Monday, February 19, 2018

Everything You Need to Know About the Violin From A-Z - ANTONIO STRADIVARI

English: Photo Stradivari Português: foto stra...
Stradivari (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Hello this is the beginning of my series of articles that will cover everything you need to know about violin from A-Z. I will start this series with Antonio Stradivari.

Antonio Stradivari is known without any competition to be the greatest violin maker in the history of mankind. To this day the quality and sound of his violins remain unsurpassed and they are now worth millions of dollars.

His genius remains a mystery that has never been solved. Over the years many have tried to copy his violins and none have succeeded in creating anything close to matching their sound. The violins themselves have been analyzed extensively in laboratories and everything has been examined from the wood to the varnishes and glues that he used.

The front view image of the Antonio Stradivari...
The front view image of the Antonio Stradivari violin of 1703. The picture was taken at the Musikinstrumenten Museum, Berlin.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Antonio Stradivari was born in Cremona a small town in Italy in 1644, the exact birth date is unknown. It was there where he would live his entire life and establish his fame the greatest instrument maker ever seen. He was mentored by Nicolo Amati who was also from a family of famous violin makers. While still under Amati he began showing signs of the genius that would characterize his career.

In July 1667 he would marry the first of his two wives Francesca Feraboschim a young widower. After her death in 1698, he would remarry to a woman named Antonia Maria Zambelli. Altogether he had eleven children with the two women.

During his career, he made over a thousand instruments of which only 650 remain today. As well as making violins he also made violas, cellos, and guitars. The years between 1698 and 1720 are known as his golden age it is during this time that he made his finest violins these are the pieces that today sell for millions of dollars.

Antonio Stradivari died at the age of 93 in Cremona leaving behind a legacy of music and artistry that still remains unsurpassed.

    By Eric B Hill
    Eric B. Hill is a professional violin player and teacher with over 20 years experience.
    Article Source: EzineArticles



Sunday, February 18, 2018

How to Play Slide Guitar.

Slide Guitar - Photo: Wikimedia
Don’t you just love the distinctive sound of a slide guitar, whether it’s on a country tune or the down and dirty blues?  There has been a renewed interest in slide and bottleneck guitar playing in the last few years, and the new country music has adopted the sound big-time.

I was intimidated when I first put a slide on my little finger, it was awkward, and the sound I made was horrible. I did not have anybody to show me how to dampen the strings, what scales sounded good in standard tuning, and not a clue as to all of the “open-tunings” that are available to both fingerstyle and slide playing.

Actually playing with a slide can be very easy, and beginners can get some really cool sounds with a bit of practice.  I would recommend tuning to an open D or open G at first.   The open tuning approach gives nice major chord sounds up and down the neck, and allows for some easy fingering and ability to play songs right away.  That’s the reason for playing right?  Exercises and scales have their place but most people I know that started to play guitar, want to learn some songs.

First, start with a slide or “bottleneck” as many refer to when describing the tube that you wear on your finger.  The choices are many, the material is endless, and the type of tone they produce is just as varied. You will be the ultimate judge of the tone and sound you create. 

The two basic materials are either glass or metal, with ceramic coming in a distant third. Can’t really say I have a favorite type of slide. I have just about one of every kind you can think of, I prefer glass on electric guitar and steel or brass on acoustic guitar.

One tip that is guaranteed to help give you better TONE is going for very dense material.  Get a thick or heavy glass slide, as this will increase sustain and fatten up your sound.  My preference is hand blown leaded glass, but very hard to find in the US, as it is illegal to use leaded glass for manufacturing. I got mine from a vendor in the UK. 

The preferred finger is the pinkie on your fretting hand, but lots of players use their ring or even the middle finger. The advantage of using your little finger is that it gives you the most fretting possibilities, but some claim you give up some control.  The main thing is just try on a bunch of slides and go for what feels good to you!

Once you have found a slide just have some fun running it up and down the strings.  More than likely you can make some awful noise, the task is how you can quiet down all of that excessive noise and get some soulful sound coming from your guitar.

Let's start with an open tuning; my preference is open G tuning. 
Drop your fat or lower E string down to a D pitch.  You can use the 4th string or D to tune to. Then tune the A string down G and you can use the 3rd or G to tune to as well. The last string you have to detune is the bottom E or 1st string.  Tune it to D as well, then when you strum your guitar it plays a G major chord and sounds really sweet.

Your guitar sound now is tuned D-G-D-G-B-D as opposed to the regular tuning of E-A-D-G-B-E.
Open G tuning. It's a favorite among slide guitarists, because it gives you a wide-open major chord on any fret, and it allows an easy alternating bass because the root (the main note of the chord, G if it's a G chord, for example) is on the fifth string while the fifth (D if it's a G chord, for example) is on the sixth and the fourth.  Both slide and non-slide players also appreciate the fact that open G also enables you to play a standard blues line with relative ease!

One of the most crucial aspects of getting good clean sound is the use of damping behind the slide.  Master this technique and you will be amazed how good the sound of you slide on steel strings will be.



I suggest that you lay your fretting fingers flat on the neck just behind the slide, and use slight pressure on the strings with the slide.  Not too heavy, as you do not want to hit the fret but not so light that you get no sound either. Just experiment a little and you will find the right pressure to use.

You also want to play just over the fret and not behind as this will give you the best intonation.  This also takes some practice but with some careful listening, you will know when you are on the pitch.  Mater this technique and you will be beyond most occasional players.

I have a website devoted to slide guitar and links to many resource and reviews of video lessons on slide playing.  I think the sound of slide guitar is the most human-like of any instrument and allows the guitarist to express an amazing range of emotion and feeling on the guitar.

Peace   
Author: Dennis Tryon



Saturday, February 17, 2018

Humor Under The KEYBOARD

Bruce Hornsby performing on a Steinway concert...
Bruce Hornsby performing on a Steinway concert grand piano.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
For me, the piano is the symbol of what is stiff, proper and elegant. It doesn't have faults, it is perfect. Pianists are the most perfectionist people in the world. They should not and can not make mistakes especially when performing. That is how I viewed the piano and the pianists. But then, I just found out I was wrong. A few types of research and I have once again proven that appearances can be deceiving.

The pianists we see play appear to be the most formal and respectable stars on the stage. They hold the power and the breadth of the audiences. They could look intimidating in their formal suits not to mention the authority and the air of arrogance they exude while on stage. They can be captivating.

But before we forget, these pianists are also human. And humans do make mistakes. Most of these mistakes can be frustrating and depressing. But then, there are also mistakes that are amusing and could also be totally hilarious. It shows how fun could be inserted even in the most seemingly stuffy and proper event.

Here are some examples:

When asked for their definition of a piano, some famous musicians and musical enthusiasts have some famous replies:

· For David W. Barber (The Musician's Dictionary), a piano is a cumbersome piece of furniture found in many homes, where playing it ensures the early departure of unwanted guests.

· Piano (n.) is a parlor utensil for subduing the impertinent visitor. It is operated by depressing the keys of the machine and the spirits of the audience, according to Ambrose Bierce, an American journalist (The Devil's Dictionary).

· A piano tuner is a person employed to come into the home, rearrange the furniture, and annoy the cat. The tuner's chief purpose is to ascertain the breaking point of the piano's strings.

Though these definitions may sound humorous, you can never miss the ironies in it. Coming from people who live and breathe the piano, these definitions seem odd.

Here's more - when asked about their secrets in playing, you would certainly be surprised at how simple their secrets can be, and definitely applicable.

· Australian pianist Artur Schnabel said, "I always make sure that the lid over the keyboard is open before I start to play".

· "Nothing soothes me more after a long and maddening course of pianoforte recitals than to sit and have my teeth drilled", said George Bernard Shaw, a writer, and a music critic.

I definitely agree with Artur Schnabel's top secret! I wonder why George found it relaxing to have his teeth drilled after hearing the pianoforte recitals. Check out more of the piano's funny side:

· Bob Hope, an American comedian commented on fellow comedian Phyllis Diller on her playing the piano: "When she started to play, Steinway himself came down personally and rubbed his name off the piano."

· A band teacher recalled the title of the song "Claire de Lune" played by a student as "Claire de Loonie".

· The audiences at a piano recital were appalled when a telephone rang just off stage. Without missing a note, the soloist glanced toward the wings and called, "If that's my agent, tell him I'm working!"

Now, let's check out some famous questions and answers in the funny world of the piano:

· What do you get when you drop a piano down a mine shaft? A flat minor

· What do you get when you drop a piano on an army base? A flat major

· Why is an 11-foot concert grand better than a studio upright? Because it makes a much bigger kaboom when dropped over a cliff.

· Why was the piano invented? So that the musician would have a place to put his beer.

· Why did they say that the pianist had fingers like lightning? They never struck the same place twice.

· What did they find when they dug up Beethoven's grave? He was decomposing.

· Why did Mozart kill his chicken? Because they always ran around going, "Bach! Bach! Bach!"

· Imagine a singer, a piano player, a bass player and a drummer sitting around the table. Now if you drop a hundred-dollar bill right in the middle and tell them they're free to take it, who's getting it? The piano player. Because the bass player is too slow, for the winger it's too little money and the drummer didn't get the assignment.

Now that we've seen the humor under they keyboards, the piano and the pianists are not as elusive as they seem to be. It is just like discovering a new type of music. The piano and the pianist can take not just the breath out of the audiences but also the laughter as they present not only fine music but terrific humor as well. Having fun is what life is all about.




Friday, February 16, 2018

The Development of BLUES MUSIC

John Lee Hooker at the Long Beach Blues Festival
John Lee Hooker at the Long Beach Blues Festival (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Jazz, rock music and country and western are just some of the styles that owe a lot of their progression from the original blues. The contribution of Blues music to the development of many other genres of music is very significant. Blues was originally grown out of the hardships endured by many generations of African Americans and first arose from the rural Mississippi region, around about the time of the dawn of the 20th century. The style developed from work shouts (known as Arhoolie) and became the vocal narrative style that we associate with blues music today.

The industry was progressing, and by the 1920's Blues music was also developing - affecting the everyday lives of people involved. There was by this time a very particular style, based around a three-line stanza. The stanza contained just one line of verse, repeated, and then finished with a final line of rhyming verse.

The style also included a repeating blues chord progression, which was the basis of the harmony. The usual rule of thumb was a 12-bar pattern utilizing the 3 major chords of a scale. The text was set to a 12-bar chorus, and typically was between four and eight stanzas in length.

In typical cases, the melody is formed by flattened third, fifth and seventh notes of the major scale. The outcome is the 'bent' notes that lend Blues music that distinctive sound - the bittersweet emotional impact that lacks in other genres. For the majority of blues music, the focus is on the vocals - contradicting the fact that performers will often improvise instrumental solos over the Blues chord progressions.

Many itinerant musicians (the majority of which were men), traveled from one community to the next, singing songs that focused on love, freedom, sex and the general sorrows of life. Often referred to as 'Delta Blues' (in tribute to the Mississippi Delta were they first originated), country blues arose from the Southern rural experience, particularly influenced by the impact of emancipation.

Classic Blues
African Americans began to migrate, mainly looking for work. Areas such as Memphis and New Orleans began to become more populated, and these people brought their own brand of music with them. As they settled in these areas, it led to Blues music becoming much more urban-orientated. The music evolved as their way of life evolved. Male or female vocalists began to appear more regularly, and there was now the addition of a single piano.


The audience also grew, and Blues became more mainstream. Throughout the country as a whole, Blues music could now be heard in dancehalls and barrooms. The music industry as a whole started to take note, and more and more compositions and marketing arrangements emerged, as people began to take notice. The popularity of this kind of music grew exponentially. What would become known as Classic Blues became so popular that many songs were released with the word 'blues' in the title to capitalize on this, even though they bared little or no relation to the style of music.

Its center, previously clustered around Memphis and New Orleans, began to migrate, and soon cities such as Chicago became the central point of much of the music. The appetite for the style of music known as the Blues was quite voracious.

The end of the Second World War brought a new revival into the genre, and artists began to develop the music, primarily through adding a bit of extra emphasis on the bass drums and cranking up the guitar sounds. Artists like Elvis and Bill Haley began to incorporate the Blues methods into their own unique brand of rock n roll. By the 1950's this style was no longer centered around the African American community and was universally practiced across all races.

The influence that Blues music has had on the music industry as a whole is undisputed, and yet Blues music is still evolving, still developing, and still evoking the stirrings of the soul to anyone who cares to listen! The incorporation of the Blues style into different genres still exists today, and Blues music in its own right continues to go from strength to strength - many top-selling artists maintain the original styles.




Thursday, February 15, 2018

Health Benefits from DANCING

Young couple dancing cha-cha-cha at a junior L...
Young couple dancing the cha-cha-cha at a junior Latin dance competition
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Want to stay fit?? Love dancing?? 

Dancing is the most enjoyable and exciting form of exercise. It keeps our mood happy and gives us fun. Dancing has many health benefits. According to some research in the USA, dancing helps in keeping us healthy as we grow old. It strengthens our muscles and keeps us fit. 

The researchers recommend opting for dance classes. The dance lovers can opt for any kind of dance style depending on their interest and dedication. There is a wide range of dance forms today like- ballet, salsa, tap dance, jazz, hip-hop, lyrical, street dance and the list is endless. It is said that the dances which involve steps help in increasing our brain power and makes our memory sharp. Also, dance helps in avoiding serious health problems like dementia, Alzheimer, osteoporosis etc. People these days replace exercise and aerobics with dance. It helps in increasing our stamina and makes our body more flexible. Not only this but dancing helps in boosting our self-esteem and confidence. 

Basically, dance appeals more to women but nowadays, even men are performing various dance forms and that too with elegance and style. The ballroom dancing has become a popular dance style among both men and women. Different types of dancing are significant in different ways like-
  • Belly dancing helps in solving back problems and exercises our abdominal muscles.
  • Ballroom dancing helps in proper regulation of the heart.
  • Salsa, a Latin dance form helps in maintaining low blood pressure and control cholesterol.
  • Jazz dance helps in isolating the various parts of our body.

Different dance forms will give you different health benefits. They help in keeping your body toned from head to toe. Today people of all age groups are opting for dance to keep themselves fit and healthy.