In Memory of A Pioneer of Jazz Violin, John Blake Jr.

john blake jr.Sadly, this week many of us heard of the passing of a truly great musician – jazz violin legend, John Blake Jr. Originally from South Philadelphia, I had the chance to work with John during the times of his first jazz album on the Gramavision label and can attest to the fact that he was that magical combination of talented artist, creative genius, exceptional teacher and genuinely good person.

Although John started his career as a sideman with major acts including Grover Washington Jr. and McCoy Tyner, his work soon put him on the musical map as a composer, arranger, performer and educator of the highest caliber. Repeated winner of Down Beat Critic’s and Reader’s Polls, few other artists could boast the type of praise that John received from fans, colleagues and educational institutions large and small, both inside the USA and around the world. If you have not yet had the chance to know this artist, visit his website to read about his impressive legacy or discover a video about his life and work.

The homepage of his artist webpage also bears this short and sad notice. Contact information is given here if you were a friend, colleague or admirer of his music, as so many were:

We regret to inform you of the Transition of our Beloved Husband, Father, Brother, Grandfather, Master Fiddler, Mentor and Friend to thousands of national and international admirers. The impact of his legacy is being reflected daily in the many communications of love we are receiving from you. THANK YOU!

Should you wish to contact the family please send an email to: Griotwoman@aol.com.

John Blake Jr., – Artist Website

http://www.johnblakejr.com/home.php

Videos

Click on links to the right of the screen for any of the four videos:  

John Blake, The Man, The Legend

A Celebration of Fiddle Music

A Note Of Hope Documentary Trailer

Performance at Berklee College of Music

http://www.johnblakejr.com/home.php

 

“El Son de la Negra” – The Second National Anthem of Mexico

Mexican flagThis classic song from mariachi repertoire is so popular it is sometimes called the “second national anthem of Mexico.”  Composed by Blas Galindo in the late 1800’s, this song from Jalisco, Mexico has many versions and variations but is loved and appreciated everywhere as an important part of Mexican folk culture.

What Does The Song Mean?

Since there are numerous variations in the lyrics, it’s hard to tell for certain what the song means.  Clearly, it’s a sad song about lost or separated lovers.  Here’s one popular version of the lyrics in Spanish.

“El Son de la Negra”

Negrita de mis pesares,
hojas de papel volando.
Negrita de mis pesares,
hojas de papel volando.

A todos diles que sí
pero no les digas cuándo.
Así me dijiste a mí;
Por eso vivo penando.

¿Cuándo me traes a mi negra?
Que la quiero ver aquí
con su rebozo de seda
Que le traje de Tepic?

In the lyrics, the singer is asking about the woman that brings him sorrow.  He says that she has told everyone “yes” but will not tell him “when”.  That she has told him “yes” and because of that, he is suffering.

The last verse asks : “When will you bring my “negra”?  I would like to see her here.  In her silk shawl.  That I brought from Tepic (the capital and largest city of the Mexican state of Nayarit).

Who Is “La Negra”?

The title and the use of the word “negra” in this song actually created a stir about a year ago on an English-speaking t.v. channel in the USA.  A mariachi group was asked not to play this song because they felt the title used a derogatory term for a black woman (negra).  However, most Latin American Spanish speakers recognize the words “negro/negra” as an affectionate term for a sweetheart, a phrase better translated as “my darling” or “my dear”, not as “black man or woman”.

You can read more about this controversy and see one excellent explanation/translation of the lyrics here: http://lyricstranslate.com/en/la-negra-black-woman.html#ixzz35s6oWqzd

Mariachi Music For Kids

We’re big fans of the website – KID WORLD CITIZEN that recently published an introduction to mariachi music and Mexican culture for kids. You can read more about that here:

http://kidworldcitizen.org/2014/06/19/mexican-mariachi-music/

Ballet Folklorico del Mexico Performs “El Son de la Negra”

Last but not least, here’s the Ballet Folklorico Mexico’s verison of “El Son de la Negra”.

Make Your Own Mexican-Style Gourd Water Drums

Playing water gourd drumAlthough it’s a truly unique and amazing–sounding instrument, there’s very little information available about the history of gourd water drums. It’s clear that they are used in certain areas in Africa and that they show up in Mayan archives as “bubulek” water drums. In present day Mexico they are called jicara de agua and their history can also be traced to the Yaqui and Yoeme Indigenous people who called these floating gourd water drums, baa wehai.

What, exactly is a gourd water drum? Generally made from 3 sturdy pieces of dried Water gourd drum - parts:gourdsgourds, a small ring holds the larger “gourd bowl”, up-side-down in place. That larger gourd is filled with water. The smaller gourd is placed right-side-up, gently on the water’s surface where it is hit with a stick or tapped with fingers, palms or knuckles to create the unique, deep and resonant sound associated with this instrument.

While checking out LA born drummer and percussionist, Christopher Garcia, we found some really great information on the Yaqui and Yoeme roots of floating gourd water drums. Although several musicologists identify this drum as part of the Yaqui Deer Dance (Mazotiwua), Garcia explains how a special beater is used called a baa jiponia, made from a stick wrapped in a corn husk. He also shares some great pictures and basic information on a related instrument, called hirukiam which consist of a gourd facing down and a rasp laid across it, then scraped. The result is a “natural speaker” and another really unique sound creation. Links to Christopher Garcia’s music and website can be found below.

Sounds Like?

Watch this video from Germany and you’ll be able to both see and hear several techniques for playing the gourd water drum:

 

Michael Heralda of Aztec Stories Shows You How To Make A Gourd Water Drum

Also a wealth of information on ancient Mexican culture and musical traditions, Michael Heralda has two informative step-by-step videos that show you how to create your own gourd water drums. You’ll notice that his drums not only sound good, but are beautifully decorated.  For more information on his music, instruments, stories and other resources, visit the link below.

Here are his two gourd water drum-making videos from Youtube:

Michael Heralda’s Making A Gourd Water Drum – Part One

Michael Heralda’s Making A Gourd Water Drum – Part Two

 

Links and Resources

plastic water drum playingA Make-Your-Own Gourd Water Drum Craft for Kids

http://www.tinytappingtoes.com/uncategorized/musical-water-play-a-myo-gourd-style-water-drum/

Christopher Garcia’s BAA WEHAI webpage

http://christophergarciamusic.weebly.com/baa-wehai.html

Christopher Garcia’s Indigenous Instruments webpage

http://christophergarciamusic.weebly.com/indigenous-instruments-images.html

Michael Heralda’s Aztec Stories Website

http://www.aztecstories.com/index.html

 

 

 

We Are Happy – A Song Of the Abayudya of Uganda

JJ Keki UgandaWe’re so pleased to have a guest post here from a musician who had truly traveled the world to share music. Take a moment to meet Jay Sand and learn about the “We Are Happy” song he uses to open his wonderful concerts that shares world traditions with the children.

I’m Jay Sand, a music teacher from Philadelphia and founder of All Around This World (http://www.allaroundthisworld.com), a global music and world cultures program for little kids. In 1999, long before I discovered my passion for multicultural music, my backpack, my camera, my guitar and I ventured to Africa where I visited, photographed and sang songs with members of several communities of Africans who practice Judaism–from Tunisia to Ethiopia, Ghana to Zimbabwe. My goal at the time was to document the multicultural reality of the Jewish people and share images, music and stories from my travels with an American Jewish community that seemed reluctant to accept Jews that were not Western and, especially, not white.

The African Jews who welcomed me most fully on my first voyage were the Abayudya of Uganda, a group of about 1,000 Bagandans who live scattered among several villages near the eastern Ugandan city of Mbale. “Abayudaya” means “the people of Judah.” In 1919 a prominent Ugandan leader, Semei Kakungulu, completed his process of religious exploration by committing to following Jewish laws and practices as described in the Old Testament and declaring himself and his several hundred followers to be Jews. For the next 75 years the Abayudaya had very little contact with others who practices Judaism, save for some meetings with visiting European-descended Jews who informally shared information about observances and holidays. The community didn’t wait for Jewish travelers to tell them how to practice. They built their own customs based on Jewish books visitors brought them and wrote their own Jewish music using lyrics from Bibles Christian missionaries had translated into local languages. In the mid 1990s community members decided to reach out, sending their young “Rabbi,” Gershom Sizoumu to Nairobi, Kenya to connect with the wider world.

In Nairobi Gershom connected with a friend of mine who sent me a cassette of the Abayudaya’s unique African-Jewish music. It was melodic, joyful and so inviting that I began to formulate a scheme to visit Uganda that I finally realized in 1999. The highlight of my time with the Abayudaya was getting to sing with Gershom and other members of the community. Over the next several years I traveled around the United States making multimedia presentations about African Jews at museums, universities and for community groups. The audiences responded most enthusiastically, and were most accepting of the non-traditional Jews I had visited, when I taught them African-Jewish music.

“We Are Happy” is one of two songs the Abayudaya sing to greet important visitors. Rabbi Gershom and his brother JJ Keki wrote the two songs and led the community in singing them for me during my first visit. When I founded All Around This World in 2009 and realized every children’s music class must — must! — have a hello song, I couldn’t have been more pleased when Gershom and JJ gave me permission to blend their two songs into one and sing that song with my students. Since then I have sung my version of “We Are Happy” at the beginning of every class, each time changing the language of our greeting to match that week’s featured country. In my classes I’ve taken “We Are Happy” to well over a hundred countries and taught it to thousands of children and their grownups. Every time my students sing “We Are Happy,” while my tiny, enthusiastic students are thinking about how much fun they’re going to have learning about the world music class, I think of Gershom, JJ, and their tiny, enthusiastic community that appreciates the mind-opening power of a song.

Listen to the “We Are Happy” original on YouTube:

Listen to the merengue version of “We Are Happy” found on the All Around This World: Latin America CD:
http://allaroundthisworld.bandcamp.com/track/we-are-happy-hello-hola-merengue

Meet the Abayudaya:
http://www.bechollashon.org/projects/abayudaya/abayudaya.php

Lyrics of “We Are Happy” on All Around This World: Latin America:
Ooh, bop bop bop! Ooh, bop bop bop.
We are happy, we are happy on this day.

Hola everybody! (“Hello” in Spanish),
Bom dia everybody! (“Good morning” in Portuguese),
Buiti binafi everybody! (“Good morning” in Garifuna),
Imaynallam everybody! (“How are things going?” in Quechua)
 

 

 

Pictured at the top left of this post is JJ Keki, composer of one of the two greeting songs Jay blended to create his own version of “We Are Happy.”

“Futebol” by Chico Buarque, A Song From Brazil About “The Beautiful Game”

world cup logoWith Brazil hosting the FIFA World Cup, we wanted to share the song “Futebol” by Chico Buarque that is so popular it even has it’s own documentary.

Written and performed below by Brazil’s Chico Buarque, this samba compares the art of a great soccer player with the artistry of a music composer or painter. The lyrics in Brazilian say that the soccer player is as creative as an artist looking for just the right moment for inspiration to come and acting upon it – with the precision of an arrow. And since Chico Buarque and most of Brazil are enthusiastic soccer fans, the song is filled with imagery from the game and the names of famous players such Pelé, Mané, Didí, Pagão, and Canhoteiro. You can see a live version (with Portuguese subtitles) of “Futebol” here:

The documentary that mixes soccer and soccer music is called “O Futebol” and is an homage to the Brazilian love of the game.

More Songs of Soccer

This song is actually one of three soccer songs from Brazil chosen by Betto Arcos, a writer and Latin American Music maven. Want to see his two other picks for great soccer songs? Check them out at this NPR Global Hit post from the show called “The World”

http://www.pri.org/stories/2014-06-10/if-youre-waiting-world-cup-try-one-these-brazilian-futebol-songs-get

Instruments From Ancient Mexico – The Conch Shell Trumpet

conch shell trumpetA conch shell is a beautiful thing.

But who would guess that cultures all around the world would not only admire it’s beauty but also figure out that – with a few minor modifications – it becomes a completely functional, natural trumpet!  Among others, there are conch trumpets heard in music from the South Pacific, Tibet, Korea and pre-Incan cultures.  Archeological finds and older documents also place it in Aztec culture and ceremonies as well.  Here’s a bit more about the Aztec conch shell trumpet.

aztec conch trumpetPictured here is a musician called a “quiquizoani” playing the conch shell.  The name is in the Nahuatl Indigenous language of Mexico and this specific image can be found on page 23 of the Aztec Codex “Magliabecchi”, currently preserved and archived at the University of Utah in the United States.

One of the best sites for information on Aztec instruments, including great pictures from archeological sites and historical references is Mexicolore.com (see resources below).  Their research shows that there were 7 different types of conch shells and that the largest was called the ‘quiquiztli’.  As you might imagine, the shell trumpet was highly symbolic and associated with the breath of life as well as the rhythms of the sea.  Similarly, it was associated with the call to prayer, marking time during the day and during the night, the moon, fertility and Ehécatl – the Aztec God of the Wind.

Research also shows that conch shell trumpets were used by the Aztec military in a manner similar to modern day bugles.

Conch Shells in The USA

Closer to home, conch shells are part of a unique contest in the Florida Keys.  Although the tradition of blowing the conch trumpet dates back over 200 years, it was originally used mainly for maritime signaling. Recently, however, the contest is a lot more colorful with contestants that vary in age from 3 – 83 and even perform with unique outfits, hula hoops and other novelty approaches.

Want to find out more about this modern conch contest?  Check out the link below for some amazing variations on this ancient musical theme

What Does A Conch Trumpet Sound Like?

Check out this short video where a young buy demonstrates how to cut the conch shell and how to practice getting the trumpet sound.

http://multikidsmusicvids.com/?p=1002

Resources

MexicoLore’s Conch Shell Page
http://www.mexicolore.co.uk/aztecs/music/conch-trumpet

Florida Keys Newsroom – Info On The Annual Conch Shell Blowing Contest
http://media.fla-keys.com/section_display.cfm?section_id=295

“Plyve Kacha” – A Ukranian Folk Song Mourning The Dead of Maidan Square

As long as there have been wars, there have been sad songs about war – and losing children or loved ones to the devastation of war. However, with the recent protests in Maiden, Ukraine, this old song has taken on a new life, mourning the loss of those killed while unarmed at the recent protests.

“Plyve Kacha” or “Plyve Kacha Po Tysyni” translates literally to “the duckling swims”, but the lyrics are a dialogue between a mother and a son going off to war, according to the BBC’s Irena Taranyuk. She translates two of the most moving lines of the song this way:

“My dear mother, what will happen to me if I die in a foreign land?”

“Well, my dearest, you will be buried by other people.”

Dozens of people were killed by snipers in Maidan on February 18th and 20th, 2014 and were buried and mourned in a mass funeral on February 21st, with this song being used to memorialize their lives.

You can see images of those lost in that conflict in this video along with a version of this poignant song.  Lyrics to the song appear below (in Ukrainian).

“Plyve Kacha”  (Lyrics in Ukranian)

Plyve kacha po Tysyni,
Oy, plyve kacha po Tysyni.
Mamko moya, ne lay meni,
Mamko moya, ne lay meni.

Zalayesh my v zlu hodynu,
Oy, zalayesh my v zlu hodynu.
Sam ne znayu, de pohynu,
Sam ne znayu, de pohynu.

Pohynu ya v chuzim krayu,
Pohynu ya v chuzim krayu.
Chto z my bude braty yamu?
Chto z my bude braty yamu?

Vyberut mi chuzi lyude,
Oy vyberut mi chuzi lyude,
Cy ne zal ty, mamko, bude?
Oy, cy ne zal ty, mamko, bude?

Oy yak z meni, synku, ne zal?
Yak ze meni, synku, ne zal?
Ty na moyim sercyu lezav,
Ty na moyim sercyu lezav.

Plyve kacha po Tysyni,
Oy, plyve kacha po Tysyni.
Mamko moya, ne lay meni,
Mamko moya, ne lay meni.

An Earth Day Song – In Spanish

Although Earth Day began in the USA in 1970, the idea of loving and caring for our planet is a universal concept. When I was growing up, I remember hearing a Native American group sing the words: “The Earth Is Our Mother, We Must Take Care of Her”. All over the globe, people express their love for “Mother Earth” through music, songs, culture and in so many other meaningful ways.

In 2004, I adapted a new version of the beautiful African-American spiritual: “He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands” and added lyrics based on a project done with elementary school students. Since that time, the song has been used in China, Singapore, South America, Scotland and in dozens of other venues across the world. This year, a wonderful bilingual blogger translated the lyrics into Spanish.

Spanish Translation

The Spanish version was written by Cecilia Fencer, head and heart of Spanglish.house.com . She loves diversity and equality.  Translating this spiritual to an Earth Day captured her imagination because she believes God made us responsible to take care of his creation.

(Lyrics to the original “We’ve Got The Whole World In Our Hands” song can be seen below as well as a video of a project using the song in Malaysia.)

Tenemos Todo El Mundo En Nuestras Manos

New version of lyrics in English
c 1994 Daria Marmaluk-Hajioannou
c 2104 Spanish translation Cecelia Fencer

Tenemos todo el mundo en nuestras manos.
Tenemos todo el mundo en nuestras manos.
Tenemos todo el mundo en nuestras manos.
Tenemos todo el mundo en nuestras manos.

Debemos reciclar, ahora que podemos.
Reducir, reusar y reciclar
Reducir y reciclar ahora que podemos.
Tenemos al mundo en nuestras manos.

Tenemos plantas y animales en nuestra tierra,
plantas y animales en nuestra tierra.
Tenemos plantas y animales en nuestra tierra.
Tenemos al mundo en nuestras manos.

Tenemos todo el mundo en nuestras manos.
Tenemos todo el mundo en nuestras manos.
Tenemos todo el mundo en nuestras manos.
Tenemos todo el mundo en nuestras manos.

Tomemonos de las manos, como hermanos.
Tomemonos de las manos como hermanos.
Tomemonos de las manos como hermanos,
tenemos al mundo en nuestras manos

Encuentra tus sueños y haz lo que puedas,
ten tus anhelos y lucha por ellos.
Encuentra tus sueños y haz lo que puedas,
tenemos al mundo en nuestras manos.

Tenemos todo el mundo en nuestras manos.
Tenemos todo el mundo en nuestras manos.
Tenemos todo el mundo en nuestras manos.
Tenemos todo el mundo en nuestras manos.

We’ve Got The Whole World In Our Hands

(Sung To The Tune of: He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands)

new lyrics © D.A. Marmaluk-Hajioannou

We’ve got the whole world, in our hands
We’ve got the whole world, in our hands
We’ve got the whole world, in our hands
We’ve got the whole world in our hands

We should recycle now – all that we can
Recycle now – all that we can
Recycle now – all that we can
We’ve got the whole world in our hands

Be kind to the plants and animals – of our land
Be kind to the plants and animals – of our land
Be kind to the plants and animals – of our land
We’ve got the whole world in our hands

Join hands with sisters and brothers – throughout the land
Join hands with sisters and brothers – throughout the land
Join hands with sisters and brothers – throughout the land
We’ve got the whole world in our hands

Clean up pollution – everywhere we can
Clean up pollution – everywhere we can
Clean up pollution – everywhere we can
We’ve got the whole world in our hands

Dream your bright dream – then do all that you can
Dream your bright dream – then do all that you can
Dream your dream – then do all that you can
We’ve got the whole world in our hands

We’ve got the whole world, in our hands
We’ve got the whole world, in our hands
We’ve got the whole world, in our hands
We’ve got the whole world in our hands

Resources

Free During April 2014
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rock Out! E-book of 10 Recycled Musical Activities
http://www.dariamusic.com/monthly_song.php

History of Earth Day
http://www.earthday.org/earth-day-history-movement

DARIA Songs For Earth Day – from TeachersPayTeachers
www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/EARTH-DAY-SONGS-DARIA-SINGS-FOR-EARTH-DAY-545561

DARIA Songs For Earth Day – From Itunes
https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/daria-sings-for-earth-day-ep/id428500463

An Easy Introduction To Irish Instruments

may day morris dancingQuick!  Can you name 10 instruments used in traditional Irish music?

How about these?

Bagpipes, Uilleann Pipes, Harp, Banjo, Bodhran, Guitar, Fiddle, Accordian, Penny Whistle or Tin Whistle and Flute

Pictured above in this May Day Morris ensemble are guitar, accordian and fiddle along with a larger Irish drum and a trombone.

With St. Patrick’s Day on the way, it’s a good time to learn about Irish instruments.  Here’s a link to a site we love because it gives a short, sweet and accurate view to the basic instruments heard in Celtic and Irish folk music.

http://www.emmedici.com/journeys/eire/cultura/musica/estrumenti.htm

playing on bodhran at a traditional sessionBodhran – Homemade and Otherwise!

Want to try a homemade, hand-on version of the bodhran; a drum that probably originated from a winnowing sieve for grain?  We’ve got a post below where you can make and play your own version,  complete with the special beater of tipper used it play it.

http://www.tinytappingtoes.com/uncategorized/make-your-own-bodhran-irish-drum/

Prize Green tin whistle - key of DWin A Tin Whistle and Instruction Book

During the month of March 2014, you can also win an Irish tin whistle and learn to play many of these beautiful Irish melodies for yourself.  The easy Rafflecopter contest is located on DARIA’s world music for kids site, here:

http://www.dariamusic.com/monthly_song.php

The National Anthem of Russia

russian anthemOne major cultural highlight of the closing ceremony of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics was a large group of children singing Russia’s moving National anthem.  Formally known as “The State Anthem of the Russian Federation”, this powerful patriotic song was adapted from the National Anthem of the Soviet Union, composed by Alexander Alexandrov with original lyrics by Sergey Mikhalkov and Gabriel El-Registan.

The history of national anthems in Russia is a bit complex.  Before 1944, Russia and all other member states of the Soviet Union considered the song “The Internationale” as the national anthem of the USSR.  At that point, the USSR saw a need for a national song that spoke more about the Soviet experience and the National Anthem of the Soviet Union was adopted.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia adopted a new instrumental piece of music as their national anthem.  It was composed by Mikhail Glinka and titled “Patrioticheskaya Pesnya”.  When that melody failed to inspire and no perfect set of lyrics could be found, Vladimir Putin reinstated the old Soviet anthem and sponsored a contest for updated lyrics.  This new anthem, in its current form, became official in 2000 and you can read the lyrics below in Russian, transliterated Russian and an English translation.

The music is powerful and moving and you can hear two choral versions of the song here:

Lyrics In Russian

Россия – священная наша держава,
Россия – любимая наша страна.
Могучая воля, великая слава –
Твоё достоянье на все времена!

  • Chorus:
  • Славься, Отечество наше свободное,
  • Братских народов союз вековой,
  • Предками данная мудрость народная!
  • Славься, страна! Мы гордимся тобой!

От южных морей до полярного края
Раскинулись наши леса и поля.
Одна ты на свете! Одна ты такая –
Хранимая Богом родная земля!

Широкий простор для мечты и для жизни
Грядущие нам открывают года.
Нам силу даёт наша верность Отчизне.
Так было, так есть и так будет всегда!

——————————————

Lyrics –  Russian (Transliterated)

Rossiya – svyashchennaya nasha derzhava,
Rossiya – lyubimaya nasha strana.
Moguchaya volya, velikaya slava –
Tvoio dostoyanye na vse vremena!

Chorus:

Slav’sya, Otechestvo nashe svobodnoye,
Bratskih narodov soyuz vekovoi,
Predkami dannaya mudrost’ narodnaya!
Slav’sya, strana! My gordimsya toboi!

Ot yuzhnyh morei do polyarnogo kraya
Raskinulis’ nashi lesa i polya.
Odna ty na svete! Odna ty takaya –
Khranimaya Bogom rodnaya zemlya!

Shirokii prostor dlya mechty i dlya zhizni.
Gryadushchiye nam otkryvayut goda.
Nam silu daiot nasha vernost’ Otchizne.
Tak bylo, tak yest’ i tak budet vsegda!

—————————-

Lyrics –  English Translation

Russia – our sacred homeland,
Russia – our beloved country.
A mighty will, great glory –
These are your heritage for all time!

Chorus:

Be glorious, our free Motherland,
Age-old union of fraternal peoples,
Ancestor-given wisdom of the people!
Be glorious, our country! We are proud of you!

From the southern seas to the polar lands
Spread are our forests and fields.
You are unique in the world, one of a kind –
This native land protected by God!

Wide spaces for dreams and for living
Are opened for us by the coming years
Our loyalty to the Motherland gives us strength.
Thus it was, thus it is and thus it always will be!