Maqam Class Series: Class 8 – May 18, 2014

Dear Class,

The last class of the season was one to remember. Our best turnout yet, with over 60 people, and filled with singing, renowned instrumentalists, excitement, and laughter. That is the way we envisioned this class when we set out on this journey in 2013. It is my true happiness to see it all come to fruition, with God’s help.

As well, many of you stayed after the class for what I’ve heard dubbed “one of the greatest events in Kol Israel history”. In celebration of the Maqam Class and Saul & Lilly Harari’s twin girls, and with authentic delicious lamb burgers and fresh Chimay beer from the keg, close to 100 people sat and listened to some of the most talented and energized arabic musicians and hazanim, led by Maury Blanco.

Not only was it our 8th and final class before the summer, but our first of Maqam Rast, the mother of all Maqamat. On this blog you will find a bunch of great audio files to help you get the flavor of Rast including short improvisational pieces on various instruments including my own on the ney, as well as oud and qanun by Victor Esses and Abraham Salman, respectively. I’ve eliminated the need for a username and password to access the material, so please pass this along to anyone who would like to either join the class or view the material online. (you guys finally wore me down)

I am looking forward to hearing your feedback on the class, and to God willing continuing our journey together in the fall/winter (I hope to be back in touch after the High Holidays). Enjoy the long break for summer; in the meantime: listen, practice, sing, and discuss. Continue reading

Maqam Class Series: Class 7 – April 6, 2014

Dear Class,

Thank you all for making the last class an excellent turnout. Congratulations to those who participated in the 8 pesukim in Ashrei, covering the entire Bayat scale.

As it was our last class on Maqam Bayat, it gave me great satisfaction to see everyone so much further along in their ability to identify and properly sing the Maqam top to bottom, in addition to understanding all the many other Maqamat that are interwoven within Bayat.

Continue reading

Maqam Class Series: Class 6 – March 24, 2014

Dear Class,

It’s great to be back! After a long break, it is wonderful to see everyone still so quickly grasping the concepts presented, and being able to participate in the singing.

Below the media files are a few highlights of the material we covered during the technical portion of our class with my PowerPoint presentation, specifically the transition from Bayat (on D / note 1) to Ajam (on B flat / note 6).

As well, and thanks to our dear friend, musician, and hazan Victor Esses, we introduced a new exercise to help us learn how to navigate all 8 notes in the Bayat scale while reading through “Ashrei”. This is also a great way to practice and develop your own signature style. You can watch this at 39:00 into the first video.

Sincerely,

Michael Continue reading

Maqam Class Series: Class 5 – December 28, 2013

Dear Class,

As I wrote in my recent email, this last class was a true milestone in our progress towards conquering the Maqamat. Congrats to all the participants in this class who performed solos – your hard work really showed in your creative singing.

Below the media files is a recap and highlights of the material we covered during the technical portion of our class with my PowerPoint presentation, specifically the hidden backroads of Bayat and the various ways to transition to other Maqamat. Once again, this information is more advanced for those who want to delve deeper.

We re-introduced the concept of Pizmon Improv this past Saturday night. Again, this is using the Pizmon as a springboard to jump into vocal improvisation (Mawal), while using the structure of the song as a basis for the Mawal. I posted an example of that below on both Bayat note 5(A) and note 7(C). This is a great way to practice and develop your own signature style.

Continue reading

Maqam Class Series: Class 4 – December 14, 2013

Dear Class,

As I mentioned in my email, we knocked the last class out of the park, I am thrilled to see so much progress from the previous class. I’d like to continue practicing notes 1-5 in Bayat.

Below the media files is a recap and highlights of the material we covered during the technical portion of our class on the projector presentation, specifically the breakdown of Bayat into the two Jins and where they each begin and end, and how it compares to Husseini. Again, consider this information extra credit – you don’t need to understand it to succeed in this class. If it seems too complicated, leave it alone and focus on the music. Also, please forgive me for the recording of the class not showing the whiteboard presentation clearly enough to see it, we will try to troubleshoot for next class.

We introduced a new concept to the class Saturday night. This is using the Pizmon as a springboard to jump into vocal improvisation (Mawal), using the structure of the song as a basis for the Mawal. I posted an example of that below. I recommend practicing this way for the coming two weeks to start developing your own “moves” for Maqam Bayat.

Continue reading

Maqam Class Series: Class 3 – November 23, 2013

Dear Class,

I am totally blown away and deeply inspired. You all nailed the lower Jins Bayat when we sang the notes individually. You were right on key when we sang Sur Ya El. And I was stunned by how accurate and moving the 3 Mawals were – congratulations to Abe Manopla, Joey Franco, and Ovadia Sutton, great work – It takes guts to get up there and be in the spotlight. A special thanks to Maury for selflessly sharing his musical talent with us and adding new flavor to our class.

I’d like to continue focusing on and perfecting the lower Jins of Bayat, with the addition of what we’ve added to our repertoire, note 5, which also happens to be the tonic or starting Continue reading

Maqam Class Series: Class 2 – November 9th, 2013

Dear Class,

I think we really raised the bar this time. I am deeply gratified to see you quickly identify Bayat and to hear you sing the lower Jins so clearly and confidently. It also seemed that most of you grasped the overall technical and mathematical concepts presented. All of this is a breakthrough – because a true Bayat is actually one of the more difficult Maqamat to sing. Once we move on to other scales you will see how closely related they are and how much easier it is to grasp them. Continue reading

Maqam Class Series: First Class – October 29th, 2013

From Michael Harari:

Dear Class,

I am truly speechless. I’ve always heard of the amazing congregants of Kol Israel, but did not imagine that I would be teaching a group of such smart, talented, and musical people, nor did I think I would be able to cover so much ground in a single class. You kept me on my toes and it seemed as though you all really grasped the important concepts.  And most enjoyable for me was to hear you all right on key when we sang Maqam Bayat together.

I am committed to sticking with you all while we all learn about Continue reading