Global Music, Music and Art – The Universal Language
Throughout history humans have used music as means to communicate, celebrate and preserve culutral traditons. Each of the world’s regions has its own unique sounds, instruments and purpose and has contributed and influenced world music as we know it. Today the fusion of global music is quickly becoming popular as more people seek to learn more about the world people around them. The ancient, beautiful traditions of music from countries throughout the world are emerging stronger then ever and forging ahead into the future of Global Music.
The OUD (Arabic العود, al-’ūd) is a pear-shaped stringed instrument commonly used in Middle Eastern music. The modern oud and the European lute both descend from a common ancestor via diverging evolutionary paths. The oud is readily distinguished by its lack of frets and smaller neck. According to Farabi, the oud was invented by Lamech, the sixth grandson of Adam. The legend tells that the grieving Lamech hung the body of his dead son from a tree. The first oud was inspired by the shape of his son’s bleached skeleton.
The oldest pictorial record of a lute dates back to the Uruk period in Southern Mesopotamia (modern Nasiriyah city), over 5000 years ago on a cylinder seal acquired by Dr. Dominique Collon and currently housed at the British Museum. The image depicts a female crouching with her instruments upon a boat, playing right-handed. This instrument appears many times throughout Mesopotamian history and again in ancient Egypt from the 18th dynasty onwards in long and short-neck varieties. One may see such examples at the Metropolitan Museums of New York, Philadelphia, Cleveland, and the British Museum on clay tablets and papyrus paper. This instrument and its close relatives have been a part of the music of each of the ancient civilizations that have existed in the Mediterranean and the Middle East regions, including the Sumerians, Akkadians, Persians, Kurds, Babylonians, Assyrians, Armenians, Jews, Greeks, Egyptians, and Romans.
KANOUN – The history of this instrument is a little ambiguous and there are many assumptions about its origins. Apparently, this instrument was first born in the Middle East by an Arabic philosopher named “Al Farabi”. The Kanoun is made of wood, fish skin, nylon chords and metal keys. Those keys’ function is the tuning, one of added features of the instrument by the Turks. In the beginning, tuning and changing from gamut to another was made by pressing the fingers down the chords. The adjustments made by the Turks facilitate the tuning process that alters the pitch of individual strings by eighth and quartertones: the tones lying between two chromatic semitones.
The usage of this instrument is limited for the oriental music such that its popularity is in the Arab world, Turkey, Persia and Eastern Europe. It belongs to the oriental chambre orchestra (Takht al charki) and it could be also used in the oxidant but unfortunately it is still unfamiliar to the western world.
KAMAN The European violin (also called Kaman/Kamanjah in Arabic) was adopted into Arab music during the second half of the 19th century, replacing an indigenous two-string fiddle that was prevalent in Egypt also called kamanjah. Although various tunings are used, the traditional Arab tuning is in fourths and fifths (G3, D4, G4, D5.) As a fretless instrument the violin can produce all shades of intonation of the Arabic maqam.
The playing style is highly ornate, with slides, trills, wide vibrato, and double stops, often using an open string as a drone. The timbre ranges from rich and warm, similar to the sound of the Western violin, to nasal and penetrating, reminiscent of the sound of the rababah, a type of Arab folk fiddle.
The violin is held both in the usual under-chin fashion and gamba style on the knee. Moroccans play gamba style and often Moroccans use the GDAE tuning.
Learn more here http://afropop.org/multi/feature/ID/69
DAF (Iran) A daf (Persian) is a large-sized frame drum used to accompany both popular and classical music in Iran, Iraq, Syria, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Kuhistoni Badakhshon of Tajikistan and other countries of the Middle East. Some dafs are equipped with rings or small cymbals, making them a form of tambourine.Many have no bangles.
The defi (sometimes called daire in other areas) is a fairly large frame drum with metal bangles. It is similar to a tambourine in construction; however, the defi is made with a metal screw system so that the head can be tightened and tuned. It is popular in many forms all over Greece, especially in the mainland klarino music. The defi is particularly popular in the Epiros region of northwestern Greece, where they are still handmade today
The earliest evidence of the daf dates back to Sassanid Iran. The Pahlavi (an ancient Iranic language) name of the daf is dap. The word daf is therefore the Arabicized form of the word dap. Some pictures of dap have been found in the paintings to be painted before the birth of Christ. The presence of Iranian dap in the reliefs of Behistun is enlightening and is hard proof that dafs existed long before the rise of Islam. Dafs were part of religious music in Iran much before Sufism. In fact, Iranian music has always been a spiritual tool
Learn more here http://www.turath.org/ProfilesMenu.htm
NEY The nay ( nai, nye, ney) is a simple, long, end-blown flute that is the main wind instrument of Middle Eastern music and the only wind instrument in classical Arabic music. It is very ancient instrument. The nay is literally as old as the pyramids. Ney players are seen in wall paintings in the Egyptian pyramids and neys have been found in the excavations at Ur in Iraq. Thus, the ney has been played continuously for 4,500-5,000 years. It is one of the oldest musical instruments still in use.
The nay is made of a piece of hollow cane or reed (nay is an old Persian word for reed) with five or six finger holes. Modern nays may be made of metal. Pitch differs, depending on the region and the finger arrangement. A highly skilled ney player can reach as many as three octaves, though it is more common to have several ney players in a traditional orchestra to cover different ranges. In the Arab world, the nay is sometimes called qassaba, which also means piece of reed.
Learn more here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ney
RIQ The riq (Arabic: رق) (also spelled riqq or rik) is a type of tambourine used as a traditional instrument in Arabic music. It is an important instrument in both folk and classical music throughout the Arabic-speaking world. It traditionally has a wooden frame (although in the modern era it may also be made of metal), jingles, and a thin, translucent head made of fish or goat skin (or, more recently, a synthetic material).
The frame of the riq can be covered on both the inner and outer sides with inlay such as mother-of-pearl, ivory or decorative wood, like apricot or lemon. It has ten pairs of small cymbals (about 4 cm in diameter), mounted in five pairs of slits. The skin of a fish or goat is glued on and tightened over the frame, which is about 6 cm deep. In Egypt the riq is usually 20 cm wide; in Iraq it is slightly larger.
Traditionally, frame drums have been used to support the voices of singers, who manipulate them themselves; but the player of the riq, like that of the doira of Uzbekistan, plays without singing.
Learn more here http://www.x8drums.com/v/blog/2007/04/riq-vs-tambourine.asp
Erhu is a kind of violin (fiddle) with two strings which, together with zhonghu, gaohu, sihu, etc, belongs to the “huqin” family. It is said that its origin would be dated up to the Tang dynasty (618-907) and related to the instrument, called xiqin originated from a Mongolian tribe Xi. During Song dynasty (960-1279), the instrument was introduced to China and was called “Ji Qin”. Soon the second generation of the huqin was among the instruments played at the imperial banquets. During the Dynasties of Yuan (1206-1368), Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911), the erhu underwent a great development at the time of the golden age of the local operas. The erhu then developed in a different “schools”. Two famous artists Hua Yanjun (1893-1950) and Liu Tianhua (1895-1932) made an exceptional contribution to the improvement of the erhu, and it was indeed due to the latter that the erhu, an instrument mainly for accompaniment in an opera, becomes a solo instrument. After the foundation of People’s Republic of China (1949), the manufacture of the erhu, the playing techniques, the repertoire as well as the musical education of this instrument have undergone an unpresidented development. The repertoire has grown rapidly in the genres of solo, with ensemble as well as concerti with symphony orchestra. Erhu now has become one of the most popular instruments in China.
The sound body of the erhu is a drum-like little case usually made of ebony or sandalwood and snake skins. It usually has a hexagonal shape with the length of approximately 13 cm. The front opening is covered with skin of python (snake) and that of the back is left open. The functions of this case of resonance are to amplify the vibrations of the strings. The neck of the erhu is about 81 cm long and is manufactured with the same materials as the drum. The top of the stem is bent for decoration. The two strings of the erhu is usually tuned D and A. The two tuning handles (pegs) are found close to the end of the stem. There is no frets (as contrast to the lute) or touching board (as contrast to violin). The player creates different pitches by touching the strings at various positions along the neck of the instrument. The strings are usually made of silk or nylon. Nowadays, metal strings are commonly used. The bow is 76 cm long and is manufactured of reed which one curves during cooking, and arched with horse hair in the same way as the bow of violin. However, in the case of erhu, the horse hair runs between the two strings. In another word, one cannot take off the bow from the instrument unless one of the two strings is taken off or broken.
Learn more about Chinese music here http://www.global-music.org/india/soloists03.htm
SOUTH-EAST ASIAN MUSIC (India and Afghanistan)
TABLA The tabla (or tabl, tabla) is a popular percussion instrument used in Hindustani classical music and in popular and devotional music of the Indian subcontinent. The instrument consists of a pair of hand drums of contrasting sizes and timbres. The term tabla is derived from an Arabic word, tabl, which simply means “drum.” Playing technique involves extensive use of the fingers and palms in various configurations to create a wide variety of different sounds, reflected in the mnemonic syllables (bol). The heel of the hand is used to apply pressure or in a sliding motion on the larger drum so that the pitch is changed during the sound’s decay.
Learn more here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Music_of_Afghanistan
RABAB The rabab is the national instrument of Afghanistan used in ancient court music, as well as modern day art and entertainment music. It has three main strings and a number of sympathetic strings over a hollow neck and a goat-skin resonator. It has a very deep body making it a bit awkward to hold. Rababs come in different sizes depending on the region they are found. The Afghan rabab is also found in northern India and Pakistan, probably due to the Afghan rule in those regions in the 18th Century. The rabab was the precursor to the Indian sarod, which is regarded as one of India’s most important instruments. Watch Salar Nader’s live performance with Homayun Sakhi here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uMHwr-jtaAo
Learn more here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rubab
KORA (Guinea) A kora is built from a large calabash cut in half and covered with cow skin to make a resonator, and has a notched bridge like a lute or guitar. The sound of a kora resembles that of a harp, though when played in the traditional style, it bears a closer resemblance to flamenco and delta blues guitar techniques. The player uses only the thumb and index finger of both hands to pluck the strings in polyrhythmic patterns (using the remaining fingers to secure the instrument by holding the hand posts on either side of the strings). Ostinato riffs (“Kumbengo”) and improvised solo runs (“Birimintingo”) are played at the same time by skilled players.
Djeli Madi Wuleng is traditionally linked to the origins of the kora in the early 19th century. However, the earliest European reference to the kora in Western literature is in Travels in Interior Districts of Africa (1799) by the Scottish explorer Mungo Park. The most likely scenario, based on Mandinka oral tradition, suggests that the origins of the Kora may ultimately be linked with Jali Mady Fouling Cissoko, some time after the founding of Kaabu in the 16th century.
In the late 20th century, a 25-string model of the kora was developed, though it has been adopted by only a few players, primarily in the region of Casamance, in southern Senegal. An electric instrument modeled on the kora (but made primarily of metal) called the gravikord was invented in the late 20th century by instrument builder and musician Robert Grawi. The gravikord has been adopted by African kora players such as Foday Musa Suso, who featured it in recordings with jazz innovator Herbie Hancock and with his band Mandingo.
Learn more here http://www.morykante.com
TALKING DRUM (Nigeria) Talking drums are some of the oldest instruments used by west African griots and their history can be traced back to ancient Ghana Empiretimes. The Hausa people (and by influence, the Yoruba people of south western Nigeria and Benin and the Dagomba of northern Ghana) have developed a highly sophisticated genre of griot music centering on the talking drum. Many variants of the talking drum exist, with essentially the same construction mentioned above. Interestingly, this construction is limited to within the contemporary borders of West Africa, with exceptions to this rule being northern Cameroon and western Chad; areas which have shared populations belonging to groups predominant in their bordering West African countries, such as the Kanuri, Djerma, Fulani and Hausa.
ITALIAN FOLK MUSIC
Bottari Drums – Sacred Rhythms of the South – Italy is a country where, musically at least, the regional identities are much stronger than any national feeling. There are huge regional differences, from the passionate sound of tarantella to the measured male polyphonic singing that characterizes Sardinia or the almost Celtic melodies of the north.
Perhaps the place to start is in the center of the country, which combines the major modes of northern Italian music with the minor, Arabic-influenced sounds of the South. It’s an area that’s populous and more urban, and so it carries less of a musical history. You can still find a pair of ancient traditions, the vocal ottava rima, a kind of chanted peasant poetry, and the saltarello dance. But for the most part, roots music in central Italy is a product of the folk revival that began at the end of the 1960s, in the wake of 1950s field recordings by a number of musicologists, including American Alan Lomax. A number of early revival musicians, such as Gastone Pietrucci and Sara Modigliani, are still active on the folk scene. Central Italy is also the home of organetto music, the light melodeon sound that often seems the essence of Italy to foreigners, especially when played by people like the great Riccardo Tesi.
To the south, the tarantolati, a healing ritual whose roots probably predate Christianity, is an ancient ceremony of rhythm and ecstatic dancing (in a curious 12/8 time), meant to cure the female dancers of possession resulting from the bite of the tarantula spider. With its own songs and rhythms (and sexual symbolism), it’s something unique to the region, but which has been exported around the world in recent years. The city of Naples harbors not only strong politics, which mixed with music in the 1970s in the hands of E’Zize (and continues to do so with offshoot Spaccanapoli), but also Neopolitan song, a hybrid of folk and classical music that’s grown from rural roots, dancing to frame drums (an echo of tarantella), and a farming percussion that uses scythes and staves on barrels, which has been very well modernized by musician Enzo Avitabile. You can hear the zampogna bagpipes, and in Puglia, the brass bands have proved very popular, with a large number across the region—even spreading to Sicily with the adventurous Banda Ionica. But in the sharp dryness of Southern Italian music you can hear the way those minor Middle Eastern modes have become a part of the landscape.
Learn more about Italian Folk Music here http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio3/womad2004/enzo_avitabile.shtml