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Author: Subject: WHY is hamza al din so damn good?
majnuunNavid
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[*] posted on 10-18-2017 at 09:09 AM
WHY is hamza al din so damn good?


When it comes to my listening pleasure, there's no one on my player's list like hamza al din.

When it comes to absolute listening pleasure, nothing beats Hamza al din for me.

He's not a virtuousic player, he's not flashy. In fact, sometimes his taqasim is sparse and almost too easy... (of course he is also capable of amazing technique too).

I've been trying to understand this better for my own development as a musician.

Is it because he plays with such good feeling? can that feeling really be transmitted so effectively through these recordings?

how does one harness this power?

Anyone else have thoughts like this at one time or another?




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[*] posted on 10-18-2017 at 09:11 AM


yes... you need his Nahat.



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[*] posted on 10-18-2017 at 10:07 AM


I know that sensation, I get it with a few players not just the big names, it's when you are sensing something other than that which we already understand. Hamza would communicate that same thing on any oud, yes the Nahat makes it sound even better but that's not what you're picking up. I believe it has more to do with a state of mind than conventional musicianship. If Hamza was still with us today and you asked him how he creates that effect, he would probably tell you that he doesn't have a clue. It's beyond what we commonly call 'feel'. As musician for the last 45 years I've become sick of that word. I believe it's more to do with touch and a total absence of concentration. Look up the discipline of 'mindfulness' you'll find what I'm trying to explain. I think it's a way of playing music with an approach of letting go, nothing to do with technique or practice, quite the opposite, mindful of sensation, alert and aware in the moment and nothing else. Boy I'm sounding deep, but I believe Hamza along with a good number of others connect only with the sensation and the sound that the sensation produces and away they go. It can be found by anyone but learnt by no one. Lovely stuff.



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[*] posted on 10-18-2017 at 10:40 AM


Well put Charlie. I am sure you know I was obviously joking. Just like the best sword is the Excalibur the Hamza Nahat is probably the most perfect oud in existence but you need a pure heart to lift it or play it :) Definitely his feeling when playing was unique and soulful I think you feel it in his playing but more importantly he is not trying to impress with flash. he plays straight from the heart.



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[*] posted on 10-19-2017 at 03:34 AM


Of course I know you were joking Samir and I don't disagree with you regarding his 'Excalibur' standard oud, an exceptional oud indeed. And I agree with your analysis of his playing.



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[*] posted on 10-23-2017 at 06:54 AM


Quote: Originally posted by majnuunNavid  
When it comes to my listening pleasure, there's no one on my player's list like hamza al din.

When it comes to absolute listening pleasure, nothing beats Hamza al din for me.

He's not a virtuousic player, he's not flashy. In fact, sometimes his taqasim is sparse and almost too easy... (of course he is also capable of amazing technique too).

I've been trying to understand this better for my own development as a musician.

Is it because he plays with such good feeling? can that feeling really be transmitted so effectively through these recordings?

how does one harness this power?

Anyone else have thoughts like this at one time or another?


He is a Nubian. In the region of Southern Egypt and Sudan, they play oud in a certain way. The Sudanese usually only play using the pentatonic scales. Hamza adds extra notes from what he learnt in Cairo. If you listen to other Sudanese oud players, they normally accent the first beat of the notes and play softly in between.
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[*] posted on 12-6-2019 at 12:33 PM


Hi Navid,

Seeing you like Hamza so much(i do too!)...I found this player that reminds me of him so much.
His name is Hadith Bani Adam, from somali...close to sudan- very similar styles. GREAT!!!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b-90K2on6hg

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tHRbGXWAQiY (my favourite part is at the 4:24 mark, how he bends/slides on those notes, so cool)

cheers,
Matt
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[*] posted on 12-6-2019 at 07:58 PM


He got a humming sound from the oud that was similar to the sound of his voice. I think one key to his oud sound is the sound of the Nubian language.

There are some technical things that contributed to his sound. His right arm came over the top and his risha contacted the strings nearer the sound hole than most other oud players do, except Jamil Bashir. He used gravity in his down stroke more than muscle I think. His right wrist was arched somewhat. I seem to remember that in the early days when I'd see him play in New York that he doubled his bass course. 12 strings in all but not F tuning. Not later on the Nahat I don't think. I seem to remember he tuned DGAdgc but he might have used other tunings. It was a long time ago. I did not know Hamza well at all. But we had mutual friends so sometimes our paths crossed. I remember one story he told me in the late 1960s. It doesn't explain his sound but it's funny. When he first came to the USA he lived in New York City. He liked orange juice but was unsure how to pronounce it right. He'd go to the little corner grocery store and say "Are In Joosh" and the grocery said "you're asking me "Aren't Jewish?". No, I'm not Jewish, I'm Korean".

Another time in the 1970s, this time in Northern California he showed me a trick he liked to play on curious people who had never touched an oud. They's ask if they could hold it and he'd say ok, and hold out the oud while applying a lot of downward pressure with his arm. The receiver, who expected a heavier instrument, got ahold of the oud and it would fly up in the air, still attached to the arm and hand. I have never been able to replicate this practical joke. I've also been reluctant to risk a dropped oud.
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[*] posted on 12-7-2019 at 01:39 AM


I'm with Charlie here. I think the primary reason is mindfulness. It might be stumbled upon and talked about as "playing with heart" or other such phrases outside of the Far East, but most cultures outside of the Far East don't make such a big deal out of it, and don't have methods of training that reliably lead to it. Even in much of East and Southeast Asia most people don't actually practice it, though it exists in their cultures to one degree or another. It does exist in the Sufi tradition, but from the little I've gathered I'm not sure how watered down or misunderstood it has become in that tradition by mainstream practitioners, relative few as they are.

As Navid knows, I play shakuhachi (Japanese bamboo flute) in addition to oud, and the shakuhachi and its traditional honkyoku "music" were actually designed as instruments and exercises to develop and sustain mindfulness. Both the shakuhachi and the honkyoku compositions were created by Zen monks, and the practice is called "sui-zen" or blowing meditation/mindfulness. No doubt there were some people using the shakuhachi to play other sorts of music when the instrument evolved, and today in Japan most people use it to play modern compositions instead of the traditional honkyoku. I have a section of my personal website with more information on this, and a couple of videos of these traditional honkyoku if anyone would like to see, here: http://www.daviderath.com/shakuhachi/

My point with this seeming tangent is that in my own shakuhachi/honkyoku/mindfulness practice (I use it as a part of my daily meditation practice), I have found that the more simple the composition, the more conducive it is to developing and sustaining mindfulness. Interestingly enough, the oldest of the honkyoku, where we have old sheet music, are much simpler and less ornamented. The newer pieces are far more virtuosic, with more ornamentation, more notes per phrase, etc.. The further you get from "blowing-meditation" practice, the more notes you get per phrase, and more ornamentation.

None of this is to imply that it's impossible to play lots of notes or lots of ornamentation without mindfulness. But I think there's a reason that the deepest mindfulness practice tends to be still practice. In my experience, the smaller the number of notes per phrase and the less things are ornamented, the more conducive the playing or even listening is to mindfulness...or to playing with your heart, 100% absorbed in a granular way to the progression of even singular notes. With faster notes and more ornamentation it's easier to get lost in the past or the future, or to get stuck thinking about what you're doing, playing consciously instead of unconsciously. Again, I think this can be done by great musicians even with lighting fast streams of notes or very ornamented phrases, but I think it's harder, and for me at least I think the qualities almost contrast.

With Hamza, I agree with you Navid, and I've always felt a deep mindfulness in his playing. It sounds so soothing and in the flow of the present. Each note counts. Each note has meaning and purpose. And each note just is exactly what it is.

One of my biggest struggles with the oud, although my technical skills could certainly be better(!), is that I've tried for years to ornament music in a Turkish style, or occasionally an Arabic style. I've tended to associate good oud playing with lots of ornamentation, but to be honest I most enjoy much simpler playing myself. For listening, there are many players that I really love who use lots of ornamentation, but in lots of those cases the ornaments do seem to come totally naturally/unconsciously, like the sound of the voice. Mavrothi Kontanis, my first long time oud teacher, plays his oud like he sings, and his ornamentation sounds like it's simply part of the note or phrase. I tried for a long time to copy that, and to some degree I'm still trying! This is also one reason why I never record or post my own taksims. My favorite way to play a taksim is very slowly, with relatively few notes and little ornamentation, but that seems too basic and not oud-like. I think I'm slowly coming around to the idea that I should just play the way I naturally want to play and forget about trying to play in this style or that style.

Navid, you wrote "sometimes his taqasim is sparse and almost too easy". This is timely for me, and I think a push in the right direction.

So I think Hamza's impact comes down to mindfulness primarily. Compare his playing of the Huseyni Saz Semai by Kemani Tatyos to almost any other playing of it. Of course Huseyni can sound a lot like a pentatonic scale, but everyone is playing the same fundamental notes. Hamza plays it slowly, with little ornamentation, and a ton of mindfulness.
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[*] posted on 12-7-2019 at 11:05 AM


Charlie, what do you mean by absence of concentration? How can there be mindfulness with no mental lens? I'm sure you mean something true, I just don't get it.

David, what do you mean by "granular"?



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[*] posted on 12-8-2019 at 01:34 AM


Jody, I wrote "playing...100% absorbed in a granular way to the progression of even singular notes".

What I mean by granular is that even a single note can be experienced as many moments in time, or as a flow through time, not so much divided moments, but you could for the sake of discussion think of a single note as having a multitude or infinite number of divisions. So you experience the note from the silence before the pick hits the string, the instant the pick hits the string, as the sound grows and stabilizes, as it declines and fades away, and then the silence that is left. You are fully present and experiencing the entirety of the note in its full (granular) range, coming forth from "nothing". You could be absorbed so that there is nothing but the full range of the sound and the silence, or the sound and what it arises and passes in.

Obviously if you're playing phrases or "music" on an oud the experience isn't going to be the same in terms of the full range of the note and the silence, since you'll have times where notes combine, times where one note cuts another one off, etc.. But then you can be absorbed in the progression of the sound on a granular level, hearing not just a phrase but the notes in it...not just the notes but the progression of the individual notes.

I think this is a very good practice to develop the ability to "play with heart". There's no reason that an oud can't be an instrument for mindfulness just as a shakuhachi can. One could start by hearing the silence, playing a single note, and being completely present to experience the sound of the note in its entirety. Let it fade away back to silence, and repeat. Then you could progress to playing a short phrase, being present for the full range of the sound for the entirety of the phrase. And you could continue on to doing this for an entire piece of music. The "goal" is not to be distracted, not to have your mind wander, but to remain 100% absorbed in the sound. You could also, and probably should, expand your awareness to your interaction with the instrument, so there isn't only the sound, but you, the instrument, the movement, and the sound...all experienced as the one connected thing that they are, so there is no difference or mental differentiation between you and the oud, you and the movement, you, the oud, the movement, and the sound, etc.. And then you could expand this out to everything.

No doubt many if not all of us have had such experiences spontaneously. There are times when everything is just one, where we say we were "in the zone" or in a "flow state", and everything just happened smoothly and perfectly "on its own". To me, Hamza's playing feels like it's being done like this. It doesn't feel like it's coming from a place of wanting to show off his skills, or wanting anything really. There is just the playing. I don't know if that's how it was for him or not, but that's how it sounds to me. By doing something like what I wrote above, learning to be fully present for the entirety of a single note, then a phrase, and then a song or improvisation, I think we can get closer and closer to "playing with heart" at will. Admittedly, I haven't done enough of this on the oud myself!
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[*] posted on 12-8-2019 at 08:33 AM


Well yes. but I was asking about "granular ", not about mindfulness. Granular has two typical meanings. It means a having a rough surface. Clearly you are not referring to experiencing oud playing as if it were sandpaper. That is why I asked what you meant. But I looked up the word this morning and found that it also means being of separate particles. I think you might mean that. One apparent moment, such as a single musical tone, actually being made up of many events. Or at least perceived as a series of moments. Hearing the "tonal molecules". One tone as many separate events. In fact that is the case because hovering above the fundamental pitch various upper partials (overtones) come forward and recede. But that does not seem to square with "oneness". That is many-ness, isn't it?
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[*] posted on 12-8-2019 at 08:46 AM


While I agree about the importance of mindfulness, I think there is an important aspect that is somewhat missed in your explanation, David, and it may clarify the role of ornamentation in the music.

In my experience, the most important aspect of mindfulness in music is not the "experience" of the note that you play, but that the connection of the note you play to the imaginative act that preceded it. Simply playing a note, no matter how intently you experience it, is not mindful as a musical practice. It's too passive, despite your mindful engagement. You must imagine the sound first, so that the act of playing is a realization of your musical imagination. This builds a deep connection between your inner music and what you play. This is what leads to mindful playing as a musician.

This also relates to ornamentation—ornamentation needs to arise from our ear's imagination, not from any kind of effortful addition to the execution. When developing the technique for ornamentation, it may be effortful, but by connecting the sound of the ornament to the imagination, ornamentation doesn't become a distraction from mindful playing. There is not really any distinction or separation between "ornamentation" and "notes" in the end—this comes from cultivating one's ear and imagination.

Hamza's playing is not unornamented. However, his ornamentation is completely integrated with his musical imagination and the distinctions are eliminated between "ornaments" and "notes." He absolutely is mindful though—but that is because everything he plays exists first in his mind, prior to bringing it forth on the instrument.




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[*] posted on 12-8-2019 at 01:24 PM


I definitely agree with you about ornamentation Brian. For me there are two issues in this area...first, my skill on the oud isn't high enough that my ornamentation is completely integrated with the surrounding notes, at least in some cases. And second, many of the most common types of ornamentation aren't what *I* want to play myself, even if I do enjoy listening to others playing them. These are just things that I need to work out personally, and I may be mixing a bit of these personal preferences into what I've said. Nevertheless, I still find that for mindfulness practice (not musical practice) the sparsest phrases are most conducive to the practice. That's not music though.

I also understand what you've written about mindfulness in music, and I agree with you, but I think we are talking about two different things or two different types of mindfulness. I'm referring to a flow state that the person playing is in, which has nothing to do with the music per say. Someone who has never played oud or music before could pick up an oud and strum it with 100% mindfulness, but it wouldn't necessarily be musical. Yet, it is possible that you could identify that they were playing mindfully, and there could be a beauty to it despite it not being musical. So I'm talking about a mindfulness that is independent from musicality. I think that comes through in Hamza's playing, in addition to the level of mindfulness that you are writing about. And I agree with you that that is there too. Otherwise probably no one would be interested in his "music"!
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[*] posted on 12-9-2019 at 08:17 AM


Yes, I agree that we are partly talking about two different things: I almost noted that you certainly could use music as a way of enhancing a mindful meditation practice, most obviously with chanting. I think this is a big part of various Sufi traditions (and of course the Zen tradition as you've noted).
But — I don't think this is why Hamza el Din is compelling to listen to. Many people develop mindfulness with this kind of practice but, as you noted, may not be making music one would care to listen to (or make music of any kind, as this kind of mindfulness is not concerned with the musicality of the results really).

The practice I described (ideally) leads to a flow state where the conscious "self" ceases to play a role in making music, and the music flows directly and subconsciously from ones internal musical faculties. The beauty of this state is that it has no ego, no motives, and no desires; it just produces music. As musicians, our goal is primarily to a) feed our subconscious a healthy diet of music, so that it is inspired and connected to something bigger (i.e., the collective musical work of humanity) and b) cultivate our ability to listen to and translate what it gives back to us.

I think Hamza is someone for whom the connection between his inner musical genius and his expression of it was almost perfectly seamless, and this is what draws us in to him and gives his music so much power. Most musicians filter their raw musical force through the lens of their own ego, or fail to develop the musical and technical faculties to connect to it, or they fail to feed their music source properly. The first leads to flashy and technical but shallow music, the second leads to stifled expression, the third to insipid ideas.

These are of course not binary states, and we are all somewhere on a spectrum. But the artists like Hamza who seem to have a intense depth and presence to them are those who are connected to something much bigger than themselves and have the ability to let it express itself.
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[*] posted on 12-9-2019 at 08:52 AM


Quote: Originally posted by DavidJE  
I definitely agree with you about ornamentation Brian. For me there are two issues in this area...first, my skill on the oud isn't high enough that my ornamentation is completely integrated with the surrounding notes, at least in some cases. And second, many of the most common types of ornamentation aren't what *I* want to play myself, even if I do enjoy listening to others playing them. These are just things that I need to work out personally, and I may be mixing a bit of these personal preferences into what I've said. Nevertheless, I still find that for mindfulness practice (not musical practice) the sparsest phrases are most conducive to the practice. That's not music though.



I thought about messaging you privately about this (since you expressed similar thoughts in your email), but maybe someone else will get something out of this discussion

This leads me to what I think makes me a bit uncomfortable with your statements about ornaments. We must be careful as musicians when we have ideas about what we "want" or "like." Concern with liking things or what we want can often be an egocentric act. It is the self that wants and likes things.

It's subtle but my experience suggests that it's worthwhile to make a fine distinction between things that we like or don't like versus what draws us in or "speaks" to us. "Wants" and "likes" originate in the self to judge what comes our way, whereas noticing what draws us in or speaks to us allows the outside world in unfiltered and only keeps what is valuable. It's an outside-in orientation rather than inside-out.

What we "like" is generally constrained by our prior conditioning, and as such, is subject to change as our experiences change. If what you "like" isn't constantly evolving, then you are probably not growing as a musician. People "like" things, for the most part, because they are familiar, comfortable and reinforce one's self-image and ego.
Paying attention to what "speaks" to us, however, requires that we be honest with ourselves and let go of ego and preconceptions. All music has some profound elements, and we do ourselves a disservice when we close ourselves off because of what we "like."

Now, I'm not saying that's exactly what you're doing—just that that's what your phrasing suggests to me and why I feel you might be slightly misguided about this—though you are hedging your "wants" in a self-aware and conditional way, which is good.

You've previously noted that it seems that what you enjoy is simpler and less ornamented, and perhaps that really is just what speaks to you—that's ok if it is. But it can be difficult to tell sometimes whether we're choosing things for purely musical reasons or not.
A rule of thumb that I find helpful in self-reflection is that can something be easily and accurately reframed as a negative or not? If it can, then we should be wary, as our "like" is really more of a "dislike," which comes from the ego and not from our musicality.

You actually express yourself here in the negative: "the most common types of ornamentation aren't what *I* want to play myself"
Which suggests to me that even if this is coming from a pure musical place, you need to focus on what you do like, rather than what you don't. What is it you find compelling about unornamented music? If you can answer that, then you're on the right track.

In general, the problem with "personal preferences" is that music is a collective human enterprise. Our job as musicians is to connect with the musicians and listeners who came before us, who share the world with us, and (ideally) those who will come after us. There's room in there for your personal preferences, but they are not nearly as important as people tend to suppose. Think of it like science—no matter how original and important an individual scientist's contribution may be, it is but a tiny piece of a much larger puzzle. We should approach our own preferences with a similar dose of humility and perspective.

In concrete terms, it is difficult to feel a connection with things we're not particularly good at or that don't feel "natural" to us. Musicians should always be skeptical when the things we find challenging coincide with our lack of aesthetic appetite for them, as this usually a convenient but false rationalization. The fact that you can enjoy ornamentation in players for whom it seems natural should lead you to feel even more skepticism toward your tastes in this regard.
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[*] posted on 12-9-2019 at 11:09 AM


Quote: Originally posted by Brian Prunka  

What we "like" is generally constrained by our prior conditioning, .


Truer words were never spoke. Good on ya, Brian. That's exactly how it is.
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[*] posted on 12-10-2019 at 10:57 AM


Thanks Brian. I haven't thought about music or how to put my musical ideas into words nearly as much as you have, and I probably should have spent more time trying to make my posts clearer. I may just muddy it further here! ;)

I think the practice you described is extremely valuable. Being able to play what you hear in your mind, to me, is probably the greatest skill for a musician to have. I'm not sure I agree with you completely about "our goal" as musicians. But I don't know if what you wrote about as our goal and our job as musicians is something you feel is "the" goal, or one of many possible goals, or how you define "musician"...professional/performing vs. someone who plays alone for their own enjoyment, etc..

To me music is an art of expression through sound, and one can express various things that include egotistical feelings, motives, and desires, which can be as real as anything else. And while I think "feeding our subconscious a healthy diet of music, so that it is inspired and connected to something bigger" and "cultivating our ability to listen to and translate what it gives back to us" is a great and worthy idea, I don't know that I think that is the only musical goal worth having, or that one needs to have any goal at all in order to be a musician.

I agree with you for sure about Hamza's inner musical genius and his expression of it being almost seamless. I'm not sure that that excludes areas of the ego though, or if that is the only thing that gives his music so much power. I could certainly be wrong, but it sounds to me that there is also a quality of the kind of mindfulness I was talking about that comes through in his music. Whether that is true/accurate or not, what I perceive as that is something that I enjoy in his music.

Regarding playing through the lens of the ego...I do think that powerful emotional music can be played in this way. In general that tends not to be what interests me most, or what speaks to me most, but I don't think I agree that playing through the lens of the ego must be shallow, unless by shallow you mean that anything on an emotional level is shallow. And with that, I can agree on a certain level.

Regarding ornamentation and what I like or what speaks to me personally... When I say "like" I mean more of what you mean, based on what you wrote at least, when you say "speaks to you". Again though, although egocentric acts or pursuits are not a higher aim of mine, I don't know that I view them as negatively as you seem to. It isn't what speaks to me in general, but plenty people really enjoy emotional/egotistical music, and I'm not prepared to say that that is wrong. When one person's egotistical/emotional feelings line up with another's I guess there can be some enjoyment in sharing that. The conventional self is as real as what underlies it, on a conventional level, and this is where most people are most of the time.

I agree with you that most humans "like" what is familiar or comfortable. For whatever reason, luck of birth I guess, that definitely doesn't describe me. To go further into that is more than I should do in this post/thread! But I do think this is something we should always guard against. In that vein, one thing I have tried to force myself to do is to learn things that don't speak to me very much. The reason is exactly as you said...to make sure I'm not avoiding certain things simply because I don't have the skill to do them. After trying for some time though, if I still don't find them speaking to me, or myself "wanting" to play them...then there is only so far I will go with that. I definitely know what speaks to me most right now, and it's also what I enjoy playing most now. But that does change, and I will continue to experiment with other things. There are some things that I can enjoy and appreciate listening to, from a technical/musical/artistic place, that don't speak to me as deeply as other things.

Coming back yet again to ego and "personal preference"...I actually think that music is a personal thing more than anything else, at least in performance/consumption. Yes there is the idea of "music" as a collective human enterprise. But when it is played or listened to I think it is primarily personal. I know you've written that there is room for personal preference, but also that these preferences are "not nearly as important as people tend to suppose". I think this can only be taken so far, otherwise you could play heavy metal or do Brittney Spears covers on your oud from now on, since those things are also part of this collective human enterprise. Ultimately, we cannot escape doing only what we like and nothing more or less. We have no real choice in the matter.

I'll try to bring this back to Hamza's music... From my perspective, his music has both of the qualities of mindfulness that we've written about here, and both of those qualities make his music very enjoyable to listen to. For whatever reason, some combination of genetics and experience, the perceived simplicity of his music is also very appealing to me. I find it more conducive to a deeper feeling of mindfulness than a lot of other music. But I'm not implying at all that other styles of playing are necessarily less deep or mindful. His playing is just particularly nice.
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[*] posted on 12-13-2019 at 01:21 PM


Taking some time to listen to more of Hamza's music, and other music, I think I was wrong about the ornamentation. So I take that back! Hamza does play with plenty ornamentation, and I think I was mixing up the lack of ornamentation in traditional shakuhachi honkyoku with oud. I don't think well done and natural ornamentation goes against mindfulness in any way. Probably, speed of playing doesn't either, as long as one has the skill.

Brian, your Nashaz album is also one of my favorite albums. To me that also has as much of a mindful sound as Hamza's music. I'm not exactly sure what gives me that impression vs. the opposite. I think it's something about being right there in the flow, and I may understand more of what you were getting at with leaving your ego out of the way.
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DavidJE
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[*] posted on 12-14-2019 at 01:30 AM


Reading over all of this again, I think I made a mistake regarding mindfulness in music, and I also likely misunderstood what Brian wrote.

I know it's possible to be mindful in the way I originally wrote about here, being 100% in the flow of the present without reference to any other moment or time, when playing anything from a single note on a flute to blaring and fast heavy metal on an electric guitar. I had a long discussion about this with my shakuhachi teacher just a few weeks ago, and expressed that only the player can know for sure if the playing is mindful, and only the listener can know for sure if the listening is mindful. I'm not sure why I fell into this trap myself above, but I realize I was mistaken. I do think that for certain people at certain times, certain music may be more conducive to mindful listening, or mindful playing for that matter. But I don't think it's necessarily possible to say whether a player is being mindful in this kind of mindfulness or not. We can't really know what is going on in another person's brain.

I think Brian is correct regarding the seamless connection between the inner music/hearing and the expression of it, and I agree that that is what we are hearing in Hamza's music...the perfect or near perfect flow. I also agree that this is a kind of mindfulness.

Additionally, regarding what Brian wrote about playing with no ego, no motive, and no desires, etc., I think my connotation of ego was a bit different. I was thinking more along the lines of feeling and emotion. But I can also see how one could play with plenty feeling and emotion without ego, motive, or desires. So I think my disagreement here was based on not having the same definition or connotation for some of these terms.

Ultimately, I think Brian's characterization of musical mindfulness in Hamza's music is correct!
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