South Asia : Punjab

Golden_Temple_India

The “Golden Temple”, Harmandir Sahib, is a place of worship in the Sikh religion that is dominate in Punjab, India. Sikhism says that all humans are equal regardless of race, sex, or religion and they do not have a gender for their God. They sing the songs of the Gurus who have come before them.

The state is located in Northwest India and the people hold their cultural heritage with high value. In 2003 they started the Punjab Digital Library that is online for anybody in the world to see. Their goal was to digitize and preserve their culture. The website was finally launched as a beta in 2009.

Outside of that though, there is the folk music and their instruments:

Dhadd is an hour glass shaped drum with two skins on both ends.

Sarangi is a 2 foot long box shaped instrument with 35 to 37 strings. It has three hollowed out
chambers and is played with a bow.

sarangi

And these next two are my favorite. Algoze and the Tumbi.

Cultural Insider vs Cultural Outsider

This song totally hits me emotionally. A Tribe Called Red is a group of three First Nations people who formed a group and now mix First Nations music with modern electrodance music. This song has an electronic basis but is laced with the audio from the shooting of John T. Williams. I am new to electrodance and dubstep but this song is MORE than a song. It is a statement. To me, it most definitely takes music to a different level. As a Cayuse with Pre-American lineage, I have an understanding of what my ancestors suffered during colonization and the assimilation of the people who inhabited Turtle Island (United States/Canada).

Below is the video of the police car dash cam of two vehicles with a few notations providing the fact that the coroner stated Williams was shot 4 times in the back and side. Witnesses stated he was barely turning around towards the officer as he was shot.

As far as a cultural outsider perspective. Many of the songs of the world’s indigenous or tribal peoples are relatable because I was raised to understand the importance of songs. Some songs are only supposed to be played at certain times. Some songs are healing songs. Some songs are not to be heard by everybody or outsiders. Some songs are for celebrations. Some songs are for love. Some songs can be sung or played at anytime.

For me, I get feelings of displacement, with music, when I am not in that state of mind. If I were to go through a playlist and I am not feeling the vibe of the song, it will be skipped. It is not that I don’t like it. It would be because it isn’t the right time for me to hear it.

The displacement really comes from music that has been “played out”. Local radio stations have the habit of doing this. I rarely listen to radio stations. I am even starting to have trouble with Pandora radio and some of the stations that I am creating myself. It boils down to moderation. I use songs and music as a medium to help me make it through this life. Even with my own music I don’t try and force anything. The beauty of the digital world is we can pick up n put down as we please. The cultural outsider perspective, for me, is when I am pushed out.

Sachs – Hornbostel System of Instrument Classification

The Sachs – Hornbostel system of instrument classification was developed by two German musicologists in the early twentieth century. The instruments are classified based on what part of the instrument vibrates to make the sound.

Aerophones are instruments that produce an initial sound due to a vibrating mass of air (e.g., woodwinds or brass instruments).

Idiophones are instruments that make sound when the body of the instrument is plucked, struck, scraped, rubbed, or blown. A few examples are the xylophone, cymbals or a gong.

Membranophones are defined as instruments that have a skin, or synthetic, that is stretched over a frame. The sound is made by striking or rubbing the membrane (e.g., drum).

This brings me to CHORDOPHONES which I will go into a little more depth with. The chordophone is any instrument that creates a sound through the vibration of a string or strings that are stretched out over a fixed point. The instruments may or may not have a resonating chamber. Presented below are a few examples of chordophones.

KANKLES

kankles

This chordophone is from Lithuania. As you can see it has a trapezoidal frame that is made from a hardwood. There is a softwood, usually spruce, that serves as a sounding board as it covers the resonating chamber. The kankles is played on the lap of the musician and the strings are played using the fingers or a pluck made from bone.

Here is a video with audio for you to enjoy. It is very calming and relaxing.

BASS GUITAR

The modern Bass Guitar was developed by Paul Tutmarc from Seattle, Washington in the 1930’s – 1940’s. The Bass can either be fretted or fretless. The most common is the 4, 5, and 6 string Bass Guitars. The Bass has been used for the rhythm section to progress the chord sequence. It has been used in Blues, Jazz, and Rock music.

Here is a Bass Guitar solo by Venezuelan bassist Gustavo Dal Farra. Enjoy!

SITAR

I have come to know the Sitar as an amazing instrument deriving from the Persian word seh + tar, meaning 30 strings. The Sitar actually only uses 18, 19 or 20 strings. 6 or 7 of the strings are played over frets. Frets are used to make playing chords more accurately. The Sitar is played while sitting. The musician holds the instrument cross-bodied and does not have to hold the full weight of the instrument. The Sitar has been used in Hindustani and Classical Indian Music from India.

VIOLIN

The Violin had been used in orchestras, jazz, folk music, Carnatic Music, and even Arabic Music. Most notable is the hour glass shape of this instrument. It has four strings that are tuned one fifth apart from each other. Originally, the strings of the Violin were made from animal gut. The strings are vibrated by a bow made from horse hair. How the bow is played has different effects on the timbre of the instrument. A Violin player can get louder sounds by playing the bow faster or placing more pressure on the bow.

Check out Lindsay Stirling!

Sources:

“Bass Guitar.” Wikipedia. Ed. Dino Bass. Wikimedia Foundation, 12 Feb. 2014. Web. 14 Feb. 2014.

“Kankles.” Wikipedia. Ed. AnomieBOT. Wikimedia Foundation, 02 Sept. 2014. Web. 14 Feb. 2014.

Miller, Terry E., and Andrew C. . Shahriari. “Aural Analysis: Listening To The World’s Music.” World Music: A Global Journey. New York: Routledge, 2012. N. pag. Print.

“Sitar.” Wikipedia. Ed. 99.230.125.21. Wikimedia Foundation, 11 Feb. 2014. Web. 14 Feb. 2014.

“Violin.” Wikipedia. Ed. Antandrus. Wikimedia Foundation, 14 Feb. 2014. Web. 14 Feb. 2014.

Oceania – Papua New Guinea

Within Papua New Guinea there are over 7,000 different cultural groups and most of them have their own languages. They have created a bridge language or “pidgin english” known as Tok Pisin. If you become a profound farmer, fisherman, or hunter you are well respected within the culture. In some of the higherlands, near the Sepik River, the people are known for their wood carving culture. Throughout the island seashells were once used as a form of currency. I was able to relate to this because my tribal people, Cayuse, and surrounding tribes used to use elk teeth as money. My father gave me a necklace of elk teeth and I was wearing it at a gathering when one of my friends had asked me where I got it from. I let him know my father gave one to me, one to my “lupah” (little brother), and one to my “yah yah” (older brother). He kind of sat back in amazement. I had to ask why and then he let me know that our people used to use the teeth as money. I found it interesting that I can relate to the people of New Guinea on this level.

Tut Village Girl dressed for Mt. Hagen "sing-sing"

Tut Village Girl dressed for Mt. Hagen “sing-sing”

The Papua New Guinea people also take part in celebrations or festivals known as “sing-sings”. The interesting part about “sing-sings” is that, historically, they were used as a war preparation. In the youtube video titled “Papua New Guinea Sing Sing Festival”, the local says they would fight over the land, the pig, or the lady. Today, the “sing-sing” has become more of a peaceful gathering.

During a “sing sing” many instruments are used for many different dances. There is the kundu which is an hour glass shaped hand drum covered with lizard skin on one side and left open on the other. The slit drum is a huge hollowed out log with a slit that runs down the top. The musician or musicians use two sticks to create the drumming noise. In the video you will see two drummers who, I think, absolutely vibe with each other. They compliment each other very well. Another instrument that is used is the bamboo trumpet. It can be up to 12 feet in length. Some of the dancers have nut shells on their ankles that are used as percussion. The other interesting part about the “sing sing” is the regalia. Through my research I have seen everything from face and body paints to feathers and even tree moss. I found the Papa New Guinea culture to be interesting because of the mass amounts of different cultures within itself. I enjoyed researching and listening to their instruments and I hope their culture can be preserved.

Sources:

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

Thomas Bettles

Musical Autobiography

My earliest memories of music as a child were with my grandmother at many different Native American pow-wow’s. We used to travel throughout the Northwest and she would set up her stand and sell her beadwork. I remember drums and vocals all day and all night. I would fall asleep to the drums underneath one of her tables at her stand.

My father was in a band in his younger days and I can remember him jammin’ out on his guitar. At a later date I understood this to be blues. I could always feel his passion through his music. The way he flows and lets notes hang and then drops into some crazy free flow that just vibes.

The other influences I have are from my older cousins who in the early 90’s were into rap/hip-hop music. I remember my first tape was “Dogg Food” by Tha Dogg Pound. I remember mowing lawns for a whole summer and listening to the same tape over and over.

As I grew older I kept an open mind and had friends who listened to everything from Creedence Clearwater Revival to Rob Zombie. I attended Mexican parties and kinsenyeta’s and enjoyed the music that was played there.

I have grown to understand that diversity strengthens.

I return to many songs that I have favored or that have grown with me but I consider myself futuristic and I am always looking to see what’s next. What’s going to move my child or her children?

I like to hear new mixes and new blends. As a Native, two of the greatest things I have heard lately have been a song by Kanye West called “Black Skin Head” and a group called “A Tribe Called Red”.

“Black Skin Head” uses vocals from a Native American song and “A Tribe Called Red” remixes Native American songs into electric tracks. It’s cool to see someone as popular and mainstream as Kanye West use the instrumental and than to hear the mixes that “A Tribe Called Red” can come out with. Very inspirational, to me, as a minority of minorities.

My primary use for music is to get myself moving. Most music that I really enjoy is upbeat, something I can dance to. I am working on making my own instrumentals in the realm of rap and hip-hop. For me it is a way to express my emotions. It is also a way to connect with other artists. I like to send my tracks out to others or let them listen to them so I can get some feedback. I don’t always agree with what is said but I am able to take into consideration what is said and it is good to try and hear my music from different ears.

The greatest thing about music is that it is everywhere because, depending on perspective, music can be generated from anything, including silence. I am looking forward to the future and expanding my knowledge of the world’s music.