Thanks to Nancy for her kind gift of this bowl-back “neapolitan style” mandolin built by the Suzuki Violin Co. in 1970. It was my first mandolin. Your act of love and kindness has been remembered on what would have been your special birthday today. Here is my tribute -”Trane” playing a Phil Silvers (Sgt Bilko) penned song called “Nancy with the laughing face”- recorded by Frank Sinatra. Your smile, laugh and sense of humour at social gatherings will always be remembered with fondness, love and affection.
I was pleased to discover that someone from India was the 200th unique visitor. It reminds of the day I stood in the music shop in the newtown of Edinburgh pondering whether to buy a small compact sitar once owned by the Incredible String Band – a psychedelic folk group formed in Scotland in 1966. A “difficult-to swallow” sound for the folk revival diehards! The record below is “The Painting Box” released in 1967 – you can hear it on the album “The 5000 Spirits or the layers of the onion (2006) – remastered version.
The sitar was selling for £45 which was a lot of money in these days, and besides my attention was drawn to a beautiful and unusual (German I think) 16 stringed mandolin ! Four courses of quadruple sonic heaven or a tortuous task of terrible tuning – depending on your optimistic/pessimisstic outlook. It had a large mother-of-pearl butterfly on the headstock and the back was bowl shaped with fluted ribs. I have seen a few 12 stringed versions from the continent but this is the only 16 string version I have seen first hand. Pictures exist of unusual 12 and sometimes 16 stringed instruments (see below) - but none as beautiful as this one was.
A new short clip to go with my latest track on soundcloud – see samples opposite or click on the You Tube channel button underneath the sample window. This will be developed in September / October.
Thanks to “Boogie” Bruce for helpful suggestions for further development. Best listened to through a sound system to hear the sub-bass and drums – laptop speakers do not cope well.
Thank you to the 101 unique visitors from 11 Different countries who have visited in the last 2 weeks
I note that there are 17 Flags collected (if you include regional state flags) so far.
First one Brazil – Last one New York – Congratulations to Colorado – the 100th visitor!
Typing this brought back memories of laying in bed on the 37th floor of the Sheraton Hotel in Toronto when the morning news broke of John Denver’s tragic demise on 12 October 1997. I had to fly over Colorado twice that month, on the way to Utah and back to Chicago. The snow was deep and it was “touch-and-go” to make it out of Salt Lake City as most planes were diverted to Denver due to the bad weather. The lyrics of “Rocky Mountain High” were impossible to shake from my head as I gazed down on the magnificent Colorado river and snow covered peaks. Sadly, another artist lost to yet another plane accident!
Bobby McFerrin demonstrates the power of the pentatonic scale, using audience participation, at the event “Notes & Neurons: In Search of the Common Chorus”, from the 2009 World Science Festival, June 12, 2009.
While researching the neuropsychology of music , I came across this video in a series of 5 where
Bobby (Don’t Worry – Be Happy) McFerrin demonstrates his “world instrument” using a pentatonic scale.
This is portable – needs no batteries – strings or tuning up.
Can be used in any culture and is easy to carry on a plane. No more worries about baggage handlers!
Where can I get one?
Is amazon doing a good deal?
The only drawback I can see is cost – transporting all those people around the world!
If you watch the others in the series, you will observe how the neuroscientists manage to reverse the pleasure-inducing dopamine surge in the brains of the audience who seem to light up when Bobby performs
another 2 videos of him improvising with no scientists around is available on the media menu above
Brazil : A day of exploring Choro music and some of the great tunes composed by Ernesto Nazareth (a Brazilian contemporary of Scott Joplin). I particularly like Brejeiro played by Jacob do Bandolim. My fingers are sore!
Bandolims A fascinating sound reminiscent of a Portuguese Guitar perhaps caused by the larger, rounder and shallower body than many folk mandolins. The best maker I came across (website and reviews) seems to be a Frenchman living in Brazil www.jpcharlesluthier.com I am going to have to book an extra seat when I go to South America! (see the addition to my growing wish-list above)
Brains: After researching the neurospychology of music it seems that the left side of the brain is active when experiencing music we like and the right side more when we came across dissonant or unpleasant music. My understanding is that the left hand is controlled by the right brain. Is this why my hands refuse to co-operate when learning new tunes in new genres? Thankfully, there is overwhelming evidence that music is pleasurable and beneficial so I can justify the long hours I spend reading, listening and playing and point to the benefits when challenged!