Tag Archives: Musical Instruments

Video of the Week # 318: Musical Instruments You Don’t Often Get to Hear

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Creative Juice #220

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Creative Juice #220

One of my favorite blogs, which I visit almost every day, is MyOBT, which stands for “one beautiful thing.” Donna’s mission is to post one beautiful thing every day, and she succeeds, although sometimes the post might be more funny than beautiful. (But I always appreciate a laugh—don’t you?) If you follow Creative Juice every Friday, you know it almost always contains a post from MyOBT. I try not to post more than one article from any one blog on a single Friday, but in Donna’s case I sometimes have to make an exception, because her output of beauty is just so vast and I want to share it all. In fact, if you love her posts, too, you should follow her blog yourself so you don’t miss a single one. If you need more convincing, today’s CJ features a dozen wonderful posts from MyOBT.

Sculpture Saturday: Musical Instruments as Sculpture

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I think these instruments at the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix qualify as sculpture:

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Dramnyen (plucked lute)

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Detail of head carving

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Slit drums

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Tlalpanhuehuetl, Aztec drum (this one made in the 20th century)

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Baryton (bowed and plucked lute), Austria

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Detail of head carving

More Sculpture Saturday.

V is for Viola

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She is the less-well-known cousin of the ubiquitous violin. Slightly larger and with a deeper voice, she hardly ever gets to sing the melody or a solo if a violin is around.

She is one of the only instruments whose music is notated in alto clef (sometimes called viola clef), which looks like a bracket with its point centered on the third line of the staff. (When the viola has a whole chunk of notes in its high register, the notation switches to treble clef.) The strings are tuned a fifth below the violin’s, and an octave above the cello’s.

Just because a person can play a violin does not mean they can play a viola. Because of its size, it requires a greater reach of fingers and arms. The notes are spread out farther along the fingerboard, so they may have a different fingering than on the violin. The strings are less responsive, so the bow is heavier and the violist needs to use more pressure. Smaller models are made for smaller musicians. Amihai Grosz plays the Brahms F minor Sonata:

Kim Kashkashian premieres György Kurtág’s In memoriam Blum Tamás:

Debussy, Sonata for Flute, Viola, and Harp, 1st movement:

The size and shape of the viola has been tinkered with for centuries, and innovations have been tried, such as electrification:

Another design tweak is adding a string and cutting away parts of the body:

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O is for Organ

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The earliest pipe organ originated in Greece in the third century BC. Called a hydraulis, it was powered by air compressed by water pressure.

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This photo of the Zliten mosaic is attributed to Nacéra Benseddik and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 1.0 Generic license.

Bellows were added to organ design by the sixth or seventh century AD.

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St. Cecilia playing a portable organ; her left hand operates the bellows. By “The Master of the St. Bartholomew altarpiece.”

Charlemagne was the first to request a pipe organ in his chapel in Aachen in 812, which established the organ as the premier instrument in Western European church music for many centuries.

In the 12th century, the organ began to evolve into a complex instrument capable of producing different timbres.

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Typical modern pipe organ console; located in St. Patrick’s cathedral, Dublin.

My favorite organ piece is the Toccata and Fugue by J.S. Bach:

And my second favorite has got to be this one:

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Sculpture Saturday: Slit Drum

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Found at the Musical Instrument Museum, Phoenix, Arizona:

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Slit drum.

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Detail of slit drum.

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Detail of slit drum.

See more Sculpture Saturday.

Video of the Week #213: For the Theremin Lovers

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Cool, huh?

Creative Juice #127

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Creative Juice #127

Somehow I got out of sequence. This should have been last week’s collection. Somehow I misplaced it after I found the Grant Snider piece. . .

Creative Juice #128

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Creative Juice #128

May you be full of wonder this weekend.

Creative Juice #78

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Creative Juice #78

Twelve articles for your artistic pleasure.