View Full Version : Hamza el Din

Mar-20-2004, 1:17pm
Has anyone listened to Hamza el Din? He plays the oud. I'm wondering if anyone has tried playing mandolin using some of his techniques or has tried playing arabic music on the mandolin. Sounds like Radim Zenkl may have picked up a few ideas from his playing.

Mar-22-2004, 3:29pm
Hamza El Din is a master musician with extraordinary timing. I think if you follow some of the natural progression of the Oud through the Middle East you find many early players of the mandolin were indirectly influenced by it. Some good examples of this are from the Rembetics. They were lower class musicians much like American blues artists of the same time. Due to the refugee status around Athens and other cities in the 20's there were huge shanty town settlements. This mixture of Muslim and Christian refugees made much blending and sharing of musical ideas and instruments. Much of there music is heavily based on mandolin and bouzouki/bag lama and Oud. There some fair recordings of this kind of music and is very much worth checking out. Be forewarned this music is not for the faint of heart due to the circumstantial life of a Rembetic many of the songs are about the use of hash and drinking.

Mar-24-2004, 3:42am
Hoe interesting, I am certainly going to lend his CD at the library. Lately I'm somewhat searching in middle-eastern music (which began with listening to rembetika is now going further east)

A CD that I really like lately is called Gülün Kossusu Vardi. I don't know whether that is the name of a player or just the name of the CD, but it is filled with saz music. It is certainly worth looking into.

Are there anymore Oud reccomendations?

Plamen Ivanov
May-03-2004, 3:02am

Another oud player called Anouar Brahem will perform in Sofia on 23.05.web (http://www.anouarbrahem.com/)
Do you know him?
Speaking honestly, I`m not a great fan of this music - jazz performed on oud, but if you guys recommend to visit the concert, I will.

Good luck!

Plamen Ivanov
May-03-2004, 3:03am
Here is a picture:

Sep-28-2004, 9:59pm
My sister just gave me an oud for my birthday! #To try to repay her faith in me, I'll be spending the next 10 years in the woodshed.

Another oud recommendation: the amazing Mr. John Bilezikjian.

Now, where do I go to find the oud cafe?

Oh -- about playing west asian ("middle eastern") music on European instruments, I know a guitar player, Brad Rapp, who altered his guitar and created what he calls a guit-oud. #He's definitely worth catching, too. #He can be seen with the Brothers of the Baladi:


Sep-28-2004, 11:14pm
I bought the reissue of the Nonesuch recording of the containing "The Water Wheel" a number of years ago, and I was blown away by the sound.

I excitedly played it for my friend, "Yeah," he said, unimpressed, "I love music where nothing happens."

But when I listened to the record, even the silence was huge. The poster above who mentioned timing was dead on. He's a monster on the oud. i keep buying other oud records, looking for someone else with that sound, and I haven't found it.

However, I also love the vintage egyptian 'cafe orchestra' sound, which features oud in the lead backed by a string section playing fat violin apreggios behind. Again, this is fierce music. The violins all play cello style--seated, with the fiddles in their laps and the necks straight up.

I don't know much about the music, but I love the sound they get. I find the vocals more difficult; I think it's less a matter of the quarter-toe scales than the hard nasal vocal style.

Sep-29-2004, 12:52am
Hi S1mon!

Do you have any reccomendations for this "cafe Orchestra" sound?


Sep-29-2004, 1:28am
Sure. Most (or all) of Oum Khalsoum's recordings are backed by such a band, although as I mention, I find the music better without the vocals.

I feel sadly white about this--normally I give foreign music a better-than-fighting chance, but I have a hard time with her singing, despite her massive popularity across the arab world from the 78 era and until her death.

However, I ran across this CD of instrumental covers of her music, and it's excellent. I have some of these tracks in the original versions, and these covers don't seem to suffer much from "retro tameness", if you understand what I mean.*

A Tribute to Om Kalsoum, by the Cairo Orchestra

http://www.adira.us/Merchan...._Code=M (http://www.adira.us/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Product_Code=M-102&Category_Code=M)

I have heard of (but not heard) another giant from this era, Mohammed Abdel Wahab:
http://almashriq.hiof.no/egypt....ab.html (http://almashriq.hiof.no/egypt/700/780/abdel-wahab/aljadid-abdalwahab.html)
http://almashriq.hiof.no/egypt....on.html (http://almashriq.hiof.no/egypt/700/780/abdel-wahab/abdel-wahab-bitton.html)
I suspect that his music will have the same sound, but I can't be sure until I find some. I'd tried special-ordering one of his records, but my local couldn't get it. I'll try again, or order something directly via the net.

* I hear much retro tameness in, for instance, latter day jazz or torch songs waxed by modern (usually white middle class) conservatory-trained musicians. Every note is perfect and the entire effect is flat and boring in comparison with some original performance from the forties, which can be rivetting despite the bad recording, slightly out-of-tune piano, and lousy (or at least untrained) vocal technique of the singer. Diana Krall is my favorite example: I find her unlistenable.

Sep-29-2004, 10:41am
as per playing some of those middle eastern tunes on mando... some bouzouki songs are easy enough.. just keep in mind much of that music was developed on long neck insturments, older bouzkis only have three strings instead of four, so the songs many times lend themselves to that one string style of playing.... dont give up on arabic music just because you play a mandolin, not all of it involves quarter tones. i play oud, and mandolin, and there are some "sort of " simialar things maybe the tremlo and crosspicking?, but not really when you factor in all the other plucked insturments in the world... they arent tuned similar at all either. either way oud is cool... and so is om kalsoum, i guess if you grow up listening to middle eastern music you are more tempered to it (pun intended) http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/tounge.gif

Sep-29-2004, 2:45pm
There used to be a thread somewhere in the cafe, called something like "Gypsy Scales," and in that thread someone posted a link to a middle eastern music theory site. I've been searching for, and can't find it. Anybody have that link of another good one?

Oct-01-2004, 8:49pm
Oh, yes! I think that's the one, and even if it isn't the one, it's wonderful. Thanks, Jacob.

Oct-02-2004, 9:53am
the oud is a wonderful instrument to play. i have a small syrian and a large egyptian oud and i go through phases when one or the other is rarely out of my hands.

two good sites for information and chat are:


there's a style of play called andalusian which comes from the maghreb countries. it's similar to flamenco - sort of - but i find it's easier to relate to than the middle eastern style of play which - in my ever-so 'umble opinion - tends to be just a trifle moody. another wonderful player to listen to is an algerian named habib guerroumi. he has an amazingly pure, clear voice and a very relaxed, accessable style - peppered with hot licks - which any respectable flatpicker would be proud to copy.

- bill

Dagger Gordon
Oct-02-2004, 12:29pm
The most Middle Eastern sounding mandolin playing I have is a track by The Klezmer Conservatory Band called Meron Nign (Tune from Meron) featuring Jeff Warschauer on mandolin.

I heard it on the BBC's Late Junction one night and tracked down the CD.

Unfortunately the rest of the album's not very like that at all, but you should try to hear this if you can. I believe it's also on a Putamayo sampler of Jewish music, in fact I think that's what Late Junction were playing it from.

I realise Jewish mandolin is not the same as Arabic oud, but as the sleeve notes say 'Jeff's arrangement gives it a middle -eastern flavor'. At first I wasn't sure what instrument was being played.

Shana Aisenberg
Oct-03-2004, 11:40am
Both Jewish klezmer and Arabic music use similar scales. One of the most used modes in klezmer is freygish, the same scale is used in Arabic music and called Hijaz. All similarity ends there though.

Oct-05-2004, 11:51am
Thanks, Bill! Got 'em bookmarked and am enjoying a beautiful taqsim courtesy of Mike.

Oct-24-2004, 10:24am
Check out Armenian oud master, Richard Hagopian. The traditional Armenian and Assyrian folk tunes are made for dancing so it's a very "upbeat" and "lively" style of oud playing. I grew up hearing a lot of Armenian/Assyrian folk tunes blasting from my grandmother's record player and I've worked out a few melodies on the mando from old tapes. The oud is such a mystery to me even though I've heard it most of my life. Thanks for the tips on oud web sites!

Oct-24-2004, 11:14am
re: richard hagopian - i've seen his recordings advertised here and there but couldn't raise any interest in him on any of the oud sites. he may be considered too tainted with the new world for (ahem) "real" oud music. dance music is right up my street so i'll see if i can pick up a sample of his playing off the web.

once you've conquered the uncertainty of playing without frets, the oud is a real gem to play. not as loud - piercing (stan freeburg?) - as the mandolin but a real pleasure for the "discerning reveler" as was stated in another thread.

- bill

Oct-24-2004, 1:51pm
what exactly is an oud?

Oct-24-2004, 6:10pm
The oud is the ancestor of the European lute: l'oud = lute.

It's got double strings like the mando, no frets like the violin.

There are a variety of tunings.

Yesterday NPR had a story on Lebanese oudist Marcel Khalife:
NPR story on Marcel Khalife (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4122485)
He's currently touring the U.S..

Edited to add: Khalife is perhaps of particular interest in this Jazz...World Music forum, as he plays a lot of jazz/Arabian fusion.

Nov-09-2004, 6:14pm
Also check out Gregor Schaeffer's ud web: http://www.xs4all.nl/~gregors/ud/

I have taught myself ud basics by transcribing a dozen or so simpler folk tunes of (American-) Armenian udists George Mgridigian and John Bilezikjian. They use mostly western scales and an "easy", more chord-like tuning (unlike the Turkish "classical" 4ths tuning). Their ud music could be adapted for mandolin. I tried several tunes, but since the tunes sound better on ud (plus none of my music buddies can accompany 7/8, 5/4 and 10/8 music) I did not invest too much time in it.

Most arabic maqam music is way too exotic for my western ears. I found the music of Iraqi maestro Naseer Shamma the most accessible.

Hoping to be of help for people interested in this lovely instrument,

Nov-09-2004, 11:40pm
jeroen - would you happen to know what these "western scale, chord like tunings" are? i find traditional tunings in 4th's to be very natural, very easy to play but i'd be curious to know of any variations - particularly as i use the oud to perform european medieval music.

regards - bill

Nov-10-2004, 7:05am
I tune my ud in the tuning I stole from Mgrdigian and Bilezikjian, my favourite players.
Their tunes may well be westernized by them or by armenian-american culture: Both mention Udi Hrant as their main influence, but Hrant mostly uses the maqam scales.

My tuning is E A B E A D, and is very nice for the dance tunes that I like in A and E (major and minor).
Those tunes often use the higher strings for melody and weave the bass strings through the melody as drones or bass notes to suggest chord changes.

For music in other keys the tunings in fourths could be more practical.

Billkilpatrick, you play lute music on ud for your medieval music? What I have seen of lute music uses much chord fingerings (as opposed to melody lines along the neck), which must be very hard on the fretless ud.

Nov-10-2004, 9:23am
jeroen - i elimated the 6th string on my 6c. oud (for a stab at medieval verisimilitude) and tuned it g-b-e-a-d (bass to treble).

two finger chords are possible but mostly what i use it for is basso continuo.

check out the magnatune.com site - if you're not already familiar with it - and have a listen to "the dufay collective" in the classical genres section. # in particular, listen to "danea amorosa" from their "l'estampida" album. #it's the sort of playing i aspire to - way off there in the distance.

- bill

Nov-10-2004, 10:41am