Cultural Insider vs. Cultural Outsider – Week 3 – Ethnomusicology

Inside:

In 2005 an album was released that changed my life…I know it’s a big claim to make but it’s true. The band was MAE and the album was The Everglow. If you get a chance to listen to the entire album it’s worth the listen, and if you want to borrow it on vinyl, let me know. The entire album shares a common goal, telling a story. The insert that accompanied the Compact Disc was in fact a story book that the listener was suppose to follow along with as they listened to the album. It was an incredible story and disappoints few people.

I choose a song from this album because 1. I’ve had almost 14 years to digest it and 2. because the sound of this album is exactly what I love about music.

The song that I’m looking at in particular is “Somone Else’s Arms” which is the song that kicks off this rock record after the opening piano ballad. First of all, the structure of this song is so common and yet so unpredictable. The standard elements of form are present, there is a verse, chorus and bridge however, the song takes you by surprise by the pure musical genius arrangement of the instrumentation. Also, the predictable chord changes aid to the desire to be comfortable but the risky mixture of chords that don’t fit in the structure take you out of that comfortability for a brief moment. Next, the timbre of the guitars is so clean and bulky. It’s the perfect mixture of edgy and pop with a grudge base and alternative groove. After listening to the genius of the music, the lyrics that lay on top of the entire song are deep, heartfelt and actually have something to say. The lyrics throughout the entire record are contributing to the overall story of the character(s) which makes this song even more important because it’s setting up the story.

Finally, this song is just great and has a special place in my heart. Every time I hear it, it puts me in a nostalgic state which is one of those un-buyable riches. If you haven’t heard this song…or album for that matter, check it out below!

Outside:

I have much less to say about this style of music because it is out of my comfort zone. I first heard of this style of singing because it was mentioned in the show Frasier. I was so curious about what in fact it was that I had to explore it. I found that I did not like it.

The art of Throat singing is simply amazing however, it hurts my throat just thinking about it. Basically the way it works is the performer sings a bass note to lock in and then uses harmonic overtones to produce melodies with their throat.

It’s an amazing skill however, I don’t personally like it.

I do enjoy the timbre of the initial note from the performer but that enjoyment seems to slip away as my own throat starts to close up at the thought of pushing my vocal chords that hard.

I also have no relation to the form/structure to this style of singing, it’s constantly unpredictable to me which adds to my discomfort. I don’t understand why or how they sing like this but it’s obviously an incredible skill…it just gets to me in the wrong way. Check it out for your self!

Sources:

Mae

Week 2 – Sachs-Hornbostel instrument classification system

The Sachs-Hornbostel instrument classification system was created in the early 1900’s and is an extension of the original classifications using the orchestral system.

The Orchestral system has four categories which include of

  1. Strings
  2. Brass
  3. Wood Winds
  4. Percussion

The Sachs-Hornbostel system takes these (Orchestral) categories and elaborates on them to make more detailed categories, it also includes an additional category that includes electronic instruments.

The Sachs-Hornbostel system is categorized as follows:

Chordophone (Strings)

  • Violin
  • Viola
  • Shamisen
  • Koto

Aerophone (Brass & Wood Winds)

  • Didgeridoo
  • Shehnai
  • Melodica
  • Euphonium
  • Flugelhorn

Membranophones (Percussion)

  • Timpani
  • Concert Bass Drum
  • Concert Snare
  • Taiko Drums
  • Djembe

Idiophones (Instruments with no Membranes or strings, Instrument vibrating)

  • Maracas
  • Mallet instruments
  • Xylophone (Wood Keys)
  • Glockenspiel (Metal)
  • Marimba (Wood Keys)
  • Vibraphone (Metal)
  • Washboard
  • Rain Stick

Electrophones (Electronic Instruments)

  • Theremin
  • Synths
  • Laptops (Reason, FL, Pro Tools ect.)

Compare & Contrast

Aerophone (Brass & Wood Winds)

Didgeridoo:

The Didgeridoo is an Australian based instrument and can be 10 feet in length. The instrument requires the musician to circular breath in order to create a fluid experience for the listener. The instrument is usually cylindrical and the length of the instrument is crucial to it’s construction. Most of the time, the longer the Didgeridoo, the lower the pitch.

Shehnai:

The Shehnai is based out of India, Pakistan and Iran. It is a double reed Oboe with a metal flare bell on the end of the instrument. It is viewed as an instrument that carries a sound that represents sanctity and is commonly used in marriage ceremonies and temples.

Melodica:

The Melodica has been around since the 1950s and is popular in Asia and within reggae music. This instrument is considered apart of the Aerophone family because it functions like a WoodWind instrument. It is a free reed instrument in which the user blows air through the instrument and has a keyboard mechanism instead of a fingering mechanism that you would normally find in the traditional WoodWind family.  The instrument is primarily made out of plastic but has been constructed out of wood, however, wood versions of this instrument are not commonly used. Many people use these instruments as lead melodies within an ensemble, they have a piercing tone that can cut through a mixture of sounds.

Flugelhorn:

The flugelhorn was created in Germany in the late 1800s and was primarily an orchestral instrument. In the 1930s the flugelhorn was introduced into jazz music and eventually pop music. The instrument has three or four vales and a larger bell which offers a warmer tone with a fatter presence. The construction of the instrument is similar to a trumpet, which is why most trumpet players can play this instrument fairly easily. The flugelhorn is a welcomed addition to any ensemble and solo project, it is currently being used in top 40 hits to give their orchestra sections a bulkier sound.

Sources

DidgeridooShehnaiMelodicaFlugelhorn – Jewelry Genius/Wikipedia