One of the things that excites me the most when conducting Middle Eastern music workshops is when I recognise that moment when a musician, young or experienced, starts hearing the musical meanings of the quarter tones for the first time.
I have witnessed one of those moments again last month in a class I gave in Mr. David Raymond’s music program at P.E.V. school at Champagnole, France.
After the first explanation and demonstration almost everybody moved in their chairs uncomfortably to the new sounds. The awkwardness grew even more when I played simple kids songs they know, and put some quarter tones in them.
But then I played some of the quarter tones the way they are meant to be played in the style, and the ears got a little more in tune with the whole sound. Ultimately, I played a traditional Arabic melody with quarter tones, and then played the same melody with no quarter tones. My question for the class was “which version was more beautiful?”
Almost everyone raised their hands for the “microtonal” version.
When I see the different way of listening this made them come up with, I know something in their ears and in their mind had opened up.
I know I wasn’t the same musician after it happened to me, and seeing that in a class of young musicians is when I feel I did my part.
Thank you David, it has been a great experience seeing the fresh and total way you bring music education to your community!