Tuesday, July 17, 2018

What You Need To Know About Drums

Bass Drum Wing Nut Grand Rapids Montessori Open House September 16, 201012
Bass Drum - Photo by stevendepolo 
What would music be without drums? Drums are responsible for providing the backbone of the song. The drummer holds the rest of the song together by providing the other musicians with a beat to follow. Even if a song doesn’t specifically include drums, more than likely they do include other percussion instruments.

History of Drums

Percussion instruments have been used since ancient times. Drums especially were popular because they could be made using easily obtainable materials. Generally speaking, drums include a hollowed out body which could be made of wood, clay, gourds, and other materials with some kind of animal skin or membrane stretched over the top. Ancient drums have been found in archaeological dig sites and can be viewed in museums.

Drums Throughout the Cultures

Different cultures have different kinds of percussion instruments. In the west, the drum set is popular. In Latin music, the drum kit includes other items such as shakers and cowbells. In Africa, the djembe and congo are popular drums. Other cultures use steel drums and other drums that are made from different materials such as gourds and animal skins.

Using Drums from other Countries

In today’s society, the media and internet have opened us up to different types of music. As a result of this, more western artists are starting to embrace other percussion instruments. For example, it isn’t uncommon for a song to include different hand drums borrowed from the African or Middle Eastern cultures.

If you are interested in using drums from other countries, your best bet is to expose yourself to the traditional music to get a feel for how the drums are traditionally played. It is fine to borrow an instrument from another tradition, but to get the most out of the experience it is worth it to learn the traditional playing styles.




Monday, July 16, 2018

The "BAGATELLES" by BEETHOVEN

Ludwig van Beethoven
Ludwig van Beethoven (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are three collections of bagatelles by Beethoven: "Seven Bagatelles, Opus 33", "Eleven new bagatelles, Opus 119" and "Six bagatelles, Opus 126". They originate from his time in Bonn, were probably originally intended as middle movements for sonatas but presumably considered by Beethoven in the course of the work on those compositions as too light in character.

To determine the origin and the dating of the Bagatelles are not altogether easy. As with many works of Beethoven the opus numbers themselves do not lead to a secure dating of the composition. Beethoven set the opus number only on the occasion of a publication. But even with extensive works the publication followed by no means immediately after the completion. For example, the big string quartets Opus 130, 131, 132 in A minor: Opus 132 the oldest, with Opus 130 following.

Besides, between the first design and the completion of single works with Beethoven often years lay, and the composer was known as very economical in regards to ideas, which he now and again after long breaks took up again, an exact dating especially of the smaller pieces, who filled the breaks between larger works, is especially difficult.

The bagatelles Opus 33 were published in 1803. The autograph carries the label "par Louis van Beethoven in 1782", therefore, one could presume, the whole work still belongs to the early years, Bonn. However, the authenticity of the label is questionable, sketches are found for the first and sixth part next to sketches of the oratorio "Christ on the Mount of Olives" (composed in 1801, first performance 1803) and to the Symphony No. 2 in D major (composed in 1801/02, first performance 1803).

Thus, even without a critical review, it can be supposed that the bagatelles of Opus 33 belong mostly to the years of 1801 and 1802, nevertheless, single parts appeared or were sketched before.

The contemporary criticism did not receive the collection particularly benevolently. The only preserved report refers to the name "Bagatelle", with contemptuous poignancy: "Do earn this title in the farthest sense of the word".

More difficult still is the exact dating of Opus 119. Already Hans von Bulow, to whom still no reliable research material was available, doubts in his Beethoven edition the statement of Schindler that these bagatelles were written around the time of the Missa Solemnis in 1822.

"We are not able to believe to this insurance so absolutely: to us these sketches seem to come from a different era, even if the majority, this some special peculiarities leads one to believe, belong seem to belong to the so-called last period." Bulows assumption has proven right.


Single sketches of Opus 119 are already found in 1801, mixed with some of Opus 33. The whole collection is made up of two different groups: No. 7-11 appeared first in 1821 as a contribution to the "Viennese Pianoforte School" compiled by Friedrich Starke, further sketches are found together with sketches of the Sonata in E major, Opus 109, of the Benedictus and the credo for the Missa, belong to 1820. No. 1-6 were finished two years later. The remaining parts are probably treatments of sketches from 1800-1804.

The history of the "Six bagatelle Opus 126" and their origin are indisputable. The sketches are from the year 1823 and are found besides those to the Quartet in A minor, Opus 132, and to the final choir of the Symphony No. 9. Bülow wrote: "Bezüglich dieses letzten Heftes glaubt der Herausgeber auf Grund der darin ersichtlichen charakteristischen Stileigentumlichkeiten versichern zu konnen, dass sie sämtlich aus der spätestens Schaffensperiode des Meisters stammen, was bei dem vorangehenden Hefte Opus 119 in Abrede gestellt werden musste." (Regarding this last collection, the publisher believes on grounds of the style characteristics to be able to affirm that it originates from the last period of the master, something that cannot be said for the preceding collection Opus 119."



Friday, July 13, 2018

A Look At IRON MAIDEN

Seventh Son of a Seventh Son
Seventh Son of a Seventh Son (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Iron Maiden was right at the beginning of heavy metal. There is no denying their influence for every metal band from the 80’s on. They were very influential on Slayer, whose early works sound very similar to Iron Maiden licks. Even Now that metal is coming back bands like Mastodon who are taking the next steps of metal that maiden help start. In their own right there are a second level icon behind bands like Zeppelin and Sabbath who are the godfathers of rock music.

My favorite album of Iron Maiden is Power Slave. It is the heaviest of all the Maiden albums. It features some of their best songs including Power Slave, Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner, and 2 Minutes to Midnight. I would also recommend the album Killers which was released before Bruce Dickinson was their singer. The songs Murders in the Rue Morgue and Killers exhibit more of a hard rock feel quite a bit more similar to ACDC in their early work than the later more melodic. They were known for putting out concept albums which the whole collection of their albums follows the story of their giant mascot Eddie.

If you like Iron Maiden I would recommend Slayer’s early albums like Show No Mercy and Hell Awaits particularly the title tracks. I would also recommend Mastodon’s album Leviathan. Definitely check out Iron Maiden and Slayer if you like Iron Maiden


Iron Maiden includes Steve Harris (bass), Bruce Dickinson (singer), Janick Gers (guitar), and Nicko McBrain (drums). Their albums include 1979 Soundhouse Tapes Rockhard, Iron Maiden , Killers , The Number of the Beast , Piece of Mind , Powerslave, Somewhere in Time Sony, Seventh Son of a Seventh Son , Trooper , Stranger in a Strange Land , Running Free Run to the Hills , No Prayer for the Dying , Fear of the Dark, The X Factor , Virtual XI , Brave New World and Dance of Death.



Wednesday, July 11, 2018

The History of the MOONLIGHT SONATA

Beethoven Piano Sonata 14 - title page 1802.jpg
The first movement of Beethoven’s opus 27 no. 2 C# minor sonata was very popular in Beethoven’s day, to the point of exasperating the composer himself, who remarked to Czerny, ‘They are always talking about the C# minor sonata surely I’ve written better things.’ Nearly two hundred years later, it still remains the most popular and downloaded piece of ‘classical’ music.

The title Moonlight Sonata actually didn’t come about until several years after Beethoven’s death. In 1836, German music critic, Ludwig Rellstab wrote that the sonata reminded him of the reflected moonlight off Lake Lucerne. Since then, Moonlight Sonata has remained the “official” unofficial title of the sonata.

Sonata quasi una fantasia’ is the title Beethoven gave his fourteenth sonata. Unlike the formal Sonata form of the classical period, Fantasia commonly describes a free-form classical musical piece. Marking the beginning of Beethoven’s second stylistic period, opus 27 no. 2 does not follow the traditional sonata form. Beethoven additionally uses traditional musical mourning devices called Trauermusik, in a very untraditional way. Trauermusik consists of Lament Bass, repetitive accompaniment figures, and chant. Other famous examples of chant are Mozart’s Masonic Funeral Music and the Requium. Dotted monotone anacrusis permeate the first movement reminiscent of the tolling of funeral bells, recall the previous piano sonata Opus 26, Marcia sulla morte de’un eroe, which anticipates Chopin’s opus 35 Bb sonata’s famous ‘Marche Funebre’ and later the main theme of Beethoven’s ‘Eroica’ Symphony’s ‘Marcia Funebre’. What changes in Beethoven’s life led to these transformations in his music?

In 1800-1802 Ludwig van Beethoven experienced devastating internal turmoil in trying to come to terms with his hearing loss. To the outside world, his life seemed to be ideal, with his success as a virtuoso pianist and as a successful, sought-after composer in Vienna. He gradually began to withdraw from society and friends, however, as he felt it would be detrimental to his successful career as a musician if people found out he was going deaf. People felt he was being misanthropic, yet it was quite the opposite. Beethoven lived in a great deal of solitude and loneliness due to his impending and eventual complete deafness, which would eventually have a profound effect on his spiritual and creative growth as a composer and a musician. The years of 1800-1802 were a transformative period in Beethoven’s life and marked the beginning of his second stylistic period. As Beethoven’s outer hearing deteriorated, his inner hearing continued to grow.

Beethoven sought treatment in the village of Heilgenstadt in the late spring of 1802 until October of that year. Full of despair over the unsuccessful treatment, he considered ending his life. In a famous letter known as the Heilgenstadt Testament written to his brothers, he wrote “Thanks… to my art, I did not end my life by suicide.”



Over and over in Beethoven’s music themes of victory over tragedy abound. In the internal struggle he faced, although his music showed the greatest despair and sorrow, it always transcended into a triumphant victory. With that same inner struggle, Beethoven learned to transcend deafness and still be victorious in creating greater and greater masterpieces. During the late 1790s, Beethoven’s music began to show changes, as well as enlargement of form. After the Heilgenstadt Testament, Beethoven expressed dissatisfaction with his compositions and according to Czerny was “determined to take a new path.” [1] The changes included strong links between sonata movements, intensified drama, harmonic instability, motivic elements affecting the larger form, twelve measure structures, registral gaps, recitative and pedal effects.

This sonata could be interpreted as Beethoven beginning to come to terms with his impending eventual deafness. The mourning and loss of the Adagio Sostenuto with its modal changes, dissonances, rhythms, and chants representative of Trauermusik followed by the rage of the stormy third movement, were his way of expressing how he felt about this affliction of deafness while writing the most extraordinary music and not being able to hear it.

Beethoven would live most of his life in a great deal of loneliness and despair with most of his life devoted to the development of his art and creativity. As this sonata was written towards the beginning of his second stylistic period many masterpieces would follow the ‘Sonata Quasi Una Fantasia’.



Jamila Sahar

[1] Timothy Jones, BEETHOVEN The “Moonlight” and other Sonatas, Op 27 and Op 31, p. 15 http://www.theartofpianoperformance.com

Article Source: EzineArticles



Tuesday, July 10, 2018

A First Look at the OBOE

A Musician's Fingers
Oboe - Photo by Ksayer1 
If you are just learning about the oboe, you are about to learn that there is a lot to learn!

While this article is by no means an exhaustive look at the oboe, we'll try to cover the basic stuff to give you a better idea of this beautiful instrument.

The oboe is a double reed (which means that two pieces of wood vibrate together to make the sound) instrument that is directly descended from the 16th-century shawm. While the shawm might be considered the great-grandfather of the oboe, its sound (which was LOUD and annoying) changed quite a bit before it became the modern day oboe.

Oboes are usually made of grenadilla wood, but sometimes, in an effort to produce slightly different tone colors, other woods are used. The oboe has sterling silver keys and is made up of three "joints:"
  • a lower joint
  • an upper joint 
  • and a slightly flared bell
The sound is produced by using a reed made of two blades of cane which vibrate together.

Pitched in "C," the oboe's pitch range starts at the Bb below middle C on the piano and ends roughly 2 ½ octaves above that, around a G. For the adventurer, higher notes are possible though less comfortable and less frequently called for in music written for the oboe.

The oboe has a narrow conical bore, making its timbre focused and penetrating. The French word for oboe, "hautbois." Hautbois literally translates to "high-," "strong-," "loud-," or "principal-wood," depending on its various spellings. Some people say that the oboe sounds a bit like a duck. Track down a recording of Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf for a great example of this.

The oboe is often played in groups of two or three in orchestras and bands and is used in many combinations for chamber music. It is primarily a melody instrument and, because of its lyrical and mournful timbre, is often used for very emotional sections of music.

Good examples include:
  • Stravinsky - Symphony in C
  • Barber - Summer Music
  • Gabriel's Oboe
One of the oboe's most important jobs is that of "tuner" in an orchestra. Listen carefully to the beginning of an orchestra concert with oboes in it and you will hear the oboe player play a tuning "A" from which the entire orchestra takes their pitch.

There are actually 4 different instruments within the oboe family, which cover the soprano, alto, tenor, and bass ranges. The oboe itself is the most soprano of its direct family. The second most common instrument in the oboe family is its tenor version, the English horn.

The English horn, or "Cor Anglais," is pitched a 5th below the oboe, in "F," and is fingered almost exactly like its smaller sibling. The range of the English horn begins at a written B below middle C and goes up to about concert "C." Like the oboe, it consists of an upper and lowers joint, but it has a bulbous bell at the lower end which makes it look quite different. English horn players also use a bocal, onto which the reed is attached.

The sound of the English horn is similar in quality to the oboe, but because it is larger and lower, its timbre is a bit more mysterious and sorrowful. The English horn is often used in the band and orchestra, though less often in chamber music. It is quite common for the 2nd oboist of an ensemble to have to "double" on English horn, having to switch back and forth from the oboe as his/her part dictates.

Famous English horn solos include:
  • Rossini - William Tell Overture
  • Dvorak - New World Symphony
The oboe's alto family member is the oboe d'amore, which means "oboe of love." This instrument looks like a small version of the English horn, with the same bulbous shaped bell and curved bocal. It sounds a minor 3rd lower than the oboe, is pitched in concert "A," and again fingered almost exactly like the oboe.

The oboe d'amore's sound is truly distinctive, being reminiscent of its soprano and tenor relatives, but more muted and sweet. It is often used in pairs and most frequently in Baroque music, especially that of J.S. Bach. Check out the beautiful solos and duets for oboes d'amore in the following Bach pieces:
  • B Minor Mass
  • Christmas Cantatas
  • Concerto for Oboe D'amore
The oboe d'amore does not often appear in ensemble pieces after the Baroque era, though one of its most famous orchestra solos was written by Ravel, in Bolero.

The oboe's bass family member is the Bass oboe, which is the most obscure of the oboe family members. The bass oboe is pitched in "C," like the oboe, but sounds an octave lower than its written pitches. It looks like a very large English horn and is played with the same fingerings, but its bocal is more drastically curved.

The popularity of the bass oboe was brief and is rarely used today. One of the few orchestral pieces which employ the bass oboe is Holst's The Planets. Its murky and atmospheric timbre is well suited to a piece about outer space.


The oboe and its relatives all use a double reed, but the reed is different for each instrument. Basically, the bigger and lower the instrument, the bigger the reed is. The oboe's reed is the only reed with an attached cork, the others being on metal tubes which slip directly onto a bocal. From its soprano to bass ranges, the oboe family covers a wide spectrum of tones colors, though remains lyrical and poignant in all its versions.

The oboe is a beautiful instrument to play although it can take quite some time to master. Even producing a sound can be quite a challenge for a beginner.


    Oboist and entrepreneur Maryn Leister helps beginner, intermediate and professional oboists become happier oboe players.

    She is the owner of the oboe learning company MKL Reeds and publisher of the Reed Report and Oboe Success Tips Newsletters.  Each newsletter is full of straightforward tips on becoming a better oboe player and on taking control of your oboe reeds.

    Get your free subscription to the Reed Report newsletter and start your own journey towards a more rewarding oboe future right away.  Sign-Up now and get your FREE Oboe Reed Tips!

    Article Source: EzineArticles - A First Look at the Oboe