The Sun Ra Arkestra Performing Shadow World in a Concert in West Berlin

This video presents one of the most important free jazz groups ever: the Sun Ra Arkestra. They are playin a concert in West Berlin and performing the song Shadow World. It is not clear when this concert was recorded but the black and white pictures suggest it was in the late 1960s when german television still recorded and transmitted in black and white.
Sun Ra was always regarded as an excentric musician and many people have no access to this kind of music, they even say it is no music at all or that all musicians are fake, that they can’t play their instruments. However, this is not true. All musicians in the Sun Ra Arkestra were excellent on their instrument but just had no wish to play in the well known mainstream, repeating standard tunes and performing what everybody could accept. It is a fact that such great jazz musicians as John Coltrane took a couple of saxophone playing lessons from the sax player who appears in this video, John Gilmore might be his name, leave a comment if you know better.
The band was really avantgarde, watch that at the end they even come up with some rap – in the late sixties !

Dizzy Gillespie Tony Williams Ron Carter and More Jazz Giants on Stage Together

Watch this video clip with some of the greatest jazz musicians together on stage. Ron Carter plays the accoustic bass, Tony Williams is on the drums, Freddie Hubbard blows his horn together with the great trumpet player Dizzy Gillespie, while McCoy Tyner plays the piano. In this concert appear only the best musicians, an all stars group, all of them have a solid musical background and a career as soloists.
McCoy Tyner has played with the John Coltrane Quartet, Tony Williams has his own band, the Tony Williams Lifetime, Ron Carter has played the bass with almost every important jazz musician and it is not necessary to mention any group Dizzy Gillespie has played with, he is probably the best jazz trumpet player ever.
Some people even think that Tony Williams was one of the first pioneers of the Blast Beat, a technique used in Extreme Metal today.

Blues Legend Big Bill Broonzy Performing Hey Hey

This video features the great blues guitar legend Big Bill Broonzy (born as William Lee Conley Broonzy) performing the tune Hey Hey. Even though Big Bill Broonzy is not very well known, he has recorded about 350 songs! The guitar player and singer gained a certain popularity with his small band as one of the first blues singers who included a bass and drums in his performances. The band was called Big Bill and his Chicago Five.
Big Bill Broonzy was born in the state of Missisipi in 1893 or 95 and lived until 1958. When he moved to Chicago, he began to play the guitar and soon began playing clubs and participating in recording sessions. His playing is in the folk blues tradition and despite the fact that in the 40s he had begun to experiment with the electric guitar, he returned to his classical picking style and singing, mostly because his audience wanted so because it seemed more authentic to them.
Big Bill Broonzy has recorded with musicians like Leadbelly, Pete Seeger, Brownie Mcghee and Sonny Terry, among others. He has been a source of inspiration to other blues giants as Muddy Waters and Memphis Slim.
In this video Big Bil Broonzy shows his personal picking style that the mostly white audiences wanted him to play.

Traditional Chinelo Music and Dance from the Mexican State of Morelos

This video clip shows some traditional dance music from the central mexican state of Morelos, about 80 km south of Mexico City. The music is played by marching bands and consists of short phrases which are played over and over again while the dancers walk jumping through the streets. At a certain moment, the flow of the music will be interrupted by a long note usually played by the trumpets. At the end of the long note, another frenetic melody starts and is played again and again until the next long note on the trumpets.
This scheme will be performed for hours and is a challenge for dancers and musicians. It can lead to a state of trance. Consider that the parades usually happen under the burning sun of central Mexico and that the costumes of the dancers are of heavy fabric. The participants sure need to drink a lot of beer during the parades …

Accoustic Illusions – How We Perceive the Sounds that Surround Us

This is a very interesting video about different aspects of music. It begins with an introduction about the relation between maths and music, talking about the greek philosopher Pitagoras who wrote about the relation between the length of a string and the musical note it produces and then divides the string into different portions, obtaining different musical notes. After these facts about the mathematical relation between the notes, the video continues to the ‘timbre’ which is the part of the sound that makes it identifiable as the sound of a certain instrument. The timbre depends on the mixture of harmonics that vibrate together with the original note. Only synthesizers can play notes without harmonics, all other instruments produce a musical note with a timbre composed by several harmonics of this note.
Then it becomes really interesting: It looks like musical perception does not depend on the musical facts alone but has to do with the culture where the individual grew up. Diana Deutsch shows how a simple interval is perceived as ascending or as descending, depending on the culture of the listener! Culture relates here to the mother tongue or language of the individual.
The video mentions that right handed people from all cultures tend to perceive the low tones on the left side and the higher pitches on the right side while left handed and ambidextrous people perceive music the other way around. This is the reason for the disposition of the elements in an symphonic orchestra. If the elements weren’t ordered the way they are, the musicians couldn’t hear well the other instruments in the orchestra. However, since the orchestras are normally in front of the public, it results that the public must listen the music in an ‘unnatural’ perspective.
The video then mentions a test that shows how our perception is distorted: the listener receives some musica sounds through the headphones and has to decide wethere the low pitches sound on the right or on the left side. Once the person is sure about what he/she is hearing, the person shall swap the sides of the earphones so that the left chanel now is the right chanel and vice versa. One expects that now the low pitches should come from the opposite side. However, this is not the case! People continue to hear the low notes at the same location, no matter where they are really located, spatially speaking.
The video continues to other interesting aspects of music and we recommend to watch it right away, if you are interested in the part about accoustic illusions, you might want to go directly to minute 16.

Composer Arnold Schönberg in an Interview about Art and Music

In this video clip you can see some images of Arnold Schönberg’s paintings and personal photos while he is being interviewed about different issues.
Arnold Schönberg belonged to the painting school called Blauer Reiter together with Vladimir Kadinsky and other famous painters. However, Schönberg decided to concentrate on music. In this interview he explains how this happened.
Arnold Schönberg is a very important comoser and can be considered as the logical conclusion of western classical concert music that began with the gregorian choir music with it’s monophonic melodies that could be ‘completed’ initially only with octaves and fifths, since these harmonies are sounding very much the same and music was not for embellishment of the church service itself but for the praising of god. Attention should not be distrated from this goal and music should be no reason to attend the services. One by one, the other 11 notes that exist in between the octave – according to western tuning – where ‘admitted’ in the compositions of Bach, Mozart, Beethoven and the rest of the classical composers. By the time Arnold Schönberg appeared on the music scene, every single note could be present in a composition and this meant to Schönberg and a few others that classical music had come to an end and that the logical evolution asked for atonal music, music without the conventional tonal centers that resulted from the rules of harmony.
In the background sound of the interview, you can listen to some compositions by Arnold Schönberg (Who also was one of rock musician Frank Zappa‘s favourite composers).

The Day of Silence and Other New Years Day Celebrations from around the World

All over the globe there are celebrations when a year ends and a new cycle begins. The change dosn’t necessarily happen on december 31 / January 1, as in the western world. In Ubud, Bali (Indonesia), the celebrations take place in march, when the new year for the hindus begins.
Bali is a country full of music. It is a society where music is always present: when the fields are harvested, there is a music group of the town playing while other members of the community cut the fruits or whatever they are harvesting. The same thing happens when the community plants the seeds for the new agricultural cycle and in general terms there is no event in the life of the people from Bali where there wouldn’t be a musical group playing.
At the last day of the year, the people from Bali bring out giant paper monsters that symbolize the evil in multiple presentations and forms. In the night, the paper monsters are brought back to where they were built and remain there for one day. This day is the day of silence and there is absolutely no action on the streets or in the houses. People meditate and rest, stying home since no traffic is allowed on the streets. No cars, no motorcycles and not even pedestrians.
The idea behind this tradition is that on this day the evil spirits will visit the island and when they see the paper monsters and the empty streets they will think that the monsters already have taken over the island and that there are no persons left. So, they will go back to where they came from and will let the land in peace for another year.
That would be a nice tradition to introduce in the western world!