an instrument in Iranian music, unless you count the barbat, which doesn't seem to figure prominently in the music. I guess there is a Persian school of oud playing, but would you consider it a "major" school?

There are many distinct traditions in the Arab world, but Syria, Egypt and Lebanon have been the major musical centers. There are very distinct traditions in the Arabian Gulf, Tunisia and Morocco, but I can see how (repertoire aside), these are largely closely related to the Syrian/Egyptian style.





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majnuunNavid
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[*] posted on 9-29-2015 at 06:50 PM


In fact, Brian, the Oud is not suited well for Iranian music at all. That's the whole reason I decided to learn Arabic music.

There has been a desire to "bring it back" into the Iranian musical sphere to which it has now completely returned. The primary goal and career of my teacher Ostad Hossein Behroozinia has been to pioneer the return of Oud/Barbat into Iranian music.

A while after I had stopped taking lessons with Ostad Behroozinia, I had visited him to help him with a student performance, and I performed one of my own pieces with him. He realized at that time that my style was heading in a different direction, and we had a chat about these issues.

I learned from him that he conscientiously keeps his style Iranian. He admits that of the Oud player's in the world there are many that have stronger technique, but this is not his aim. He has made an effort to play strictly Iranian traditional music on the Oud.

It's true, due in large degree because of his efforts he has inspired many of the younger generation to take up the Oud in Iran. I am one of them.

I however came to learn from my own experience that I can't stop at the Iranian tradition of Oud, because the music doesn't really suit the Oud.

My opinion is that Iranian music has been dominated by instruments of Turkish origin, such as Tar, Setar. This of course can be disputed, it's just my idea. If you look at true ancient Persian instruments like dotar, tanbur, and Robab, the traditional music these instruments play is completely devoid of the use of quartertones. Only recently do you see Robab being fitted with more frets to play quartertones.

The most significant difference between these Iranian instruments and the Oud is the heavy use of drone strings. These drone strings creates the right sympathetic resonance which is a huge factor in creating true Iranian SOUND. In this way, Iranian music is similar to Indian music.

There is an Iranian "school" of Oud/Barbat now, but the technique draws heavily from repertoire that was created/written exclusively for Tar and Setar. So it's difficult to say much about the Iranian "school". It's still a baby, just starting to walk...




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[*] posted on 9-29-2015 at 11:07 PM


Quote: Originally posted by majnuunNavid  
My opinion is that Iranian music has been dominated by instruments of Turkish origin, such as Tar, Setar.

Organologists don't consider the tar and setar to be of Turkish origin.

Do tār, meaning in Persian "two strings", se tār, meaning "three strings", and čār tār, from which tār was shortened and meaning "four strings", were originally adjectival phrases modifying the word tanbūr. There once existed in Iran a five-stringed pančtār and a six-stringed atār as well, whose names of course mean five-string and six-string respectively, but which are now obsolete.

The tanbūr has a long recorded history on the Iranian plateau, and descends from the even older Mesopotamian pan tur, the oldest known lute and the supposed ancestor of most, if not all, the lute family.

Since the Iranian Plateau and the originally Iranophone (Scytho-Sarmatian) steppes north and east of the Caspian lie between Mesopotamia and the homeland of the Turks in Central Asia, Iranians were in possession of the long-necked lute class of instruments before the Turks and other Altaic people were.

Lute-class instruments with membranous soundtables, widely used by Altaic people and derived originally from fiddles which are also still in use in that region, could conceivably have evolved directly from the Central-Asian harp without the influence of the Iranian tanbūr, but the Central-Asian harp itself also originated in Mesopotamia and passed through Iranophone regions before arriving in Central Asia, though earlier than the lute.

Quote: Originally posted by majnuunNavid  
This of course can be disputed, it's just my idea. If you look at true ancient Persian instruments like dotar, tanbur, and Robab, the traditional music these instruments play is completely devoid of the use of quartertones. Only recently do you see Robab being fitted with more frets to play quartertones.

On the contrary, the ancient tanbūr-e xorāsān, described by al-Farabi and considered the ancestor of the dotār, was fretted for the 17-tone scale, and the tied-on frets of this class of lute can be quickly and easily moved to accommodate any scale.

Also, if any of these instruments is not likely to be of Persian origin, it's the robāb. The robāb seems quite clearly derived from the qobyz-class of fiddles of the Altaic people, the origins of its name not withstanding.

Quote: Originally posted by majnuunNavid  
The most significant difference between these Iranian instruments and the Oud is the heavy use of drone strings. These drone strings creates the right sympathetic resonance which is a huge factor in creating true Iranian SOUND. In this way, Iranian music is similar to Indian music.

Yes, in general, Turkish, Iranian, and Indian music has succumb to the allure, the "supernormal stimulus" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supernormal_stimulus), of long metal strings, in which company the dull gut-strung oud doesn't quite fit, lol.

David
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