Saturday, September 26, 2009
The Pipa (Chinese: 琵琶; pinyin: pípá) is a four-stringed Chinese instrument, belonging to the plucked category of instruments (弹拨乐器/彈撥樂器). Sometimes called the Chinese lute, the instrument has a pear-shaped wooden body with a varying number of frets ranging from 12–26. Although, like its smaller sibling, the Chinese liuqin, it may look like a lute, in fact, neither instruments have an actual neck, as the soundboard body spans the entire strings to the head of the instrument, making them actually a handheld zither. The pipa appeared in the Qin Dynasty and developed by the Han Dynasty. It is one of the most popular Chinese instruments and has been played for nearly two thousand years in China. Several related instruments in East and Southeast Asia are derived from the pipa; these include the Japanese biwa, the Vietnamese đàn tỳ bà, and the Korean bipa. The Korean instrument is the only one of the three that is no longer used. Attempts to revive the instrument have failed, although examples survive in museums.
The name "pípá" is made up of two Chinese syllables, "pí" (琵) and "pá" (琶). These are the two most common ways of playing this instrument. "Pí" is to push the fingers of the right hand from right to left, thus more than one finger can be used at a time striking multiple notes, and "pá" is to pull the thumb of the right hand from left to right, in the opposite direction. The strings were originally played using a large plectrum in the Tang Dynasty, then gradually replaced by the fingernails of the right hand. Since the revolutions in Chinese instrument making during the 20th century, the softer twisted silk strings of earlier times have been exchanged for nylon-wound steel strings, which are far too strong for human fingernails, so false nails are now used, constructed of plastic or tortoise-shell, and affixed to the fingertips with the player's choice of elastic tape.
A Tang Dynasty five-stringed pipa:
Prototypes of the pipa already existed in China in the Qin Dynasty (221 BC–206 BC). At that time, there were two types of pipa. One was straight-necked, with a round sound box constructed from lacquered Paulownia wood, and two faces mounted with leather. The other was believed to be inspired by the primitive forms of zheng, konghou, and zou. It also has a straight neck, a round sound box, and also four strings, along with twelve standards of notes. This model was later developed into the instrument known today as the ruan. The modern pipa is closer to the instrument which originated in Persia/Middle-East (where it was called barbat) and was introduced into China beginning in the late Jin Dynasty (265–420 A.D.).
By the Tang era, the pipa had become popular in the imperial court. It had a crooked neck, 4 or 5 silk strings, and 5 or 6 frets, and was played with a plectrum in a horizontal position. As the ages went by, the crooked neck was replaced by a straight one, the number of frets increased to between 14 or 16, and to 17, 24, 29, or 30 in the 20th century.
The pipa became a favourite in the Tang Dynasty, during which time Persian and Kuchan performers and teachers were in demand in the capital, Chang'an (which had a large Persian community). Many delicately carved pipas with beautiful inlaid patterns date from this period. Masses of pipa-playing Buddhist semi-deities are depicted in the wall paintings of the Mogao Caves near Dunhuang. [wikipedia]
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Crazy Frog, originally known as The Annoying Thing, is a computer animated character created by Erik Wernquist. Marketed by the ringtone provider Jamba!, the animation was originally created to accompany a sound effect produced by Daniel Malmedahl while attempting to imitate the sound of a two-stroke moped engine.
The Crazy Frog spawned a worldwide hit single with a remix of "Axel F", which reached the number one spot in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Turkey, New Zealand, Australia and most of Europe. The subsequent album Crazy Frog Presents Crazy Hits and second single "Popcorn" also enjoyed worldwide chart success, and a second album entitled Crazy Frog Presents More Crazy Hits was released in 2006. The Crazy Frog has also spawned a range of merchandise and toys, and two video games.
In 1997, 17-year-old student Daniel Malmedahl recorded himself impersonating the noises produced by internal combustion engines. He posted this on a website and caught the attention of a Swedish television researcher, who convinced Daniel to perform the sound live on air. After it debuted on television, recordings of his performance began appearing on peer to peer file sharing networks and various websites under the filename "2TAKTARE.MP3" ("Tvåtaktare" is Swedish for "Two stroker"). The sound was adopted as the sound of a formula one car as early as 2001 in the form of "Deng Deng Form" and later "The Insanity Test" both of which were a static background of a Ferrari Formula One car accompanied by the sound. However the sound was later adopted as that of a motorcycle for its most well known format.
In late 2003, Malmedahl's fellow Swede Erik Wernquist encountered the sound effect and, not knowing about the previous incarnations of the sound, was inspired to create the 3D animation "The Annoying Thing" to accompany it. Erik used the LightWave 3D modeling application to produce the animation and posted it on his website. The animation was a popular attraction at Erik's website, but the sound was credited to "Anonymous". Eventually, word reached Daniel that his impressions had been used in a now well-known animation. He contacted Erik, apparently giving an impromptu performance to confirm his claims. Erik was convinced, and gave credit to Daniel for his creation. It was broadcast for the first time on two Belgian commercials for Ringtone Europe and Jamster België (now both merged into Jamba!) in mid-2004. They soon created Crazy Frog.
Riding on the popularity of these initial single releases, an album entitled Crazy Frog Presents Crazy Hits was released on July 25. It contained several Frog remixes of existing songs like "Pump Up the Jam" and the Pink Panther theme, as well as several original tracks such as "In the 80's" and "Dirty Frog". It reached #5 in the UK, #8 in Australia and topped the charts in New Zealand. Surprisingly the album performed much better in the US than the "Axel F" single, reaching #19.
A special Christmas edition of Crazy Hits with numerous holiday-themed bonus tracks was released in November, backed with a double A-side single release of "Jingle Bells/U Can't Touch This". The single peaked at #4 in Australia and #5 in the UK.
In May 2006 the Crazy Frog contributed two tracks to a British compilation album entitled Football Crazy released to coincide with the 2006 World Cup — "Ole Ole Ole (Do the Froggy Wave)" and "Na Na Na, Hey Hey". A second album entitled Crazy Frog Presents More Crazy Hits was released in June 2006, continuing in the musical vein of the first release with Frog versions of songs such as "I Will Survive", "Ice Ice Baby", and "I'm Too Sexy". The second single release is "We Are the Champions (Ding a Dang Dong)", again a World Cup-oriented track perhaps drawing inspiration from the earlier Football Crazy songs.
Third album, titled Everybody Dance Now is released on 13 July, 2009 and first single, a new version of Daddy DJ on August 2009. [wikipedia]
Friday, September 11, 2009
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Sunday, September 6, 2009
A Gamelan is a musical ensemble from Indonesia typically from the islands of Bali or Java featuring a variety of instruments such as metallophones xylophones drums and gongs bamboo flutes bowed and plucked strings. Vocalists may also be included. The term refers more to the set of instruments than to the players of those instruments. A gamelan is a set of instruments as a distinct entity built and tuned to stay together — instruments from different gamelan are generally not interchangeable.
The word "gamelan" comes from the Javanese word "gamel" meaning to strike or hammer and the suffix "an" which makes the root a collective noun. Real hammers are not used to play these instruments as heavy iron hammers would break the delicate instruments. The gamelan predates the Hindu-Buddhist culture that dominated Indonesia in its earliest records and instead represents a native art form. The instruments developed into their current form during the Majapahit Empire. In contrast to the heavy Indian influence in other art forms the only obvious Indian influence in gamelan music is in the Javanese style of singing.
SMK Bukit Baru, Malacca Malaysia...Gamelan & Caklempong Competition 2009-Champions. Bravo!
In Javanese mythology the gamelan was created by Sang Hyang Guru in Saka era 167 (c. AD 230) the god who ruled as king of all Java from a palace on the Maendra mountains in Medangkamulan (now Mount Lawu). He needed a signal to summon the gods and thus invented the gong. For more complex messages he invented two other Gongs thus forming the original gamelan set.
'Misi Nggak Mungkin' by Djaduk Ferianto & Trie Utami, Groovy I'm lovin' it.. Syabas!
The varieties are generally grouped geographically with the principal division between the styles favored by the Balinese Javanese and Sundanese peoples. Sundanese gamelan is often associated with Gamelan Degunga Sundanese musical ensemble that utilises a subset of modified gamelan instruments with a particular mode of pelog scale. Balinese gamelan is often associated with the virtuosity and rapid changes of tempo and dynamics of Gamelan gong kebyarits best-known style. Other popular Balinese styles include Gamelan and kecak also known as the "monkey chant." Javanese gamelan was largely dominated by the courts of the 19th century central Javanese ruler seach with its own style but overall is known for a slower more meditative style than that of Bali.
Outside of the main core on Java and Bali gamelans have spread through migration and cultural interest new styles sometimes resulting as well. Malay gamelans are designed in ways that are similar to the Javanese gamelan except they lack most of the elaborating instruments and are tuned in a near-equidistant slendro often using a western Bb or C as a tuning basis. Javanese emigrants to Suriname play gamelan in a style close to that found in Central Javanese villages. Gamelan is also related to the Filipino kulintang ensemble. There is also a wide variety of gamelan in the West including both traditional and experimental ensembles.
The gamelan has been appreciated by several western composers of classical music most famously Claude Debussy who heard a Javanese gamelan play at the Paris Exposition of 1889 (World's Fair). (The gamelan Debussy heard was in the slendro scale and was played by Central Javanese musicians). Despite his enthusiasm direct citations of gamelan scales melodies rhythms or ensemble textures have not been located in any of Debussy's own compositions. However the equal-tempered whole tone scale appears in his music of this time and afterward and a Javanese gamelan-like heterophonic texture is emulated on occasion particularly in "Pagodes" from Estampes (solo piano 1903) in which the great gong's cyclic punctuation is symbolized by a prominent perfect fifth. [wikipedia]
Friday, September 4, 2009
The Yoshida Kyōdai (吉田兄弟) are Japanese musicians and have released several albums under the Domo Records internationally as the Yoshida Brothers. Ryōichirō Yoshida (吉田 良一郎 , born 26 July 1977) and Ken'ichi Yoshida (吉田 健一 , born 16 December 1979) were born in Noboribetsu in Hokkaidō Prefecture, Japan. The two brothers have played the shamisen from a very young age. They both began to study and play the shamisen from five years of age under Koka Adachi, learning the Minyō-shamisen style; from about 1989 they studied the Tsugaru-jamisen style under Takashi Sasaki.
They are a pair of brothers and performers of the traditional Japanese music style of Tsugaru-jamisen which originated in northern Japan. They debuted in 1999 in Japan as a duo playing the shamisen. Their first album sold over 100,000 copies and made them minor celebrities in Japan, a fact that surprised the Yoshida Brothers themselves. They have since attracted an international audience.
The commercials for the Nintendo's Wii video game console that began airing in North America in November 2006 feature the Yoshida Brothers song, "Kodo (Inside the Sun Remix)
Their music has been a fusion of the rapid and percussive Tsugaru-jamisen style along with Western and other regional musical influences. In addition to performing songs that are only on the shamisen, they also use modern instruments such as drums and synthesizers. [wikipedia]