Thursday, February 20, 2020

Sourcing, Procurement, Trouble-shooting

Recycled glass Christmas Ornaments (made in India)
For more than a decade, I have been developing a craft and expertise in sourcing and procurement of products and replacements for existing products.  One of my clients is a paper company.  They hired me to find a replacement for a christmas ornament company in China that couldn't guarantee delivery by July (because of the Coronavirus/COVID19 situation in China).  I found a company in India that was willing to take on the project.  The samples were great, they were fast and efficient.  They agreed to the July timeline and my client is quite pleased.

If your company is experiencing delays in shipping products due to the Coronavirus (COVID19) situation in China, I can help you find replacement products elsewhere.  You might pay a little more, but in the long run, if we all can stay in business and feed our families, isn't that the goal?

Contact me any time.  Let's talk about options!

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Prepare For Outdoor Living and Homesteading

Someone put up these veggies!
Prepare for Outdoor Living and Homesteading is a Facebook group I have started because of my concerns over the Wuhan Coronavirus that has already killed thousands of people in China, SE Asia and is starting to infect people in Europe, the UK, Canada and now the US.  The group will be a place for us to share and discuss topics related to the virus, including what we can do about it.  Speculation is encouraged, especially by people who are experts in the topic.  The group will also be a place to talk about preparing for a system-wide disruption of community services (power, emergency services, food supply, etc), outdoor living (camping, cooking, building shelter, survival tips, security, weapons) and homesteading (farming, animal care and feeding, living off the grid.

If you would like to join our group, click on the link:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/preppingforoutdoorliving/

Thank you!

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Celtic Music: Newfoundland Dancing And Music from Fogo Island in the 1990s




A very lively video of an old fashioned Newfoundland kitchen party featuring Fogo Islands most well known accordion players, Harry Eveleigh, Pat Freake, Harvey Budgell. Which took place somewhere within the early 90's on Fogo Island, Newfoundland.

Some of the tunes played (not in order)
- Off She Goes
- Cock Of The North
- Mussels In The Corner
- Boys Of The Bunkhouse
- I'se Da Bye

These clips were taken from "Fogo Island, my Island home" movie published and produced by Gerald Freake.





Celtic Music: Irish Dancing

Irish dancing or Irish dance is a group of traditional dance forms originating in Ireland which can broadly be divided into social dance and performance dances. Irish social dances can be divided further into céilí and set dancing. Irish set dances are quadrilles, danced by four couples arranged in a square, while céilí dances are danced by varied formations (céilí) of two to sixteen people. In addition to their formation, there are significant stylistic differences between these two forms of social dance. Irish social dance is a living tradition, and variations in particular dances are found across the Irish dancing community; in some places, dances are deliberately modified and new dances are choreographed.

Irish dancing, popularized in 1994 by the world-famous show Riverdance, is notable for its rapid leg and foot movements, body and arms being kept largely stationary.

Most competitive dances are solo dances, though many stepdancers also perform and compete using céilí dances. The solo stepdance is generally characterized by a controlled but not rigid upper body, straight arms, and quick, precise movements of the feet. The solo dances can either be in "soft shoe" or "hard shoe".
The dancing traditions of Ireland probably grew in close association with traditional Irish music. Although its origins are unclear, Irish dancing was later influenced by dance forms from the Continent, especially the Quadrille. Travelling dancing masters taught all over Ireland, as late as the 18th and early 19th centuries. During this time, places for competitions and fairs were always small, so there was little room for the Dance Masters to perform. They would dance on tabletops, sometimes even the top of a barrel. Because of this, the dancing styles were very contained, with hands rigid at the sides, and a lack of arm movement and travelling across the stage. As time went on, larger places for dance competitions and performances were found, so styles grew to include more movement, more dancing across the stage as seen, for example, in Riverdance.

Irish social, or céilí /ˈkeɪli/ dances vary widely throughout Ireland and the rest of the world. A céilí dance may be performed with as few as two people and as many as sixteen. Céilí dances may also be danced with an unlimited number of couples in a long line or proceeding around in a circle (such as in "The Walls of Limerick", "The Waves of Tory", "Haymakers Jig", "An Rince Mor" or "Bonfire Dance"). Céilí dances are often fast and some are quite complex ("Antrim Reel", "Morris Reel"). In a social setting, a céilí dance may be "called" – that is, the upcoming steps are announced during the dance for the benefit of newcomers. The céilí dances are typically danced to Irish instruments such as the Irish Bodhran hand drum or fiddle in addition to the concertina (and similar instruments), guitar, whistle or flute.

The term céilí dance was invented in the late 19th century by the Gaelic League. Céilí as a noun differs from the adjective céilí. A céilí is a social gathering featuring Irish music and dance. Céilí dancing is a specific type of Irish dance. Some céilithe (plural of céilí) will only have céilí dancing, some only have set dancing, and some will have a mixture.

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

Celtic Music: The history of Irish Dance

The history of Irish Dance

by Arthur Flynn

The early history of Irish dance reveals a constant shifting of population through migration and invasions. Each of these peoples brought their preferred types of dance and music. There are only vague references to the early history of Irish dancing, but there is evidence that among its first practitioners were the Druids, who danced in religious rituals honoring the oak tree and the sun. Traces of their circular dances survive in the ring dances of today. When the Celts arrived in Ireland from central Europe over two thousand years ago, they brought with them their own folk dances. Around 400 AD, after the conversion to Christianity, the new priests used the pagan style of ornamentation in illuminating their manuscripts, while the peasants retained the same qualities in their music and dancing.

The Anglo-Norman conquest in the twelfth century brought Norman customs and culture to Ireland. The Carol was a popular Norman dance in which the leader sang and was surrounded by a circle of dancers who replied with the same song. This Norman dance was performed in conquered Irish towns.

Three principal Irish dances are mentioned often in sixteenth century writing: the Irish Hey, the Rinnce Fada (long dance) and the Trenchmore. One of the first references to dance is in a letter written by Sir Henry Sydney to Queen Elizabeth I in 1569. "They are very beautiful, magnificently dressed and first class dancers," Sydney wrote of the girls he saw dancing enthusiastic Irish jigs in Galway.

Sydney went on to describe the dance formation, observing the dancers in two straight lines which suggests they were performing an early version of the long dance.

During the mid sixteenth century, dances were performed in the great halls of the newly built castles. Some of the dances were adapted by the sixteenth century English invaders and brought to the court of Queen Elizabeth. One of these dances was the Trenchmore, which was an adaptation of an old Irish peasant dance. From this period onward another style of dance called the Hey was popular where female dancers wound in around their partners, in a fore-runner of the present day reel.

When royalty arrived in Ireland, they were greeted at the shore by young women performing native dances. When King James landed at Kinsale, County Cork, in 1780, he was welcomed by dancers. Three people stood abreast, each holding ends of a white handkerchief. They advanced to slow music and were followed by dancing couples, each couple holding a handkerchief between them. The tempo of the music increased and the dancers performed a variety of lively figures.

Irish dancing was accompanied by music played on the bagpipes and the harp. In the houses of the Anglo-Irish aristocracy, the master often joined with servants in some of the dances. Dancing was also performed during wakes. The mourners followed each other in a ring around the coffin to bagpipe music.

The Irish Dance Master

During the eighteenth century, the dancing master appeared in Ireland. He was a wandering dancing teacher who travelled from village to village in a district, teaching dance to peasants. Dancing masters were flamboyant characters who wore bright clothes and carried staffs. Their young pupils did not know the difference between their left and right feet. To overcome this problem, the dancing master would tie straw or hay to his pupils' left or right feet and instruct them to "lift hay foot" or "lift straw foot".
Group dances were developed by the masters to hold the interest of their less gifted pupils and to give them the chance to enjoy dancing. The standard of these dances was very high. Solo dancers were held in high esteem and often doors were taken off hinges and placed on the ground for the soloists to dance on.

Each dancing master had his own district and never encroached on another master's territory. It was not unknown for a dancing master to be kidnapped by the residents of a neighbouring parish. When dancing masters met at fairs, they challenged each other to a public dancing contest that only ended when one of them dropped with fatigue.

Several versions of the same dance were to be found in different parts of Ireland. In this way a rich heritage of Irish dances was assembled and modified over the centuries. Today, jigs, reels, hornpipes, sets, half sets, polkas and step dances are all performed. Solo dancing or step dancing first appeared at the end of the eighteenth century.

The costumes worn by Irish dancers today commemorate the clothing of the past. Each school of dancing has its own distinct dancing costume. Dresses are based on the Irish peasant dress worn two hundred years ago. Most of the dresses are adorned with hand-embroidered Celtic designs, copies of the Tara brooch are often worn on the shoulder. The brooch hold a cape which falls over the back. The clothes worn by men are less embellished but steeped in history- they wear a plain kilt and jacket, with a folded cloak draped from the shoulder. Male and female dancers today wear hornpipe shoes, and for reels and jigs, soft shoes similar to ballet pumps are worn.

Today there are many organisations promoting Irish dance. The Feis has been an important part of rural cultural life. Children, teenagers and adults compete in separate competitions for Feis titles and prizes. There are group and solo competitions where dancers are graded by age from six to seventeen and then into the senior categories.

There are dancing championships in all four provinces, and winners of these provincial competitions qualify for the All Ireland Championships. The World Championships are held in Dublin at Easter where dancers from England, Ireland, USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand compete for the World title.

The Irish word céili originally referred to a gathering of neighbors in a house to have an enjoyable time, dancing, playing music and storytelling. Today it refers to an informal evening of dancing. Céilis are held in large towns and country districts where young and old enjoy together group dances. The céili can be traced back to pre-famine times, when dancing at the cross-roads was a popular rural pastime. These dances were usually held on Sunday evenings in summer when young people would gather at the cross-roads. The music was often performed by a fiddler seated on a three legged stool with his upturned hat beside him for a collection. The fiddler began with a reel such as the lively "Silver Tip", but he had to play it several times before the dancers joined in. The young men were reluctant to begin the dance but after some encouragement from the fiddler, the sets of eight filled up the dancing area.

The world-wide success of Riverdance and more recently Lord of the Dance has placed Irish dance on the international stage. Dancing schools in Ireland today are filled with young pupils keen to imitate and learn the dancing styles which brought Jean Butler and Michael Flatley international acclaim.

Today there are many opportunities to watch and enjoy Irish dancing. It is still a regular part of social functions. Dancing sessions at céilis are usually preceded by a teaching period where novices are shown the initial steps. During the summer months, céilis are held in many Irish towns. Visitors are always welcome to join in and with on the spot, informal instruction, anyone can quickly master the first steps and soon share the Irish enthusiasm for Irish dance.

Celtic Music: Tune And Tempo Suggestions for a Feis

Tune And Tempo Suggestions for a Feis

Don’t worry very much about learning these if they are new to you; it’s better to choose tunes you know and are comfortable with playing at a steady beat. (Tempo is the most important part of playing at a feis.) Simpler, catchy tunes are best, at least for lower levels. That said, we do have a few favorites that seem to keep popping up. Also look at other feis musicians’ CDs and MP3s for suggestions, such as those by Pat King, Mike Shaffer, Sean O’Brien, and Dean Crouch.

Reels
Reels: 112–116

  • Jenny’s Chickens
  • Chicago Reel
  • Congress Reel
  • Rakes of Mallow
  • Walls of Limerick


Light/Double Jigs
Jigs: 112–116

  • Swallowtail Jig
  • Rakes of Kildare
  • My Darling Asleep
  • Apples in Winter
  • Siege of Ennis


Slip Jigs
Jigs: 112–116

  • The Butterfly
  • Kid on the Mountain
  • Foxhunter’s Jig
  • Boys of Balisadare


Single Jigs
Jigs: 112–116
Advanced Beginner Treble Jig: 92
Oireachtas Treble Jig: 72–76

  • Haste to the Wedding
  • Kesh Jig
  • Merrily Kiss the Quaker


Hornpipes
Traditional Hornpipe: 138–144
Oireachtas Hornpipe: 112–116

  • The Rights of Man
  • Pigeon on the Gate
  • Rolling Down the Hill
  • The Boys of Blue Hill

Celtic Music: Playing for Irish Dancers

The Tunes

Ceili, or social dancing, uses mostly double jigs and reels, though polkas can be substituted for reels in some cases. A few dances use special tunes, and waltzes are often requested at a ceili.

Step dancing requires reels, hornpipes (slow and fast), single jigs, double jigs (slow and fast), slip jigs, and set dances.

For all tune categories except set dances, you should have multiple tunes arranged and practiced ahead of time so you can transition smoothly from one to the next, providing music for a long period­ as long as 10 minutes for some ceili dances or a "step about" with lots of dancers ­without stopping. Set dances are individual so there's no need to transition from one to another.

Number of Steps and Introduction

Most step-dance steps are 16 bars long (8 bars on each foot), so a typical two-part, 32-bar tune (A-B format) is enough for two steps. If a dancer plans to do six steps, that means you'll play a two-part tune three times (or play three two-part tunes once each, or some combination).

For both ceili dancers and step dancers, you should almost always play an 8-bar introduction (except on slip jigs) so the dancers can gauge the tempo and know when to start dancing. Usually you play an extra A part as the introduction. This way, the dancer can let 8 bars go by and the dance steps will still "sync" with the typical 16-bar phrases of the music. Slip jigs are an exception, since the length of the A part varies (often being 4 instead of 8 measures). Play slip jigs normally (without an extra A part), and the dancer will simply wait 8 bars and then start dancing.

Tempos

Tempos for step dancing are precise; the range of acceptable tempos is very narrow for each dance, so it's important to start playing at the right tempo and maintain the tempo throughout. See the attached list of tempos.

Tempos for ceili dances typically range from 110 to 125 and don't need to be nearly as precise as tempos for step dancing. Experienced dancers usually like faster tempos, though the best tempo has to do more with the complexity of the steps in the dance and other factors, such as the dance floor, the temperature, and humidity (play slower when the dance surface is slippery, uneven, or hard­like concrete­or when the weather is hot and muggy).

Special Note About Hornpipes
Hornpipes are often written evenly with eighth notes, but they aren't played that way. Each combination of two eighth notes is swung so it's played as a dotted eighth note followed by a sixteenth note. Sometimes you will find hornpipes written out as played.

Step Dancing

In general, younger and less-experienced dancers need faster tempos than older, more advanced dancers. The main reason is that more advanced dancers do more complex the steps and require more time to execute them. Although no expert has ever confirmed this for me, I suspect it also has to do with the fact that younger dancers, being smaller, take smaller steps. I have seen older and younger dancers both do the same steps, and the younger ones still need faster music than the older ones.

Adjust tempos, as needed. This chart will provide some ballpark figures to start with.

Dance
Music Type
Tempo
Soft Shoe
(One step is usually 16 bars.)
Beginner
Novice & Prizewinner
Preliminary
& Open
ReelReels
(Option = polkas for beginners only)
120-122116-120112-116*
Light or Soft JigDouble Jigs120-122116-120112-116 (1)
Slip JigSlip Jigs120-122116-120112-116*
Single JigSingle Jigs120-122116-120112-116 (1)
Hard Shoe
    
Double, Treble, or Hard JigDouble Jigs (regu-lar or advanced)(Traditional) 92(Trad. or Adv.)
92 or 72-76
(Advanced)
72-76*
HornpipeHornpipes (regular or advanced)(Traditional)
76-82 (at two clicks/measure)
(Trad. or Adv.)
76-82 or 112-116
112-116* (at four clicks per measure)
Set Dances
(Hard Shoe)
Use music for the specified dance.Dancers set their own tempos on most set dances.
St. Patrick's DaySt. Patrick's Day9292 (1)92 (1)
BlackbirdBlackbird(1)70 minimum*70 minimum *
Job of JourneyworkJob of Journeywork(1)76 minimum*76 minimum*
Hurry the JugHurry the Jug(1)69 minimum*69 minimum*
Planxty DavisPlanxty Davis(1)40 minimum*40 minimum*
Planxty DruryPlanxty Drury(1)69 minimum*69 minimum*
* Tempo established by the Irish Dancing Commission and enforced during competition
(1) Not commonly danced in competition.

Celtic Music: Francis O'Neill: The Police Chief Who Saved Irish Music

John Callaway narrates the fascinating story of this turn-of-the-century Renaissance man and the wide-reaching effects of his life's work.

Francis O'NeillImmigrant. World Traveler. Chicago Police Officer. Scholar. Author. Historian. Musician. Husband and father of ten children. Francis O'Neill, Chicago's Police Superintendent from 1901-05, is virtually unknown today. Yet this remarkable man not only served as a heroic police officer and reforming chief of police, but also made an enduring contribution to his native Ireland and Irish culture through the gathering and publication of the largest collection of Irish music ever assembled.

The youngest of seven children, O'Neill was born in Tralibane, County Cork, in 1848, the last year of Ireland's devastating Potato Famine. Pushed by ambition and pulled by adventure, the spirited young man passed up a chance to become a teacher. Instead, at the age of 16, he set out to seek his fortune as a cabin boy on an English merchant vessel. On one of his voyages, he met Anna Rogers, an Irish girl he then married in Bloomington, Illinois. The couple moved to Chicago soon after the Great Fire to start a family.

In 1873, O'Neill signed on as a Chicago policeman, and distinguished himself from the start. Nicholas Carolan, Director of the Irish Traditional Music Archive in Dublin and author of a new book on O'Neill entitled A Harvest Saved, relates: "In [O'Neill's] first month on the police force, he showed his bravery by tackling an armed burglar. He was shot, and carried the bullet encysted near his spine for the rest of his life." O'Neill's intelligence and political savvy helped him rise in the ranks quickly. In 1901, he was named General Superintendent, where he earned respect for his efforts to reform what had been a corrupt police department.

At the same time, O'Neill was also pursuing his other passion, the performance and collection of Irish music. He retained strong memories of his childhood in Ireland where he learned to play the flute and listen to the musicians at Crossroad Dances near his home. In later years, he wrote, "traditional Irish music could have survived even the famine if it had not been capriciously and arbitrarily prescribed and suppressed" by the English and some elements of the Church. O'Neill went to great lengths to unearth the music -- and musicians who could play it. Siobhan McKinney, a native-born Irish musician and co-owner with her husband Brendan of Chief O'Neill's Pub in Chicago, explains, "As soon as he heard of pipers coming to America, he would bring them all to Chicago. And immediately he would snap 'em up, put 'em on the police force, and write down their music." Historian Richard Lindberg adds, "He would travel the streetcars of Chicago in civilian clothing, listening to people on the street cars humming and whistling little tunes. He really collected these songs in much the same way an archeologists digs for things in tombs." O'Neill's great granddaughter Mary Mooney Lesch concludes: "He'd go back to his office and play them for his sergeant, who would write them down." O'Neill eventually published eight books of some 3,500 traditional Irish tunes, most of them after he retired from the police force in 1905 and could devote himself to the cause on a full-time basis. Carolan states, "It was the largest snapshot ever taken of Irish traditional music and we still have it."

Francis O'Neill is revered today, 65 years after his death, because at a critical time for Irish culture, his books helped to keep Ireland's music alive. Noel Rice, President of the Academy of Irish Music, has taught O'Neill's music to his students for the past 25 years. "He did a magnificent job. . .of gathering it together and trying to keep it from dying." Kevin Henry, an Irish piper who plays in the sessions at Chief O'Neill's Pub, says, "I have to take off my cap to the Chief; there was nobody like him." Paddy Ryan, music officer of Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann, the organization that promotes traditional music in Ireland, concurs. He put Chicago on the map in the musical sense. Chicago is a very important place in the history of Irish traditional music. Extremely important place. Because of Francis O'Neill."

Admiration for the "Music Mad" Francis O'Neill
(from A Harvest Saved: Francis O'Neill and Irish Music in Chicago)

In all his wanderings and throughout his police career and long retirement, O'Neill was obsessed with music, 'music mad' as he said of himself. He continued with his childhood instrument the flute as his main instrument, and privately considered himself 'a fair freehand fluter.' At different times he played the fiddle, the Scottish Lowland pipes and Scottish Highland pipes on which he described himself as 'a tasty performer.' He was also 'an excellent performer on the [uilleann] pipes,' according to his friend the Rev. Dr. Richard Henebry, professor of Celtic at the University of Washington, D.C. The enthusiastic Henebry is likely to have been the anonymous admirer of O'Neill's piping made fun of by the piping historian Seamus O Casaide:

Captain O'Neill is a musician himself, and a good one. He has at least one admirer who places him above all the musicians of the world. If Paderewski were to give one of his masterly performances of a Mozart sonata, or if Kubelik were to play the Hungarian Rhapsody with that wonderful artistic feeling which is so characteristic of his work, and if one were to say to a certain distinguished votary of music, 'Isn't that exquisite?,' the chances are a hundred to one that the reply would be, 'Ah, yes, but you should hear Chief O'Neill play "The Fox Chase"!'

Celtic Music: Irish Warpipes

Irish Tunes for the Warpipes, 1911
by William Walsh

The mouth-blown bagpipes, commonly called the ‘warpipes’ in Ireland, have been played here since medieval times, and were the instrument which often led Irish forces into battle.

With the introduction of more modern methods of warfare in the seventeenth century, they lost their military function, and were played only to accompany such recreational activities as dancing, parading, and leading sports teams onto the field of play. By the eighteenth century, their position had largely been usurped by the quieter bellows-blown uilleann pipes, which were usually played indoors. But there was still a social need for a loud outdoor bagpipe for certain public occasions, and the Irish warpipes never quite disappeared. They enjoyed a revival in Ireland in the later nineteenth century, under the influence of the bands of Scottish regiments of the British Army stationed in Ireland. The warpipes continue to be played in Ireland as a solo and as a band instrument, and most commonly in the context of competitions.

Nationally minded Irish warpipers incorporated native tunes in their repertories from the time of the revival, often adapting them from other instruments and existing publications. After 1900, as the revival progressed, printed collections of these warpipe melodies began to be published. Among the earliest and most influential was the 1911 collection Irish Tunes for the Scottish and Irish War-Pipes, compiled by William Walsh and arranged and published in Edinburgh by David Glen, the original printing of which is presented below.

William Walsh, a flute player and dancer as well as a warpiper, and an Irish speaker, was born in 1859 in Oughterard, Co Galway, and was brought to America as a child. Settled in Chicago, he was attracted to the sound of the warpipes, and sought out the company of Scottish players there. He joined the police force in the city in 1891, and was a friend of the music collector Francis O’Neill who was prominent in the force. Walsh was self-taught in music and learned from notation in preference to ear, and his collection of Irish and Scottish tunes for the instrument was in manuscript by 1909. David Glen (b. 1850), one of a prominent family of musical instrument makers and music publishers which had been in business in Edinburgh since the 1820s, added characteristic grace notes to Walsh’s notations. The collection was later reprinted by Glen in a 2/6 edition, and reprinted by Mozart Allan in Glasgow in 1951.

http://www.itma.ie/digitallibrary/book/irish-tunes-for-the-scottish-and-irish-war-pipes-compiled-by-william-walsh

Klezmer History: What is Gypsy Music?

What is Gypsy Music?

Gypsy music is music of the Roma (Romani or Gypsy) people.  It should be noted that the word ‘gypsy' often has a negative connotation, and the Romani people would never use this term to refer to themselves.  Therefore it is preferable to refer to them as they refer to themselves, as ‘Roma'.  (Please see this website, The Voice of Roma, for a much more thorough discussion of this topic)

The Roma are a diverse ethnic group originating from the Indian plateau and spreading throughout the Near-East, Europe and North Africa on a journey that has lasted at least 1500 years maybe much longer.   They have been known by many names in the various lands they have inhabited such as Tsigane, Zigeuner, Gitano, Bohemian, Egyptian, Gypsie, gipsy and of course, gypsy.

Along their long journey, they have come to embody a certain mystique of wandering people, adept as entertainers and tradesman, but most famously trained as musicians.  Along the thousands of years they have journeyed since leaving the Indian plateau, they have learned and assimilated the musical styles of every culture they have come in contact with.  Because the Romani people have lived and played in such diverse lands as India, Spain, Turkey, North Africa, the Middle East and all over Europe, it is difficult to come to a singular definition of what gypsy music is.

In many ways the Roma people have acted as repositories of endangered music, preserving art and traditions that would otherwise have been lost.  Even more amazing is the fact that they have been extremely successful at preserving their own unique culture and legacy while absorbing the influences of those around them.

Here is a list of some of the most important Roma musicians and bands:

• Django Reinhardt
• Taraf de Haidouks
• Camaron de la Isla
• Paco de Lucia
• Ivo Papazov
• Gypsy Kings
• Boban Markovic
• Yuri Yunakov
• The Rosenberg Trio
• Jimmy Rosenberg
• Birelli Lagrene
• Esma Redzepova
• Fanfare Ciocarlia

Here is a good article on Romani music from wikipedia.com:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romani_music

Here is a great, in depth article on Romani music from rootsworld.com:
http://www.rootsworld.com/rw/feature/gypsy1.html

Klezmer History: Romani Culture and Music / Taraf De Haidouks

Romani Culture and Music / Taraf De Haidouks

The lăutari who perform at traditional Romanian weddings are virtually all Roma, although their music draws from a vast variety of ethnic traditions — for example Romanian, Turkish, Jewish, and Slavic — as well as Romani traditions. 

Probably the most internationally prominent contemporary performer in the lăutari tradition is Taraful Haiducilor. Zdob şi Zdub, one of the most prominent rock bands in Moldova, although not Romani themselves, draw heavily on Roman music, as do Spitalul de Urgenţă in Romania.

Flamenco music and dance came from the Romani in Spain; the distinctive sound of Romani music has also strongly influenced bolero, jazz, klezmer and Cante Jondo in Europe. European-style Gypsy jazz is still widely practised among the original creators (the Romani People); one who acknowledged this artistic debt was Django Reinhardt.


Classical music: Romani music is very important in Eastern European cultures such as Hungary, Russia, and Romania, and the style and performance practices of Romani musicians have influenced European classical composers such as Franz Liszt and Johannes Brahms.  Many famous classical musicians, such as the Hungarian pianist Georges Cziffra, are Romani.

Taraf de Haïdouks (Romanian: Taraful Haiducilor, "Taraf of Haiduks") are a taraf, i.e., a troupe of Romani-Romanian lăutari from the town of Clejani, the most prominent such group in Romania in the post-Communist Era. In the Western world it has become known by way of French-speaking areas, where they are known as "Taraf de Haïdouks".

The lăutari of Clejani were long known for their musical skills. The first recordings by ethnomusicologists in the village were made in the interwar period. Speranţa Radulescu also made recordings in Clejani in 1983 for the archive of "The Institute for Ethnography and Folklore". The recordings were made in various configurations. During the Communist era, many lăutari from Clejani were also employed in the national ensembles that played Romanian popular music.

Early contacts in the West included Swiss ethnomusicologist Laurent Aubert and Belgian musicians Stéphane Karo and Michel Winter, two fans who were so taken by the band's music that they turned into managers, brought the newly named "Taraf de Haïdouks" to Western Europe and helped launch their international career.
Since the release of its first album back in 1991, Taraf de Haïdouks has been considered the epitome of Romany music's vitality. The group has toured worldwide, released acclaimed albums and a DVD (see below), and counts among its fans the late Yehudi Menuhin, the Kronos Quartet (with whom it has recorded and performed), actor Johnny Depp (alongside whom the group appeared in the film The Man Who Cried), fashion designer Yohji Yamamoto (who invited the band to be models-cum-musicians for his Paris and Tokyo shows), and many more. Meanwhile, the band members seem to have been relatively unaffected by all this, maintaining their way of life (they still reside in Clejani, in the Valachian countryside).


The band's latest release is the Maskarada album, in which they reinterpret and "re-gypsify" pieces by 20th-century classical composers (such as Bartók, Khachaturian and others) who drew inspiration from national folklore and often borrowed from Roma styles.

Mandolin History: Mandolin's Heyday

Frets, March 1979


Early Gibson mandolin family instruments consisted of mandolin, mandola, mandocello, and mandobass. Varied in size and tuned one fifth apart, these instruments were the fretted equivalents of the violin viola, cello, and string bass and could be played in much the same manner, using music composed for their bowed counterparts.

In my view, the evolution of instruments occurs in three basic ways: a new instrument is developed, an existing one is improved in response to public demand, or a maker first produces an instrument and then attempts to create a demand for it. Sometimes this entails writing or arranging music spedfically for the new instrument and promoting the music along with the instrument. The Gibson Company used this approach with considerable success to create a demand for the mandolin family instruments. When they introduced the mandola, mandocello, and mandobass around 1910, they also introduced the concept of a mandolin orchestra that could play regular orchestral string music using these instruments. They promoted this idea vigorously, using a carefully planned program to show music teachers how to sell a considerable number of Gibson instruments at one time (on commission) by organizing mandolin orchestras. As a result, countless mandolin groups of various sizes were formed all over the country. Most of them used Gibsons exclusively, and sales of the company's mandolin family line flounshed. The mandolin orchestras became so popular with both professional and amateur musicians that they dominated the fretted instrument scene in America for nearly a decade.

The history of the Gibson mandolin family begins in the late 1890s with Orville Gibson's design of a mandolin that was radically different from the instruments that had originated in Italy several hundred years before. The typical Italian-style mandolin was the so-called "bowl back," "gourd," or "tater bug" with a deep bowl-shaped back, a flat angled top, and a scale length about the same as a violin's. This design became the accepted standard for a mandolin and was copied widely by other makers throughout Europe, particularly in Germany. Mandolins weren't produced in the United States in any significant quantity until the 1890s, and before that almost all the mandolins seen here were German or Italian imports of bowl-back construction.
The first American company to produce mandolins (bowl-back) on a large scale was Lyon & Healy in Chicago, whose better quality instruments bore the Washburn brand. They turned out mandolins in very large quantities during the 1890s and offered them in many different models. However, they were all basically the typical 8-string bowlbacks and they didn't represent any particular evolution of the mandolin design over what had already been achieved in Europe. In 1898, Orville Gibson patented a mandolin that was to revolutionize the design of the instrument. A radical departure from the Italian-style mandolins, his design featured a relatively flat carved back, a carved top, and a longer fretboard. Early Gibson catalogs carefully explain that on a violin fingerboard, the fingers are placed where the frets would be if there were any. Therefore, a fretted fingerboard must be longer to allow the player to use violin fingering while still keeping his fingers behind the frets. The two body shapes Orville used for his mandolins, the teardrop-shaped A style and the Florentine style with points and scroll, were also different from other fretted instruments made at the time. In almost every conceivable aspect of design and appearance, Orville Gibson's mandolins were something new, and they seem to have emerged straight from his own creativity and workshop.

Gibson sold the patent on his mandolin and the rights to use his name and manufacturing methods in producing a line of Gibson instruments to five businessmen from Kalamazoo, Michigan, in 1902. Although Orville was certainly a true innovator who came up with highly original mandolins and guitars, the instruments he himself made were often rather crude. The Gibson instruments produced after he left the company, however, were quite different. Even those made as early as 1910 were better sounding and playing instruments -- and far more sophisticated -- than any of Orville's.

The mandolin family instruments appeared shortly before 1910 and evolved very quickly. Since the company was already geared up to produce mandolins, it was no problem to produce them in vanous sizes. The mandolin was tuned like a violin, and it was a logical step to develop fretted instruments tuned one fifth apart that corresponded exactly to the bowed instruments of the classical orchestra. This was a significant contrast to the banjos,which came in many sizes that weren't particularly useful in conventional musical arrangements. Tuned like a string quartet, the mandolin family instruments developed by Gibson were ideal for playing in groups and were capable of playing sheet music for bowed instruments,which already existed in abundance.
The only instruments of this type to come out before Gibson's innovation were octave mandolas tuned one octave below a mandolin. Since these didn't fit into the tuning scheme of the string quartet they weren't particularly useful for playing standard orchestral music. Some early Gibson ads for the mandola carefully called it a tenor mandola and stressed the advantages of its C-G-D-A tuning over that of an octave mandola.
It was a logical step to go from the idea of the mandolin family to the concept of the mandolin orchestra, and here Gibson could look to the example of the band instrument companies that for some time had been setting up bands and supplying everything from instruments to sheet music. Gibson soon developed a similar program to organize mandolin orchestras as a means of selling instruments, and was the first fretted instrument company to use this approach. Its marketing scheme was very well thought out, complete in every detail, and was very successful. Strangely enough, nobody else cashed in on the mandolin boom to the extent that Gibson did. Lyon & Healy and Martin both failed to bring out a mandolin with a carved top and back until it was too late for them to benefit greatly from the interest in mandolin orchestras. Lyon & Healy eventually did copy the mandolin family idea. Their 1913 catalog featured "The Lealand Family of Mando lnstruments," which not only included the four that Gibson had but also a piccolo or soprano mandolin. These instruments weren't as successful as the Gibsons, however, probably because they didn't sound as good and weren't promoted as effectively.

Gibson's development of the mandolin family and mandolin orchestra show that it was a very creative company for its day, but its success with the mandolin family instruments was as much a product of good timing as creativity. The mandolin orchestras filled the void left by the decline of the 5-string banjo and provided an excellent way for people to entertain themselves in the days before radio, TV, and movies. The most important factor in the growth of the mandolin orchestra movement, however, was undoubtedly Gibson's remarkably effective promotion.

Mandolin History: Gibson Mandolin "Orchestra"

by Gregg Miner

Disclaimer to Internet readers:

The following text is a humorous essay written for the layperson. It originally appeared in a companion booklet to my 1995 Christmas Collection CDs. The information, while factual, is presented in a personal, unorthodox manner. No offense is intended toward my fellow musicians or fellow musicologists.

I must confess that I'm among the many who are infatuated with old Gibson instruments, particularly those made between 1900 and 1930, heyday of the mandolin and banjo. The Gibson story began with Orville Gibson, who, among other things, revolutionized the mandolin in the year 1898. Dissatisfied with the sound of the traditional Italian-style bowl-back mandolin (not to mention how to hold the slippery thing!), he completely redesigned it -- giving it a relatively flat, shallow profile, and applying such violin principals as an arched, carved top and back. His basic design was refined by the Gibson Company over the years and reached its zenith in 1922 with the immortal F-5 mandolin. Unfortunately, the mandolin craze had just ended and comparatively few of these were sold. But then in the mid-forties, Bill Monroe discovered an old F-5, single-handedly invented bluegrass music, and the rest, as they say, is history. The mandolin is now as popular as ever, and to this day, Gibsons remain the standard by which all others are judged.

Now, no one knows exactly who came up with the idea of a mandolin "orchestra" (or when), but it was ingenious. Apparently, someone finally noticed that a mandolin (with eight strings in four double-courses) was tuned exactly like a violin and could therefore play violin music. It was even possible to play sustained notes with a tremolo technique. Then, around the turn of the century somebody further reasoned that if larger mandolins were built to correspond to the viola, cello, and even bass, an entire string orchestra could be duplicated with mandolinists. Reasonable enough, but where does one find mandolinists? Gibson's answer was brilliantly simple and diabolical. It initiated a systematic nation-wide marketing scheme wherein a network of music teacher-dealers was cajoled into organizing local mandolin "clubs" whose eager participants would just happen to require (A) lessons and (B) instruments -- both happily provided by the teacher. Between 1910 and 1920 there were literally hundreds of these "All-Gibson orchestras" across the country -- a phenomenon not unnoticed by several other companies who were scurrying to produce their own versions of this new family of instruments. But even though Gibson mandolins were the most expensive, their craftsmanship, sound, aesthetic beauty, and grandiose hype captured the majority of hearts and pocketbooks than as now. And this was just the beginning of Gibson's tremendous success story. Ironically, Orville Gibson himself missed out on all the fun since he had sold the rights to his name and inventions in 1902 for $2500.

Gibson made all but the bass in two body styles: a round, teardrop shape and the "florentine" with scroll and points. Florentine mandolas and mandocellos are now especially rare, and surprisingly popular and costly collector's items. Some, like this 1924 mandocello, have the short-lived "Virzi tone-producer," a wooden disc suspended inside the body to supposedly improve the sound.

Despite what I've written, a mandolin orchestra can't be fully explained -- it must be experienced. So I personally did my time with the Los Angeles Mandolin Orchestra for several years, one of the few such clubs still in existence. Let me try to recall the scene: First of all, trying to get a couple of hundred strings in tune for each rehearsal (with all but the bass double-strung) was a disastrous free-for-all with no one the lucky winner, and in the end, it didn't much matter anyway. Sheet music arranged for string orchestra was then passed out, though some of the more senior members had trouble just focusing on the notes on our photocopies. There was a professional conductor, but he was largely ignored, as it seemed more important to find one's own rhythm and stick with it, impressing it upon one's neighbors if possible. And, yet, given enough rehearsal and any amount of luck, the "miracle of the mandolin orchestra" would occur -- wherein a couple dozen madly tremoloed mandolins blended together to give the illusion of a bowed string orchestra. Alas, my "quartet" just begins to hint at this.

Psychology of Music: Your Brain on Practice

by Jenna Bauer

In order to attain a high level of mastery on the violin, it is crucial to understand the mechanics of our brains, as many great pedagogues have demonstrated. With this in mind, I wasn’t surprised when I uncovered a commonality between Ivan Galamian’s Principles of Violin Playing & Teaching and neuroscientist David Eagleman’s latest book, Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain.
Both texts bring out an explicit fact: the brain is jam-packed with antics and we are completely unaware that we are the subject of its pranks. Why is it that when you hear a recording of your own voice, or the “voice” you’ve developed through the violin, you’re taken aback that the sound is not what you expected...or wanted?

Galamian coins this as subjective listening. You believe you are hearing the sound correctly, but your desires and expectations mask the actual sound being produced. Our brains persistently conceal the reality of our interactions with the world to make everything more rewarding. While this may help combat self-hate, for a violinist it can be incredibly detrimental. The squishy organ in your head will gladly tell you that you’re in tune and in time even when you’re not. Eagleman illustrates this phenomenon in hearing, sight and time perception.

So how can you possibly defeat something so innate? Well the good news is, as Galamian writes, you can train your brain to hear more objectively. This is why violin teachers have always stressed the importance of using a tuner and a metronome in daily practice. Recording yourself regularly and singing are also effective ways to catch mental mishaps. But these devices alone will not save you from the toils of your brain.

There are three key areas Galamian points to, which need to be addressed every time you practice: building time (technicality), interpreting time (musicality) and performance time (complete run through of a work). But this is just the start. How can you use your brain most effectively during these stages of practice?

If your unconscious is allowed to take the reigns during building and interpreting time, then your conscious (the area you converse with regularly) becomes free to wander to beaches and meadows. Typically musicians refer to this as auto-pilot mode. In this instance, your mistakes go unnoticed and your practice becomes futile; the music becomes stored in the unconscious area of your brain, as is.

By this point you must be wondering: do great soloists tune out their conscious mind when they perform? Eagleman makes the point that in athletics, fastball hitters and world cup tennis players don’t have time to consciously think about the moves they make. All of their motions and reactions have been stored in the unconscious during practice time. When it’s game time their conscious awareness is better left on the sidelines. Similarly, the pro golfer is at a disadvantage if he becomes overly analytical: the unconscious area of his brain has stored the information necessary to execute the perfect swing, leaving his conscious clueless as to how he actually does it. What this tells me is that once you decide to run the piece all the way through (performance time) you should relax and allow your unconscious to take control (after all, you trust it to get you home from work everyday!). At this point there is no need for your conscious to be making corrections.

With repeated scrutiny, your conscious awareness will learn to listen objectively and overcome the urge to relay false information to the unconscious storage systems that make up the majority of your brain. By making performance time an integral part of your daily practice routine, you can train yourself to tune out the conscious babble when need be, in order to convey the music with finesse. Remember, the first step to improving your brain (and ultimately, your practice) is acknowledging its shortcomings.

Psychology of Music: The Zone/Flow

"The Zone" aka "Flow"

The Psychology of Flow
by Jeremy Dean*

What is it like to be fully alive, right now, engaged with what you are doing? That’s the psychology of flow.
When the happiness and creativity expert Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi was studying how painters work, he noticed an odd thing. When their painting was going well they didn’t care about getting tired, hungry or uncomfortable, they just carried on.

But when the painting was finished, they rapidly lost interest in it.

What was this special state of mind that seemed to absorb the whole of your being? Csikszentmihalyi called it a ‘flow state’. It’s the experience of being fully engaged with what you’re currently doing.

When you’re in a flow state:
  • an hour can pass in the blink of an eye,
  • you feel what you are doing is important,
  • you’re not self-conscious,
  • action and awareness merges,
  • you feel in full control,
  • and the experience is intrinsically rewarding.

To create a flow experience, you need:
  • to be internally motivated, i.e. you are doing the activity mainly for its own sake,
  • the task should stretch your skills almost to the limits, but not so much that it makes you too anxious,
  • there should be clear short-term goals for what you are trying to achieve,
  • and you should get immediate feedback on how you are doing, i.e. you can see how the painting, photo, blog post etc. is turning out.

The experience of flow has been studied amongst surgeons, writers, artists, scientists, athletes and people just socializing and playing games. The experience of peak performance is very similar, whatever the activity.

Flow states require a balance, though, as Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi says in his book on the subject, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience:

“Enjoyment appears at the boundary between boredom and anxiety, when the challenges are just balanced with the person’s capacity to act.”

It’s not always easy to achieve but being in a state of flow is a beautiful thing.

*Jeremy Dean is a psychologist and the author of PsyBlog. His latest book is "Making Habits, Breaking Habits: How to Make Changes That Stick".