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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
to all you mandolin and guitar fans, tomorrow I will put on a post with samples about the grandfather of both the mandolin and guitar (the father being the europian lute which comes from aloud, which is al-Oud, basically meaning "the Oud").

its an old (I mean really old) unfretted instrument with a short neck and a pear shaped body. five double courses of strings tuned in fourths (and an occasional single bass string for solo work), and sounds very much different from either guitar or lute (also because of the strange music, quartertones :rolleyes: )

more info and sound samples tomorrow (I hope)
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I'ld love to have a discussion about quartertones, maybe I should look into that some day, but right now, I should put on that post, I decided to make it shorter by just putting in links.

this is an excellent website for history, and pics,

parfitt

this website oud page on the other hand, is particularly rich in sound samples, the home page includes a few sound files played by the author of the website, I can't say I approve of his improvisation style, or his tone (not resonant enough for me), but it should give you an idea, a tip for western listeners, always go for anything with the title "nahawand" or "nihawand" because this mode does not include any quartertones and should not offend western ears (basically, C-minor :D )

I also particularly recommend the playing of this guy,
http://www.oud.gr/riyad_alsumbati.htm
his tone is remarkable (although it doesn't show very well due to the age of the recording). his fingers are really agile, and he is a composer, so his improvisation is particularly powerful (to my ears that is, god help your ears :blink: ). I also draw attention to his plectrum technique, he is loud, but never harsh.

at the end of this page, there is the same piece of improvisation (in realplayer format), but with an explanation of what he does (musically that is), with links to the various modes he uses (god help you). http://www.maqamworld.com/modulation.html

another improvisation in the "Kurd" mode (same as g-minor, but goes from D to D)
horrible sound, but should be helpful http://www.zeryab.com/taksim/riyadh/Taksim_Kurd.mp3

also, some videos (in real video format), only touch the first video and the one before the end, the rest suck.
http://www.mikeouds.com/video/

one last video http://www.orientaltunes.com/realvideo/Adib-ISDN.rm
not exactly the best music, but the guy is improvising after all. (warning, he switches into alot of modes, this will sound extremely strange to you)
that's all I can think of now, any questions are more than welcome :)
 

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That was a really nice exploration, Oistrach. Thanks a lot! :)

About quarter tones... In western music it is really :angry: , but in arabic music it is a bit like Vibrato or it is used in scales and it is a walk through note, not a equal treated or harmony tone.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
since this website is about classical music, it is really strange how the subject of arabic music popped up,

ah yes, quartertones, well in arabic music, it is not an ornament, it is an important note, like any other note, but only specific quartertones are used, and in specific situations governed by the mode you are playing in, for example, as one of the oud clips I mentioned demonstrates, the bayati mode has the following notes:

D, E-quarterflat, F, G (dominant :blink: ), A, B-flat, C, D

as you might notice, the upper tetrachord (G,A,B-flat,C), shows the beginning of a minor scale, while the lower tetrachord has the intervals 3/4, 3/4, 1

this is the bayati tetrachord, which is why the mode is called the bayati mode, the point of this digression is, the arabs don't just put in a quartertone where they want, they put the whole tetrachord (bayati, saba, siga, rast, etc), which just happens to include a quartertone, this way, it doesn't sound out of place (like in western music, where it is actually quite out of place). this system of modes took thousands of years to develop, with contributions from the persian empire, the ottoman empire, india, china, etc..., which means that this isn't some stupid composer trying to get smart (or what they call "revolutionary") and shuving in some quarter tone here and there, which comprimises the whole principle of tonality, whithout which, western music wouldn't exist.

western classical music doesn't contain, use, or tolerate microtones, and any western composer has to realize this before he starts breaking down tonality into what he thinks it should be. if quartertones sound any good in western music, bach would have used them.

as for arabic music, I say without regret, that it is not a walk-through note, it is an integral part of arabic tonality, as it is in persia, turky (they use twice as much of them as we do), and I think india.

hasn't anyone ever wondered why the arabic singer on world idol sounded out of tune? :p
 

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I really don't like quarter tones.
But I have to say, I'll gladly prefer them to the 12 tone system. :lol:
I have a whole list of different scales...maybe should start a new thread on this. Interesting!
 

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I have a whole list and lecture notes on this 'boogy' topic-scales.
1. Modes
2. Tones
3. Well -tempered
4. Non-tempered
5. 12 tone
6. Pentatonic
7. Quarter tones
8. jazz scales
and so much more. But I would need to type them down. I don't have a webpage to load em...so it'll take some time. I think it'll be really good referance for non music majors.
 

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Non-tempered
That is an interesting topic! So many other solution to manage the problem with frequency: Werckmeister, Kirnberger, pure major, pure minor.....

Myself i prefer the Kirnberger: it has so individual life in it - especially in modulations - and touches you more than Werckmeister.
The first time i heard pure major, i only was amazed what major can sound!

On my composing (electric piano but not keyboard) I can put in Kirnberger, Werckmeister and so on... Nice to play around with it :lol:
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
nobody is iterested in old instruments <_<

everybody went off talking about things I don't understand. give me a funky arabic mode anytime, but don't start talking about werckmeister and pure majors :blink:


anybody who wants any info about arabic scales, I can answer. they're really very simple, just put replace this tetrachord with that one...


talking about majors, there is something called an arabic major :lol:
take B-flat major for example, tune the D a bit down, and there you have it :)
a less glaringly and rudely "happy" major than an arab would be comfortable with.

an arab would also notice that in B-flat major, the notes from the D to the G constitute the beginning of the Phrygian mode , this tetrachord is called Kurd, and would be used when you feel like modulating, that is, by adding another tetrachord starting from G, that is, G, A, B-flat, C, which is the beginning of C minor, continue that with a slightly flat (very slightly) D at the top, and you get the kurd mode, going from D to D, voila, you have modulated :rolleyes:

as I said, take a terachord from here, put another here...
 

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Hmmm... Oistrach13, I was just reading your post again on quarter tones in Arabic music. I don't think I understood it very well, but I am interested. What quarter tones does it use in the scale, like in the key of B-flat? Or is that a very dumb question?
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
don't worry, it isn't a dumb question at all.

I can understand your line of thought.

about B-flat major, we tend to modify it a bit, by flattening the D a bit (not to the degree of a quartertone though), the major becomes a bit more "mellow". I am not very clear on this issue either, considering I am not trained in these things. (so far, my only real instrument is recorder, which isn't very helpful with microtonal graduations, the violin on the other hand :p ), this falls under different tunings more than it does under quartertones.

normal quartertones however, are used quite often, and are variable.

to explain this you have to see how the arabic modal system works, you have a mode which is called maqam. this is formed of sets of notes called ajnas.

a jins (singular of ajnas) can be a trichord, tetrachord, or pentachord.

the way it works is, a mode is made up of supremeposed blocks, these so called ajnas.

for example, the intervals of the first four notes of any minor constitute a recognized tetrachord in arabic music, and are used in the construction of a mode.

the effect this has on quartertones is that each jins has a specific set of intervals, for example, Hijaz corresponds to 0.5, 1.5, 0.5 (no quartertones there unless you're turkish), in actual playing however, the middle interval is shrunk a bit, so it doesn't seem so awkward.

to take on a different jins (getting complicated)

bayati tetrachord has the following (theoretical intervals): 0.75,0.75, 1

this is usually: D, E-quarterflat, F, G

what occurs is, the intervals are a bit more subtle, bayati is not really 0.75,0.75,1

it can be for example, 0.65, 0.85, 1

which basically means that the E-quarterflat moved a bit to the left (closer to the D)

what happens is, each jins that contains a quartertone has with it the specific intervals that govern the position of the quartertone, all of which are learned by ear, and governed by ear (the most important thing is for the note to sound proper to the listener).
 

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I had an Oud a number of years back. It was lots of fun but the pegs were ill fitting and I could'nt get it to stay in tune. It was a middle student model and I hope to one day Buy it back from the current owner. I would be able to fix it now that I have so much violin repair under my belt. I also (about 10 years ago) took the fingerboard off an unused guitar and had a quartertone fingerboard made for it.Talk about a study in futile! From start to final finish (2 false starts), it took about a year,and when done I was only able to play it for 15 minits at a time because it was TOO frustrating! There were quite a few profesional guitarists in my hometown who tryed it ,but only one who was able to actually play it. About 6 months ago I decided I needed another guitar and took the fingerbard back off. I am waiting untill I am able to set up my instrument repair shop in this new town and will then make a new one...
 
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