Saturday, March 24, 2018

The Beginnings Of MUSIC - The Romans

Seated woman playing a kithara. From Room H of...
Seated woman playing a kithara.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Romans had little or no musical genius, and they were content to take their music, like every other artistic element of their national life, from the Greeks. The Greek was the child of nature, refined and educated through his own innate sense of beauty and fitness; The Roman was a barbarian civilized with the civilization of the barrack-yard and the camp. So it's safe to say that the Romans music was just a rehashed version of the Greeks music.

To the Greek, Art of any kind was something great and almost holy. To the Roman, Art of any kind was just for relaxation. Roman music is simply Greek music in a corrupted condition, absolutely no artistic value whatsoever.

The only influence upon music by the Romans was in the development of wind instruments. A race of fighting men, the Romans regarded military music more seriously than any other branch of the art; essentially practical men, they could readily appreciate its usefulness ; and, in this respect, they remind one of the elderly warriors who expressed that music was all very well on parade, but should not be allowed to interfere with conversation.

In the Roman armies trumpets of various kinds were used, some of them being of immense proportions. All the military musical instruments were of brass, and comprised the tuba, a straight trumpet something like a modern post-horn in shape; the cornu, or horn, bent nearly in the form of a circle; the lituus, or Clarion, slightly bent at the end; and the buccina, shaped like the horn, but of much greater size, the tube being about twelve feet long. Of these, the tuba was used by the infantry, the lituus by the cavalry.

The most interesting feature in connection with Roman musical life is its wide distribution across the world. This has ever since remained a prominent characteristic of musical art. Into Rome drained all the wealth, knowledge, and luxury of the known world.

Greek philosophers and artists, Egyptian priests, men of all races from across the Alps, Jewish converts to Christianity, fleeing from persecution in their own country, all gravitated towards Rome. It was among these warring influences that the early Christian Church, preserver, and regenerator of music, was quietly growing in power and influence; and, with the coming of Christianity, music no longer belonged to one country but to the whole world.

Friday, March 23, 2018


Marching band parading in the streets of Vienn...
A marching band parading in the streets of Vienna, Austria (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Marching bands have been around for hundreds of years, and in the UK they were usually connected to the Military. Troops would be led into battle by drummers, buglers or pipers, and these instruments were used to give signals for retreating, etc. Indeed, even during WWII platoons of fighting troops were led off the landing craft and up the beaches of France by a piper. Military bands still have an important role in today's armed forces, but mainly for ceremonial purposes, as often seen on Beating Retreat, Trooping the Colour or the Edinburgh Tattoo.

Various styles of marching bands are now in existence. In the UK we tend to have traditional marching bands, consisting of snare drums (with either bottom snares or both top and bottom snares such as the Premier 1049-S), bass drum, tenor drums, cymbals and then tuned instruments such as bell lyres, bugles, valve trumpets and other brass and woodwind. Such bands are often used by organizations including the scouts, air training corps, sea cadet corps etc and are a familiar sight at parades and festivals in British towns.

Another big part of marching music comes from Pipebands, which of course originated in Scotland but are now popular all over the world with many top bands coming from Canada and the USA. Whilst the melodies are played by bagpipes, the drum corps has a very important role to play, often with 6 or more snare drummers playing extremely complex rudimental phrases on High Tension snare drums (such as the Pearl FFXP or Premier HTS800). These drums have kevlar drumheads tuned up to an incredibly high pitch, so the drums have to be extremely strong to withstand the huge forces put upon them.These drums also have snare wires under both the top and bottom heads, giving a very crisp and clean tone which will pick up even the softest of grace notes. A bass drum of around 28" is used to keep the pulse of the band, whilst tenor drums add intricate mid-range tones, often using 3 or more tenor drums of different sizes and pitches. Some tenor players such as Tyler Fry have taken tenor drumming to a whole new level.

A huge growth area in the world marching scene comes from the American style Drum Corps or showbands.The drum corps usually have not only snare drums and a selection of various sized bass drums, but also multi - tenors/quads, cymbals, and a pit at the front featuring a range of tuned percussion such as marimbas, xylophones, bells etc. The rest of the band is made up of brass players. These bands tend to play some extremely complex musical arrangements and are a big part of the music education system in the USA.

Marching snare drums have changed dramatically over the last 100 years or so, from crude drums with rope tuned calf heads to today's high tension models made from the finest birch, maple, or even carbon fiber, with kevlar or mylar drumheads and hardware manufactured from lightweight aircraft-grade aluminum.

The British Military Bands of HM Forces still have huge popularity both at home and abroad. Tourists in London will often see the bearskins and red tunics of the bands of the Guards divisions on duty around Buckingham Palace, whilst the Drummers of the Royal Marines continue to wow audiences worldwide with their incredible skills and drumming displays. The musicians of Her Majestys bands tend to be extremely talented and versatile players capable of performing many different styles of music... indeed as an example, a member of the Central Band of the Royal Air Force may find themselves performing with a full military band one day, a fanfare team the next day, and swinging with the RAF Squadronaires dance band in the evening! Despite their musical skills, however, these men and women are soldiers first and undergo the same military training as everyone else.

For drummers looking to start playing with a marching band, there are a few avenues... Youths can apply to their local Air Cadets, Army Cadets, Boys brigade or Sea Cadet band who will provide an instrument and tuition, with the possibility of performing too many varied audiences. For adults, most towns have either a pipe band or drum corps, and they will always welcome new members. Most Bands have a website, and these can be found under headings such as British Youth Band Association (BYBA) and Traditional Youth Marching Band Association (TYMBA) or for pipe bands the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association (RSPBA).

Thursday, March 22, 2018

COUNTRY GUITAR Lesson, Blues Guitar Riffs, Metal guitar and the BEATLES Effect

English: Photograph of The Beatles as they arr...
Photograph of The Beatles as they arrive in New York City in 1964  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Country Guitar Lesson, Blues Guitar Riff´s, Metal Guitar and the Beatles effect; what has the Beatles got to do with it? I hear you say.

Well firstly the Beatles incorporated and used all the different styles in their music, and in their songs, but not only that, they also changed what was acceptable in music and what was not acceptable.

Paul McCartney´s father was a concert pianist, and when Paul was sat at the piano composing a song, his father would come into the room and say to him “Paul, you can’t do that, it´s against the rules of music”, and Paul would say in return “well I don´t care it sounds good to me”, so he did it anyway.

A lot of what the Beatles did at the time was considered unacceptable by the musical academic´s, but it was obviously acceptable to the record-buying public. It was not unusual for the Beatles to have more than one record in the top ten in England at the time, and not only that but they often occupied number 1 and number 2 positions as well.

Paul and John were real innovators of music; they used unusual key changes together with unusual chords and complex chord changes, as well as total shifts in tempo, and sometimes two songs were mixed together, for example, “A Day In The Life” was two totally different songs, one written by Paul and the other one written by John, but it worked, it has to be heard to be believed.

In the song Hello Goodbye, the ending was achieved by playing the song backward which again works. They introduced guitar feedback although it was by total accident, as George Harrison had left his guitar leaning against his amplifier whilst recording I Feel Fine, they left it on the record as they felt it was unusual and they liked the effect it had. Also in I Feel Fine was a great guitar riff that George played throughout the song which was again unusual.

Although Paul and John overshadowed George and Ringo, this was not intentional; in fact George was a good songwriter in his own right, just think of songs like Something (in the way she moves) and Here Comes The Sun, and quite a few other songs including While My Guitar Gently Weeps, on which he had his friend Eric Clapton play lead guitar.

George Harrison was also a perfectionist; he would practice his guitar parts until his fingers bled on occasions. It was also George Harrison that inspired me and many others to learn guitar, and play it in his style of using mainly bar chords.

The Beatles also inspired many other bands and musicians around the world, even T.V. shows were inspired by the Beatles, think of the Monkeys who show ran for quite some time. The Beatles were also the first ever British artists to make it big in America, and no other British artist has topped that to this day.

Yes, the Beatles were controversial at the time, particularly when John Lennon commented that they were better known than Jesus Christ, which was wildly misinterpreted, and it led to people burning their Beatles records and memorabilia in the streets.

In my opinion, the Beatles were a landmark in music, they changed what was acceptable and what was not, and they changed the way that country guitar lessons are now being taught as well as blues guitar riffs, and they led the way forward in metal guitar music.

No other band or artist has been able to influence music, to the degree that the Beatles had, in particular, guitar music, and in the way, that guitar playing is being taught now. So hopefully you can see what I mean by the Beatles effect!

I hope that you have enjoyed this article, and indeed you may even want to comment on it, as I know that some people may feel strongly about the Beatles both, in a good way and sometimes in a not so good way; however I will welcome all comments, and also say that the things written here are only my opinion.

Keep on playing,

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

MUSICAL TOYS For Pure Fun And Learning

English: A boy with a toy trumpet in front of ...

A boy with a toy trumpet in front of a street band (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Toys are a kid's friend, in so many ways. Apart from the fun and amusement it offers, they hold a special place in every child's memory about their childhood. From dolls to Robots, the variety of toys now available is rapidly increasing. The variety of toys and playthings are now limited only by the creativity of manufacturers and the demand of the consumers.

Musical toys have become popular for its known contribution to the child's social and personal development. Music has its impact on a child even during the infancy stage. Musical toys are a common sight at playschools, learning centers, schools, and homes too. Since at early age sound plays an important role to teach young kids motor skills, alphabets, numbers and other basic concepts, various toys like musical books and Rhymes DVD etc are used. Some of the common musical toys for toddlers include - drum sets, a toy piano, sing-along song CDs, toy trumpet, mini guitar, handbells, Xylophones and interactive musical alphabets and number games.

Toys like vehicles and musical instruments find there a way in children's collection throughout their childhood. From being a toddler to a teenager, one can find all kinds of musical toys and gadgets in a typical toy collection of any child. One of the characteristics of the musical toys that have made them popular with parents as well is that any given musical toy can be used for fun and amusement and can be used for adapted play and be learning too. Even a simple Rhythm set can be used to teach different concepts like numbers, colors, and shapes by assigning a different sound to a different number, color or a shape. A lot of creative adaptations are possible with musical toys and they are best options to help children learn with fun and in an informal way.

Elementary education has found a friend in musical toys. If you are a parent or involved in early childhood education you would know what we are talking about here. Music knows no boundaries and it easily transcends every age and culture too. Creative musical books are considered as multi-purpose learning teaching musical resource for the entire early education environment. A lot of music books come with split activities to suit different ages including songs and activities for younger babies, older babies, and toddlers. A little beyond elementary education musical instrument toys for children beyond 3 are an excellent source to teach children reading, writing and math. With the advent of teaching-learning software for various subjects like language, math, and science, the difficult concepts are broken down into easily understandable interactive units.

Musical toys have gradually found its way into sophisticated computer games and specific skill learning software where the audio-visual features employ concepts like artificial intelligence. The bottom line is music is something that is relevant for all ages and is widely appreciated by children of all ages. Hence they have gained popularity among parents and other stakeholders in the field of training and education.

    Victor Epand is an expert consultant about kids toys, stuffed animals, and dolls.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Understanding Tone Production on the FLUTE in Easy Words

Photo  by angelaathomas 
The flute is one of the most difficult instruments on which to produce a good tone. This is because the flute is the only instrument that relies solely on the performer's ability to direct his or her air column accurately and simultaneously continue to create space in his or her body for the sound to resonate. 

The other wind instruments have mouthpieces or reeds to guide their air, and the string family has a bow and resonating box built into the instrument that assists tone production. Understanding 3 basic principles will help beginning and intermediate flute players to both improve their tone on the instrument and make the good tone a consistent part of their playing.

The first principle of good tone is to get as much of your bottom lip on the lip plate as possible. Draw the corners of your lips forward so that they are hugging the lip plate. Do NOT pull them back in a smiling position. Bringing the corners of your lips forward creates more space in your mouth, therefore contributing to the size of your "resonating box". As a flute player, your resonating box consists of the sinus cavity, the space in your mouth and throat, and the chest cavity. This simple act also allows you to engage all of the muscles around your mouth area, which will give you more strength and flexibility when you attempt to change octave.

The second principle of good tone is to understand register production. The flute is capable of playing comfortably in 3 registers - low, middle, and high. It is the direction of your air column (the stream of air you are blowing over the tone hole) that will produce the register you are seeking to play. This should be the primary way you change your register. If you blow your air down, or more directly into the tone hole, you will produce the low register. 

The middle register is produced by blowing your air straight out across the tone hole (a parallel line from the hole you are making with your lips), and the high register is produced by directing your air column up like you are trying to blow a bee off of your nose. Other factors will contribute to the production of the different registers, but they should not be your primary focus because you will find that they all have their primary functions. For example, if you increase the size of the hole you are making with your lips, you will find the low register, but you will have also affected the color and pitch of your tone.

The third principle of good tone is to play with good, relaxed posture. Remember, the flute requires the performer's body to be its resonating box. Therefore, a flutist must sit up straight in his or her chair, or stand tall, when playing. Also, the flute requires the left arm of the player to reach across his or her body. A flutist must always remember to keep his or her shoulders square so that this arm does not decrease the size of the box around the lungs. The performer should attempt to play with as little tension in his or her muscles as possible so that tightened muscles do not inhibit the ability of the body to vibrate.

Of course, all of these techniques take practice and time to master, but with careful attention, determination, and practice, every flutist can play with the beautiful tone he or she desires.