There are so many incredible sounding instruments that we have encountered on our travels, yet there is nothing quite like the human voice for it’s range, diversity and uniqueness. From Tuvan throat singing practised amongst nomadic Mongolian farmers to the South Indian art of vocal percussion called Konnakol, every culture, people group and religion uses their vocal chords to produce singing. In some communities, it is so much a part of life that everyone participates, ie. Central African pygmies where everyone is an incredible vocalist and is able to sing complex yodeling.
When I fly back from other parts of the world to Europe, you are blinded by the colour of the land – green! The stories of our land and culture are held within folk music which has played such a big part in our history, from the celtic world of Ireland, Wales, Scotland, England, Brittany, Galicia and Asturas in Spain to the gypsy jazz and polyphonic choirs of the Balkans. In fact, over a century ago, musicians noticed that European folk music seemed to exhibit a certain personality. Today, much of this orally transmitted music has been re-imagined and fusions birthed such as folk rock, folk metal and electric folk.
This beautiful vocal arrangement is the Choir of Sameba Trinity Church in Tbilisi, Georgia. Their group name is Basiani. The song/chanting is a Christmas carol – Alilo of The dawn (Tsiskris Alilo) by Vakhtang Kakhidze.
Very exciting to see the release of Anna Raines new CD – We Face The Wind. We have been working on this for the last couple of years and it captures something of the sound of Northumberland. Some of the songs are Anna’s compositions and some are traditional songs that we have put our own little twist. Here’s a track to whet your appetite.
“Vast tracts of ocean, whether Polynesia, Micronesia or Melanesia, contain island populations that remain outside the modern world. They know about it, they may have traveled to it, they appreciate artifacts and medical help from it, but they live their daily lives much as hundreds of generations of ancestors before them, without money, electricity, phones, TV or manufactured food.” – Andrew Rayner, Reach for Paradise
The Pacific Islands have always sparked thoughts of both mystery and paradise. Until you fly from California south to New Zealand or Australia you never quite understand the vastness of the ocean that lies below – an area covering 30% of the world’s surface with more than 25,000 islands! Interestingly the Pacific Ocean got its name from the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan in 1521 who called its waters “mar pacifico” which means peaceful sea.
The drum is one of the oldest known musical instruments, being played in various forms by nearly every people group in the world, producing a huge variety of sounds fashioned in many shapes and sizes, the drum provides the foundation to most traditional and modern day music.
For over 4,000 years drums have been used in many diverse situations, e.g. in religious celebrations, for sending signals or messages, on the battlefield during the Civil War, to help African slaves overcome the boredom of hard monotonous work, storytelling in China, carnivals in Brazil, healing, dancing, and entertainment. Read More
Having travelled to 49 of the 50 states in North America, I have realised the amazing diversity amongst its people. In fact the Americas (North and South) are home to over 1000 indigenous languages. And what amazing musical sounds and styles from the second line drumming of New Orleans, Inuit throat singing known as katajjaq from Quebec to Brazillian samba and Guyana calypso. What stands out artistically amongst the indigenous people of these lands is their visual arts – their pottery, paintings, jewellery, weavings, basketry, beadwork, carvings and sculptures.
For thousands of years people have used the simple technique of vibrating strings to create sound and harmony. Bowed, plucked or hit we have been amazed at the incredible sounds that we have heard on our travels, created by sinew, fishing line, string and wire.