A person can’t have got very good songs with no percussion
Auxiliary percussion (Untuned percussion)
Tabla: Drums of North India
—Eric Phinney Tabla is the most famous percussion instrument of North India. It is most commonly used in North Indian classical music, but its versatility in all musical styles has enabled it to become the most popular percussion instrument in all of India. The level of sophistication and tonal beauty it possesses has elevated the instrument to an unmatched status in the world of percussion. Tabla, a set of two drums, is the modern caretaker of an ancient rhythmic tradition that is perhaps 5000 years old in a part of the world that is considered a birthplace of civilization. I began studying tabla with a master teacher fifteen years ago after years of traditional Western percussion studies, and continue to be humbled by the tradition, complexity, and magic that are inherent in this study. I will try to touch on a few aspects that will hopefully illuminate an instrument that for many people is both exotic and fascinating.
History The history of classical music in India is considered to be at least 5000 years old as represented by a continuum of musicians passing the music down in the oral tradition. As one of the oldest musical traditions in the world, there are qualities that many feel bridge the gap from the divine aspect of the creation of sound itself to musical expression. The first references to the melodic and rhythmic systems of Indian music are found in the Vedas, a sacred collection of literature in the ancient Sanskrit language dating from 1500 BC. The first mention of ragas (melody) and talas (rhythm) are in the Vedas and these ancient eternal qualities are still used in modern classical music. The original percussion instrument of North Indian classical music was a two-headed barrel-shaped drum called the pakhawaj. The pakhawaj was used to accompany vocalists as well as instrumentalists playing string instruments (vina, sitar) or winds (bansuri bamboo flute). Indian musicians of the 17th and 18th centuries were employed as court musicians, just like their European counterparts of the time. Legend has it that an argument ensued between two pakhawaj players employed by the Moghul court of Mohammed Shah in the early 18th century over a drum competition. The single-barrel drum was chopped in two by an angry sword-carrying drummer named Sidar Khan. Whether that is true or not, modern research suggests that the tabla were invented in the first half of the 18th century (about 1738) by a drummer named Amir Khusru, who was instructed to develop a more subtle and melodic percussion instrument that could accompany the new style of music called Khayal. That style, with tabla accompaniment, is the basis of the modern performances of Indian classical music.
Description of Tabla The tabla is a set of two drums that are played while sitting on the floor. The larger drum, called Bayan, was originally made from clay, but is now constructed of metal (bras, steel, or copper). The Bayan is considered the bass drum of the set, but there is a tremendous range of expression possible by using certain techniques employed by a skilled drummer. The right-hand drum is called the Dahina, and is made of a seasoned hard wood and hollowed out like the Bayan. Each drum has two layers of goatskin stretched across its top to provide a playing surface. The top layer is cut in a circle around the rim, and the bottom layer stretches across the entire drum. The most unique aspect of tabla construction is the application of an iron and rice paste that is placed in a circle on top of the drum head. That black paste is called the Shyahi and, once it is dried, it allows for sound possibilities that are not found on any other drum in the world. There are goatskin straps to hold the drum heads in place at a very high tension, and tuning blocks on the side of the drums to control the pitch. The Dahina is tuned to the tonic pitch of the composition the instrumentalist or vocalist is performing, while the Bayan is tuned not to a specific pitch, but to one that can easily be modulated to imitate the intricate drum language. Both drums are played with the fingers and sometimes the palm of the hand. Learning tabla requires many years of dedicated lessons with a good teacher and regular, rigorous practice of many hours a day.
I have kept the content within the conventional and provided the illustrations for the most popular and readily used percussion insruments in the music industry all around the world. In many countries, the production and composition of music rests on the affordability and availability of musical intruments,and particularly percussion intruments. Many cultures rely solely on their traditional instruments and still produce some of the finest compositions. The Indian/Southeast Asian Dholak has remained the most commonly used within these regions over the years.
Among tuned Percussion: The term xylophone may be used generally, to include all such instruments, such as the marimba, balafon and even the glockenspiel, and the semantron. Castanets, rototoms and clappers are still quite popular. Nowadays we cann use technology to re-create the effects of all these instruments in various varieties of pitches and bended varieties of their sounds, however, the instruments are still there and are used frequently. Percussion instruments are fairly common in ownership, however for the results and uses, careful attention should be paid to purchasing the proper hardware for them and all required accessories.
The Percussion Concept Personified: Clave is the Spanish word for “keystone” or “key” which indicates that the clave rhythm is the basis of authentic Latin rhythms. The repeated five-note pattern can be performed with a “forward clave rhythm” of three notes followed by two or a “reversed clave rhythm” of two notes followed by three.
This instrument consists of two small wooden rods (about 8 inches long and 1 inch in diameter). They are typically made of rosewood, ebony or genadillo. One clave (often called the male) is normally rested in a loosely cupped hand and struck with the second clave (often called the striker or female). The male is typically held in the left hand with right-handed performers and lays between the fingertips and the heel of the hand. The thumb is held out to provide added support. There should be a space between the clave and the palm of the hand to create a resonating chamber. The female is held as a striker in the other hand and is struck against the male.
A handbell is a bell designed to be rung by hand. To ring a handbell, a ringer grasps the bell by its slightly flexible handle — traditionally made of leather, but often now made of plastic — and moves the wrist to make the hinged clapper inside the bell strike. An individual handbell can be used simply as a signal to catch people’s attention or summon them together, but handbells are generally heard in tuned sets. Handbell Musicians of America is dedicated to advancing the musical art of handbell/handchime ringing through education, community and communication.
Established in 1954, the American Guild of English Handbell Ringers grew out of the previously established New England Guild of English Handbell Ringers. In 2010, AGEHR became Handbell Musicians of America. It’s primary objectives are to educate, promote the exchange of ideas relating to handbell and handchime ringing, and sponsor educational activities. Our membership of approximately 7,000 includes mostly directors of handbell or handchime choirs. The Guild is divided into 12 two- to five-state areas, which are further divided into individual state and district units. Members of the the Handbell Musicians of America seek to carry out the motto, “Uniting People through a Musical Art.”-See more at: http://handbellmusicians.org/aboutus/a-proud-tradition/#sthash.7oMgG4ek.dpuf
In 1902 she became the first American woman to ring a complete peal on tower bells in England. She also rang two peals on handbells, and she was presented with a set of eight Whitechapel English handbells, which she continued to expand. Margaret was also honored with a membership in the Ancient Society of College Youths, England’s oldest and most respected ringing society. She introduced many friends to the joys of handbell ringing, and her Beacon Hill Ringers, consisting of five of her six children and several friends, became well known for their annual Christmas caroling on Beacon Hill. –
Sound connects us with our environment, nature is never silent and sound links us to other life. Sound stimulation can nurture behavioral changes and emotions. We can react negatively or positively to sound. Positive sound can ease the feeling of loneliness or isolation. Good sound can stimulate or enhance relaxation, reverse sadness, clam nervousness, tension and anger. Wind chimes help us to recognize Chi flow, by the sound the wind chime makes. The gentle sound of wind chimes can greatly help to create a positive energy flow and facilitate good Chi. They can also correct bad Chi flow by masking or covering negative, harsh or dulling sounds in the environment, such as the sound of traffic. Wind chimes can correct these situations and bring balance to a home and to enrich your life. Agogo Bells in well tuned sets with 2 or 3 bells
Well-matched set of Agogô bells with a great sound rich in harmonics. The Agogô bell is an Afro-brazilian percussion instrument consisting of two or three matching bells with a cowbell-like sound. The Agogô bell is part of the samba bateria (samba percussion ensemble) but is played at Capoeira and Afoxé, too. The Agogô comes with a mallet. http://www.danmoi.com/agogo-bells-set-brazilian-samba-capoeira-afoxe-percussion-instrument.html
JAPANESE TAIKO DRUMS:
The Life of a Percussionist
By Soton Crier
To those of you who weren’t aware, it was the last night of the Proms which usually calls for those attending the Albert hall to become overly emotional and patriotic listening to some of the great scores written by Britain’s finest. Dambusters is a usual favourite and who can forget the fan’s Jerusalem, which despite its misleading name is unmistakably British.
However when I was watching on Saturday (Yes I am 19 and I really was watching the Proms) I wasn’t singing along at home to the classics, I was thinking about the unsung hero in every Orchestra who always gets overlooked, I was thinking about the percussionist. While other members of the orchestra can fall back on their fellow members, the Percussionist works alone. His mistakes can not be masked by a chorus of strings or a big brass band. Though the contributions of this musician’s work seem minimal compared to his/her compatriots they should not be underestimated. Every cymbal clash, every virtuoso glockenspiel solo, every triangle ting; a percussionist is responsible for them all. Playing percussion on its own is an impressive skill to behold but it is lost in the greater scheme of an orchestra.
It’s sad really. A percussionist in an Orchestra doesn’t even adhere to traditional percussion instruments, moreover he doesn’t get to use the full array of instruments at his disposal. Percussion instruments were believed to be the first ever instruments and date back to tribal times. Imagine being a musician back then; thought of as so inventive by banging two pieces of timber together to create a noise. Then all of a sudden musical evolution saw the rise of the strings to quash these primitive striking tools.
Of course Percussion evolved too; the Piano Forte is a percussion instrument but has broken away from its ancestors and managed to assert itself in people’s homes and as heart of the Orchestra. It’s so loud that it can drown out almost anything, the lid has to be shut for big performances. The unfortunate news for budding percussionists is that music has naturally been linked to popular culture. The guitar has mutated into the electric and the piano has managed to downsize to fit into people’s homes. What both have in common is that they have an appeal to the masses. Everyone is instantly impressed if one can play either of these instruments no matter how proficient you are. Playing the glockenspiel on the other hand, well I’m not sure you could get anyone into bed with that one besides pianists and guitarists are deemed to have more impressive fingering.
At this point you are probably wondering why have I not mentioned the Drum kit? Well the fact is that a Drum kit is not part of a percussionist’s armory, they have to make do with bongo drums and the like. A drumkit is one of the instruments that became popular, like the Piano and seemed to get away from the art of percussion. So this leaves us with a dilemma for percussionists worldwide. Do they continue to remain in the shadows, occasionally popping up to make that memorable cymbal crash or do they rebel? I’m sure there are purely percussion orchestras out there somewhere but not as mainstream as a classic Orchestra. Maybe I’ll be proved wrong and next year while watching the proms will get to hear a symphony of crash bang wallop.
A Quick History of Groth Music…
Groth Music was founded in 1939 by Chester E. Groth, a professional musician, who sought to bring a quality music store to Twin Cities musicians. Once established, Groth Music earned a reputation of integrity, a place where one could find a knowledgeable sales staff, and quality merchandise at fair prices. Groth Music remained at its downtown location for nearly 50 years until the boom of skyscrapers in Minneapolis forced the last vestige of the old fashioned music store out of Minneapolis.
Chester Groth died in 1985 and ownership was assumed by his daughter. Nancy Groth Kersten expanded inventory to include music, ethnic instruments from around the world, and gift items not normally found in the Twin Cities. Groth Music is still an old fashioned family music store with an emphasis on quality products, integrity, and satisfied customers.
Groth Music developed a web presence in 1999 and continues to bring more of it’s more popular items online today. In 2005 the company began publishing a Music Education Catalog which is now distributed nationwide and includes 164 pages packed full of some of the most popular items used in schools and churches around the country and even overseas.
We hope you enjoy browsing our website and invite you to entertain yourself by visiting our Bloomington, MN showroom.
A few photos from the Archives….
A quick peek into the current Groth Music 20,000 sqaure foot showroom in Bloomington, MN…
- Percussion Instruments (thaiclassicalmusic.wordpress.com)
- They’ve got the beat! (curiosakat.com)
- Wave Alchemy Releases Afro-Latin Percussion Vol 1 (gearslutz.com)