Last week we had a visitor come to our school and perform for us during music class. He played the shakuhachi, which is a wooden Japanese vertical flute. The koto teacher and another koto player came as well, and they performed a few songs together. We had to think about the question ‘What makes music sound like it belongs to a particular part of the world?’, as we are starting a new unit.
Other than the koto and shakuhachi, we also got to hear the shamisen, a three-string instrument that resembles a banjo without frets. During the class, the three people performed a few songs, one of which was modern, one old, and one originally written by the visitor. The songs were quite long, but it was interesting to hear the style of music, and to try to find out what made them sound Japanese. Part of the answer to that was the pitch and scale of the notes the instruments play, and also the fact that the sound vibrates as the instrument is played.
I think that out of the three the instrument I liked the most was the shakuhachi, because I had never heard it before, and it had an interesting history in both Japanese and Chinese culture. The visitor also brought various sizes of the flute, with the larger ones having a deeper sound, and the smaller ones are higher. It was also interesting because it is in many ways both similar and different to western music. For example, it is a type of flute and is played similarly, but it has a more natural sound, and it obviously looks different, being vertical. It was really nice to learn more about Japanese music, and it was great to meet the talented visitor. I hope we do more things like this in music in the future!
In our unit we have been learning about three different types of blues: Delta blues, Memphis blues and Chicago blues. There are many similarities and differences between the three, even though they are all part of the same genre.
The Delta blues is one of the earliest forms of blues music. It originated in the Mississippi Delta, which is where it gets its name from. The main instruments used for this genre are the guitar and the harmonica, and the vocal style has a large variety, anything between soulful and passionate. Delt9a blues has probably been around for quite a while, but it was first recorded in the 1920s. Earlier recordings were mainly only one person both singing and playing an instrument, but later bands started becoming more popular, especially for live performances.
The Memphis blues is a genre that was created between the 1910s and 1920s in the Memphis area of Tennessee. There are more instruments used typically than the Delta blues, including the electric guitar, the drums, the piano, the harmonica and obviously vocals. The lyrics generally describe a depressed or sad mood, but it has been a big influence on electric blues, rock and roll, blues rock and heavy metal music. Memphis blues also used many simple and homemade instruments, which help to create the danceable, syncopated rhythm. There were many famous Memphis blues performers, including B. B. King and Howlin’ Wolf.
The Chicago blues originated in Chicago, Illinois in the first half of the twentieth century as a result of the Great Migration. It was made by taking the Delta blues and increasing the volume or amplifying different instruments. Because of this, the main instruments in Chicago blues are the electric guitar, the harmonica, the drums, the piano, the bass guitar and sometimes the saxophone. One of the things Chicago blues is known for is its heavy rolling bass. It started out as music that was mainly played just on streets, but as its popularity grew, it became an actual business. The style of music spread towards Europe, becoming the inspiration of several English rock bands. The scale of Chicago blues is longer than the original blues scale, using notes from other genres to make it similar to jazz, but still blues. Some famous Chicago blues artists are Muddy Waters and Buddy Guy.
As you can see there are many similarities between these three music styles, especially between the instruments used in each one. Several performers were famous for more than one style, for example Howlin’ Wolf, who played all three genres. There are also differences, for example how each blues style originated. From learning about the Delta, Memphis and Chicago blues, I discovered that the styles influenced each other and used things from different genres to create a new one. I think that that is quite an interesting thing, because it proves how important inspiration can be.
In conclusion, I think that blues is a very complicated but still interesting genre, considering its history. It has had an extremely important influence in modern music, and it should not be overlooked by other genres just because it has become less popular. It made a big difference, and it needs to take credit for that.