should i start learning?...

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yaniv oud
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should i start learning?...

Post by yaniv oud » Sun May 19, 2013 2:02 pm

hey, this is a pretty general rant but i need to share.
i've been playin oud for about 8 years (and 7 years before that was guitar). i can modestly say i'm a good player and have a good ear though of course there is always more to learn. i've learnt from different traditions all over the middle east and central asia. i try to play each style the way it should be but when i play my music with my band i don't concern myself with sounding "persian" or "arabic", i guess my own sound is a bit of a mix and i like it.

recently i've become obssessed with indian music (like has happened to me with all other musics i've learned in the past). i would really like to learn it but my instrument the oud is not really ideal for this music. i am seriously thinking of taking up the sitar (the sarod would be probably easier for me to adapt to but i like the sitar's sound better). the thing is that i don't like spreading myself thin and i don't like doing things half-handed. all my musical life here is built around the oud, all my bands and gigs etc. and i have no intention of leaving it or the music i play with it. however i'm afraid going into a new instrument and a new style of music will take much time and energy and i'm afraid of ending up disappointed with myself for not being able to give it my all.

has anyone been in this situation? what was your guiding light out of the dark?

OM GUY
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Re: should i start learning?...

Post by OM GUY » Sun May 19, 2013 7:53 pm

Never deny yourself the inner self speaking to you, especially when it speaks the language of music.

By all means, pick up the sitar now, before they are all gone. If you love music the way that you say you do, you'll never look back.
Let's hope 2016 is less violent and that people discover the soothing influence of ICM. Hari OM!

yaniv oud
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Re: should i start learning?...

Post by yaniv oud » Sun May 19, 2013 9:19 pm

thanks, that's good advice, probably the best i could ask for...
i think i will give it a try, see how much time i can really give it right now.

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nicneufeld
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Re: should i start learning?...

Post by nicneufeld » Mon May 20, 2013 6:19 pm

I completely understand your conundrum. All of us only have so much time, mental energy, etc to devote and we can't become experts at everything...there is always opportunity cost. I love hawaiian music and would love to really, seriously devote time/energy/money into becoming a good slide player. But I can't really do that (to the extent that I'd like) while also studying sitar. Always a balance to strike. Likewise, even though I've been occasionally very mildly tempted by the mohan veena and bowed instruments like the sarangi and dilruba, I have so much work to do on sitar that it would be needlessly spreading myself thin.

That said, it sounds like you are a fairly established oud player. When I started learning sitar I was fairly well established as a western guitar/bass player, and I didn't find those instruments "competing" for my attention and energy. So if you feel you are at a point as a musician where you are on a plateau, so to speak...ie., you are comfortable with your current instrument and not in a really "active" state of learning, then by all means, go for it...and go for it with determination, sitar is a hard instrument that can be less than encouraging to new players, but is very rewarding.

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Fil
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Re: should i start learning?...

Post by Fil » Tue May 21, 2013 4:26 am

I was in the same boat many years ago Yaniv. In my case I was well established as a folk musician, specialising in Irish traditional music on the uilleann pipes (a bitch of an instrument to master and a process that takes around two decades). Also, I was and remain a multi instrumentalist (started on a silver Boehm flute and piano, with classical and jazz, then all sorts of folk stuff, concertinas, simple system flutes and whistles, harp...finally picked up fiddle at thirty or so). I was a pro muso, who made a living from folk bands of one sort or another.

But I'd got into listening to ICM and went to concerts to see Ravi Shankar and Ali Akbar Khan. I was hooked and bought LPs when I could find them. Loved it, especially sitar. I was loaned one in my early thirties and started to noodle around. Even found a teacher on a grant here from India. But then I realised what a task it would be.

It's not just learning another instrument. I actually find that kinda easy, even with fiddle...I was playing that on stage within three or four months of starting.

Thing is though, I knew the music. I had 15 or more years already with western music and ten or so with Irish trad. It was familiar and easyish to apply to another instrument.

Not so with ICM. You are not just learning to play a sitar or a sarod, but a completely different approach to making music. It's like being six again and having your first piano lesson.

I couldn't face that then, what with still beavering away on the uilleann pipes, especially the Indian guru style of learning, where I would be playing exercises for years before tackling a raga. So when the sitar owner asked for her instrument back I never bought my own and declined the offer to take lessons with the Indian teacher (can't remember his name).

Did I do the right thing? Don't know. I concentrated on the pipes and mastered them, even a maker for a while. But at the back of my mind, I always missed the sitar and learning ICM.

Now I'm retired and to be honest somewhat fed up with the music I have played all my life. But I'm too old I think to get far with ICM...certainly I'll never master either it or the sitar.

But none the less here I am, playing exercises, doing the ground work and bit by bit, feeling my way both with a new instrument and, what's far more challenging not just another style of music, but classical music. Jazz is easy enough for instance (maybe not to the level of Stephane Grappelli), but playing Paganini say on a violin by comparison is damn near impossible, even if you are good (though again, Grappelli could).

So sitar is not just a weird guitar that's difficult, it's also the music that's hard, not the just instrument.

But damn I'm having fun trying.

That's the challenge you have to decide on, I guess.

yaniv oud
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Re: should i start learning?...

Post by yaniv oud » Tue May 21, 2013 2:17 pm

thanks it really helps and it's nice to hear from your similar experiences and thoughts. i guess for a long time i have felt on a 'plateu' as nicneufeld put it, but in the last days i've started revisiting azerbaijani mugham which was a main focus of my studies for the past few years. suddenly i remembered how much more i have to learn from it! it has weakened my resolve regarding the sitar i'll play with the idea some more, anyway i've contacted the teacher like i said so i will at least go once and see.
thank you all

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Fil
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Re: should i start learning?...

Post by Fil » Wed May 22, 2013 9:29 am

Well, by the myriad names humans have given to their deity(s) (unless you are Jewish, in which case I think you have to not fill in the dotted line) I hope I didn't put you off giving either sitar or ICM a go.

Even if I wasn't ready (or mature enough) to take it on when I had the opportunity all those years ago, I wish at least I had bought a sitar maybe ten years ago.

Even without a full-on commitment, the sitar is just so lovely to play and listen to. My wife always swore that she hated ICM, loathed it in fact and especially sitar. But she unexpectedly fessed up the other night how she found the sound of my sitar truly beautiful (well to be exact, "some" of the notes were). It was quite a defining moment to be honest.

yaniv oud
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Re: should i start learning?...

Post by yaniv oud » Wed Jul 24, 2013 11:02 am

sorry to bring this back, but i have an update: i became too confused over sitar and sarod, eventually took a lesson in each (with very kind teachers who both offered to loan me an instrument) and now i sit at home practicing going between the two trying to decide which i like better. it''s not simple! i guess it's another question with no real answer but how to decide//

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cwroyds
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Re: should i start learning?...

Post by cwroyds » Wed Jul 24, 2013 5:54 pm

Go by which sound you love more.
Listen to the greats and see which one you are more drawn to.
You have to spend a LOT of time practicing, so you have to love the sound, feel, basically everything about the instrument.

OM GUY
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Re: should i start learning?...

Post by OM GUY » Wed Jul 24, 2013 8:09 pm

yaniv oud wrote:sorry to bring this back, but i have an update: i became too confused over sitar and sarod, eventually took a lesson in each (with very kind teachers who both offered to loan me an instrument) and now i sit at home practicing going between the two trying to decide which i like better. it''s not simple! i guess it's another question with no real answer but how to decide//

Why not simply afford more time to both?

These things may work themselves out in time, and if not, maybe both are in your future. May take a bit of extra work in devotion, but you've got time.

There are certainly no Instrument Police that says you can't learn both.
Let's hope 2016 is less violent and that people discover the soothing influence of ICM. Hari OM!

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