Middle Eastern Violin Method : A Method for Teaching and Transcribing Middle Eastern Music

University essay from Kungl. Musikhögskolan/Institutionen för folkmusik

Abstract:         My project is first and foremost about developing a pedagogical method for teaching Middle Eastern folk and classical music on the violin. As a secondary goal, I want to know if my own playing could benefit from applying such a method and become more skilled in expressing myself artistically on my instrument.  In order to achieve this, first, I have transcribed and notated music from different music styles of the Middle East, including Kurdish, Persian, Arabic and Turkish music and described the specific traits of these different styles. Then, I have created a method of how to represent different stylistically important elements in the music, e.g. the most popular ornaments used in this music, as well as finding new ways of representing them by new symbols. Finally, I have devised exercises for learning and perfecting these style elements, such as ornaments.           There is no well-established method for teaching the Middle Eastern styles of violin playing (Eilenberg, 1993). This fact makes it challenging for students to learn and pass on the tradition. Unlike Western Classical music, Middle Eastern music involves using different modal systems, including scales with quarter tones. The modes and corresponding scales are called Maqam and there are a great many of them. (Todorov, 2018)A violinist playing this style of music, usually uses intricate ornamentations in playing on these scales when making an extemporization or improvisation on the maqam, called Taksim. Not having a method for this complicated music style, makes a new learner to rely solely on learning by ear and learn through imitation, which is today often performed by listening to recorded sources. In my personal experience, it took many years of careful listening and imitating to learn how to play Middle Eastern music on the violin.          As an accomplished violinist and teacher, now I want to establish and develop my method so students can take advantage of it and learn this music more thoroughly, faster and become more accomplished in expressing themselves within the style. My hope is that this method will help preserve the Middle Eastern style of violin playing and make it easier to pass on to the next generations. Furthermore, the method will also help an interested foreigner to understand and potentially learn Middle Eastern music on the violin. Thus, my research interest is to investigate in what way I can describe, notate the pertinent stylistic elements of the music for to develop a ‘Method for oriental violin playing’, including notations, exercises, and teaching process, that can make a musician understand the Middle Eastern music styles and learn to play them. The ultimate aim is to pass the tradition easier and faster, giving aspiring violinists possibility to develop their violin playing within this field. Hopefully, from notating and transcribing these styles the tradition can be preserved. A specific question is also to investigate the usefulness of the method for groups of violins.   Secondary research interest is to investigate how this work might influence the development of my own playing, in terms of technique and expressing.    Summary of research questions:    -              How can I describe and notate the Middle Eastern violin styles with details? -              What are the most important stylistic elements and techniques?  -              How can I teach this music? -              How can I pass on the tradition faster and easier with the help of a method in a way that develops the field of Middle Eastern violin styles? -              Can I develop my own playing and artistic skills by applying exercises for stylistic features? 

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