world music

World Music Exploration - Traditional Malaysian Music

This month, my students and I are taking a musical trip to Malaysia. The music of Malaysia reflects a mix of cultural influences, from the Indonesian gamelan to Western music forms, and everything in between. This clip is a prime example of this:

Want to explore more music from Malaysia? Check out this CD:

It appears to be quite popular.

(c) 2012 by Musespeak(TM). All rights reserved.

World Music Exploration - Jai Ho

Around this time of year, things get really hectic. That final crunch before music festivals and exams means that my students and I are in performance mode for the rest of the year. Blogging, sadly, falls to the back burner.

But not forgotten! Here's last week's clip. My students and I concluded our musical journey to India with some Bollywood fusion. Here's Jai Ho! (You Are My Destiny) from the Oscar-winning movie, Slumdog Millionaire:
When I asked my students what makes this a fusion, some of them (accurately) cited instrumentation and rhythm. 
(c) 2012 by Musespeak(TM). All rights reserved.

World Music Exploration - Anoushka Shankar

After a whirlwind Easter Break, my students and I return to lessons this week (the final leg before June). This month, I am whisking them away - musically - to India.

The sitar weaves an exotic melody against the backdrop of the tabla. Our featured artist, Anoushka Shankar, is considered a leading figure in World Music today. Her early music training was in Indian classical music, under the tutelage of her father Ravi Shankar.  Shankar is a composer as well, exploring crossover music, e.g. Indian music and flamenco or electronica. A Grammy nominee, she was the first Indian woman to perform at the Grammy Awards (2006). Anoushka Shankar is also the first female (and the youngest) to receive a House of Commons Shield from the British House of Parliament (1999).

Check out more of Anoushka Shankar's music here:

(c) 2012 by Musespeak(TM), Calgary, AB, Canada. All rights reserved.

World Music Exploration - Spanish Flamenco

This month, we are exploring the music and culture of Spain. I have some relatives there whom I hope to visit someday.
Flamenco music is very old. Some pundits believe the style "evolved out of a mixture of early Byzantine, Arab, Jewish and Gypsy cultures in Andalucía". That makes sense historically, considering some of the cultures Spain traded with (or conquered).
You only have to listen/watch a few bars to see how rhythmically and technically challenging it is. This type of traditional Spanish music is played by guitar and castanets. And I understand that the cajón is used as well. [Learn more about the cajón on my other blog.]

(c) 2012 by Musespeak(TM), Calgary, AB, Canada. All rights reserved.

World Music Exploration - Tarantella

Now that the ensemble classes and Virtual Choir 3.0 (that's another story) are behind us, we can resume our world music exploration. This month, my students and I are exploring one of my favourite countries in the world: Italy.


Italy is rich in history, food, culture and of course - music! This is perhaps one of Italy's most famous folk dances, the Tarantella:


It translates to "tarantula". It's a circle dance which features changes in direction and tempo. This recording features the mandolin. The above version is Neopeltana one. There is also a Sicilian and Calabrese Tarantella.


All this talk of Italy has given me a huge craving for Italian cuisine and limone gelato.
(c) 2012 by Musespeak(TM), Calgary, AB, Canada. All rights reserved.

World Music Exploration - Nigerian Gospel Music

This week, we are reminded that we are in the middle of winter. With temperatures in the -20's (Celsius), taking a virtual trip to Nigeria is a nice change.

This week, we are looking at Nigerian Gospel music. Judging from the vast number of videos on Youtube, one can surmise that this is a huge part of the fabric of Nigerian Music.

This is the ECWA Yoruba Choir Mushin. The music is extremely upbeat and their clothing is bright too.
(c) 2012 by Musespeak(TM), Calgary, AB, Canada. All rights reserved.

World Music Exploration - Traditional Dance Music from Nigeria

When I chose this month's musical destination back in the summer, I assumed we would be in the middle of a cold snap. For the most part, we have been enjoying a rather mild winter in Alberta.


We are exploring Nigeria this month. According to Wikipedia, "Nigeria has been called "the heart of African music" because of its role in the development of West African highlife and palm-wine music, which fuses native rhythms with techniques imported from the Congo for the development of several popular styles that were unique to Nigeria, like apala, fuji, jùjú, highlife, and Yo-pop."  After listening to some music from Nigeria, put on some hip hop or reggae. You'll probably notice some similarities.


There are over 250 ethnic groups in Nigeria. Each group has a distinct style of music. Some of their songs are works songs and some are based on epic poetry. Many of their songs have a call and response form. They use mainly percussion instruments plus voice.


This clip features three dances:


  1. Yoruba: uses the dundun hourglass tension drums
  2. Hausa: call and response song uses the Arabic scale and is played on a one-stringed goje
  3. Igbo: known for incorporating foreign styles,. Instruments used include the 13-stringed zither, called an obo., slit drums, xylophones, flutes, lyres, udus and lutes and European brass instruments.

(c) 2012 by Musespeak(TM), Calgary, AB, Canada. All rights reserved.