Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Sheet Music Craziness!

I read sheet music. I was trained as a musician to read sheet music. Learning pieces by ear has been a challenge to say the least, learning Middle Eastern songs by ear? HA! I need some guidelines before I can dive off that cliff. Over the last couple of weeks I've bought some Arabic sheet music compilation books and CD's with sheet music files. I found these on all corners of the inter-webs and beyond. I'll share my initial thoughts with each as I become mroe familiar with each through practice and usage. Some initial thoughts include:

Mimi Spencer's song book (pink book pictured) is great for developing belly dance sets, very clear and to the point with clear notation. Can't wait to accumulate that entire collection of music.

Maqam.com's sheet music book (blue book on left) has a lot of pieces from the Levant which is nice as most of these song books carry a lot of Egyptian pieces. The lyrics are inlcuded in Arabic, which is useful if you can read Arabic. Transliteration only goes so far in my opinion, and if you're going to play and especially sing Arabic music, start learning the Arabic language. You'll be surprised at how much you miss out when you don't. I'm not fluent but I see this as an excellent way to practice and learn.

I've leafed through most of the others, but haven't had a chance to really dive into them. I'll be figuring out a better format of posting reviews and will start those soon.

Next post: Important terms for Arabic music: do you know what iqaat, muwashah, qasida, takht or wasala mean? My next post will include a glossary of terms for Arabic music.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Play in the Park

This weekend was just delightful. I sat in Piedmont Park for about 4 hours playing tabla with some other drummers at the Atlanta Burners Play in the Park event. I met some very cool people and worked on my slap for a while. I almost have it...We played around with a couple f rhythms I'd never tried before which was nice. We kept the rhythms going for a good length of time feeding off one another's variations of the rhythm. I guess you could say my "ess" was on! This is one of the pics I found from Facebook, one of the only times I switched my tabla for this other drum.

Then to top off a great day, my family and I went and had dinner at a new Arabic restaurant in Woodstock called Mediterranean Buffet. The name is horribly cheesy but the food was fantastic and not only because they had malfouf! After dinner we hung out with the owner and smoked sheesha. Victoria came over for a while and I took out the tabla again and did my first attempt at a drum solo for a belly dancer, all relaxed and non-showy. It was really fun, and gave me inspiration to work harder on tabla. The restaurant was fairly large and I hope it works out as the owner is very nice and wants to create a community...we'll see if that can happen with a Middle Eastern restaurant in Woodstock, GA.