A beginner bassist's foray into the unknown

Archive for February 19, 2015

Coursera – DYM Lesson 2 videos (8)

Like Lesson 1, the last video for Lesson 2 of Coursera’s Developing Your Musicianship class features a Berklee student ensemble piece. This one is something I’m not familar with at all. It features a Palestinian qanunist named Ali Paris performing his composition, Najat1958, with a piano, bass and two percussionists as accompaniment. I’ve never seen a qanun before. Apparently, they’re like large zithers. I like that its pronounced like “canon“. 😉

8. Berklee Student Performance: “Najat 1958″ (9:33) 

Ali Paris Experiment, “Najat1958” – Live at Berklee College’s Cafe 939

Now, knowing the next-to-nothing that I do about quanin, I’m still impressed with the player, and I like the opening of the song. Overall, the backdrop is jazzy in parts to me, on account of the bassist and pianist, but what Ali plays isn’t. I’m not entirely sure what it is, as I’ve very little familiarity with Mid-Eastern music, aside from a few metal bands which probably don’t represent the historic or cultural sounds of the countries there. The percussionists, actually the whole rhythm section, is also interesting in the last 2 minutes of the song.

According to one of the Youtube commenters, his vocals are an Arabic improvisational style called “mawwal“. Its interesting to hear and makes me wonder if its an equivalent to scatting. Its curious what trying to learn bass and music theory can expose a person to. I’m half-tempted to log into Talkbass and ask “What’s the best quanin for metal?” just to get someone’s goat, but I actually think some of the members there would end up surprising me with a real answer. When I have more time to explore, maybe I’ll do that…


Coursera – DYM Lesson 2 videos (7)

Video #7 for Lesson 2 of Coursera’s Developing Your Musicianship class is a review of what was covered in this week’s six lesson videos and a quick discussion of what the week’s homework assignment requires.

7. Lesson Review and Assignment Overview (4:00)

Professor Russell seems more energized at the start of this video. There’s no piano preamble. He gets right down to business with, “Okay guys, this is lesson two, and one of the things we covered in lesson two was the perfect fourth – the interval – perfect fourth and perfect fifth. So, the perfect fourth, if you start on C, you go down to the fourth degree, to F. That’s your perfect fourth.” He plays this on the piano and asks the students to sing it with him (La, la, perfect fourth).

He continues with, “The next interval we learned was the perfect fifth, and if we started on the C and went up to the fifth degree of the scale, which is the G…” In lieu of completing the thought, he punctuates this by playing C-G on the piano and asking students to sing the notes (La, la, perfect fifth) with him. He closes this part with, “Those are our two intervals for today.”

With intervals covered, he moves on to triads. “Another thing we learned or covered today were major triads. Major triads, of course, they are three notes: the root, the third and the fifth.” He illustrates this on the piano, and says, “Starting on a C, that would be C, E and G. That’s our major triad.” The onscreen treble staff highlights the notes to further illustrate what’s being played. He then plays it in F and explains that the notes would now be F-A-C and would constitute an F major triad. Finally, he moves on to G and shows us how this major triad consists of G-B-D.

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