Field Work Study: Phase 3 – Ireland

The Goal

I would like to make a documentary about the different music that is present within Irelands pubs stretching from Dublin to Galway, dealing with influence of traditional Irish music and the influence of folklore.

This trip would be about 4 and a half weeks in this beautiful country to not only explore music, but also get beautiful B-roll of castles and landscapes that are nearby the pubs we are visiting.

Research and Pre-Production

Once I had established the overall goal that I wanted to accomplish with this documentary, I needed to ask a few questions. What else is out there in the world of Irish Ethnomusicology that I could add too? If I can’t find a specific subject to add too, What can I research to give me a deeper understanding of the Irish culture? Where do I go to find this information?

I was lucky enough to find a great wealth of information through The International Council for Traditional Music (Founded in 1947) website.

“The International Council for Traditional Music (ICTM) is a UNESCO NGO (non governmental organisation), and is one of the largest and most international, organisations for the study of traditional music and dance in culture. Its aims are “to further the study, practice, documentation, preservation and dissemination of traditional music, including folk, popular, classical and urban music, and dance of all countries.” (ictm.ie)

This resource not only provides a list of opportunities of formal education in Ethnomusicology and Ethnochoreology but also contributes a vast array of organized and professional fieldwork. This field work consists of a compact disc with various examples of traditional irish music among other things and several updated scholarly journal entries.

One of these scholarly journal entries that I found particular informative was that of Jessica Cawley. Ms. Cawley presented a journal entitled “Musical Development in Irish Traditional Music: An Exploration Of Family Influences” (ictm.ie). This was a great starting point to further understand my overall goal, which is finding the heart of Irish Music and sharing it through the medium of film.

“I used an open-ended, informal interview method, which allowed the musicians to freely discuss the learning experiences that they felt were the most influential. Many of my questions were broad in nature. The first question, for instance, was: ‘Throughout your life, what do you consider the greatest influences to your musicianship?’ Answers to this primary question were diverse, and the interviewee’s narratives revealed numerous experiences engaging with friends, family, teachers, commercial recordings, ensembles (céilí, marching bands and other groups), traditional music sessions, festivals, and classes. In response to the first question, eight musicians explicitly and directly listed their families as a major influence on their musical development. Over the course of the entire interview, a further ten musicians stated their families played an influential role in their development…” (Cawley, pg. 2)

My crew and I would like to take a similar approach to this open ended format in which we let the interviewee talk freely about their influences of family, environment and folklore in their music. We believe the information that we gain from these filmed interviews will be of great significance to the world of Ethnomusicology.

Pubs on the Itinerary

My crew and I will travel through 4 different pubs in Ireland. Initially, we will have four pubs on our list to visit. However, we will be on the lookout for pubs on our way to the next destination or try and visit pubs that have been recommended by word of mouth while in the country.

1. The Stags Head (Dublin, Ireland)

“The Stags Head is the backbone of Dublin’s Temple Bar neighborhood. The 19th-century spacious room has a long mahogany bar ideal for large parties. Despite the pub’s size, whiskey casks in the walls and a Renaissance-style wood ceiling give the bar a cozy feel. It has also been a popular drinking place for famous people past and present including James Joyce, Quentin Tarantino and Irish political leader Michael Collins. The Stags Head has live traditional music every night in its music venue (called the Stag’s Tail) below the main bar. And if you want a more intimate setting, book the old Victorian smoking lounge tucked behind the main bar.”(Travel Channel)

2. Clancy’s, Athy (Kildare)

“Clancy’s is considered one of the great music pubs of eastern Ireland. Every Thursday night, somewhere between 12 and 15 musicians now congregate here. They play fiddles, bodhráns, flutes and mandolins, and sing songs about long-gone tyrants, rising moons and rose-peppered valleys. The tobacco-stained walls are pasted with scores from songbooks, classical and traditional. The audience sways upon scruffy benches and assorted chairs, tapping their heels on the wide-plank floor and allowing their voices to join in with the repetition of each rousing chorus.” (The Guardian)

3. Gus O’Connors (Doolin, Ireland (Clare))

“…one of the most famous pubs in Ireland. The pub is located in the heart of the picturesque village of Doolin, set amongst the rolling hills of West Clare, a stones throw from the Atlantic Ocean.”(gusoconnorsdoolin.com)

4. The Crane (Galway)

“The Crane Bar on Sea Road is one of Galway’s best known traditional music pubs. It has long been a haunt of those who love to play and those who love to listen to them.
Situated in the ‘Small Crane’ Square, The Crane Bar offers music nightly both upstairs and down.” (Thecranebar.com)

Time in the Emerald Isle

We will plan to spend one week in each location, however, if we capture what we need then we will move on. We will have three days for shooting at various times in order to capture the feeling and the culture of each pub location. We will be getting talking heads from the pub staff (Owner, manager, floor staff) and the musicians. My crew will not only capture interviews of these people but also capture the live performance of the musicians.

Compensation

It is still undecided among the crew about what the compensation should be for the musicians music that we capture and/or the bars that we film in. Obvious compensation will include full credits on the final project of the documentary, market promotion opportunities and most likely some sort of financial contribution that is currently undetermined. The musicians will get a copy of their performances once the film has been made and they will have joint copyright to the footage.

The Crew

This adventure will take 6 total people including myself. The crew is as follows:

1. Director/Producer – Rebecca Noles/Nathanael Sams

2. Sound Operator – Nathanael Sams

3. DP/Camera Operator – Ethan Borden

4. Production Designer – Alisha Noles

5. Production Assistant – David J. Rodriguez

6. Media Manager (In charge of Dailies, Footage Management, Hard Drives ect.) – Josh Luna

The Gear

Since this is a documentary, We need high quality equipment, this includes camera gear and audio gear.  I’ve selected very portable items for the crew to carry around when in the country.

Cameras:

Canon EOS 5D Mark III DSLR – $ 3,300 (Already Purchased)

Lenses: Zeis Prime (Rentals) – $1,500

Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera – $1,000

4 Go Pros – $400×4

Aerial Drone – $150

Great for aerial shots of the surrounding country

Audio Gear:

Fostex FM-4 4-In/2-Out Portable Field Mixer – $2,800

Lots of flexibility

Rode NT4 – $650

Stereo Microphone

Music Recordings

Rode NTG-3 – $699

Adverse Weather Conditions

Talking Heads

Bose QC15 – 2 Pair – $600

Great headphones to isolate incoming audio (1 Sound         Operator/1 Director)

Pelican Cases for gear – around $1,000

Protection for all of our gear.

SD Cards, Hard Drives, Batteries, Cables – $1,000

Instrumentation We Expect To See

Uillean Pipes

“Disassembled for storage, the uilleann pipes consist of the bag, the bellows and strap, a chanter pipe, three drone pipes, and—in full sets—an additional three pipes fitted with a series of large metal keys. These additional pipes, called “regulators,” allow the player to produce the chords that are the uilleann pipes’ most distinctive feature.” (Miller, Shahriari pg. 310)

Concertina

“A concertina is a free-reed musical instrument, like the various accordions and the harmonica. More distantly related, but still in the same family, are the harmonium and American reed organ (a/k/a pump organ or parlor, It has a bellows, and buttons typically on both ends of it. When pressed, the buttons travel in the same direction as the bellows, unlike accordion buttons, which travel perpendicularly to the bellows.” (Wikipedia)

Fiddle

“One of the most important instruments in the traditional repertoire, the fiddle (or violin – there is no physical difference) is played differently in widely varying regional styles.[3] It uses the standard GDAE tuning.” (Wikipedia)

 Acoustic Guitar

Documentary Questionair

The following are sample questions that will be asked to the musicians and Pub staff (Owner, manager, staff, regulars) about the influence of music in these pubs.

Interview Questions for Musicians: 

What do you classify your music as?

What influences does your music have?

How does this country influence your music?

What are your songs about?

What stories (if any) do your songs mimic? Are they influenced by Ireland folklore?

Why do you sing about these things?

What is your overall desire for your music? How do you want it to affect people?

Questions for Pub Staff

How do you pick the musicians that play in this pub?

What is important to you as someone who is defining the overall feeling or respect to the pubs culture for the musicians to accomplish?

Explain why music is important to this pub? Too this country?

Tell a story that is significant to this pubs history dealing with music.

Do you think Irish folklore has an influence on this pub and the music it provides?

The Budget

Gear for the documentary (Cameras, Audio Gear, Media Storage ext.) = $11,000

Flights = Approximately $6,000

SEA to Dublin Flights 6 Adults

Per Diam = $50

4.5 weeks of Per Diam/Per Person = $ 1,600

Total Perdiam Costs = $9,600

Travel Expenses (Car, Gas, Transit, Insurance, Housing)= +$30,000

Total Budget Estimate for trip: Approximately $60,000

At the end of the trip costs will be added to the budget estimate based on post production procedures and marketing. Estimate for overall cost of film is around $100,000

Investors

The nature of this content leads us to believe that we would be able to raise the money through the help of individuals through the website Kickstarter.  We would initiate a campaign that highlights our goals and aspirations for the project and have incentives for investors and supporters that will interest them in supporting this project.  We will set the financial goal of the project to $100,000 and hope to exceed this initial goal.

Dissemination

The final product in which we demonstrate our findings will be in the form of a documentary film. We anticipate this film to be available in select theaters throughout the US and available digitally for the world. We would also like to enter our final piece of work into several film festivals. Our overall goal of this project is to add to the already vast amount of information about Irish music and highlight the culture and influences of this music in the environments of pubs across the country of Ireland.

Sources:

The International Council for Traditional Music –  http://www.ictm.ie/?page_id=2

The Stag’s Head – http://www.travelchannel.com/interests/food-and-drink/articles/top-5-pubs-in-ireland

Clancy’s – http://www.theguardian.com/travel/2008/oct/23/ireland-bars-top10-traditional

Gus O’Connors – http://www.gusoconnorsdoolin.com/about-us/

The Crane – http://www.thecranebar.com/pages.php?page=2

Concertina – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concertina

Fiddle – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Music_of_Ireland

Uilleann Pipes – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uilleann_pipes

Miller, Terry E., and Andrew C. . Shahriari. World Music: A Global Journey. New York: Routledge, 2012. Print.

Field Work Study – Ireland – Phase 2

The Details of the trip.

For this adventure, I will need a crew of 6 people.

1. Director/Producer

2. Sound Operator

3. DP/Camera Operator

4. Production Designer

5. Production Assistant

6. Media Manager (In charge of Dailies, Footage Management, Hard Drives ect.)

Since this is a documentary, I need high quality equipment, this includes camera gear and audio gear.  I’ve selected very portable items for the crew to carry around when in the country.

Cameras:

Canon EOS 5D Mark III DSLR – $ 3,300

Lenses (Rent)

Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera – $1,000

Audio Gear:

Fostex FM-4 4-In/2-Out Portable Field Mixer – $2,800

Lots of flexibility

Rode NT4 – $650

Stereo Microphone

Music Recordings

Rode NTG-3 – $699

Adverse Weather Conditions

Talking Heads

Bose QC15 – 2 Pair – $600

Great headphones to isolate incoming audio (1 Sound Operator/1 Director)

Pelican Cases for gear – around $1,000

Protection for all of our gear.

Flight Estimate.

Our first stop will be Dublin, Ireland to visit the pub known as “The Stags Tail”. We will depart from Seattle in May and be in Ireland for several weeks traveling around the country to different pubs and gathering footage. Below is a photo of the estimated cost for 6 adults.

SEA to Dublin Flights 6 Adults

Field Work Study: Phase 1 – Ireland

I’ve always wanted to go to Ireland. There are a few reasons for this, 1. I have red hair and typically wonder if I’m from that area. I’ve always thought, I wonder if I were to go to Ireland if I would feel at home? 2. I fell in love with the movie “Darby O’Gill and the Little People” (Disney, 1959). Thinking about which country in the world I would love to go to and explore it from an ethnomusicologist’s perspective, I couldn’t get the song “Pretty Irish Girl” from the film out of my head.

There is a very deep and rich culture within the Irish culture to explore, I haven’t decided weather I want to go classic and explore traditional Irish music or if I want to go with the goal of traveling to various pubs getting a glimps at drinking songs and folk singing. This first phase is all about looking at a few different key elements that Irelands history has to offer in order to make my visit there more focused and rewarding. I also would like to stay there for an extended amount of time, I’m thinking about spending 6 months in this beautiful country to not only explore music, but also explore castles.

“Irish music is one of the world’s most developed melodic traditions. The repertory is vast, though numerous individual tunes may be variants of other tunes. Sometimes the same tune is known by different names depending on the region, and sometimes tunes with the same name are musically distinct. Those that are not lyric songs with texts are likely to be one of the several types of dances tunes found in Ireland: namely, the jig (quick 6/8 or 12/8 time), the reel (quick 2/4), the hornpipe (6/8 or 12/8 time), and the polka (quick 2/4 time). Some tunes fall into the major–minor tonality system, but there is a tendency for them to be structurally pentatonic (i.e., to employ a five-tone scale) with the possibility of additional passing notes.” (Miller, Shahriari, pg. 310)

Instruments

Uillean Pipes

“Disassembled for storage, the uilleann pipes consist of the bag, the bellows and strap, a chanter pipe, three drone pipes, and—in full sets—an additional three pipes fitted with a series of large metal keys. These additional pipes, called “regulators,” allow the player to produce the chords that are the uilleann pipes’ most distinctive feature.” (Miller, Shahriari pg. 310)

Concertina

“A concertina is a free-reed musical instrument, like the various accordions and the harmonica. More distantly related, but still in the same family, are the harmonium and American reed organ (a/k/a pump organ or parlor, It has a bellows, and buttons typically on both ends of it. When pressed, the buttons travel in the same direction as the bellows, unlike accordion buttons, which travel perpendicularly to the bellows.” (Wikipedia)

Fiddle

“One of the most important instruments in the traditional repertoire, the fiddle (or violin – there is no physical difference) is played differently in widely varying regional styles.[3] It uses the standard GDAE tuning.” (Wikipedia)

These are just a few different things that I’m thinking about to explore in Ireland. I will be adding more to this post as I get a clearer direction with my Field Work Proposal.

Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concertina

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Music_of_Ireland

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uilleann_pipes

Miller, Terry E., and Andrew C. . Shahriari. World Music: A Global Journey. New York: Routledge, 2012. Print.

Week 7 – East Asia: China

Welcome to East Asia, home to such places as China, The Koreas and Japan, just to name a few.

East Asia is a vast area with different cultures within itself.  There are so many different areas to observe explore. While the area as a whole is known as East Asia, I’m going to be looking specifically at Chine. However, in western culture, people tend to generalize the term Chinese.

“The term Chinese, broadly speaking, can be applied to cultural activity found not only

in the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of China (Taiwan) but also in the self-governing city of Hong Kong and in other places where “Overseas Chinese” comprise important segments of the population.” (Miller, Shahriari pg 182)

Not only is East Asia generalized as “Chinese” but it also contains a fourth of the worlds population. East Asia’s population break down is as follows:

China = 1.38 billion

Koreas = 71 Million

Taiwan  = 23 Million

Japan = 127 Million

Total = 1.56 Billion

“The majority of the Chinese population lives in eastern China.” (Miller, Shahriari pg 182/189)

Art (in all forms: Music, Painting, Theater ect.) has had the ability throughout humanity to influence people decisions or even manipulate peoples emotions. Sometimes that’s the job of the artist, to make their audience feel a certain way. China is no different, however sometimes this power can be corrupted and used for evil, and has been in the past.

“The arts have long been elements of the political process in China. Seeing the arts as far more than mere entertainment, the government has often harnessed music and theater for their ability to influence the thinking and behavior of the general population. Underlying this is a belief that music can have an influence on a person’s ethical character.” (Miller, Shahriari pg 187)

In general, each location in the world, whether it’s America, Australian Aboriginals or China, there is a distinguishable sound of that area, this is defined by the timbre of the instruments, the scales or processes of the culture and even the character of the instruments and the people of the culture. The beauty of music is that there are specific traits that hold all these different cultures together.

Looking at China

In China, there is so much new music coming out that falls under the category of popular and within this concept the potential for traditional Chinese music making it out into the world could be lost.

“Western recording companies have preferred to release instrumental music, giving a skewed impression of the reality in China.” (Miller, Shahriari pg 190)

“In China most “traditional” music struggles to survive as best it can, while newly arranged and orchestrated music, considered “improved” and “modernized” by many Chinese officials, is commonly used to represent Chinese music to the outside world.” (Miller, Shahriari pg 189)

Much like the Sachs-Hornbostel Instrument Classification System in which different instruments are defined by the way they are played (Chordophone (Strings)), There is a system that the Chinese use to classify their musical instruments, In order to break down different ensembles accurately and efficiently:

“Traditionally, the Chinese classified musical instruments into eight categories, known collectively as the bayin (or “eight materials”)

1. wood

2. bamboo

3. metal

4. stone

5. clay

6. skin

7. silk

8. gourd.

For the Chinese, the number “8” had a philosophical and aesthetic significance, and a philosophically complete ensemble would necessarily include instruments from all eight categories. Many ensemble types have names that refer to these material categories,…”silk and bamboo” ensemble (sizhu).” (Miller, Shahriari pg 190)

INSTRUMENTS

Below I have included a few instruments that I thought were very interesting and common in this culture.

The jinghu                                                                                                                           (京胡; pinyin: jīnghú) is a Chinese bowed string instrument in the huqin family, used primarily in Beijing opera. It is the smallest and highest pitched instrument in the huqin family.

The Erhu                                                                                                                                     (èrhú, [êɻxǔ]) is a two-stringed bowed musical instrument, It is used as a solo instrument as well as in small ensembles and large orchestras. It is the most popular of the huqin family of traditional bowed string instruments used by various ethnic groups of China. A very versatile instrument, the erhu is used in both traditional and contemporary music arrangements, such as in pop, rock, jazz

And finally, this is my favorite…

The Chinese sheng                                                                                                          (Chinese: ; Pinyin shēng) is a mouth-blown free reed instrument consisting of vertical pipes.

Why is this my favorite? Well, it looks like classic Mario sound might as well have been made using this instrument. Take a listen!

Overall, this section of the world is so huge that it would be an incredibly long blog if I tried to highlight all of the areas in detail…that’s what books are for. However, if you really want to discover more about China, check out EarthPops blog she is a yearning Ethnomusicologist and has a comprehensive knowledge of different cultures and their instruments.

Sources:

Works Cited
“Erhu.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 24 Feb. 2014. Web. 24 Feb. 2014.
“Jinghu (instrument).” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 15 Feb. 2014. Web. 24 Feb. 2014.
Miller, Terry E., and Andrew C. . Shahriari. World Music: A Global Journey. New York: Routledge, 2012. Print.
“Sheng (instrument).” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 25 Feb. 2014. Web. 24 Feb. 2014.

Week 6 – Southeast Asia: Thailand

Thailand is one of those cultures that truly interests me. Here’s why, their culture (much like Seattle) is underground. In reality, Thailand’s culture is not actually underground, I mean it in a more metaphorical sense.

There are so many layers to the Thailand culture and each of them pile up on each other as history continues to be formed. Thailand actually reminds me of the U.S. in that way, there is so much rich history in the United States that sometimes it’s hard to remember exactly where we came from, or what are cultural roots are.

Thailand reminds me of this because it is a progressive culture. They have pop music, they have stock markets, they enjoy spending money on entertainment and they like being on the cusp of technology. However, beneath each of these layers of Thailand’s newest additions to their culture lies very little evidence of the original culture. In order to get a glimpse of Thailand’s roots, we have to examine their classical music tradition.

“Though classical music was never popular with the masses, there is a general

tendency to think of classical traditions, such as the piphat, as representing the essence of Thainess through music.” (Miller, Shahriari pg.146)

Classical Piphat Music

“A piphat (Thai: ปี่พาทย์, pronounced [pìːpʰâːt]) is a kind of ensemble in the classical music of Thailand, which features wind and percussion instruments.” (Wikipedia)

The first time I heard this music I was…disoriented. There is a series of pitched drums being struck, a very nasally, bright aerophone being blown, several constant mallets being struck in the high end and to top it all off…it all sounds a little off.  One might be naive to think that this music requires no talent to produce, however, I think it takes an even more talented musician to accurately replicate a performance more than once, it’s not just simply different people in the ensemble hitting things at will and at random. Though it may be hard to understand, there is a form and structure to the music. In this music it seems as if melodies are constantly overlapping and the music (in the book World Music: A Global Journey) could be considered “Organized Chaos”, in which I completely agree.

Typically in these traditional ensembles there are several elements that define this music as Traditional Thai music.

“They may include prominent wooden- or bamboo-keyed instruments played with mallets (higher and lower xylophones), circular frames of tuned metal gongs, bowed and plucked strings, flutes, double reeds, drums, and small rhythmic percussion.” (Miller, Shahriari pg.146)

In this traditional music there are three different types of ensembles that are most widely used.

1. Piphat: This ensemble is typically full of percussion (Melodic and rhythmic) and a double reed instrument (Pi)(Requires three or more melodic instruments and two rhythmic instruments, however instruments are allowed to be added.)

2. Mahori: This ensemble consists of strings & flute and also contains percussion that is melodic and rhythmic.

3. khruang sai: The focus of this ensemble is mainly on strings and flute with a small rhythmic percussion section.

“The Piphat primarily plays theater, dance drama, and ritual music, the other ensembles ordinarily play lighter, more entertaining and tuneful music.” (Miller, Shahriari pg.146)

The following is a list of instruments that are used to be played in the Piphat. As mentioned before, there needs to be  three melodic instruments and two rhythmic instruments. Below are a few instruments I want to highlight that are common in Thailand traditional classic music.

PI

An aerophone that has the timbre of an Oboe (it is an quadruple reed Oboe), very nasally and bright.

The aerophone used in hard-mallet ensembles is a quadruple-reed oboe (aerophone) called pi, and its duty is to play a flexible, seemingly distinct, version of the same main melody. Although it works as a double reed, each half is folded, making it actually quadruple.” (Miller, Shahriari pg.147)

The next instruments I’m going to mention are the Ranat ek and the Ranat Thum. These instruments are very similar, they are both mallet based Idiophones and the pitch is determined by the width of the instrument. (Note: In a way, these instrument remind me of Marimbas because each instrument is taking on a specific frequency range of the scale)

Ranat ek

“(Ranat ek) is a Thai musical instrument in the percussion family that consists of 22 wooden bars suspended by cords over a boat-shaped trough resonator and struck by two mallets. It is used as a leading instrument in the piphat ensemble.” (Wikipedia)

Ranat Thum

is a low pitched xylophone used in the music of Thailand. It has 18 wooden keys, which are stretched over a boat-shaped trough resonator. Its shape looks like a ranat ek, but it is lower and wider. It is usually played in accompaniment of a ranat ek.” (Wikipedia)

Khong Wong Yai (Gong Circles)

I really like the look of this instrument, it’s such a unique perspective of using gongs, I have a feeling even Neil Pert would appreciate this instrument.

“…is a circle with gongs used in the music of Thailand. It has 16 tuned bossed gongs in a rattan frame and is played with two beaters.The player sits in the middle of the circle. It is used in the piphat ensemble to provide the skeletal melody the other instruments of the elaborate ensemble. The gongs are individually tuned with beeswax under the gongs” (Wikipedia)

Taphon

This drum can be used to signal the opening of the composition and has high and low pitched heads. It’s played similarly like the bongos (or maybe even the tabla)

It (Taphon) is barrel-shaped with two heads, and is played by the hands and fingers of both hands” (Wikipedia)

If you are interested in seeing these instruments in action, take a quick look at a couple of these videos, they are great demonstrations of ensembles.

 

 

Overall, Thailand has a rich culture that could easily be lost in the current day and age. It seems that with each passing week, the world becomes bigger and harder to comprehend all of it’s vast cultures, tradionts, sights and sounds that it has to offer. It’s hard to believe that so many events and traditions can shape our world so richly. This classical tradition of music that we looked at only scratched the never-ending surface of what this culture has to offer!

 

 

Want to read up on everything talked about in this blog? Check out these sources!

“Khong Wong Yai.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 17 Jan. 2014. Web. 16 Feb. 2014.
Miller, Terry E., and Andrew C. . Shahriari. World Music: A Global Journey. New York: Routledge, 2012. Print.
“Piphat.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 02 Oct. 2014. Web. 16 Feb. 2014.
“Ranat Ek.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 13 Feb. 2014. Web. 16 Feb. 2014.
“Ranat Thum.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 23 Nov. 2013. Web. 16 Feb. 2014.
“Taphon.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 15 Feb. 2014. Web. 16 Feb. 2014.

Week 5 – South Asia: North India

South Asian is a massive area and one would be naive to try and discuss every aspect of South Asia in one post. I would actually like to focus on North India (Which might also be a little ambitious but I’m gonna go for it anyway.)

In India there are several different states and union territories and I want to highlight some of the culture as seen through music in the north region of India. In order for you to be able to grasp how vast this portion of India has become, I am going to breakdown each major section while showing the population of the location and the different languages they speak to demonstrate the amount of diversity in this area of the world. Next, I would like to explore Hindustani Instrumental Improvisation which is known as Raga and some instruments that make a unique impression.

The Northern Area of India Includes the following:

Delhi

Districts Map of Delhi

Delhi

 

“Delhi is a Union Territory situated in the northern part of India. It is the second-largest city by population and the largest metropolitan by area in India.” (Maps of India)

The Population in this location is nearly 17,000,000

The languages spoken in this area are English, Hindi, Punjab, Urdu

Haryana

“Haryana is a state situated in North India. It shares its borders with Punjab and Himachal Pradesh in the north, Rajasthan in the west and south and Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh in the east. Haryana is surrounded by Delhi on the northern, western and southern borders.” (Maps of India)

The population in this location is around 25,000,000

The languages spoken in this area are Haryanavi, Punjabi and English

Himachal Pradesh

“Himachal Pradesh is one of the most popular states in Northern India. It spans over an area of 21,495 sq mi (55,673 km2), and it shares its borders with Jammu and Kashmir in the north, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh in the south, Punjab in the west and south-west and Uttarakhand in the south-east. Himachal Pradesh literally means Region of snowy mountains.” (Maps of India)

The population in this location is around 7,000,000

The official language of this location is Hindi.

Jammu and Kashmir 

“Jammu and Kashmir is situated in the northernmost part of India. Jammu and Kashmir abounds in natural splendor mostly because of its geographic location. Nestled quietly in the Himalayan Mountains this state in India is filled with mountainous landscapes and numerous shrines.” (Maps of India)

The population in this location is over 12,500,000

Official languages of this area are urdu, Kashmiri and Dogn

Uttarakhand

“Uttarakhand is a state located in northern India. It was formerly known as Uttaranchal and was carved out of the north-western districts of Uttar Pradesh and the adjoining Himalayan Ranges. It is also called the Land of Gods because of numerous holy Hindu temples found across the different cities in the state.” (Maps of India)

The population in this location is over 10,000,000

Official languages of this area are Hindi and Sanskrit

Punjab

“Punjab is another significant state situated in the northwest part of the India. It is one of the most naturally blessed states in the country. “ (Maps of India)

The population in this location is nearly 28,000,000

Official languages of this area is Punjabi

Uttar Pradesh

“Uttar Pradesh also popular as U.P, is a state situated in northern India. It is the most populated state in India with a population of almost 199 million people. It is also known as the cultural cradle of India since it is believed to be the birthplace of Hinduism.” (Maps of India)

The population in this location of almost 199,000,000

Official languages of this area is Hindi, Urdu

Raga

Hindustani is an Instrumental Improvisation which is known as Raga.

Raga is beautifully described in the following passage from the book World Music:A Global Journey 3rd Edition

Raga is defined as “A mode or system of rules and procedures for composition and improvisation in Indian classical music.” (Miller, Shahriari pg.98)

“The word raga (or rag, meaning “color” or “atmosphere”) denotes a comprehensive system for the simultaneous composition and performance of music in both North and South India…Raga comprises several elements, the first being tonal material (what might be called a “scale”). These “scales” consist of a hierarchy of strong and weak notes, a set of typical melodic figures, and a set of extra-musical associations with such things as moods, times of the day, and magical powers.” (Miller, Shahriari pg.98)

Most children in the U.S. go to a school that has music as an elective. In this music the students get to learn about solfège (Do-re-mi-fa-sol-la-ti-do), It’s all coming back to you isn’t it?  Well, Now that I have peeked your interest, in India they have an equivalent solfège which uses sa-re-ga-ma-pa-dha-ni-sa as it’s base. Unlike the west music culture where only 12 pitches are used, in India there are 22 pitches that are able to be utilized!

Now that we understand the basics of Raga, let’s delve into some important instruments that define North India.

Tambura

First we have the Tambura. The Tambura belongs to the Chordophone family in the Sachs-Hornbostel instrument classification system and is a long necked lute with four strings and a large gourd body. The Tambura provides a buzzed timbre due to threads that vibrate against the bridge of the instrument. “The person who plays this instrument, often a young disciple or a spouse of the lead instrumentalist, simply plucks the four strings successively throughout the raga. The four pitches reinforce the two most important pitches of the raga, usually the fundamental or “home” pitch (sa/pitch I) and another an interval of a fifth above (pa/pitch V)(Miller, Shahriari pg.99).

I’ve included a picture below so you can see exactly what it looks like.

Tambura

Sarod

The Sarod is an instrument that typically forms the melodies when featured in an ensemble.  This instrument is also a long-necked lute which has six strings of metal running down a metal-fretless fingerboard to large tuning pegs. There are also 11-15 “sympathetic” metal strings running from within the neck (out through small, ivory-lined holes) to a series of smaller pegs on the side of the neck.”(Miller, Shahriari pg.99) This instrument typically is about 40 inches and is played horizontally, like a guitar.

Sarod

 

Tabla

The Tabla is a combination of two drums put together. These two drums are described as “small cylindrical wooden drum with a single head called tabla and a larger, rounded metal drum with single head known as baya”(Miller, Shahriari pg.100) The fascinating thing about this membranophone is that it is tuned to floor pitch of the Raga, which creates a more melodic timbre to the drums within the music.

Tabla

Something that is purely incredible about a lot of the instruments of this culture is the ability that the artists have to be creative with the given scales and how much dexterity they have while playing these instruments. Something else that is really interesting is that Raga’s are meant to be performed at a proper time of day. This is something that isn’t emphasized in western culture and it’s hard for me to relate music of my cosmology to the concept of listening to it at a certain time of day.

Overall, North India is full of fascinating instruments and concepts of weaving melodies into their music with using an improvisational style of Raga. There is so much diversity in this area of the world and it’s no wonder that the tradition of this cultures music has created one of the most complex and interesting sounds that audiences everywhere are able to experience.

Sources:

Miller, Terry E., and Andrew C. . Shahriari. “South Asia.” World Music: A Global Journey. New York: Routledge, 2012. N. pag. Print.
“North India States.” North India States. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Feb. 2014.

Week 4 – Oceana: The Music of Kiribati (Kiribas)

Located 2,500 miles southwest of Hawaii in Micronesia, there is a collection of islands known as Kiribati (Pronounced “Kiribas”).  The islands are made up of thirty-three coral island which are circular islands with a central lagoon. There are three groups of Islands: The Line Islands, The Phoenix Islands and the Gilbert Islands.

“Kiritimati, also known as Christmas Island, is the largest coral atoll in the world and was among the many islands of the Pacific explored by Captain James Cook in 1777.”(Miller, Shahriari pg. 81)

“The British eventually claimed most of the islands of Kiribati as British protectorates; thus, English is widely spoken along with the native tongue, Gilbertese, an Austronesian language.”(Miller, Shahriari pg. 81)

map_1

Kiribas

Kiribati folk music is typically represented by different variations of vocalizing and/or chanting. Traditional songs performed by the Kiribati are typically love themed however, song themes are also competitive, religious, patriotic, war and wedding.

kiribati-620_1990959i

These Pacific Islanders are known for their choral traditions which are typically performed while in a seated position, sometimes the tradition calls for a guitar accompanying the group. The audio that I’ve attached is from the Kiribati Pacific Islands which highlights these choral traditions. The music starts with a spoken vocal in rhythm and progresses into a large choral group with a bright timbre and childlike essence. The piece has a joyful tone with fascinating form and melodic hills.

“In the Kiribati islands, vocal performances influenced by the church sometimes start with a freely rhythmic section that is closer to indigenous traditions. These are most typical of sitting dances (te bino), where the majority of performers are seated on the ground. More recent music/dance genres (e.g., te buki, te kaimatoa, te kateitei) do not have an initial freely rhythmic section. These begin with the metered section often marked by the steady pulse of handclaps. During the metered section, the voices follow a call-and-response pattern, though the call is primarily just a shout that establishes pitch and signals the choir’s entrance. The text setting is mostly syllabic. A whistle is sometimes used to signal the choir to close the performance with a brief series of handclaps.” (Miller, Shahriari pg. 83)

Another example of a seated choral group accompanied by guitar from the Pacific Islands of Kiribati.

“Choral traditions in Oceania predate the arrival of European colonialism. In Kiribati, music and dance were important symbols of social identity. All members of a performance ensemble were of the same descent group. Participation in performance was essential to community cohesion, and musical skills were regarded as valuable clan property. Song was considered a vital link to ancestral spirits and supernatural powers associated with natural elements, such as the wind or the ocean. Communities sang in communal meetinghouses called maneaba the night before a battle, in order to help protect warriors or weaken enemies.” (Miller, Shahriari pg. 84)

Sources:

Miller, Terry E., and Andrew C. . Shahriari. World Music: A Global Journey. New York: Routledge, 2012. Print.

Music of Kiribati

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