where to begin? beginner confusion

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yaniv oud
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where to begin? beginner confusion

Post by yaniv oud » Fri Mar 01, 2013 10:23 am

hello, i am an oud player i play arabic/persian etc music, which is based on maqam, which is somewhat similar to raga (in concept, but not in practice).

i like to learn from many different styles, and recently i fell in love with indian music. i am interested in learning ragas but what i really want to take from this music is the sense of timing, phrasing, tihai etc. i have been doing jati (right? i mean condensing 3 notes into one beat, then 4, 5, 6...) and other sitar excersizes and it is great fun it has already given me much. i think also rhythmically there are many stock phrases players use, how does one learn these?

i am not really sure what my question is because i have so many. i guess one is that in middle eastern music improvisation is expected to last a few minutes and i would like to expand my ability to play as in indian music first the slow alap, then the faster parts etc. how do i approach this? i have downloaded a free tabla/tanpura software which gives a nice frame for improvisation but i feel like i need to know more about the structure or development of a raga concert can someone help? i've noticed there is usually a short tune or refrain returning after each round of improvisation. maybe it should be approahced by learning these tunes (where can i find them?)

sorry for being unclear maybe, i am already (humbly) a competent musician and a good self-learner so i just need some direction of how to start, at this point without a teacher.
thank you

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nicneufeld
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Re: where to begin? beginner confusion

Post by nicneufeld » Fri Mar 01, 2013 3:41 pm

Here's a good website:
http://aliakbarkhanlibrary.com/concert_experience/

Listen to a lot of music...its a slow process to absorb.

"maybe it should be approahced by learning these tunes (where can i find them?)"

Generally the only thing approximating that would be the composition, or gat, which is usually a short precomposed melody that becomes the basis for further playing. These are not usually written down as a composition, but are unique among players, teachers, gharanas, etc. The best way to learn them is to have a teacher teach you them, of course, but they are not the critical or hard thing to learn about the music.

Starting out my recommendation would be to learn and internalize the sargam. You should be a point where you can sing an improvised melody by singing the sargam without really thinking about it, to where you can hear a note played against a tonic background and know instantly that its Ga, or Ni, etc. That really is absolutely essential to learning this music from a melodic perspective. That's something you can teach yourself.

From there, actually learning different raags is much better done with a teacher, but you can do OK on your own at least up to a certain level...just be disciplined and focused, ie., pick one raag and study it and practice it for months until you internalize it. Don't think you can just learn the wikipedia article on each raag and that you then know it, they are a bit more complex and elusive than that... A lesson learned from experience for me! Yaman may be in lydian mode, but playing a melody in lydian mode is not necessarily Raag Yaman.

Good luck!

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chrisitar
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Re: where to begin? beginner confusion

Post by chrisitar » Fri Mar 01, 2013 9:38 pm

check out this recording http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mLtOxPtEkhs of an afghani rabab player doing raga yaman. coming from an arabic/persian perspective this piece is a nice middle ground between Indian classical. The only big difference is the lack of vocal nuance the rabab allows, no big slides really. But when the tabla comes in later there are some great examples of tihai.
Meend over matter

yaniv oud
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Re: where to begin? beginner confusion

Post by yaniv oud » Fri Mar 01, 2013 11:38 pm

thank you both, i listen alot to indian music lately, also i know homayun sakhi (the rabab player) i have that cd too.
maqam is similar to raga, i can improvise singing in maqam music (with solfege not sargam but i will practice with sargam it will not be too hard).
i read once about some term given for a raga's basic outline (in turkish this is called seyir, similar to a persian gusheh) i cant remember the name for the indian term but i can understand how it works, do you know what i mean?

when i see a notation like this:

N R G R N R S, N D P M G P, G R G M P R G, N R P M G R, N R G R N R S
P, M G P, D N D P, S G R G, M D N R N D P, R G, N R P M G R, N R G R N R S

each note is of equal length (say 8ths)? of course in practice it would be played much more embellished etc.
regarding tihai, how are they learned? through singing the jati? any melody could be played on them or are they composed with specific sequences? where can i find written examples for yaman for example?

thank you for your patience

sitara86
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Re: where to begin? beginner confusion

Post by sitara86 » Sat Mar 02, 2013 1:02 am

Jati is a south Indian term and tihai is an ending to a particular phrase. I think you're looking to learn taans in raag yaman. Right? Sorry if I'm misunderstanding you.

yaniv oud
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Re: where to begin? beginner confusion

Post by yaniv oud » Sat Mar 02, 2013 1:30 pm

i guess tan is part of what i was takling about, are there typical phrases learned or are they always improvised?
by the way i've found this site http://india.tilos.hu/english_ragarend.html and i think now that i can understand a little more about the structure and the names of different parts things are becoming clearer. i guess i can start parcticing alap, jor etc. using arabic maqams it is actually very intersting. if i would like to learn ragas though, i guess it's reading some theory and a lot of listening/practice.

yaniv oud
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Re: where to begin? beginner confusion

Post by yaniv oud » Sat Mar 02, 2013 1:34 pm

for example in this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MZEY3x00wsk it looks like the teacher is making up phrases ffor the student to repeat yes? is it the same with learning alap and other parts of the raga? or are they based on known formulas?

CheesecakeTomek
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Re: where to begin? beginner confusion

Post by CheesecakeTomek » Sat Mar 02, 2013 4:42 pm

THere are certainly typical types of phrases for alap, jor, taans, etc. It might even be more appropriate to say that there are typical patterns of articulation that one makes use of with their understanding of the raga. Either way, I would not call it formulaic, and it definitely requires repetition of the teacher's example to get a proper feel for it. I might suggest checking out Indrajit Banerjee's instructional DVD's at http://www.raincitymusic.com. He does such an excellent job of breaking down the ideas piece by piece, playing them slowly, etc. They are intended for sitar, but I am sure you could adapt much of it for oud. I would suggest checking out Raag Yaman vol. 1 to get the play-by-play of what is commonly the first raga taught to students.

Best of luck. Oud is a lovely instrument. Check out the Dhrupad forum here for an album of ragas played on rabab. It's phenomenal, and gives such a great flavor to the music.

-Tomek

sitara86
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Re: where to begin? beginner confusion

Post by sitara86 » Sat Mar 02, 2013 7:00 pm

I guess you could call the "formula" the scale of the raag, and then the phrases are taught. Improvising can only happen after years of memorizing. Even then, its not really "made up", the phrases have been practiced over and over again before. I'm talking about the taans, for a alap, that's a different type of study, but yes, you start of learning phrases. First start with memorizing a gat and a few taans. I second the dvd mentioned by cheesecake if you are just looking for a yaman composition to play on your instrument. If you actually want to learn the raag, you really need a teacher.

jaan e kharabat
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Re: where to begin? beginner confusion

Post by jaan e kharabat » Fri Mar 08, 2013 2:35 am

yaniv oud wrote:for example in this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MZEY3x00wsk it looks like the teacher is making up phrases ffor the student to repeat yes? is it the same with learning alap and other parts of the raga? or are they based on known formulas?
Re the video, firstly, the teacher is teaching a "gat" in raga Yaman. A gat is a composition for melody instruments, in a raga and set to a tala (in this case, fast, or drut, teental, which has 16 beats). It will include the notes to be struck, their rhythmic value against the tala/count, the stroker patterns of the mizrab hand, and such. This sounds like a type of gat known as a Raza Khani Gat , if I'm correct, more knowledgeable players will correct me if wrong I hope.

Gats have one or many parts to them. They are usually bipartite, a main initial line called the asthai (which normally explores the main octave area of the ragas scale) and a secondary line called antara ( that normally explores the higher registers, usually centered around the upper tonic).

Now the asthai of the gat is also segmented into a portion known as the mukhra/mukhda. The mukhra is the portion of the asthai from the beginning of the composition up to the first beat in the tala cycle. Note that gats often begin not on the first beat of a tala cycle but at various other points, depending on the type of gat in question. In our case, the mukhra starts on the 5th beat of the cycle and ends on the first beat, therefore it runs for 12 beats. This is the refrain that one comes back to most often after an "extempore" passage (be careful, because even what are called improvised passages are often bits and pieces of segments burnt into the imagination through hours of deliberate and studied practice!).

What the teacher in the video does is go over the whole asthai. He then begins to play short little runs, called taans, and links them back to the mukhra. He is teaching the taans, which can be pre-composed at the basic beginner level but which becomes more spontaneously created at high performance levels, their rhythmic structure and stroke patterns. So much for the video.

Alap is a different kettle of fish. To do alap, one needs to understand raga in great depth. Not only that, but because alaps are free-form in terms of rhythm and mostly improvisatory , it is often even more demanding on the musician to produce an aesthetically cohesive presentation than things like gats in tala. It takes great musicianship to do a good alap. You have to understand raga. Muqams have some similarities with ragas, but they are not the same thing. Muqams are more akin to South Indian Ragams and Hindustani Ragas, in that the former two are scale based. Hindustani ragas have scales but phraseology is a more important factor in distinguishing various ragas. For example, in Hindustani music, two ragas can have the same exact scale, i.e. use the same notes, but have vastly different personalities based on their distinctive phraseology. This is less so in Carnatic (South Indian) music and even less so in muqam/dastgahs.

Pardon the long post, I hope it will be of some help.
If there are just ''six tones'' in an octave [sic] then why have frets for tones that don't exist?

yaniv oud
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Re: where to begin? beginner confusion

Post by yaniv oud » Wed May 01, 2013 12:01 pm

thank you for your answers. i have a good understanding of the concept of "behaviour" of a raga, this does exist in the middle-east but to a lesser degree you're right.

when i see an alap written like this:
1. N R G, R S ~, .N R G M’ G ~, G M’ P ~, M’ G ~, R G R S ~
2. .N R S ~, S .N .D .P ~, .M’ .D .N R G ~, G M’ G ~, P M’ G R S ~
3. .N R G M’ P ~, M’ D N D P ~, M’ D N S. ~, S. N D P ~, N D P ~, M’ G ~, R G ~, R S ~
4. G M’ D N S. ~, N R. S. ~, S. N D P, M’ D N S.
5. M’ D N R. S. ~ , N R. G. ~ R. S. ~ , S. N D P ~ , M’ D N ~ , M’ D N R. S. ~
6. G M’ D N R. S. ~ , N R. G. ~, R. S. ~, N R. M.’ G. R. G. R. S. ~, S. N D P ~, M D N S. ~

ok i know it is just a guidline, but each group (seperated by a ~) is a small phrase, and each of the numbers is a group of a few short phrases that i assume could be played in 10 seconds or streched out over a few minutes or even more? how to approach this or is it not useful for someone like me right now?
i do not have the time now to dive headfirst into indian music but i would like to understand more about it (like i said especially the sense of phrasing and rhythm which has perhaps less to do with the theory of raga). just looking for ways to approach and learn

David Russell Watson
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Re: where to begin? beginner confusion

Post by David Russell Watson » Thu May 02, 2013 3:52 am

yaniv oud wrote:i read once about some term given for a raga's basic outline (in turkish this is called seyir, similar to a persian gusheh) i cant remember the name for the indian term but i can understand how it works, do you know what i mean?
The equivalent in Hindustani music of seyir is called chalan.

David

yaniv oud
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Re: where to begin? beginner confusion

Post by yaniv oud » Thu May 02, 2013 9:43 am

i thought it was pakad?

anyway i've been playing my afghan rubab learning yaman as i can from the internet. i think i've got a good feeling of it, starting to play gat with tans and jamming along..i realize i won't get very far without a master but for now it's ok.

about meend, i guess there is no way to play meend on the rubab as it is fretted, right? any tricks around htis?

David Russell Watson
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Re: where to begin? beginner confusion

Post by David Russell Watson » Fri May 03, 2013 12:04 am

yaniv oud wrote:i thought it was pakad?
Pakaḍ are particular set phrases that have become attached to the rāg, while chalan covers all the rules of melodic movement: vakr, notes emphasized, notes skipped, etc.
yaniv oud wrote:about meend, i guess there is no way to play meend on the rubab as it is fretted, right? any tricks around htis?
Isn't there a set-up for the rubab in which only the upper part of the neck is fretted and the lower part left bare, mīṇḍ being possible on the unfretted section?

David

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