Archive for the ‘Instruments’ Category

Author: Barry O’Connell
Source: Smithsonian Folkway Recordings

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“Let us now praise famous men.” Dock Boggs belongs among them. Most of his life was lived in the obscurity this Biblical passage celebrates. He deserves fame for his efforts to live true to what he believed his God expected of him. Never a conventional life his was also shaped by extraordinary gifts. Among them was an almost instinctive capacity to see and hear the events of his world newly.

Dock worked forty-five years in coal mines; only for a short period was he able even to imagine he might make a living as a musician. Like many miners he refused to be a company man, a particularly courageous stance in those days when the coal companies held tyrannical power. He spoke out, resisted, named his own course, and followed it. From the early pre-World War I days he was a believer in union, in the United Mine Workers, quick to educate his fellows in the early 1930s about a company attempt to thwart the creation of UMW local by offering a company union in its stead. “Emmet,” Dock told the miner promoting the company union, “that paper you got ain’t worth a dime. Anything the company’s head of and rules and runs, why it isn’t gonna do the men very much good.” He survived all the years underground without suffering either injury to his limbs or to his spirit, a feat which bespeaks luck and brilliant skill. He never bowed to the subtle arts or flagrant acts of the powerful who controlled his work world, the communities he lived in, and the political structure.”

CONTINUE READING HERE

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Author: Bill Steber

Source: http://aliciapatterson.org

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“African Fife and drum music was historically at the center of black musical and social culture in North East Mississippi hill country and other Southern communities dating back to the birth of the nation. But with the passing of time and traditions, master fife player Otha Turner, at age 92, now heads the last African fife and drum band in Mississippi. Turner is teaching the music to his grandchildren.”

CONTINUE READING HERE

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Author: Jas Obrecht.

Source: http://jasobrecht.com/blues-origins-spanish-fandango-and-sebastopol/

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“How did fanciful European parlor music influence the creation of the blues? In a more profound way than most fans realize. What follows is one of the most fascinating and least understood chapters in blues history.”

Read it HERE

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Author : George R. Gibson

Source : http://www.dhyatt.com/history.html

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About the Author

George R. Gibson began playing old time banjo in Knott County, Kentucky, ca. 1950. He learned from his father, Mal Gibson (b. 1900, d.1996), and a few neighbors. His grandfather, George W. Gibson (b. 1876, d. 1963) also played banjo. George is also a banjo collector.

George has a CD: Last Possum up the Tree, JA 0079 D, June Appal Recording. He has some banjo songs on a compilation CD: Banjer Days, JA 0077 D, June Appal Recording.

“Part 1: African Gourd Instruments

Musical instruments made from gourds have been found in many cultures. Early travelers in Africa described various gourd instruments. Richard Jobson documented his travels up the Gambia in 1620-21 in The Golden Trade. He found a variety of cultures, some heavily influenced by Muslim invaders. He observed the following:

“There is, without doubt, no people on the earth more naturally affected to the sound of musicke then these people … They have little varietie of instruments, that which is most common in use, is made of a great gourd, and a necke thereunto fastned, resembling, in some sort, our Bandora; but they have no manner of fret, and the strings they are either such as the place yeeldes, or their invention can attaine to make, being very unapt to yeeld a sweete and musicall sound, notwithstanding with pinnes they winde and bring to agree in tunable notes, having not above six strings upon their greatest instrument …”

Eileen Southern, in Readings in Black American Music, quotes Thomas Edward Bowdich, who traveled to Africa in 1819:

“The Mosees, Mallowas, Bournous and natives from the more remote parts of the interior, play on a rude violin: the body is a calabash, the top is covered with deer skin, and two large holes are cut in it for the sound to escape; the strings, or rather one string, is composed of cow’s hair, and broad like that of the bow with which they play, which resembles the bow of a violin.”

The most interesting instrument found in recent years is the Akonting, still in use by the Jola tribe in Gambia. It is a banjo-like gourd instrument with three strings, two longer and one short, which is played in a down stroke style similar to that used in the mountains. Daniel Jatta and Ulf Jagfors demonstrated this instrument at a banjo collector meeting in November 2000. It is likely that some early slaves in the Chesapeake area came originally from Gambia.”

CONTINUE READING HERE

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Author : Steven Errede

Source : Paper, Dpt of Physics, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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The history of the development of electric stringed musical instruments – in particular, the electric guitar and the electric bass is a fascinating one. It is a story of the interplay between man’s discovery of the basic, fundamental laws of physics and new physical phenomena and the creative, constructive synthesis and assimilation of this new knowledge into our culture for the enhancement and evolution of our cultures’ music, taking it in completely new directions.  The development of the electric guitar obviously occurred from the collective desire of musicians to electrify (and thereby amplify) the sound of their guitar, in order to better match the intrinsic volume levels of other instruments often used in bands. The historical
path of how this occurred is a very interesting story!
Hawaiian music was initially introduced into America by U.S. servicemen returning from overseas tours of duty in the Hawaiian islands, in the aftermath the Spanish-American war (April 21-August 12, 1898), in which Cuba was liberated from Spanish rule, Puerto Rico and Guam were ceded by Spain to the United States, the Philippines were sold to the U.S. for $20M, and the Hawaiian Islands were formally annexed by a resolution on July 7, 1998 from then-President William McKinley, which was rapidly approved by the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate, with a transfer of sovereignty on August 14, 1898. American sailors, while stationed in Hawaii, upon hearing Hawaiian music, were completely enamored with it. Some of them also learned how to play it, and thus brought Hawaiian music back to the U.S. with them when they returned. Hawaiian music rapidly became extremely popular amongst the American public, at the turn of the 20th century.

CONTINUE READING HERE

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Authors : Carl Fleischhauer and Alan Jabbour

Source : http://www.loc.gov/folklife/LP/AFSL65andL66_Hammons.pdf

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“Carl Fleischhauer and I first became acquainted with the Hammons family in 1970. Since then we have visited them regularly, though not as often as we should like, and at some point in our acquaintance it dawned upon us that a full-length study of the family which brought together recordings, print, and photography, and which combined music, lore, oral history, documentary historical research, and general cultural reflections, offered us the best means at our disposal for conveying publicly something of the profound impact the family has had upon us. The Hammonses, who likewise bear a profound respect for the traditions which nurtured them, have encouraged and assisted us at every stage of the project. We should like to express here our gratitude to them for all they have given us.
The study of the history and traditions of a single family, though rarely pursued in American folklore research, has proved exceptionally stimulating. The family unit is important anywhere, but in the case of the Hammonses it weighs even more heavily in the balance with community influences, for the family has been migratory since its arrival upon the early frontier some 175 years ago, rarely staying in one place for even a generation. Following the trail of the family over several generations could not be accomplished exclusively through documentary sources, so we have meshed documentary evidence with the family’s own oral history. The oral stories and the printed documents complemented each other nicely, enabling us both to determine many facts of the family’s peregrinations and to understand better the present generation’s view of the past and its significance”

CONTINUE READING HERE

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A brief History of the Guitar

Posted: October 25, 2011 in Paul Guy, The Guitar

Author : Paul Guy

Source : http://www.guyguitars.com/eng/handbook/BriefHistory.html

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The guitar is an ancient and noble instrument, whose history can be traced back over 4000 years. Many theories have been advanced about the instrument’s ancestry. It has often been claimed that the guitar is a development of the lute, or even of the ancient Greek kithara. Research done by Dr. Michael Kasha in the 1960’s showed these claims to be without merit. He showed that the lute is a result of a separate line of development, sharing common ancestors with the guitar, but having had no influence on its evolution. The influence in the opposite direction is undeniable, however – the guitar’s immediate forefathers were a major influence on the development of the fretted lute from the fretless oud which the Moors brought with them to to Spain.

The sole “evidence” for the kithara theory is the similarity between the greek word “kithara” and the Spanish word “quitarra”. It is hard to imagine how the guitar could have evolved from the kithara, which was a completely different type of instrument – namely a square-framed lap harp, or “lyre”. (Right)

It would also be passing strange if a square-framed seven-string lap harp had given its name to the early Spanish 4-string “quitarra”. Dr. Kasha turns the question around and asks where the Greeks got the name “kithara”, and points out that the earliest Greek kitharas had only 4 strings when they were introduced from abroad. He surmises that the Greeks hellenified the old Persian name for a 4-stringed instrument, “chartar”.”

CONTINUE READING HERE

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