This DVD will help you build your knowledge of the melodic side of Arabic music, focusing on the art of taqasim—sometimes spelled taqsim, taksim, taxim, takseem, etc.—which is improvisation on a solo instrument, a style of playing found throughout Middle Eastern music.
Taqasim are played as introductions to songs or instrumental pieces, interludes between songs or dance pieces, or presented on their own. Understanding how they work can enhance your dancing experience and deepen your expression of the music.
You’ll meet the musicians behind the music, through live demonstrations, and learn movements to complement the sound qualities of the main traditional instruments: oud (lute), accordion, violin, qanun (zither), nay (reed flute), tabla (goblet-shaped drum) and riqq (tambourine). An introduction to the different maqamat, melodic modes, or scales, will open your ears to the emotional colors of Arabic music: happy or sad, bright or dark, tension or resolution. Each maqam evokes a different mood, and as dancers we may respond to subtle emphasis or repetition in the notes within each maqam. We start to feel when the player is climbing the scale or descending, the hills and valleys of the taqasim. Having a sense of how a taqasim progresses, and what details to listen for, will give you greater confidence in your dance, and a sense of freedom to focus on enjoying the beauty of the music instead of worrying about your movements.
In the “Improvisation Skills” section of this DVD, Ranya offers guidance for building your own improvisational dance practice, to help you develop your personal expression of Arabic music. Included are tips on placement and posture, visual focus, stage presence, and an introduction to Ranya’s signature “Breathwork for Performance” method, to help keep you relaxed and “in the moment” when you are improvising.
The “Improvisation Drills” section includes practice sessions to recorded taqasim pieces by different instrumentalists, with and without rhythmic accompaniment, in whole form as well as in “loop drills” highlighting particular nuances of the melodies and rhythmic cycles. Technique breakdowns go over key movement concepts you can apply in working with each instrument. You can dance along with Ranya or practice on your own, with or without Ranya’s voiceover commentary—two additional hours worth of detail-packed content, to help you become an educated music listener and to guide you in applying the movement and performance concepts in the program. Bonus vocal improvisation selections (layali and mawwal), with transliteration and translation provided, illustrate another way that improvisation is used in Arabic music.
A full Oriental show performance by Ranya with the musicians is also included!