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Author: Subject: Playing close to the bridge (opinions?)
majnuunNavid
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[*] posted on 3-20-2016 at 07:29 PM
Playing close to the bridge (opinions?)


Does anyone have any insight into playing styles of old school players like George Michael and Farid Al Atrash and how they tend to playing closer to the bridge which brings out more sharper attack.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jf3WeItCpXA

Is this playing style time specific? I find modern players don't play with as much attack at this.

I find this style works better on some Ouds rather than others.

I personally like to use this sometimes, though I usually try to maintain a balance between the bridge and sound holes.

But I've noticed on my floating bridge Oud, playing close to the bridge sounds very good, and I can really bring out an old school vibe. Conversely, playing over or close to the sound holes sounds really good if you play with a softer risha and not too hard. This is nice to use when I play Persian music. If you're not careful though, you can sound really messy too when playing closer to the holes.

Similar to how Rahim Al Haj is playing here.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PTQLQd2aDZs

I've also noticed that Oud pick guards are also positioned closer to the bridge which suggests that you're going to play in that area.

Any thoughts, opinions?





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suz_i_dil
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[*] posted on 3-21-2016 at 01:02 AM


My thought is we tend to neglect the work on the right hand. I try to focus my practice on this issue. Holding the risha free, or very tigh.
Letting a large risha free out of the thumb/finger nipped, or very tight
attacking the strings with an angle or parallel to the strings
playing near the soundhole or next to the bridge
etc ...
listen to a classic guitar player and you'll understand what I mean
There is a large variety and it's nice to try to master those and bring shades to our playing.
i'm not keen on playing to near of the bridge, I find it too agressive, lacking of shades. But sometimes, why not
just a thought about.
regards




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Danielo
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[*] posted on 3-21-2016 at 01:07 AM


Hi Navid,

here is a previous thread on the same subject :

http://www.mikeouds.com/messageboard/viewthread.php?tid=10167

My personal taste is close to the bridge, low tension strings and hard thin risha ;) With higher tension strings it doesn't work so well.... It is true also that it depends on the oud used. It is more effective on an ancient one (on my new Sarikus I have to move towards the soundhole otherwise the sound is too mute)

regards,

Dan
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majnuunNavid
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[*] posted on 3-23-2016 at 01:27 PM


Thanks Dan, very interesting. I tested some of those things out on my Ouds.

I am skeptical as to how much harmonic resonance contributes to what I'm experiencing. I'm also skeptical about the other claim that it reinforces the fundamental note. Which fundamental note? The fundamental note of the string? Of the overall harmonic resonance of the Oud? The Maqam being played?

I hear the same harmonics whether or not I experiment playing close to the bridge or close the sound holes. To my ear they are not significantly more present one way or another.

But what changes is the tone and timbre of the instrument. I think the tone is nice and punchy when played closer to the bridge, but I think it's a matter of taste no?

The strings have a particular tension at a certain distance from the bridge, striking the string too close to the bridge and the string does not vibrate as much, strike the string close to sound hole and the string vibrates a lot but the energy of the attack is farther from the bridge and so the energy transfers to the bridge weaker.

There must be an optimum area where you pluck the strings so that the vibrational frequencies would transfer energy to the bridge most effectively and efficiently creating better fullness of volume, sound, tone, and resonance.

I agree, this may occur more effectively on older Ouds. There are so many factors, the placement of the bridge, the dimension and shape of the soundboard, the thickness of the soundboard, and how heavy the braces are.






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Jody Stecher
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[*] posted on 3-23-2016 at 01:48 PM


Quote: Originally posted by majnuunNavid  


I hear the same harmonics whether or not I experiment playing close to the bridge or close the sound holes. To my ear they are not significantly more present one way or another.

But what changes is the tone and timbre of the instrument.



Tone/timbre is a function of the harmonics that predominate and the relative absence of others.
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majnuunNavid
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[*] posted on 3-23-2016 at 07:16 PM


Looks like I have a lot to learn!

Jody, do you know any good books on this subject?




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[*] posted on 3-23-2016 at 07:35 PM


Quote: Originally posted by majnuunNavid  
I'm also skeptical about the other claim that it reinforces the fundamental note. Which fundamental note? The fundamental note of the string? Of the overall harmonic resonance of the Oud? The Maqam being played?

The fundamental is a note's lowest harmonic.

A string, properly designed for musical use, vibrates in halves, thirds, fourths, fifths, sixths, etc. of its length in addition to its full length, giving rise to overtones or pitches at an octave, a perfect fifth, a major third, etc. from the fundamental or base note. This stack of pitches are all in sync, being produced by the motion of single string, air column, vocal chord, etc., and so are perceived by the brain as a unit.

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harmonic_series_(music)

Quote: Originally posted by majnuunNavid  
I hear the same harmonics whether or not I experiment playing close to the bridge or close the sound holes. To my ear they are not significantly more present one way or another.

Well, but that's not possible. The physical basis of timbre is the number of overtones sounding above the fundamental, and their relative loudness. Experiments have shown that even some overtones higher in pitch than what is thought to be audible can still affect our perception of a note's timbre.

Quote: Originally posted by majnuunNavid  
But what changes is the tone and timbre of the instrument.

Yes, due to a change in the relative loudness of overtones, by definition.

I've seen on these forums, I think at least two or three times, people referring to the sympathetic vibration of one string on their oud, in response to a note played on another, as an "overtone", but note that that's not correct usage. An overtone is something different, and often not even consciously discernible from its fundamental, but perceived only as a difference in timbre.

Quote: Originally posted by majnuunNavid  
I think the tone is nice and punchy when played closer to the bridge, but I think it's a matter of taste no?

Yes, I'd think so.

Quote: Originally posted by majnuunNavid  
The strings have a particular tension at a certain distance from the bridge,

No, the tension is, as a matter of physics, equal across the length of the string. What differs depending on proximity to the end nodes is called compliance. A string perceptually feels looser (more compliant) than another string if it's longer, thinner, or more elastic, than that string, even when the two are under the exact same amount of tension.

See http://www.liutaiomottola.com/myth/perception.htm .

Quote: Originally posted by majnuunNavid  
striking the string too close to the bridge and the string does not vibrate as much, strike the string close to sound hole and the string vibrates a lot but the energy of the attack is farther from the bridge and so the energy transfers to the bridge weaker.

Well volume is based on how far the string is displaced from its position of rest when struck, but, offhand, I'm not sure which, if either, position best obtains displacement.

Striking a string close to the bridge is comparable to pushing someone on a swing with your hands close to the top of the chains/ropes, where they meet the horizontal bar. Striking closer to the center of the string is comparable to pushing someone on a swing as closely as possible to the bottom of the seat. The low-handed push seems to meet less resistance, but we move through a larger arc doing it. The high-handed push requires more force, but we move across a shorter distance, and more efficiently accelerate the rider.

Quote: Originally posted by majnuunNavid  
There must be an optimum area where you pluck the strings so that the vibrational frequencies would transfer energy to the bridge most effectively and efficiently creating better fullness of volume, sound, tone, and resonance.

Maybe so, but maybe not. It may be that not every desirable effect is available for any one position.

Also keep in mind that the difference in close-to-bridge plucking and far-from-bridge plucking as heard by your audience differs somewhat from what you as the player hear. I've read that close-to-bridge plucking emphasizes higher-pitched overtones and thus carries over greater distances better, and cuts through the sound of other instruments on stage better too. On the other side, as the player, with the oud pressed right against you, you always have a better register of the fundamental tone than your audience might.

David

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majnuunNavid
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[*] posted on 3-23-2016 at 10:53 PM


Thanks David, this clarifies a lot. I think I've been confusing harmonics and overtones with what I'm hearing.

It seems this topic has nothing to do with opinion, but rather scientific fact. :D




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Danielo
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[*] posted on 3-24-2016 at 01:46 AM


Hi,

David has explained very well what happens.


Here is a figure that I had generated in the original thread:

[file]38524[/file]

It shows the ratio of the amplitude of each overtone over the amplitude of the fundamental tone. On the horizontal axis, 2 is the first overtone (octave), 3 is the
second overtone (octave+fifth), etc...

This is plotted for different plucking positions (1/10, 1/8 and 1/6 of the length of the string).

What we see is indeed, the closer we are to the bridge, the more the overtones contribute.

Dan



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[*] posted on 3-24-2016 at 02:18 AM


hi,
all of this is a matter of personal taste.
I prefer playing close to the sound hole, attacking parallel to the strings, with low tensions strings and flexible plastic risha (cable tie) ...
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[*] posted on 3-27-2016 at 10:44 AM


I play closer to the bridge. I find it easier to pick fast, accurate and easily.
I might move my hand towards the rosette sometimes for different tone to add a flavor, but generally I like the old school, picking close to the bridge. Look at many players on the Tarab side, Simon Shaheen is one of them, they do the same frequently.
After all, there is nothing like right or wrong, do it the way you find yourself better at.
Cheers
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