Tuesday, June 19, 2018

PAN FLUTE - Music-Instruments of the World

Pan Flute - Music-Instruments of the World



Monday, June 18, 2018

SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE - An Australian Landmark

Sydney Opera House viewed from the side
Sydney Opera House viewed from the side (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Australia is easily among the most popular tourist destinations around the world, offering travelers everything from a vast wilderness to explore, and wonderful modern cities teeming with culture. As a huge country that is sparsely populated yet is among the first ranks of the developed nations, Australia is a land of contrasts. The wilderness of the outback populated with dangerous and exotic animals is a sharp contrast to the cosmopolitan nature of cities like Sydney and Melbourne.

Sydney is home to over 4M people - a significant portion of Australia's population. It is a beautiful city with much to do and a lot to see. You could take weeks and still not fully explore this magnificent city, but there is at least one sight you just have to see.

That sight would be the Sydney Opera House. A landmark that is as famous and intrinsic to the city as New York's Statue of Liberty, the Opera House ranks constantly among the most photographed destinations in the world and is considered among the seven modern wonders. The Opera House was designed as an embodiment of Australia and all that Australians stand for - boldness, strength, passion and a lust for life. Its architecture, thoroughly unique and evocative, invokes these very same qualities.

What adds to its charm is its location. Situated at the edge of the Sydney Harbour, it offers a breathtaking view of Sydney and is a photographer's dream come true. At night, it lights up the entire coastline and is a sight to behold.

Once you are through admiring the architecture of the building, you may want to step inside to see some of the world's best opera singers perform live. As one of the premier opera houses in the world, it frequently stages some terrific productions.

Whatever you do, if you visit Australia, make sure that you at least catch a glimpse of the Sydney Opera House. It will bring out your inner talent for photography and give you memories worth cherishing a lifetime.



Saturday, June 16, 2018

Various VIOLIN Facts of Interest

English: portrait of Yehudi Menuhin & Stephane...
Portrait of Yehudi Menuhin & Stephane Grappelli (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
What do the following have in common?
symphony orchestra, string quartet, Stradivari, high school orchestra, Yehudi Menuhin, string orchestra

That's right - it is the Violin.

So what is a violin?

Here are various violin facts of interest.

A violin is a musical instrument with four strings played with a bow or plucked and is the smallest, highest sounding member of the string family. A violin consists of a sound body or belly with two f shaped sound holes, a fingerboard attached to one end, four strings and a separate bow. All in all a violin consists of no fewer than eighty-four pieces.

The sound body is made of wood and it increases the volume of sound. The two f shaped sound holes in the sound body allow sound vibrations to escape from the body of the instrument. The four strings made of catgut or fine spun metal is held in place by pegs at one end of the fingerboard and the tailpiece which is attached to the belly. There is a wooden bridge near the tailpiece which supports the strings. The bow is a flexible stick with horsehair stretched across, used to produce sound vibrations when moved on the strings.


A violinist holds the violin firmly under the chin on a chin rest fixed to the left of the tailpiece and raised slightly from the sound body. A pad is placed between the back of the violin and the body to strengthen the grip of the chin and collarbone on the violin if desired. A sound is produced when the violinist draws the bow with the right hand across the string(s). The left hand is used to finger the desired note and this is done by pressing the string (s) down along the fingerboard. The length of the string alters depending on where the finger is pressed and this will give the varied notes.

Before a violinist plays music, the violin needs to be tuned. Tuning is done using the four open strings and an external source such as another instrument eg piano or oboe or electric tuner. Each string is plucked and if they do not sound the same as the equivalent note on the other instrument or tuner then the pegs are turned either tighter or looser. The open or full-length strings of the violin are G D A E which are fifths apart ie the interval of G to D is a fifth and so on.

Once tuning is done then sounds are created. The sound of the violin is nearer to the human voice than any other instrument. The violin produces sounds ranging three and a half octaves and music is written on a treble clef stave. Violin players can play a wide range of music from solo playing to group playing in orchestras eg symphony, string and high school, string quartets, smaller jazz bands and more. It is interesting to note that a violin can be modified to become an electric violin where a lead attachment to the sound body is added. You hook a lead from the violin attachment to an amplifier thus creating a louder sound suitable for violinists to play the jazz-pop music of the twentieth and twenty-first century.

Let's go back in time to the sixteenth century. This is when violins first emerged. Some great violins were being made in Italy by people such as the Amati family from Cremona, namely Andrea, his sons Antonio and Girolamo, Girolamo's son Nicolo and Nicolo's son Girolamo. Andrea perfected the violin, his two sons made some changes but Nicolo was considered the greatest of the Amatis. He had pupils, Antonio Stradivari and Giuseppe Guarneri who produced great violins and passed the craft on to their families.
Italians also composed some great music for the violin and these included Arcangelo Corelli (1653 - 1713 ), Antonio Vivaldi (1678 - 1741 ) and Giuseppe Tartini (1692 -1770 ). Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 - 1750 ) from Germany composed three partitas for solo violin which was a landmark for solo violin. And this was just the beginning. There were many great violin composers over the years.
There were also many great violinists over the ages. These included the four Baroque composers mentioned above. Others included Joseph Haydn ( 1732 - 1809 ), Wolfgang Mozart ( 1719 - 1787 ), Niccolo Paganini ( 1732 - 1840, Joseph Joachin ( 1831 - 1907 ), Ludwig Spohr ( 1784 - 1859 ). George Enesco ( 1881 - 1955 ), Yehudi Menuhin ( 1916 - 1999 ) and Nigel Kennedy ( 1956 - ). Nigel Kennedy was a pupil at The Yehudi Menuhin School founded by Yehudi Menuhin in 1963. This is just a small example of violinists as the list is large.

Hope you have enjoyed reading the various violin facts of interest. As you can see the violin has had a good few hundred years of history with great creators, composers, and players. This small instrument with a wooden body, strings, and bow to help produce the sound can play some wonderful music once tuned, whether it be solo or in a group. It is a beautiful instrument to listen to.



Friday, June 15, 2018

The Many Styles Of JAZZ MUSIC

365-022 - evening in 5/4 time
Jazz MusicPhoto by ** RCB ** 
The essence of the appeal of Jazz music has expanded and became reinvented from the use of elements found in African drumming, spiritual and hymn music, bluegrass hillbilly music, blues, impressionist, and classical traits to newer sounds. Jazz music became popular on radio and underground clubs that influenced other parts of the world. For instance, Europe's French Jazz scene created Gypsy Jazz and South America's Brazilian and Afro-Cuban Jazz sounds.  Not only did make its mark on the world, but it also found its way back to its roots through urban contemporary gospel music of percussion as well as brass instruments.

Today the contemporary gospel music uses guitars, keyboard, piano, drums and brass instruments for their sound. One can usually tell during the ballads how Jazz chord harmonies are used in the keyboard and piano. The harmony in Barbershop music like Jazz came from the African American Black gospel church community which uses close four-part harmony without accompaniment.  This particular style of music without accompaniment is known as A capella.  The Mills Brothers were popular Jazz musicians who learned how this harmonization in the barbershop owned by their father.

In many Jazz groups such as Manhattan Transfer, New York Voices, Acoustix, Bara Vox, Beach Front, BR6 and more the harmonies are similar to that of barbershop. These harmonies are from the chromatic chordal harmony found in Jazz Music.  The group Take 6 has expanded the traditional four-part harmonies to six tones. Jazz Music did not stop there but grew into an array of different styles that produce different aesthetic appeal.

The aesthetic appeal can be found in how each part of the music makes one feel once heard. All the different elements from the lyrical content to the kaleidoscope of colorful harmony to the depth of the mood provides its own ambiance of sound. To give examples:

On the extent to which Jazz has expanded are listed below as new expressions to the music.

Vocalese - From 1952 to 1962 Eddie Jefferson and Jon Hendricks made their mark by using their vocals as a substitute for the musical instrument in the exact melody. Meaning, the voice imitated the exact solo of a saxophonist solo. It was not widely accepted until the musicians above made it popular.

Cool Jazz-  From the latter 1940's and 1950's a softer more gentle style of Jazz of both bop and swing with arranged harmonies that are present in Jazz ballads today.


Hard Bop-From the middle of 1950's the church's spiritual and gospel roots of African style returned to the Jazz music which assisted in the making of Rhythm and Blues. One example of this music is Davis' work titled "Walkin".

Mainstream- From the 1950's era, Jazz improvisation changed from single line melodic ornamentation to chordal which appeared again as a loose form of Jazz music in the later part of the 1970's and 1980's. This style was influenced by the cool, classical, and hard bop Jazz styles.



Thursday, June 14, 2018

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

violin strings, used and new, coiled on a work...
violin strings, used and new, coiled on a workbench (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Hello, today I am continuing with my series everything you need to know about violin from A-Z. Today we are on S for strings. A hundred years ago violin strings were made from sheep gut. First, you would have to take a newly killed sheep and disembowel it. You would have to stretch the intestines to their full 9 meters. You then had to knead out the offal by hand and soak the guts in water until they were soft and malleable. After that, you would strip and crush the guts and finally twist then into violin strings.

It was a disgusting painstaking job and thank heavens that era is behind us. Modern strings today are made with far easier and modern methods, although some players still use gut strings there are also now steel core strings and synthetic core strings. The type of strings you use will depend on the style of music that you play.

Gut strings today are not made entirely out of gut like in the old days; they are now wrapped with silver or copper wire which helps to stabilize the tone. Gut strings have a warm rich tone they take longer to stretch out than synthetics but once stretched out are generally quite stable. Gut strings are susceptible to bad weather and you will have to check the tuning of your violin if there is bad weather. Gut strings are generally used by violinists playing classical or baroque music.

Steel core strings are popular among non-classical players such as that playing country and bluegrass styles of music. Steel core strings have a very direct clear sound with few overtones. They also last longer and are mostly used for smaller or beginner instruments.

Synthetic core strings are made from synthetic materials such as high-tech nylons and composite materials they have the warm sound qualities of gut but are more stable in pitch.

Thicker strings give more volume and center tones, while thinner strings give brighter tones but less sustain.