For this research I intended to compose some original pieces with the knowledge acquired in the data collection. For the rhythmic side of the music I wrote a piece using the jurjina rhythm. Unfortunately I could not finish a piece with the usage of a maqam mode within the timeline of my Master Studies. Nonetheless I want to dedicate a few words on my view on composing new material, and how it can benefit the process of getting to know new fields of music.
Composition as a Means to Lead to Understanding
In a similar fashion as I described in the chapter on arranging, I believe composition is an invaluable tool to learn new material. Ever since I started studying music I have used composition this way. The point is to challenge yourself to really think about the material you want to study, and find ways to apply it in a practical and musical way. Composing is different from simply playing or improvising with the material, because you can take a more detailed look at how to process certain passages.
I want to take a look at my composition Doodling, which is my attempt of composing within the jurjina rhythm. Before doing that I want to suggest a method to compose using melodic material from a maqam. This is a suggestion that Palestinian oud player Nizar Rohana gave to me, when I interviewed him on taqasim. He suggested that I would try to compose a taqsim myself, instead of trying to improvise it. A way to go about this is to make the path of sayr before starting to write anything. For example, make a flowchart like this below. Then try to write phrases that showcase all of the characteristics of each jins. As a start, keep things simple, don’t overcomplicate. Let the material sink into your ears, and try to make it sound natural. It might take some practice, but combining this with transcription is a good way to getting to know the musical language.
Doodling - Remy Dielemans
When I was composing my song Doodling (for a score and recording, see to the right , and appendix 5), my goal was to become very familiar with the jurjina rhythm, and its uneven subdivision of 3-2-2-3, but also to find a way to make that subdivision not sound repetitive, and ultimately become dull. I found an interesting way to play the 3-2-2-3 subdivision against a 2-2-2-2-2 subdivision on double bass. That became the basis of the A-part of the piece. I managed to play this pattern in two chords, namely Em9 and B7, creating a I-V7 movement in minor. On top of that I composed a melody. With this melody I wanted to follow the actual subdivision, to establish a solid foundation for the tune, sometimes moving the emphasis of the melody to different beats. To support the melody I wrote a harmonic progression to create a bigger sense of movement.
In the B-part of the song, I used a harmonic progression as the basis. It started with a very common idea in jazz harmony, namely to move to the IV scale degree. From there I wrote a chordal cadence within the cycle of fifths to land back on the first scale degree. Rhythmically I aimed to let the melody break free of the jurjina subdivision. This was pretty hard to do, without getting lost too easily. It did certainly broaden my spectrum, and gave me some new options in terms of phrasing within the rhythm, which was ultimately the goal.