Universiteit Leiden

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PhD project

PERFORMING THE PRESENT Improvisation and Composition in Solo Oud Performance

How to further develop and enrich one's own improvisation and composition skills and techniques, and to develop a framework to continually expand one's own performance repertoire.

Nizar Rohana

An investigation of the taqasim recordings of four of the leading figures of oud playing in the 20th century, namely the Egyptians Muhammad Al-Qasabji (1892-1964) and Riyad Al-Sunbati (1906-1981), and the Iraqis Jamil Bashir (1920-1977) and Munir Bashir, will form the bases of development of Rohana's improvisation skills in this project. By reflecting on, analyzing, and performing their taqasim, he aims to underline and conceptualize creative and innovative practices of each player, and adapt and combine these practices in his own improvisation performance.  

An analysis of key oud compositions from the standard repertoire that is widely performed and taught in Arabic music conservatories, together with compositions by contemporary oud players forms the other dimension of his artistic research within this project. Through this investigation he aims to familiarize himself with different approaches to composition, and acquire new tools that will enable him to develop original compositions that will expand his performance repertoire in new directions. 

By articulating this embodied knowledge he aims to contribute to both the practice of improvisation and composition of instrumental Arabic music, more specifically the solo oud performance. 

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