Music Mastery

Saxophone

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There are many different types of saxophones, although this is something many people are not aware of. This serves as a brass made conical instrument, which is part of the woodwind family. A reed mouthpiece is used when playing, similar to that of a clarinet. The saxophone patent was filed as fourteen instruments that were divided into only two groups. There is a lot of variation present. A saxophone can vary from 15 centimeters to as much as 2 meters. In most cases, the types of saxophones that are used are alto, soprano, baritone and tenor with the alto being the most popular one.

Alto saxophone

An alto saxophone is perfect for the beginner and is medium sized. It tends to include a small mouthpiece that will not allow sound personalization and is curbed. This type of saxophone is really popular among composers of classical music and performers. Sometimes it will also come as a straight model that includes a tipped bell. Alto saxophones are made in the E flat key and there is also the possibility of finding a true tone alto instrument.

Soprano saxophones

The soprano saxophones is offered in curved or straight models. They are quite tough to learn and aren’t suitable for beginners. New soprano saxophones have a slight neck curve and are straight. It is also possible to see curves in the bell itself. The curved sopranos were really popular in the thirties. It is common to find both B-flat and E-flat soprano saxophones on the market currently.

Tenor saxophone

A tenor saxophone will always be larger when compared to its alto counterpart and features a small neck bend. All of the important elements (holes, rods and mouthpiece) will be larger and this is a saxophone that is commonly utilized in jazz music. All tenors are in the B flat key and some can also be utilized in classical music. The problem is that neck damage can be caused by the length and shape of saxophone.

Baritone

The largest of all saxophones is the baritone. You can find it without or with a special extension that is attached to the horn’s end. In the event that it features that extension, it will be known as the Low A Baritone. There are different intonation problems that appear with this saxophone type. This is especially true when thinking about the lowest and highest registers. The latest baritone models have an extra key that will allow the player to reach the low A.

Conclusion

There are other types of saxophones that you can find but they tend to be rare. This includes the F Mezzo soprano, C Melody, Conn-O-Sax, B-flat tenor, B-flat bass, contrabass, E-Flat baritone and C Soprano. Whenever you buy a saxophone, make sure that it is exactly what you are looking for and that it will be suitable for your needs. In addition, only buy from the best possible manufacturers due to the fact that this is going to guarantee that the instrument is of the highest possible quality and that it will last for a long time.

Guitar

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The guitar has captivated audiences for several centuries, with its wide range of sound and vast musical versatility, crossing many genres and time periods. Although simple in concept, the guitar continues to challenge musicians to gain mastery over this wonderful instrument and to, just maybe, write that next big hit. From J.S Bach to The Beatles, the guitar has played a huge role in shaping nearly every piece of music heard in the present. In this article we will explore the guitar’s rich history and the many roles it has filled over the years, along with a few of the men and women who helped to shape music.

The Early Origins

The earliest known appearance of a stringed instrument comes in the form of a Hittite stone carving dating from the 12th century BCE, this carving forms the roots of the guitar family tree. The guitar and other stringed instruments belong to a family called “chordophones”, relatives include the piano, the violin, the harp, and the sitar. Historians believe the guitar to have descended from two instruments; the oud and the lute. Upon viewing these instruments the similarities are immediately noticeable. However, it wasn’t until around the 12th century CE when the earliest guitars began to appear in Europe, in modern day Spain. In this time there were at least two variations of the guitar; “guitarra latina” and “guitarra moresca” or the Latin and Moorish guitar, however by the 14th century it became known simply as the guitar.

By the 15th and 16th centuries, the guitar’s notoriety and popularity had spread to much of the world, with aid from the Spanish Empire thorough conquest and trading. During the same time period the now obscure vihuela garnered a fair level of popularity in Spain and Italy, while the lute still dominated music in much of the rest of Europe. Many academics feel this lead to many developments in instrument design and construction on the guitar we see today. While closely related to the guitar, the vihuela would fall from favor after a brief stretch of popularity before the dawn of the 17th century, with the last surviving piece of music dating from 1576. Around the time of the vihuela’s extinction, the 5 stringed Baroque guitar began to overtake the lute in popularity in much of Europe, with the lute falling out use in most places by 1800.

As with most items predating the industrial era, each guitar was hand made, one at a time, by a skilled artisan known as a luthier. Strings were made from the intestines of slaughtered animals, gaining them the name gut strings or catgut (although cat intestines were not used for strings), in fact, it wasn’t until the early 1900s that steel strings were first introduced.

The 18th and 19th centuries saw the introduction of the more familiar appearing flamenco and classical guitar. Their creation lead to greater exposure and popularity than had been previously seen for the guitar, coupled with more songs be written for the instrument. These would evolve into the what is now the modern acoustic guitar, setting the stage for further innovation and development as technology progressed. The electric guitar was invented in 1931, to produce enough sound to play over Big Band ensembles that were common at the time. By the 1950s the electric guitar had led to the creation of it’s most recognized genre, Rock and Roll, cementing the guitar in mainstream music up to the present.

Popularity of the Guitar

After hundreds of years of evolution the guitar took hold into the public’s conscious to stay with the rise of stars such as Les Paul, Buddy Holly and Elvis Presley. Both electric and acoustic variants have seen much stage time in genres ranging from classical works to metal and everything in between. But why is this? The reasoning for this is simple to understand when several factors are considered. As loosely mentioned above, the guitar’s musical versatility draws many to it, the guitar falls into most peoples musical tastes through being used in so many types of music.

Storage and transportation must be taken into consideration on this note, when compared to a piano, a drum kit or the like, mobility, and storage is much less of a concern then with many instruments. Another factor to consider in regard to the guitars near universal popularity is it’s learning curve to play. To reach the ability of a player Jimi Hendrix or Eric Clapton may be out of reach to most and truly mastering the instrument takes many thousands of hours of dedicated practice, a beginner can learn a few chords and play many songs without a great amount of effort, in a short frame of time and have it sound good.

Cost also is a factor, as with most everything we buy (or do not buy), an entry level or second hand guitar can be had at a cost affordable to most people wanting to play. Lastly is the image and the big dream many aspiring guitarist look up to, to make music and become famous like they’re favorite performer(s). No doubt this plays a role in instrument sales, individuals longing for the sex, drugs and rock n’ roll lifestyle associated with rock stars and all the perks it brings. Most never do achieve this dream but it certainly hasn’t stopped generations from trying and the trusty, venerable guitar is ready and waiting for those who wish for an attempt at the limelight.

In Conclusion

From humble beginnings, the guitar may well be the most widely recognized instrument in the world today, both by appearance and sound. In much of the world as a mainstay in most songs being recorded and has been for the better part of a century. The guitar’s true uniqueness is in its accessibility and versatility which makes it appalling to basically any musical requirements and to a very wide range of individuals. While difficult to predict, it seems highly unlikely that the guitar will wain in popularity within the foreseeable future, given its current status in music as a whole. Whether it be played for fun and entertainment, for the challenge to master it or to deliver a message though song, the guitar is always a great choice.

Cymbal

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The cymbal is a popular percussion instrument. Made of thin, usually-round plates of metal, they are often used in pairs to produce sound. They are used in a wide-variety of music types. Orchestras, rock bands, jazz artists, heavy metal groups, and even marching bands use them.

The History of Cymbals

Based on numerous references in paintings and artifacts from ancient cultures like ancient Rome, ancient Greece, Babylon, or ancient Egypt, we know that cymbals were used in music for a very long time. Even the Bible often refers to them in Psalms and God-praising songs.

Turkish Janissaries played them as early as the 14th century. European musicians incorporated them in their music around the 17th century, and they became a popular instrument among military orchestras a century later. For the last 300 years, their importance grew in all varieties of music around the world.

Musicians designed different types of this instrument, changing the shapes and parameters. Also different ways to play them have evolved over time. Thanks to this, they are a very versatile percussion instrument used by all types of musicians today.

Cymbal Construction

The way this instrument is constructed makes all the difference in the way it sounds. It usually is a metal plate, with a central hole used either to install it on a stand, or to attach a strap to it when played by hand.

A raised central section of the plate is typically shaped like a bell. Hitting this part makes a sound of a higher pitch and shorter sustain than hitting the outer part, called the bow. The bow can be further divided into ride and crash areas. The thicker part around the bell is the ride area, while the crash part is thinner and closer to the plate’s edge.

Cymbals differ in diameter, which affects the sound they produce. Smaller plates usually sound quieter and have shorter sustain than the large ones.

Another characteristic is the thickness. The heavier instruments typically sound louder and sharper. Thinner plates allow the player to produce lower and fuller sounds.

Cymbals also have different profiles, which is the vertical distance from the bell’s bottom to the bow’s edge. The profile influences the pitch – the higher the profile, the higher the pitch.

Types of Cymbals

This instrument comes in many different varieties. Here, we will discuss the most popular ones: crashes, rides, hi-hats, and splashes. They all have different uses and produce different sounds.

Crash Cymbals

The sound of a crash is what people most commonly think of when they think about cymbals. Used to stress specific parts of a drum pattern, they produce rather loud, distinctive sounds. They are usually located on the left side of the drum kit.

They come in a wide variety of sizes, from 8 to 24 inches usually, which makes their sound quite different in pitch. In addition to size, you can choose crashes of different thickness. The thinner ones will produce brighter tones than the thick ones.

Ride Cymbals

This is usually the largest one in a drum set. It’s typically located on the right side, and drummers often use it for playing steady patterns.

Not as melodic as a crash, the ride produces a more shimmering sound. Ranging usually from 20 to 26 inches, rides tend to be larger in size from crashes, at least in beginner sets. More advanced drummers sometimes use rides over 26 inches in diameter.

Hi-Hats

The hi-hats come in pairs, and are located on a stand, where the drummer plays them by pressing a pedal on the floor. By pressing and releasing the pedal, the player is able to produce a variety of sounds.

When open, the hi-hats are typically used to provide accent in the rhythm, and when closed, to play steady patterns. Open hi-hats make distinctive, sandy sounds, and closed ones produce metallic, muted sounds. The typical sizes range from 13 to 16 inches.

Splash Cymbals

The splashes are also used for accenting the drum pattern. However, they are also capable of introducing a variety of interesting sound effects to the music.

They are usually smaller and thinner than the other cymbals. The most common sizes vary from 6 to 13 inches, and the sound they produce is rather short and sharp. People tend to associate their sound with a splash of water, hence the name.

Drums

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History of the Drums

Drums have been around ever since 4000 years before Christ. They first made their appearance in Egypt. In those days drums were made out of alligator skins. These skins were discovered in Neolithic cultures throughout China. Alligator skins were around from 5500 to 2350 years before Christ. Drums were also used in a variety of ritual ceremonies.

This fantastic instrument has also been used in the military and in art.

The Drums Use in the Military

The Chinese military were the first troops to make use of this instrument. They were used to help keep their troops motivated. They would also assist in developing a pace for marching. The Chinese military would also use them to make a call for announcements or for orders. The drums would often be used during war to make changes to an outcome of a major battle.

The Drums Use in Art

There are times when drums may be used to express emotions. Particularly in communication, entertainment and spiritualism. Drums were often played during religious or spiritual passages, or during prayer times. Over the years, drumming has become a very powerful form of art. It is often used in dances. They may also be used for discipline of all kinds. The drums are often use for creating rhythms in all kinds of music.

Other Uses of the Drums

Most of the time drums will be played by a couple of sticks. One stick in each hand. The hand then strikes the drums with the stick. Drums can be used in music therapy. This is because they have a tactical nature, and a range of people can use them. You will also hear drums being played in jazz and other popular music genres. These genres refer to drums as a drum kid or a drum set. Most of them will also come with cymbals.

Construction of the Drums

Most drums are often in the shape of a shell. They have a circular opening where the head of the drum has been stretched. The rest of the shell will vary accordingly. In the western countries of the world, most drums will be a cylinder shape. These particularly drums can be opened one end of them. Some will have a couple of heads. Others will have one head. They can also be used in orchestra’s will have their head sitting on top of the opening of the drum. A counter hoop will then be held onto the shell. Some drums in orchestra’s will also come with a foot pedal. This can be tuned to exact pitches of what the sound is to be.

What the Sound Is Like

The sound of this instrument will depend on a few different factors. This includes the way the instrument has been constructed, its shape and its type. They have a wide variety of uses and sounds in music. For example, in jazz, they will have a high pitch sound and they will be quiet. If in rock however, they will be dry and low-pitched and will be very loud. Each type will have their own individual and unique sound.

Piano

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For generations the piano has inspired audiences and composers throughout the world. The mystique associated with this instrument has encouraged millions of people to study and learn the secrets behind it. The unique nature of the piano, using both the bass and treble clef, has led to it becoming one of the most important and well-know instruments all over the globe.

Bartolemo Cristofori of Italy, is widely credited with building the first piano in the early eighteenth century. However, mankind’s use of hammers on strings to create music, dates back to the Middle Ages. The first instrument that resembles the modern piano was a hammered dulcimer on which the player would use mallets to create sound out of taut strings. By the seventeenth century, keyboard instruments such as the harpsichord and clavichord had been in use for many years and were well known. However, the harpsichord and clavichord presented their own unique set of problems. The clavichord had a limited range of sounds and was only able to play these limited notes. Conversely, the harpsichord had an excellent range of notes but was only able to play at one volume, restricting the ability of the musician to fully express the works they were playing.

Cristofori was an expert harpsichord builder, creating instruments for the wealthy Medici family, amongst others. Unfortunately, even an expert harpsichord maker couldn’t overcome the volume issue that musicians were grappling with. Spending hours in his workshop trying to fix this problem, he came up with the idea for a piano, with the range of a harpsichord but the ability of the clavichord to change volume depending on the touch of the musician.

And so the pianoforte was born. After Cristofori, in the eighteenth century, piano-building flourished particularly in Vienna. The Viennese pianos were known for their ethereal tones and wooden frames with leather hammers. The Viennese pianos, similar to the modern day instrument, featured a seven octave range instead of the initial five octaves designed by Cristofori, enabling composers such as Bach to extend the range of their music. The design centre then briefly shifted to Paris in the late eighteenth century, before the modern upright piano was invented in London in 1826 by Robert Wornum, enabling more private homes to make use of it as a means of studying and enjoying music.

Music training is a process that takes years, even for prodigious players. Most importantly the musician must train in order to gain good ‘technique’, beginning by doing simple, repetitive finger exercises that focus on the placement of the wrist and hand on the instrument. Historically, students were encouraged to separate the movement of the hand from the movement of the arm. In many cases, they would place a coin on the back of the hand to encourage a steady hand movement. In recent years, however, teachers have been teaching students to adopt a more relaxed wrist position which enables a greater expression of the music.

The importance of the piano to the world of music cannot be overstated. After Cristofori developed the original design, for the first time musicians were able to control both their volume and utilize a full five octaves when playing and performing. Now we are able to play using a seven octave instrument, controlling both volume and expression through touch and utilising the sustaining pedal. Thanks to the work of Cristofori and others, musicians today such as those who learn how to make beats in the Hip-Hop/Rap genre are still utilizing the piano as a means of entertainment. This serves as a great way of allowing them to further develop their technical and musical skills.