All posts by Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music and progressive music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced "Musica NA", a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music and electronic music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World, Lektronic Soundscapes, and Mindchild Records. Angel is currently based in Durham, North Carolina.

The Joropo of the Colombian and Venezuelan Plains

Colombian group Cimarron – Photo by Noelle Polkington

Joropo is a musical genre and dance form found in the plains of Venezuela. Los Llanos, the broad plains of western Venezuela and eastern Colombia, watered by the Orinoco River and its tributaries, are home to música llanera (literally, “plains music”), the engaging musical traditions created by ranching people with a love for cattle, horses, music and dance. At the heart of this region’s music is joropo, a hard-driving music that brilliantly showcases the percussive capabilities of stringed instruments and the musician’s ability to improvise.

The main instrument of llanera music is perhaps an unexpected one – the harp. Introduced to South America in the 18th century by the Spaniards, in the hands of the llanero, or plains cowboy, the harp became a percussive dynamo that serves as the backbone of música llanera Joropo ensembles are generally comprised of the harp, the bandola llanera (a four-stringed pear-shaped guitar), the small four-stringed cuatro, contrabajo (acoustic bass), rounded out by maracas (gourd rattles) and vocals.

Joropo music features both slower, more lyrical songs called pasajes as well as faster tunes called golpes. The hallmarks of the traditional joropo singer are a powerful voice that can handle the fast, hard-edged vocal style and the ability to improvise the lyrics.
 
As rural llaneros and musicians have migrated to cities for economic opportunities, the music of the plains has gained prominence in Colombia and Venezuela and is now a part of the commercial music industry and festivals Música llanera has become an expression a regional pride.

Joro Subgenres

Joropo oriental – Joropo Oriental is a rare Venezuelan version of the genre that is characterized by an improvisational style of singing, a variety of stringed instruments such as the bandola, mandolin, guitar and cuatro plus a regionally distinct style of maracas that provides the only percussive element.

Sources: Richmond Folk Festival, Old Town School of Folk Music

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The Samba de Roda

The samba de roda is a traditional Afro-Brazilian dance from the state of Bahia (Brazil). It has been associated with capoeira for many years. The instruments used in samba de roda groups includes atabaque, berimbau, chocalho, and pandeiro, accompanied by singing and hand clapping.

UNESCO Proclamation 2005: “The Samba de Roda of Recôncavo of Bahia”

The Samba de Roda, which involves music, dance and poetry, is a popular festive event that developed in the State of Bahia, in the region of Recôncavo during the seventeenth century. It drew heavily on the dances and cultural traditions of the region’s African slaves. The performance also included elements of Portuguese culture, such as language, poetry, and certain musical instruments. At first a major component of regional popular culture among Brazilians of African descent, the Samba de Roda was eventually taken by migrants to Rio de Janeiro, where it influenced the evolution of the urban samba that became a symbol of Brazilian national identity in the twentieth century.

The dance is performed on various occasions, such as popular Catholic festivities or Afro-Brazilian religious ceremonies, but is also executed in more spontaneous settings. All present, including beginners, are invited to join the dance and learn through observation and imitation.

One of the defining characteristics of the Samba of Roda is the gathering of participants in a circle, referred to as roda. It is generally performed only by women, each one taking her turn in the center of the ring surrounded by others dancing in the circle while clapping their hands and singing.

The choreography is often improvised and based on the movements of the feet, legs and hips. One of the most typical movements is the famous belly push, the umbigada, a testimony of Bantu influence, used by the dancer to invite her successor into the center of the circle. The Samba de Roda is also distinguished by specific dance steps like the miudinho, the use of the viola machete – a small lute with plucked strings from Portugal, as well as scraped instruments, and responsorial songs.

The influence of mass media and competition from contemporary popular music have contributed to undervaluing this Samba in the eyes of the young. The aging of practitioners and the dwindling number of artisans capable of making some of the instruments pose a further threat to the transmission of the tradition.

Samba de roda proclamation courtesy of UNESCO. © UNESCO

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The Angklung

Angklung

Angklung is an Indonesian musical instrument consisting of two to four bamboo tubes suspended in a bamboo frame, bound with rattan cords.

The tubes are carefully whittled and cut by a master crafts person to produce certain notes when the bamboo frame is shaken or tapped.

Each Angklung produces a single note or chord, so several players must collaborate in order to play melodies. Traditional Angklungs use the pentatonic scale, but in 1938 musician Daeng Soetigna introduced Angklungs using the diatonic scale; these are known as angklung padaeng.

The Angklung is closely related to traditional customs, arts and cultural identity in Indonesia, played during ceremonies such as rice planting, harvest and circumcision.

The special black bamboo for the Angklung is harvested during the two weeks a year when the cicadas sing, and is cut at least three segments above the ground, to ensure the root continues to propagate.

Angklung education is transmitted orally from generation to generation, and increasingly in educational institutions. Because of the collaborative nature of Angklung music, playing promotes cooperation and mutual respect among the players, along with discipline, responsibility, concentration, development of imagination and memory, as well as artistic and musical feelings.

The Angklung and its music are central to the cultural identity of communities in West Java and Banten, where playing the Angklung promotes the values of teamwork, mutual respect and social harmony.

The Angklung is included in a national inventory maintained by the Centre for Research and Development of Culture of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, and in several specialized inventories maintained by universities and Angklung associations.

The Angklung was inscribed in 2010 on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

(sources: UNESCO, World Music Central)

Angklung recordings

Tujang Biru by Mas village gamelan angklung

Gamelan Music of Bali by Various Artists

===== Sources =====

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Artist Profiles: Andrew Tosh

Andrew Tosh

Andrew Tosh, the tall, slender third son and virtual carbon copy of reggae legend Peter Tosh has been predicted to carry on the family’s musical tradition since first gaining recognition with a powerful performance at his father’s funeral in 1987.

He’s been delighting audiences across the world with his brilliant live sets and Grammy-nominated recordings which, although influenced by his father, are very much in his own brilliant style.

Born on June 19, 1967 in Kingston, Jamaica, Andrew and his father Peter would sing songs together – not just Peter’s militant compositions, but also pop classics by the likes of Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles and Kenny Rogers. Andrew notes that “Peter always knew I would do something in the music business, so he encouraged me to study piano, ’cause he knew I loved it. From the start it was inside me to sing and play instruments.”

The first song he learned was PeterTosh’ composition “You Can’t Blame the Youth,” and from that point forward, he says, “I knew that my heartbeat was music and one day it would just be music out of my mouth, and writing and singing my own songs.”

Throughout his elementary and high school days in Duhaney Park on the outskirts of Kingston, Andrew was constantly pulled to the forefront of the class and made to sing lead. At 14, in emulation of his father, Andrew began to ride a unicycle too.

Although Peter was often on the road, performing tours that remain to this day reggae’s most lengthy and successful ones, Andrew spent much of his childhood living in Peter’s house, especially between the critical ages of 12 and 15.

Andrew Tosh’s first recording came in 1985, when he recorded a song he wrote called “Vanity Lover” for Neville Lee’s Gorgon label. A keen observer of the vibrant music scene in Kingston, Andrew was checking out some of the new talent at that city’s famous Skateland dancehall on the evening his father was murdered – Friday,
September 11, 1987.

“I felt my father’s spirit come right there at Skateland where I was,” he says, “and the spirit said leave that place right now.” The impact of the elder Tosh’s passing made an immediate and life-changing impression. “I tell myself that Peter Tosh is gone and it’s my need to carry on. Not for want, and not for the lust of fame and the glamor and want to be rich. No, for the love of my art and the love of my people, because love carry no color. Love is love and that’s what Jah say, make a joyful noise unto Me.”

The first glimpse the public got of Andrew’s nascent talent came when he sang at his father’s funeral in the National Arena in Kingston. His version of Peter’s “Jah Guide” stunned the mourners. “I was astonished myself on stage,” he recalls. “The other song I did was ‘Equal Rights,’ because everyone is crying out for peace but none is crying out for justice. When I came down off the stage, I couldn’t stop crying.”

Late the following year, he tested the international waters with a pair of memorable performances in southern California, including a show-stopping turn on the stage of Burbank’s Starlight Amphitheater, the site of the final appearance together of Bob Marley and Peter Tosh. “I felt elevension,” he laughs, engaging in some of the crafty wordplay for which his father was notorious. “It was way beyond tension.”

From that point, Andrew began working under the guidance of keyboardist Keith Sterling and his band mates, Fully Fullwood and Santa Davis, the bass and drum team from Peter’s most ferocious backing group, Word Sound and Power. Andrew began to tour, wowing audiences in Europe as well as North and South America. He has been especially successful in Brazil, where he has appeared several times in Sao Paulo, Rio, and Curitiba.

His first album, Original Man, was a mixture of his tracks and those of his father. The follow-up, Make Place for the Youth, indicated a new maturity to his songwriting, and was well received, earning him a Grammy nomination.

He produced a major tribute to his father, (executive-produced by Bunny Wailer), called Andrew Sings Tosh.

Discography

* Original Man (Attack, 1987)
* Make Place For The Youth (Tomato, 1989)
* Message From Jah (Dressed to Kill, 2000)
* Andrew Tosh (Dressed to Kill, 2001)
* Andrew Sings Tosh: He Never Died (Paras, 2004)

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Apache Music

Apache musician Andrew Vasquez

The current Apache (Nde or the people) nations include San Carlos Nation, Yavapai Nde Nation, Mescalero Nation, White Mountain Apache Tribe, Chiricahua Fort Sill, Chiricahua Apache Nde Nation, Jicarilla Apache Nation, Lipan Apache Tribe, Yavapai Prescott Indian Tribe, Yavapai Apache Nation, and Tonto Apache Nation.

Apache dances include the rain dance, the sunrise dance for young women, the harvest dance, and a spirit dance. Dancers use ankle wraps to accompany their dances.

Musical instruments include flutes like the agave courting flute and the nose flute; the Mescalero one-stringed fiddle known as tsii edo’a’tl, or “wood singing,” which is made from a hollowed vegetable agave stalk. The fiddle is held together with sinew wrappings and metal spikes.

Other instruments include drums, rattles and bells attached to a strap of leather. The leather straps are placed in the ankles and sometimes on the knees and elbows.

Apache musicians include Tony Duncan, Estun-Bah, and Andrew Vasquez.

Apache Music Albums

Togo (Makoché Music, 2004)

From Where the Sun Rises (Canyon Records, 2010)

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Artist Profiles: Kadrievi Orkestar

Macedonian band Orchestar B. Kadrievi has been around for over five generations. The orchestra took part in many Festivals in Macedonia. Orchestar B. Kadrievi also played at the famed brass festival in Guca (Serbia) where it was pronounced one of the bests orchestras.

The leader of the orchestra, Jusin Kadriev, wrote music for the Emir Kusturica film titled “Time of Gypsies”. He also wrote music for a drama in Switzerland, where he spent six months with a Circus.

The orchestra B. Kadrievi plays Gypsy, Serbian, Macedonian, Greek and Turkish music.

Orchestar B. Kadrievi has recorded many singles and albums released in various formats. The Orchestar normally includes saxophone, clarinet, trumpets, horns, drums, and big Horn.

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The Cuban Danzón

Danzón is a ballroom dance played by the Cuban charangas. It is a descendant of the popular the Spanish danza of the 1800s and the French contredanse (contradanza) brought by the French immigrants fleeing the Haitian Revolution, who settled in the Cuba’s eastern region. The danzon was preferably danced during winter, because, according to the dancers, it led to extreme overheating. Therefore, in winter Cubans danced danzón, and in summer they waltzed.

Danzón in the 19th Century

As the name in Spanish implies, the danzon is a long dance. In the mid 19th century, Miguel Faílde created the instrumental accompaniment to the dance. The first danzon was performed by a traditional wind orchestra, at the Matanzas Lyceum, January 1st, 1879. The name of the first danzón known was “Las alturas de Simpsom.” The name of the piece was a marked homage to the site in the city where popular celebrations were held.

Years later, musicians like Raimundo Valenzuela, Enrique Guerrero and Félix Cruz, added to new elements to the popular genre.

Danzon in the 20th Century

At the beginnings of the 20th century, José Urfé revolutionized danzon music completely by introducing a mountain son using the tres (three string guitar) style used by musicians in the eastern provinces of Cuba. Musicologist Helio Orovio said: “El Bombín de Barreto (a song by Urfé) defined for the rest of the century, the singular style that would distinguish the danzón forever.”

From Cuba, the danzon spread to other nations, like Mexico.

Danzon’s Offspring

The danzon generated new genres like the danzonete and the cha cha chá. Barbarito Diez became the King of the danzon. The danzón owes its ample diffusion and clearest interpretation to Diez.

The danzon is currently celebrated during the Havana Danzón Festival, that includes concerts, conferences and meetings that clarify the influence of the danzón on musical genres that came decades later, such as salsa.

Sources: Instituto Cubano de Arte e Industria Cinematograficos (ICAIC), Helio Orovio, World Music Central

Danzón books

Danzón: Circum-Caribbean Dialogues in Music and Dance (Currents in Latin American and Iberian Music)

Danzón Recordings

The Cuban Danzón

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Intimate Cara Dillon

Cara Dillon – Wanderer (Charcoal Records, 2017)

Wanderer is the 7th album by Cara Dillon, one of the great voices in Irish folk music. The album includes a set of rearranged traditional pieces and a handful of originals.

The essential subjects in the album’s lyrics are migration, longing and love. Cara Dillon’s heartfelt, expressive and beautiful vocals are naturally the highlight of the album as she has one the best voices in the Irish music scene.

The arrangements are mostly piano and acoustic guitar, with classical and strong American folk influences except on “Sailor Boy.” With such a rich musical tradition in Ireland, it’s hard to know why there’s an intention to Americanize her music.

Wanderer features Sam Lakeman on piano and acoustic guitar as well as guest performances by familiar names in British folk and rock music scene: Kris Drever on vocals and acoustic guitar, John Smith on guitar, Justin Adams on electric guitar, Niall Murphy on fiddle and Ben Nicholls on bass.

 

 

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Artist Profiles: Dub Colossus

Dub Colossus

British producer and multi-instrumentalist Dubulah (a.k.a. Transglobal Underground founding member Nick Page), collaborated with outstanding Ethiopian musicians in Addis Ababa and the result is Dub Colossus.

Influenced by the Ethiopian music golden era, Dub Colossus explored traditional Azmari styles, 60s Ethiopian pop, Ethiojazz and 1970s Jamaican Dub Reggae. A Town Called Addis, their critically acclaimed debut album was released in October 2008.

Dubulah (Nick Page)

Echoes of such diverse acts as The Abyssinians, Sun Ra, Tlahoun Gesese, Pablo Gadd, Hirut Beqele, Dick Dale and King Tubby can be heard amongst the ever-changing musical backdrop that is the album.

Discography

* A Town Called Addis (Real World Records CDRW155, 2008)
* Return To Addis
* Rockers Meet Addis Uptown (Real World Records, 2011)
* Dub Me Tender Vol. 1 (Real World Records, 2011)
* Addis Through the Looking Glass (2011)

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Artist Profiles: Dulsori

Dulsori

The fundamental basis of Dulsori’s creative work is through various Korean percussion instruments. Since the beginning of Dulsori this group has tried many different kinds of performances based on the traditional rhythms of Korea. As a result, Dulsori has developed unique performances and interactive programs which encourage audience members to take part in the performances.

Dulsori believes in creating a sense of community and understands the existence and importance of communal values in every culture. Dulsori’s performances and interactive programs attempt to build harmony and unity between the audience members and performers, thereby forming a sense of harmony.

Dulsori (literally wild beat) was formed in 1984 and primarily aims to rekindle the spirit of ancient festival sharing the inner-energy through the art form that can enrich our life. “Festival is the place where everyone’s energy mingles together creating a sense of pleasure in a collective manner. Dulsori can never reach this dream alone and that’s why we always invite the audience to join the show.

The fundamental basis of our creative work is a Korean percussion play. Since the beginning of Dulsori, we have tried many different kinds of performances based on the traditional rhythm of Korea. As a result, we have developed unique performances and interactive programs. We believe that creating a sense of community is important in any cultures.

 

Dulsori

 

Our performances and interactive programs attempt to build harmony and unity of community among the audience members and performers.

Our energetic and passionate team has staged hundreds of international performances and toured Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, Israel, Africa and across Europe. We also conduct workshops, classes and camps on Korean traditional arts and are open to all age groups.”

Ha, Taekhu – percussion
Lee, Kyuhyun – percussion
Jun, Hyunsook – Percussion
Lee, Eunbi – vocals, pansori singer
Oh, Hyuna – geomungo
Yang, Jeongyoon – gayageum
Shin, Myeongook – daegeum

Discography

Eternal Memory (Dulsori, 2007)
Korean Drums (Arc Music, 2012)

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