Ear Foodz

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The player scrapbooks forum is literally a place for writers to warm-up, brainstorm, keep little scraps of notes, or just post things to encourage themselves and each other. Each player can feel free to create their own thread - one per account - and use them accordingly.

Ear Foodz

Postby Nivel on May 14th, 2015, 3:59 am


I wondered why chatmonchy sounded familiar to me and then I finally figured it out.
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Ear Foodz

Postby Khara on May 14th, 2015, 4:15 am

<3 I just wanted to pop in and say your post on the viol made my night. Truly beautiful sounding. Also yay for 2 C E L L O S, they amuse me to no end. I am a giant sucker for instrumental stuff. Can't wait to see what you put up for the "orchestral grandeur" :D
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Ear Foodz

Postby Plume on May 14th, 2015, 9:09 am

I love Princess Jellyfish! And you've made my night by telling me I've made yours haha. I'm glad you enjoyed the viol, and huzzah for another 2Cellos fan! Oh yes orchestral grandeur indeed :)
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The Viola

Postby Plume on May 15th, 2015, 12:24 am

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T H E--V I O L A

I think it's kind of funny that there's a wikihow to differentiate between a violin and viola. Folks, it's a pretty straightforward deal. The viola is a little bigger, one string lower, and usually has all those in between parts in an orchestra that nobody really hears. Sometimes we feel a little underappreciated. Just a little.

This is what a viola sounds like:



It's richest in its mid and lower tones, and can produce that melancholic, almost weeping feel that the cello is so favored for. But it's also milder, more mellow and sweet, and can of course cover a lot of the violin parts/ranges as well. Essentially it is in this funny little limbo of a place between the cello and violin, and if there's ever a section in the orchestra that gets practically no spotlight at all, it's the viola section.

Especially...ESPECIALLY...if you're playing strictly classical music. Very few composers in the leagues of Beethoven, Mozart, Bach, and so on so forth really bother with the violas. Honestly, sometimes in the middle of rehearsals I'd look around and wonder if our entire section is even really needed. But our teacher insists that we are, and that we also absolutely must get that one C in bar 58 perfectly, immaculate in tune, or he will pick on us one by one. And then suddenly all of our shoulders are squared and backs straight as rods as we strain our ears and fingers to melt our notes into one, unified frequency.

But wait, Beethoven is wiggling in his grave. He insists that there was in fact a movement he gave the violas a tiny bit of spotlight in. And he's right...sort of. Out of all the pieces I've ever played in school, this was the only one that gave the violas a genuinely magnificent piece of the melody to play. You'll know the symphony by it's first movement:



But did you know that the 3rd movement sounds like something straight out of a royal court? Just picture it, all the nobles gathered at a grand ball, with giant chandeliers, rows of banquet tables, light and gay chatter, expensive dresses, fluttering fans, powdered wigs, and a marble floor so expansive and shiny you could fit a football field in it. Something like the masquerade ball from Phantom of the Opera, only bigger and better and set in the 1700's.

Sometimes I find my fingers itching to play the main melody. It's so infinitely more compelling to be playing it with a full orchestra than just listening, I can't really describe the power and grandness that it resonates.

Without further ado, here is Scherzo:



Well I hope that was enjoyable, and that you now know of this little movement within a redonkulously famous one, which I would say is just about as under appreciated as the viola often is. Following the viola will be some very delightful, ethnic versions all around the world that you won't want to miss. Next time, on Music with Plume!

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Sounds of the East

Postby Plume on May 15th, 2015, 11:02 pm

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E A S T E R N--S T R I N G S

Today we're going to do a 3fer, since they are so closely tied. Remember the thing about underhanded bowing? Well, get ready to see much more of it, and to do a little hopping between three different cultures :D

So in the realm of Eastern and Middle Eastern bowed instruments, there are three big names to know: Er Hu, Morin Khuur, and Rebab. Er Hu is traditionally Chinese and the Morin Khuur, or the horsehead fiddle, Mongolian. The Rebab, which is used mostly among the Arabic bedouin people (Benshira anyone?) and traditional Iraqi music under the name "joza," is of less clear origins, but it definitely began somewhere in the Middle East and eventually spread through Islamic trading routes, from North Africa all the way to the Far East.

Of the 3, the Er Hu is by far the most well known. It's alive and kicking in both modern and traditional music all over the place, from full blown Chinese orchestras to TV and movie soundtracks. It's even used quite frequently in the Cirque du Soleil shows. You can almost always pick it out amongst the other live instruments, if your ears know what they're looking for.

This is one of the most popular Er Hu songs to date. It's traditionally a Mongolian folk song, but for some reason everyone and their mom knows it on Er Hu. There are a lot of versions out there, but I find most of them are pretty gaudy and obnoxious. This one is simple and solid, and the girl who plays it does so perfectly. You can probably guess without me saying it that this song is a b***h to play, and the instrument itself is kind of like the violin, in that you will pretty much sound awful until you practice a bajillion hours, so the smoothness of her transitions and notes are definitely to be appreciated.

Here it is, Horse Race:



In the spirit of traditional Mongolian music, we have up next the Morin Khuur. According to Wiki, it is one of the most important musical instruments of the Mongol people, and is considered a symbol of the Mongolian nation. But you don't need Wiki to figure that out if you spend more than 10 minutes looking up Mongolian music. Mongols love their horses. Like, really, really love their horses. And to have named an instrument after their most prized possessions is frankly saying a lot.

Personally, the horsehead fiddle is my favorite. It makes my spine tingle and soul sigh at its loveliness, much like the cello and viola do. And because of that, I will share a special song with all of you. I could not for the life of me find this specific version on youtube, since I just have it randomly as an obscure file in an even more obscure folder. But it is a pretty famous song called Tian Tang, or sanctuary/heaven, by Mongolian and E Tuo'ke Banner tribe member Teng Ge'er, about one's home on the plains of Mongolia. The lyrics describe the beauty of the place, of the blue skies, roaming livestock, and of his love for his homeland. This version I'm sharing is an adaptation, but it features the Morin Khuur as the lead instrument.

Shout out to Fable for getting this uploaded for me <3 Enjoy:



And finally, we have the rebab. The rebab is acknowledged even by Chinese people, who are notorious for thinking everything originated in China, to have been the predecessor to the Er Hu. This of course is disputable, but you can't deny the similarities between the two instruments, and the rebab is indeed much older.

Sound wise, however, I would say the rebab can vary in how much it shares in common with the horsehead fiddle and Er Hu. A bit like a cello or viola vs the violin. The Er Hu definitely has a brighter, more piercing sound, just like the violin, whereas the Morin Khuur has a deeper and richer resonance. The rebab can sound like either, since it comes in so many different forms and styles. The one below is something closer to the horsehead fiddle, but there are plenty of other rebabs out there that sound almost like a violin, or even more mellow and haunting than the cello.

Arabic maqams, which are the Western equivalent of scales, except they have like 50+ different kinds, can be as gorgeous as they are a pain in the butt to learn. I have no head for nailing all of them but they can be exceptionally, heart-rendingly beautiful. This one is very simple and just for demonstration purposes, but notice how quickly it can change from major to minor, sometimes just for a few seconds. It really lends a fluidly haunting feel to even the simplest of melodies.

But I shall ramble no further. The rebab:



Thanks for sticking around to sample these three lovely instruments. I will be horrifically busy this weekend so I may only be able to post some casual listening, but I hope this week's Sweet 'n Low installment has been enjoyable. Come back for more eclecticness and babbling, next time on Music with Plume!
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Ear Foodz

Postby Estrellir Konrath on May 16th, 2015, 5:53 pm

Can I just say that I love the thing you're doing with your scrapbook? Some of the music isn't my taste, but a lot of it is and all the linked samples are amazing.

And violas are beautiful. When I played in an orchestra (not a very big one, admittedly), I could always hear the violas from my seat with the second violins! That's something, right? :P

Love the eastern instruments too. I know you focused on the strings with bows to go with the theme, but I personally love the Japanese shamisen and have been toying with learning it for the longest time... Also once had the opportunity to listen to a biwa performance which was an interesting experience to say the least. The musician was singing too and telling a story through all that which really reminded me of the old bards or just people sitting around a fire at night.
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Ear Foodz

Postby Plume on May 16th, 2015, 7:20 pm

I'm super glad you think so on both accounts :D And that is something! It's nice just to be heard/noticed sometimes haha.

Ohh shamisen is a good one, as is the biwa. I'll definitely have to figure out a way to incorporate them in the future. I'm just a little green with envy that you got to witness such a performance live.
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Ear Foodz

Postby Plume on May 16th, 2015, 7:57 pm

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S A T U R D A Y--S P A M !

So I am super, super zombie mode right now because I slept at 4am after booking my behind all the way back to my parents' pretty late in the night, and my mother's shrill, piercing, we're-on-a-crowded-bus-volume voice woke me up at 8am, because she's just a really considerate and nurturing kind of person. In any case, I don't think I have it in me to do anything super detailed today. But I can spam you all! And that is exactly what's about to happen.

There are so, so, so many other bowed instruments that you play in your lap out in this wide, wonderful world of ours. Here are some to sample for your listening pleasure and/or curiosity.

From Sweden, we have the Nyckelharpa:



And in Europe, the very peculiar looking, very unique hurdy-gurdy, which is played with a wheel if you can believe it. There are a lot more traditional examples out there, but I picked this one cause it was super cool and innovative. A modern take on the hurdy-gurdy. Just a heads up it can be a pretty piercing instrument so you might want to turn your volume a little down first:



Then if we hop over a dozen or so countries toward the east, we have the Sarangi, a bowed instrument used in Hindustani classical music. The beginning of this vid is a demo, but if you want a more in depth explanation feel free to keep watching. It is quite fascinating:



And last but not least, my favorite of the bunch. Also originating from India is this freakin' amazing thing called the Ravanahatha. This is basic as Hai, but listen to how beautiful it sounds. Literally the bow looks like someone found a stick in their backyard, attached a string to it, and started playing away. It blows my mind. Like what the heck.

From the ancient region capital of Medore:



And that's all the spam I've for today, folks. Thanks for tuning in :D We'll probably have another casual week to follow, and then a new theme to explore the week after. Hope you enjoyed this installment of Music with Plume!
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Ear Foodz

Postby Timothy Mered on May 16th, 2015, 8:50 pm

Fun fact: I've met the person in the third video, Dhruba Ghosh, last december at a small, living room performance.
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Ear Foodz

Postby Plume on May 17th, 2015, 1:34 am

That's super cool Timothy! Gosh, I could make jam with all the green jelly you guys are making me feel today.
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