One thing you should know if you didn’t know it already, is that I am full of surprises. Mainly because there is almost no limit to the range of topics that I can talk about or I am interested in. Lately, I’ve put some focus to children’s music as well as toys. Mainly thanks to my dear Finnish friend and mother, Emma Laine.
I sincerely thank her for providing me with some of the most enchanting children’s tunes I’ve ever heard. Namely those of Laura Latvala, Marjatta Pokela and last but not least a classic from Finland known as Tapio Rautavaara.
What I’ve noticed that unlike other countries, Finland has produced a lot of popular songs without that much of an influence from the overseas market. Perhaps it’s the northern proximity, isolated by sea and bordering Russia that has kept some of the traditions so unique in some respect. Music is a big part of children’s lives in Finland and it’s a way for youngsters to connect with their roots.
Despite not having much success in the Eurovision contest and some thinking that it’s because of the language.. I think that Finnish is a beautiful singing language. In fact I have memorised “hämä-hämähäkki” so I can play it together with the guitar. With that you can surely amaze not just kids but adults as well!
Anyway, much greetings to Emma and I’m looking forward to many musical sessions in the near future.
Often I hear the question, what do you think is your favorite genre in music or band? For someone who is a dedicated fan of a particular artist, its an easy answer. Anyone with a broad taste in music might have to think a while to produce an answer.
Of course most of the the time the question more or less implies to simply understanding music that you like. Be it many, you could just say something that you recently listened to for example.
But there are options beyond difficult or easy answers.. I for one decided to take this as a challence and provide an actually interesting answer. While this was something facinating for myself, non-surprisingly a lot of the people who asked me that were not that interested. But they got what they asked for is what I thought.
So what’s my answer to the question.. Toecutter. Reason is that there is no music quite like it. You see, most of the songs completely change every 5-20seconds in average. Not just the beat but the whole song. This means that when you here something you like, you know that it will end in just a few seconds even though you would like to hear more of that song.
For many, this might sound rather annoying but it provides an interesting alternative to “comfortable spaces” that music often produce. Everything needs to be learned to like. Just like coffee, Toecutter is the same. It’s one of the greatest musical achievements in the history of mix productions.
When you let go of the thought that you would like to hear more of a certain beat for example, you don’t enter into a state of trance. Instead you will sort of distance yourself from the music and watch it from the distance.
Acceptance is the key and once you do that, you are able to see the music how it is. Without inserting your objections, desires or anything that would manipulate the experience into your fitting.
Try it out, Toecutter is the best music in the world. Just because there is no such thing!!
In China, traditionally a lot of the music was accompanied with entertaining acts such as dance performances, acrobatics, kung fu, comedy. Depending on the act, different instruments were used.
A pleasant surprise I encountered however was the music used in acrobatic performance such as this Beijing acrobatic show. The acts with high-paced and the tension was extremely high.. namely due to the accompanied orchestra with their intense percussions and after bowed string instruments that sued down the nerves.
It kind of reminded me of Chinese opera except that what I was seeing was acrobatic traits. Colors surrounded the stage and spectators.. dance was added in between the acts. With only a hint of electronic sound added this was mostly a folk music experience.. the Chinese way.
The theatre itself, known as Chaoyang Theatre is a spectacle in itself. Now improvement in the acoustics had been made ever since this historical theater building was built. Somehow all this was essential to the experience. In brand new theater facilities traditional Chinese music just doesn’t sound the same.
Perhaps it depends on the entertainment but acrobatic shows are not such polished acts in China. From my experience if they try too hard, things just get too cheesy. Better to hold on to tradition and tolerate some of the dinginess which you can actually learn to like.
I recently saw this video and could not help being inspired. Knowing China well enough, this is really true. Wherever you go.. mostly in the evening you can see groups of people dancing. In front of shopping malls, super markets, parks.. just about anywhere!
This is truly a magnificent way for people to get together, enjoy dancing and music. Looking at such activity makes you think that these people really must be happy. Dance is the way to go!
Kung Fu is a collection of ancient Chinese martial arts. Equally ancient is the music performed during this golden age.
In Beijing a brilliant fusion of the two has been made at the Red Theater stage! You may except all the anticipated martial art stunts, action, drama as well as extreme fight scenes. But this kung fu spectacle was made to entertain in a way that defines Chinese modern theatre play.
Elegant dance, ballet.. pouring emotions soothed by traditional Chinese instruments playing in the background make my night! Check out the video to catch glimpses of some of the incredible scenes from the show.
If you anyone knows what instruments are used here, please leave a comment, thank you!
Visiting the city? I have a friendly advice.. don’t miss this unique opportunity.
Go and see the show in Beijing!
Continuing on the path of introducing my fascination for Chinese musical instruments, I have yet another treat for you. In fact they are the instruments used in traditional Beijing Opera which have recently captured my attention. According my studies, the wide array of instruments used has the unified purpose of creating a magical and intensive feeling during the performance. It is said to require a lifetime of hard training and dedication to become a skillful Peking Opera musician.
The music is known to vary between everything from fast tempo to slow ballads, from dark tunes to happy flute solos. This broad range in tone levels takes the audience into a magical journey of strong ancient emotions. The musical instruments themselves are divided into two categories, orchestra and percussion.
Percussion instruments are used to create that intensive feeling during the show. Clappers from hardwood and drums, cymbals as well as gongs of different types all play together to surround the audience in suspense. The castanets in the music can set the tempo of the performance, so that the rest of the instruments follow their rhythm. Indeed these mood enhancing instruments are known as the “military instruments”.
The next group also belonging to the “civil instruments” are the string instruments accompanied with the Suona horn. Jinghu and Erhu are said to be the two most important string instruments in Beijing Opera. According to one tale, the play is so beautiful that they are able to capture the hearts of lovers or even kill men.
In addition to these two groups the atmosphere is enhanced with a majestic presence through various gongs and rums. While they are not used in all performances, due to more rare usage they tend to leave a great impression when actually used.
This Summer I should have the opportunity of visiting the marvelous city of Beijing. Naturally I am looking forward to going to see the famous Peking Opera at the Liyuan Theatre. Once I hit the land of the Beijing Duck, I will certainly report from my musical adventures there.
Belonging to the group of Sitar instruments (name famous from Russia), the Guzheng or Zheng is a traditional Chinese string instrument played with the fingers. According to documents originating from 206BC, the Guzheng is one of the oldest Chinese musical instruments dating back to the times of the Qin dynasty. Its music has become world famous and indeed it has been played in China for 2500 years.
In the name Guzheng the “gu” means ancient and zheng means bamboo & dispute. According to the its tale, it once needed to be cut in half to settle a dispute inside the family. The rough sound of the instrument as well as its background portrays the notorious bad temper of the Chinese.
It’s particularly popular amongst women, although men are free to play the instrument. In fact many young Chinese women dream of learning to play the Guzheng, but due to the large size and great work of such an instrument, rarely one can afford it. We can only imagine how many skillful players would there will be once China gets more developed.
The instrument made of wood, has at least twenty strings. Historically it is told that it had a mere 5 strings, which gradually moved up to around 20-25. It is 35cm wide and 170cm long, making it difficult to carry. Looking at the instrument it is says that you can see both the sky and the earth. This keeps harmony with nature, according to Chinese philosophy.
These are some of the prominent Korean artists and what I like about them.
Brown Eyed Girls
This is one of the sexiest Korean girl bands, even though all but one of the members are almost 30 years old. It’s not quite time for them to get married yet as this would end their amazing career. Such an older group makes their act more daring than if the members would be in their 20′s. They also have good solo performances with the dancing spirit that just hits the mainstream audience. For those interested you should check out the song abracadabra which is just resonating that sexy brown eyed attitude!
Korean rockbands are more a rare phenomenon to which TRAX out stands itself from the K-pop scene which still isn’t that big. Rock music hasn’t had such a success in general which is why it hasn’t really found its own style mostly borrowing from Japanese and western influences. The drummer ROSE (No Minwoo) has gained attention (and attraction) by his looks because he resembles more of an J-Rock artist with his hair styles and attitude. As Koreans love Japanese music, so the band fits their taste as well. In recent times the music has seen a turn towards more of a ballad style, which hasn’t stopped its success.
This is one of the most known and liked South Korean boy bands abroad at the moment. The style is very modern electronic dance music and the singers Jonghyun and Onewin take care of the rest of the audience with their charming singing voice. Another reason to love the band is that they are very active on TV and the entertainment business in general. So fans can easily follow each of the members personal life.
This hip-hop band with it’s attractive lyrics even stirs discussion about some controversial issues. Songs range from catchy rap songs to electronic dance beats. Nowadays Big Band is busy taking over the Japanese market.