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Author: Subject: Arabic violin - tunings & string types
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[*] posted on 9-22-2019 at 05:33 AM
Arabic violin - tunings & string types

A bit off topic for the oud forum, but I figure some people here might have some insight. I recently started experimenting with Arabic violin and am using a normal violin set up with the tuning GDGD (basically the two treble strings tuned down a whole step from standard violin tuning).

Are there other common tunings used by Arabic musicians? Is it common to retune some strings for different maqam such as Rast in C?

GDGD works well, of course for most maqam with a root in D/Re, and it's convenient that the D and G strings are at a fourth interval, just like on the oud (although the fingerings are different due to the small scale length-- if you follow normal violin fingering that means playing the F# of Hijaz on the D string using the second finger instead of having to reach for it with the 4th finger like on oud!).

Regarding strings, does anyboy know what types of strings are commonly used by Arabic violin players? I can't tell from Youtube videos if they are using steel strings like folk fiddle players or synthetic strings like orchestra solosits. Any particular brands that are popular among players from Egypt, Irag & the Levant?

(I know electric violin is quite popular for performances, weddings, etc, usually with lots of reverb and effects... and those of course use steel strings).
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Brian Prunka
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[*] posted on 9-22-2019 at 09:09 AM

In my experience, people use regular steel violin strings.
Most people use gdgd, but gdgc is also used.
The gdgc tuning is used more by older players, I believe it's what Sami el Shawwa used and I think Abdo Dagher uses it also. I believe Hifnawi and Aboud Abdel Aal used gdgd, and popularized that.

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Oud Maniac

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[*] posted on 9-22-2019 at 12:13 PM

Hi Yozhik,
For the kind of strings, in Morroco, Most the violin players use regular strings, meaning the cheapest, like those from Russia... for some reasons. The price allows to change them regularly... My brother, violin player told me he would love to put the Thomastik Dominant all the time, he find them really good (sound, response...) but they don't taugh a long time for those working daily... It's a point of view.

On my Violin, I have used Thomastik medium tension for many years, now I've Pirastro Evah Pirazz (green) I love them.


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[*] posted on 9-22-2019 at 01:31 PM

I heard Yair Dalal talking about this a few weeks ago. He uses Dominant for the lower strings and Pirastro for the top one (lots of violinists detest the Dominant E string).

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