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Music Discuss specific tunes, the writing of tunes, other questions, concerns, etc. related specifically to the music or music books.

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Old 05-04-2019, 04:23 PM   #1
thePhotopiper
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Default How to create a tune with an exotic/oriental/middle eastern flare?

Hey folks.

I'm trying to find information about how to compose a tune for the pipes that has a bit of an oriental/exotic flare to it. I've heard some tunes in the past that pull it off, but I can't recall any of their names at the moment.

I'm not very well uneducation on music theory outside the realm of pipe tunes, so I'm having trouble even forming the correct questions to get the info I need.

Has anyone had experience creating a tune in this fashion? Or perhaps you can recall some tunes that have that kind of flair to them?

Any input would be appreciated.
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Old 05-04-2019, 05:05 PM   #2
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Default Re: How to create a tune with an exotic/oriental/middle eastern flare?

To start with, you'll probably need to use a diffewrent scale than the one you're used to, which will mean learning to cross-finger some notes.
For example, for a lot of listeners who are used to major scales with an occasional minor scale thrown in, a melodic minor scale* would sound somewhat exotic.

*Ascending- A B Cnat D E F# G# a; Descending-a g Fnat E D Cnat B A.

to make it even more exotic sounding, use G A B Cnat D E Fnat G# a. That interval between the F nat and G# will add an "exotic" flair to the tune,
In the same way, if you could add a low Bflat to the mix, you'd get the same effect.
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Old 05-05-2019, 01:13 AM   #3
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Default Re: How to create a tune with an exotic/oriental/middle eastern flare?

Look up modal scales on a search engine. You'll find a lot of natural/flatted thirds and sixths. But, certain middle eastern scales have three or four voicings just for the tuning of the third, which is an awful lot to ask of the bagpipe.
Opting out of reginal accuracy, you might look into French Bagad band music, which often bases tunes in a scale that would start on our B and has mysterious/exotic elements to the western/non mainland European ear.
The best advice I could give, though, would be to look up bagpipes from around the world and search youtube for examples of their tunes. Kaba Gaida is one type that comes to mind.
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Old 05-05-2019, 09:04 AM   #4
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Default Re: How to create a tune with an exotic/oriental/middle eastern flare?

Check out this recent and very informative thread http://forums.bobdunsire.com/forums/...ighlight=hijaz

Not oriental but the hijaz scale described by Panceltic definitely has that middle eastern sound.

I hope this helps,
Kevin
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Old 05-05-2019, 09:47 AM   #5
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Default Re: How to create a tune with an exotic/oriental/middle eastern flare?

Thanks for all the input so far folks! It's giving me some good ideas!
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Old 05-12-2019, 06:30 AM   #6
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Default Re: How to create a tune with an exotic/oriental/middle eastern flare?

There are many more modes than Major and minor!

And when you venture outside those two the music sounds "exotic" to Western European ears.

There's a mode that's common in Arabic music, Jewish music, Persian music, Armenian music, etc that's often referred to as the Hijaz mode.

Composers often use this mode when they're trying to get an "exotic" or "Middle Eastern" or "Arabic" or "Jewish" sound to their composition.

Here, it's explained through the eyes of Western music theory, where it's called Phrygian Dominant. This guy does a great job showing the scale (though it's in E, not in A as it would be on the pipes) and he gives numerous examples of the scale in rock etc.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aCZezZf9bi0

Here you can hear the Hijaz mode on the Armenian double-reed instrument called Duduk, played by the master Djivan Gasparyan.

Jump to 38:40, the tune The Years Of My Youth Are Gone. The opening notes are the first three notes of the Hijaz scale, Tonic, minor 2nd, Major 3rd

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gcWmE37ekzE&t=2402s

On the GHB the Hijaz mode goes:

Low A, Bb, C#, D, E, Fnat, High Gnat, High A

(Tonic, minor 2nd, Major 3rd, 4th, 5th, minor 6th, minor 7th, octave)

Here it is on the GHB, two common Israeli dance tunes, Zemeratik and Hava Nagila, preceded by just going up the scale to demonstrate it

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HeqIktkn7Ls&t=22s

(BTW I think you mean "flair" not "flare", that would be like the unicycle bagpiper with flames shooting out of his drones.)
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Last edited by pancelticpiper; 05-12-2019 at 06:58 AM.
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Old 05-12-2019, 11:19 PM   #7
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Default Re: How to create a tune with an exotic/oriental/middle eastern flare?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin View Post
Check out this recent and very informative thread http://forums.bobdunsire.com/forums/...ighlight=hijaz

Not oriental but the hijaz scale described by Panceltic definitely has that middle eastern sound.

I hope this helps,
Kevin
Israel is an Asian country and the Hijaz scale is common and popular here. We are oriental, though Westerners sometimes think of only South Asia and the Far East as oriental and Asian. But we are Asian and Eastern here, and it shows up in our traditional and pop music. Sometimes even in our piping.

Last edited by David; 05-12-2019 at 11:50 PM.
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Old 05-18-2019, 06:54 PM   #8
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Default Re: How to create a tune with an exotic/oriental/middle eastern flare?

Quote:
Originally Posted by David View Post
We are oriental

From Europe yes, but from India you're occidental

(BTW "orientation", which means turn towards the East, has for some reason taken on a very different meaning in English.)
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Old 05-19-2019, 08:15 AM   #9
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Default Re: How to create a tune with an exotic/oriental/middle eastern flare?

Quote:
Originally Posted by pancelticpiper View Post
From Europe yes, but from India you're occidental

(BTW "orientation", which means turn towards the East, has for some reason taken on a very different meaning in English.)
Always a matter of perspective, and always in a linguistic/geographical context. In many ways these terms are too general, and have too many pitfalls. Important to know how each culture expresses these ideas in their own language. No where more so than in music. Our music was "oriental" even in the European exilic communities. In Hebrew we use the word Mizrakhi, or eastern, to mean culture more than geography. Or Sefaradi, literally Spanish, to mean those from the exile in Arab-Berber or Moorish Andalus, later called Spain. And it can include Jews from Turkey, which is no where near Iberia. We borrowed and exchanged music in all these exile communities. Ironically, Western music was, modernly, encapsulated as a foreign music we might study, admire and play. Whereas, Moorish or Turkish music fused into our own musical national identity. Much like the Japanese loving western classical music, yet not incorporating it into their traditional musical identity. Many cultures and nationalities intuitively know what is borrowed and kept separate, and what has been mingled into their older musical traditions. Maybe why Israelis who know the Highland pipes generally cannot stand attempts to play our traditional Hebrew music on the pipes, but love to hear traditional pipe music, and in general love to keep the two apart.

And of course even the idea of exotic is something highly subjective. Whenever we are in London (which is many times), speaking Hebrew, people find it very "exotic." So I started telling tourists that we were speaking Gaelic. And they said, "Ah!" Until I ran across a Highlander who, though he did not speak Gaelic, thought our dialect a bit rough and guttural.

The Scots king in the Declaration of Arbroath claimed Scythian origins, and a mingling with Israel-in-exile after the Assyrian invasion in that region.

I worked once for a year in central Kansas, and I found that very exotic and the people quite inscrutable. Szykzpahk and p'tsah and kabahltiveh.

Last edited by David; 05-19-2019 at 08:23 AM.
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Old 05-19-2019, 09:08 AM   #10
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Default Re: How to create a tune with an exotic/oriental/middle eastern flare?

Quote:
Originally Posted by David View Post
Israelis who know the Highland pipes generally cannot stand attempts to play our traditional Hebrew music on the pipes, but love to hear traditional pipe music, and in general love to keep the two apart.
Interesting! I found the opposite here, with American Jews.

Years ago I was hired to play at a Jewish wedding, and the family told me to talk over the music with the Rabbi.

He asked "what sort of music are you intending to play?"

"Israeli folk music."

"I've never heard that on the bagpipes."

"Neither have I."

I explained that I had played flute for years in a band that plays for Israeli folk dancing, and that I intended to play the same tunes on the bagpipes.

I was very well-received! I knew I was doing something right when I could see toes tapping. Afterwards I got so many compliments. I explained that I was simply playing the same music I had played on flute hundreds of times.

Since then I've played Jerusalem Of Gold at many funerals. It's lovely on the pipes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by David View Post
Whenever we are in London speaking Hebrew people find it very "exotic." So I started telling tourists that we were speaking Gaelic.
Reminds me of the story a friend who is a Gaelic speaker told me: He was hired to perform at a Scottish Clan Gathering, and while he was on stage singing in Gaelic an ignorant idiot started yelling at him to stop singing "Arab" songs!
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