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In the tradition - roots and branches
I was deciding where to post this when I thought maybe we could use a thread on traditional music, music native to our own countries, or to other lands. I spend a lot of my time performing and teaching roots-based music (Saturday was a ceilidh with a band playing British traditional dance music, last night was my samba band and I've just got in from a morning of teaching Caribbean steel pan, for example). I also love to hear people who work "in the tradition". I've been enjoying Fenris' postings of Loreena McKennitt YouTubes today with her obvious Celtic influences. Though I will freely admit that a little Irish music goes a very long way for me, I do know of some some really exciting things happening in Scotland and England ... perhaps others will be able to inform me better on other parts of the UK? So, where are you from? What does your own traditional music sound like? What are innovators doing with the tradition?

Okay let's start with Scotland. For me, Shooglenifty can do no wrong Confusedmile:


Arguably the most exciting and interesting band working within English tradition at the moment is Bellowhead. It's no mean feat to be able to tour an eleven-piece folk band. They must be doing something right!

Fakenham Fair - no reason for choosing this over any of their other songs, except Fakenham is not too far away Wink

Steeped in knowledge of Swedish traditional music Hoven Droven are magnificent Cool All people who need to know have been informed which Hoven Droven tune should be played at my funeral ... and it's not one of these.

Hia Hia - I'm not sure if this is one of their originals or an arrangement of a trad tune, but it is certainly a Swedish dance rhythm - a polska.



From Slovenia these expert musicians have developed their music into more of a music hall act, but they are pretty stunning nonetheless. Nice people too Wink

Did I say I may include a few friends in this thread?

Chartwell Dutiro played in one of Zimbabwe's most notorious bands, Thomas Mapfumo's Blacks Unlimited for several years before relocating to England, where he has dedicated his life to delving back into his Shona roots. He is a master mbira player and the music is absorbing and compelling.

Anna worked with Chartwell in Blacks Unlimited as a dancer. She is also a singer and mbira player, who somehow ended up living here in Norfolk. This is her performing with Kudaushe Matimba (on marimba) at WoMAD in Singapore a few years ago. During white minority rule in Rhodesia, a lot of traditional music was lost, Playing it was "discouraged". Anna, Chartwell and a whole new generation of performers have gone deep into their roots to salvage what they can and create new music "in the style of".

An uncompromising voice of revolution during the dreadful Chimurenga war of independence in Zimbabwe, Thomas Mapfumo was a renowned bandleader and songwriter. His style of music became known as chimurenga. I was looking for a video of Chartwell playing either mbira or saxophone in the band, but here's one with Anna providing bvs and dancing instead.

If you ever have the opportunity to play gamelan, take it. It is a wonderful discipline, requires skill and concentration, but the simpler pieces can be picked up in a reasonable amount of time. Gamelan is the name given to the orchestra of gongs and other keyed percussion instruments from Indonesia, but may also include strings, wind and vocals. Often the music accompanies a wayang performance involving dancing and puppetry and sometimes lasts all night.

This piece, Kebo Giro, comes from Central Java and is in the form of a lancaran. It is a piece I have played many times. Sadly, I don't have much access to a gamelan these days Cry. Beautiful.

The kecek is the so-called "monkey chant" from Bali. Although I've tried some of this music with friends I would love to have a go at this in a genuine performance with a more normal-sized group three or four hundred men. The whole kecak performance involves the telling of part of the Hindu Ramayana epic. The performers sit in lines or concentric circles and chant interlocking sounds until the leader calls a signal to go into one of the chattering "choruses" imitating the sounds of the Hindu deity, Hanuman's, army. The fluttering hand movements are also very characteristic and look pretty amazing when done en masse like this.

I'd like to say this was my community band last night, but sadly, some of my players need to indulge in a little more practice at home between rehearsals before they get up to this standard :redface:


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