Turkish Folk Music with a Polyphonic Flavor from the Black Sea Region

Watch this video with a turkish choir singing an ancient tune from the Black Sea region. Human voice is one of the nicest sounding music instruments and people sing around the whole world. When arranged for various voices, the tunes become much more interesting than the antique medieval choir music sung during the services of the catholic church.
The different voices can simultaneously sing different notes and so build a chord. Then of course, the melodies must follow certain rules in order to stay within the harmonies without sounding dissonant. One of the most illustrative methods for understanding and writing music for up to four voices is Harmonielehre by Arnold Schoenberg who shows the rules for the independent voices as well as the resulting chords and the rules the voices must follow in relation with the other voices in order to build the typical western counterpoint and in relation with the harmonies established by the simultaneously sounding voices. This type of arrangement is called polyphonic music.

Tradicional Chinese Tune Liu Yang River Performed by Gu Zheng Duo

In this video Qiong Song and Su Zhao perform the ancient chinese tune Liu Yang River on a tour at the University of New Brunswick Saint John in Canada. Some people think that the 1st song (Liu Yang River) is out of tune because one girl pressed too hard with her left hand while the 2nd tune should be performed much faster. I personally think that the performance of the song is quite enjoyable. You decide for yourself!
For most of the western listeners of this tune it might be difficult to hear the subtleties of the interpretation and yet, they can enjoy the music. However, there is a pont in the critics: Why is this song performed by two gu zheng instrumentalists when they play the same thing? This reminds the desire of pope Gregor when he asked for unisonos for the music performed during the church services which became a starting point for the history of western classical music in the sense that this history culminates with Arnold Schoenberg and other composers of atonal twleve tone music after having suffered the progressive ‘consonantization of dissonances’.
Of course, this kind of concept is not applicable to the chinese music. However, the gu zhengs could have been playing slightly different parts.

Sarangi – A Musical Instrument with Strings from Nepal and India

Watch this video with several musicians playing an ancient nepalese instrument, the sarangi. It is similar to the western violin in the sense of being a string instrument which is played with a bow. However, the standard tuning of the strings is quite different so that the pentatonic and other oriental scales can be played with relative ease.
In Nepal it is played frequently as a solo instrument and the melodies and sound produced by the instrument are very relaxing. Nevertheless, people from Nepal and from around the world say it is pretty difficult to learn to play the sarangi.
The music itself sounds much like music from India and Pakistan. Nepal is an idependent state and does not belong to China, however it has a border with India so it’s only natural that the music of Northern India and Nepal sound similar or are the same. Whatever, if you are familiar with indian music, you know that the sarangi is a typical instrument for performing ragas, as a solo instrument or together with tablas and other oriental music instruments.
For those of you who like to listen to more eastern music here is a page with videos of indian music with sarangi and other traditional instruments.

Beijing Classical Music Ensemble Performing an Old Tune

This video shows the Bejing Classical Music Ensemble playing an old song on traditional instruments. It is a quartet and the song is an old melody composed for these instruments. The concept of chinese music is quite different from western music, even though in recent times, the globalization has a strong impact on the chinese music scene. Now you can listen to a big bunch of singers performing pop music which sounds like any other modern pop song, just with chinese lyrics. The chinese national identity disappears and the product is complying with the need for almost identical stuff that can satisfy the ‘needs’ of millions of potential buyers from all around the world.
This ensemble, however, performs traditional music with traditional chinese instruments. Some comments for this video clip of chinese music mention a too high pitch and the lack of an counter-melody. That’s just not the way chinese music was composed. In chinese music tonality is not that important as rhythm and rhythmical coincidence is release, not harmonic coincidence as in western music. We think that all people regardless of their cultural identity can perceive the joyfull character of the song in this video.

Gamelan Music from Bali

You can listen to many different types of gamelan coming from the Indo-Malay archipelago: javanese,balinese, sudanese and more. In this video clip you can see the gamelan instrument which requires a special technique to mute the sounds after the attack so that there won’t be any disturbing dissonancies. These orchestras from Bali and Java are a good example of the integration of music and musicians into the life of the society.