The Music of Oceania

The Music of Oceania

Oceania is an area of the world within the Pacific Ocean, which includes Australia.  Other parts of Oceania include Papua New Guinea, and even Hawaii.  Oceania is made up of 3 primary regions:  Micronesia, Polynesia and Melanesia

oceania-worldatlas

 

The area I focused on for this page is Papua New Guinea.

PapGuinea-map

 

Papua is made up of the Eastern Half of the island of New Guinea, surrounded by the Bismark, Solomon and Coral Seas.

 

Below is an image taken at the Goroka, an annual celebration in Papua New Guinea where hundreds of “Highlander Tribes” meet and perform their tribal dances and rituals in a celebration of dancing and incredible music.

 

Pulitzer-Winning-Author-Jared-Diamond-Writes-Book-On-New-Guinea-Adventures1

 

 

The below video gives a great representation of the look, sound and idea behind this wondrous festival unique only to this part of the world.

 

 

 

Works Cited:

“Pulitzer-Winning Author Jared Diamond Writes Book On New Guinea Adventures.” Asian Scientist Magazine Science   Technology and Medicine News Updates From Asia RSS. N.p., 27 Dec. 2012. Web. 25 Aug. 2014.

“Papua New Guinea Sing Sing Festival.” YouTube. YouTube, n.d. Web. 11 Sept. 2014.

 

 

 

cosmologymeta500

Cosmology – A Cultural Perspective

Cosmology - Music as a Culture, Perspective and Universality, Ethnomusicology

Ultimately, Cosmology is “the study of the origin, evolution, and eventual fate of the Universe”.  Cosmology is also considered the way we view ourselves and our species, on a microscopic and macroscopic scale.  That is, there are many various ways we can view and perceive ourselves, such as individuals on a personal level, co-participating in daily functioning society, or on a much larger scale, as humans living within a grand Universe.creationist_cosmology_wide-2 

The Universe is such a vast, unimaginably massive amount of space, it is impossible to fully grasp the extent of it’s grandness.  So, in daily Life, our best reference and viewpoint of our place in the Universe is culturally, through our community, friends and family.  I believe this is why we have such a variety of differences and unique traits found within each culture.

Mbathaa_9-620x466

Dr. Joel Primack, from the University of California, explains a though in a recent paper he published on Cosmology and Culture:

“The lack of social consensus on cosmology in the modern world has caused many people to close off their thinking to large issues and long time scales, so that small matters dominate their consciousness.”

three-story-universe-2

I’ve been putting some thought into this statement, and I have come to the conclusion that it is invaluable to be able to explore and learn about many different cultures around the planet; their lifestyles, musical tastes, food and activities commonly found in the area, etc.  Once we begin to search for answers and possibilities OUTSIDE of our comfort zone, we truly begin to grow through experience and perspective.

culture&heritage

Upon dwelling deeper into the various cultures and discovering fascinating similarities and differences throughout the world, I have be given a challenge of finding a piece of music that I feel is a strong part of my personal cosmology, something that I find comfortable and understand naturally.  In addition, I’ve been asked to find something that is the complete opposite, that is, a musical piece that feels slightly unnatural to me on a personal level, causing mild discomfort and challenges my view of music and what I enjoy.  That is, this exercise is completely subjective.

Let it be known that my personal choices of what I like and do not like are simply that; they are in no way intended to offend anyone culturally or personally.  I am simply sharing two separate types of music that have a complete opposite effect on my enjoyment of sound.

Without further delay, I present to you my personal view of polar examples:

 

Comfortable

 

Uncomfortable

 

 

Work Cited

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

http://physics.ucsc.edu/cosmo/primack_abrams/COSMO.HTM

 

Rite of Spring – An Introduction to Igor Stravingsky and his Famous Work

Listening & Analysis, Rite of Spring

stravinsky

In recent weeks, my Listening and Analysis class has been studying and focusing on a musical composition titled “The Rite of Spring” by Igor Stravinsky, a Russian composer who was born in 1882, and created this famous composition in 1913.  It is known to be extremely influential and solid as a classic 20th century piece of work, and will always have a place in the history books as being just that.

igor-stravinsky--1337172685-article-0Igor Stavinsky

1353-13Theatre des Camps-Elysees, Paris, France

Something about Stravinsky’s 1913 piece that I found most interesting was that during the debut ballet performance, held in Paris in May of 1913, is that during  the second act of the performance, there were (reportedly) fights happening within the audience, along with a very hostile type atmosphere and people acting out hostility toward others simply because of the music. It is even reported that Stravinsky had fled the theater before the end of the show because he feared for his life.  Just imagine what the crowd had been feeling as a result of this new found presentation of dynamic and intense music.  Boulevard_des_Italiens_1910

The recordings we have been analyzing of this classic piece have included the highly dynamic and interesting performance by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra and conducted by Leonard Bernstein.  I have also had the opportunity to review other renditions of this classic piece by French composer Pierre Boulez, and renown Hungarian composer Georg Solti.

It is fascinating how dynamic and over-bearing at times the Rite of Spring composition truly is.  Throughout the entire performance, we the audience are literally taken on a roller-coaster ride, with ups and downs continuing through the score in its entirety.

I wanted to focus on one section of the Rite of Spring, and to do a comparative analysis of the different performances by Bernstein, Solti, and Boulez.

boulez French Composer Pierre Boulez

The section I found most intriguing and hence that which I studied further, was Part 1, Adoration of Earth – Spring Round Dances.  I felt it was a beautiful breakdown and continuation of Part 1, where the listener is able to drop back briefly and regain a bit of composure and clarity from the intensity and brash-like energy that Rite of Spring is all about.

The Rite of Spring – Spring Round Dances (Boulez as conductor)

bernstein Leonard Bernstein

Of the three separate performances mentioned, my favorite would have to be Leonard Bernstein’s rendition recorded with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra.  His orchestration feels most warm and pure of intention, without rushing us through the various sections of the piece, but honestly presenting us with a compelling and moving representation.

Below is the full suite of the Bernstein recording.  Click to 7:24 to hear the beginning of the Spring Round Dances section of the performance.

Sir_George_Solti_6_Allan_Allan_WarrenGeorg Solti

In Solti’s performance, the entire section feels rushed, with a dramatic increase in tempo causing it to feel rushed and urgent.  Almost jarring, chaotic and hanging on one side of the spectrum of feeling.  However, I can understand how some may enjoy Solti’s take more than others.  Particularly if they have a desire to experience the composition with perhaps more intensity.

Bonus:

Here is another version of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, once again by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra but conducted by Zubin Mehta.   I enjoyed this section of the piece as well and wanted to share an additional listening option.

Ultimately, the Rite of Spring is one of the most famous compositions of all time, and considered by some to be the most influential in the 20th century.  If you are interested in pushing the boundaries of your musical knowledge and depth of emotional feeling through audio, you owe it to yourself to give a listen to Igor Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring.

References:

http://classicalmusic.about.com/od/20thcenturymusic/qt/rite-of-spring.htm

http://www.classical.net/music/comp.lst/stravinsky.php

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

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

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

Jazz…. A Brief History & Timeline

Jazz...A Brief History & Timeline, Listening & Analysis

history-of-jazz So you’re wondering about the history of Jazz, huh?  Well, I’m glad you asked!

Let’s (briefly) cover the roots of this musical phenomenon we have come to know as simply “Jazz”…

Jazz (Early 20th Century)

kingoliveerrband2 The King Oliver Band

“The Melting Pot” :     New Orleans, LA

The birth of Jazz can be traced back to New Orleans, Louisiana, where an infusion of honky tonk, marching band music, ragtime, blues, boogie and other various emotion-filled styles began to merge and be presented as what later became known as Jazz.  Let’s take a look at one of the most important and well known pioneers who hailed from New Orleans and thus paved the way to the development of early Jazz, none other than Mr. Louis Armstrong.

Satchmo – Louis Armstrong: “The 1st Genius of Jazz”

Louis_Armstrong_restored

Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong was born on July 4th, 1900 (as claimed by Louis himself), though other sources I found listed him as being born on August 4th, 1901.  He was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, and by the age of 13 he started discovering and playing the trumpet (technically the cornet) in ways no one had ever heard before, including techniques such as improvisation and soloing at individual times during a piece, as well as introducing the style that became known as “Swing”. He also became a well known singer, including an ability to “scat sing”, which was the technique of using one’s voice to make sounds and notes that aren’t actually real words.

I found this audio clip below of a performance which he called “Diner Diner”, which I enjoyed immensely… Pay close attention to 1:13 where he really begins to let the “scat out of the bag”…

1917 – First Jazz Recording

In 1917, The Dixieland Jazz Band recorded the first jazz recording ever.  I found it quite interesting and almost laughable that the album cover calls them “the creators of Jazz”.  They may have recorded the first “jazz” album ever, but obviously there was a great deal more involved in the creation of Jazz music than these five caucasian guys from the South.

albumcoverOriginalDixielandJazzBand-TheCreatorsOfJazz

Take a listen below and note the distinctive “Dixieland” sound that was

TO BE CONTINUED………..

References:

http://www.allaboutjazz.com/timeline.htm

Herbie Hancock – The Prisoner (The Rudy Van Gelder Remaster)

Listening & Analysis, The Prisoner (by Herbie Hancock)

cover_37472014122009

I recently had the pleasure of purchasing and listening through it’s entirety the album “The Prisoner” by Herbie Hancock.  Originally recorded in 1969, on Blue Note Records, this was amazingly Herbie’s seventh album, and surely wouldn’t be his last.  I purchased an mp3 version of the album, which was remastered by Rudy Van Gelder in 2000.   Initially, I was mistaken in thinking that the original producer of the album was Rudy Van Gelder, in which he remastered at a later time.  However, after further research I learned that the album was produced by Duke Pearson, yet Rudy Van Gelder was the recording engineer.

Back     I am most sincerely interested in obtaining a copy of this on vinyl sometime in the near future, as I will be able to compare and analyze the similarities and differences between the original and the Rudy Van Gelder remaster.

I very much enjoyed listening to this album in it’s entirety.  The clarity and depth of the     Herbie-Hancock-I-Thought-It-Was-You-621x444

various instruments that were captured are truly extraordinary.   For an album recorded in 1969, I was quite surprised within the first 2 minutes of listening upon realizing that the recording quality was comparable to modern jazz releases.

“The Prisoner” has 5 original tracks, with 2 additional tracks (6 & 7) that are alternate takes of tracks “The Prisoner” and “Firewater”.

The-Prisoner-cover

From the moment you begin hearing the first track ” I Have a Dream”, one is immediately attentive to the clarity of the drums, the colorful blend of the brass section and woodwinds, and the warm and inviting sound of the upright bass.  Also, one can’t help but take note of the space that is presented, with the arrangement of instrumentation brilliantly panned throughout the stereo spectrum, bringing balance and wide image to the listener.

Take a listen here and see if you agree:

My favorite track on the album is “Promise of the Sun”, which is brings an upbeat, moving feel to it.  The instrumentation within the song includes bass trombone, piano, flute and percussion.  The piano is played with such incredible emotion and feel, adding subtle yet powerful ideas to the entire performance.

Ultimately, this album has changed the way I will listen to jazz music.  It has opened up the world of Jazz and brought forth the inspiration and desire in me to go deeper into the genre.  I have been a fan of Herbie Hancock for quite sometime, yet I hadn’t heard his pre-1972 recordings, only later albums such as “Thrust”, where synthesizers and electronic elements began to infuse his music.  I hope you will give this one a chance, and enjoy it as much as I did.

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References:

http://www.allmusic.com/album/the-prisoner-mw0000620299/credits

http://www.discogs.com/Herbie-Hancock-The-Prisoner/release/371179

“Love Life, and Life will Love you Back!”

– Drew

Appropriation (Musically, Culturally and through Art……..)

Cultural Appropriation, Listening & Analysis

Cultural Appropriation is defined as ” the adoption of specific elements of one culture by a different cultural group”.

The unfortunate side of this is that certain negative connotations may begin to develop over time because of the newly adopted or misunderstood ideas of another culture.

This type of appropriation commonly includes symbols, terminology, items or objects, forms of style or fashion, etc.

In Music Appropriation, it is borrowing or using elements and techniques of other musical pieces or compositions, and then creating another piece of music that is unique in itself.   I almost think of it as being inspired or deeply influenced by previous musical works or artists, and thus giving birth to a new artist or style that is ultimately it’s own.

It is also common that musical is culturally appropriated as the discovery or knowledge of new instruments or styles are introduced around the world.

One of my all time favorite bands and biggest influence is TOOL, particularly the drumming of Danny Carey.  Here is a video I found of a live performance of the song “Right in Two”, where he plays the tablas:

In the appropriation of Art,  the concept is almost identical to Musical Appropriation in that certain key elements are used from previous artwork or cultural creations, and styles, symbols, techniques and methods are borrowed and adapted into a new piece of art (regardless of what type of art that may be).

A rendition of art that was inspired by the style made famous by Andy Warhol.

Essentially, it is fascinating to think about how heavily influenced modern art is by cultures of the world, and how all new creations are ultimately heavily influenced by endless works of the past.  It seems to me that everything continuously borrows from something else, and then is reborn into a newly imagined creation, whether through cultural adoption, music, art, dance, fashion, etc.

Enjoy Life!

 

Resources:

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

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Appropriation_%28music%29

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Appropriation_%28art%29

The Laughing Song – George Washington Johnson

Listening & Analysis, The Laughing Song

Old 78’s –

We had the pleasure of listening to very old 78 records the other day in my Listening and Analysis class.

One recording that stuck out to me and that I enjoyed very much was this one, by George Washington Johnson, titled “The Laughing Song”.

According to the record catalog and advertisements, George had recorded this song over 40,000 separate times in order to reproduce the records (there wasn’t a way to duplicate them at the time).   Each one had it’s own individual uniqueness, in a way, recorded onto wax cylinders between 1890 – 1895!

I couldn’t help but imagine what it must of been like to hear this newly published record, sitting around the house nearly 100 years ago, and actually experiencing recorded music for the first time.  I could almost see people at a party enjoying this record, all sitting around an old record player or phonograph, and laughing hysterically with friends.

File:GeorgeWJohnson.jpg  A record engraving of the performer, George Washington Johnson, 1900

These days we are so conditioned and desensitized by the modern media wave that it’s hard to imagine why something as simple as this record was able to entertain households a long time ago.

But if you truly step into the period that this was recorded,  and realized how groundbreaking and amazing this newly found technology of recording and playing back audio, it is very easy to come to the conclusion of the profoundness of this new method of enjoying music.

Take a listen!

Resources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_W._Johnson

The History of Music Recording ( a Timeline…. )

A Brief History of Audio Recording, Listening & Analysis

1857 – The Phonautograph

1877 – the Phonograph (Thomas Edison)

1886 – Wax coated Recording Cylinder (Thomas Edison)

1888 – the Graphaphone (commercial release and improvement over Phonograph)

1900 – E. R. Johnson trademarks “His Master’s Voice” which becomes historical sound icon

1903 – “Monarch” label releases the world’s first 12-inch diameter record

1923 – The increasingly popular presence of “radio” challenges the cylinder and disc market

1925 – the first “electrical” recording by Victor’s Camden Studios is made

1931 – Alan Blumlein patents the first “stereo” recording technique

1935 – world’s first demonstration of a magnetic tape recorder The Magnetophone (by Telefunken)

1948 – polyvinylchloride (PVC) is created by the oil industry, providing a much better medium for recording onto record discs, and becomes the norm

1949 – the first ever “transistor” is demonstrated ( Shockley, Brittain and Bardeen)

1950 – production of the 78 RPM disc begins

1952 – “multi track sound replay” is presented to public audiences by the Cinerama (peeks public interest in sound playback possibilities)

1956 – Stereo LP’s become available to public

1960 – stereo replaces mono as preferred and most commonly used audio recording mode

1963 – Phillips releases the “musicassette”

1968 – over 85 separate manufacturers worldwide have sold nearly 3 million cassette players

1971 – 4 channel records (quadraphonic) become available but aren’t readily used

1977 – Cassette’s begin to take over in sales and record sales begin to drop

1978 – Phillips industries announces their research and work on “Compact Disc”

1979 – Sony introduces Soundabout tape player (later becomes the Walkman)

1981 – Walkman II introduced (25% smaller in size than original Walkman)

1983 – Compact Disc (CD) officially launched in the UK)

1986 – 50 million CD units are sold within 1 year

1988 – sales of CD’s surpass the total sales of vinyl (200 million)

1996 – the first DVD is presented

1998 – Present:  Digital Music begins to climb in production and sales as technology continuously and rapidly grows

 

 

Sources:

 

http://www.soc.duke.edu/~s142tm01/history90.html

Didgeridoo

Didgeridoo, Listening & Analysis

Didgeridoo (Musical Instrument)

aboriginal-didgeridoo-0202

I am presenting a small research blog on an instrument I’ve never known much about, but have always been FASCINATED with!……….

The didgeridoo originates from the Aborigines, a native tribe of Australia.  It is a long, narrow wind instrument often carved out of wood.  It is most commonly made of the eucalyptus tree that have been hallowed out by termites or other insects.  This creates a natural tube in the core of the wood.  Didgeridoos can be as short as 3ft and as long as 11ft.

Interestingly enough, it is often said that the didgeridoo is one of the oldest instruments in the world, though the oldest known record of a didgeridoo is found in an ancient rock painting dated back 1,500 years ago.

Didgeridoo2

Once the mystical discovery of the didgeridoo was made in the Western world, the knowledge of this ancient instrument began to  spread and became more well known throughout the last 100 years.  The first recording of the instrument was actually done in 1953 by anthropologist A.P. Elkin and placed on the LP ” Tribal Music of Australia”.  Check out more information on that recording HERE:  http://aso.gov.au/titles/music/tribal-music-of-australia/notes/

Common Usage:  Though the didgeridoo isn’t a highly recorded instrument, it is still very much used in more modern, experimental music as well as very much so in many “World” music and cultural genres.  It is a very distinct, pure sound that can and will be applied in many different forms and variances of music and art.

I found some amazing demonstrations and applications of the didgeridoo below on Youtube.com.  Though it is difficult to find authentic, original high quality videos of native Aboriginal performances, there are some interesting takes and forms of expression today through the didgeridoo!

Here’s another performance, this time by Jeremy Donavan, an Aboriginal Artist who has amazing talent……….

Sources:

http://www.ehow.com/about_5143601_didgeridoos-history.html

http://www.aboriginalarts.co.uk/historyofthedidgeridoo.html