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Showing posts from June, 2013

Glockenspiels, Timpani, and strings: Europe's contribution to the Orff Ensemble

Carl Orff was a German composer, so Europe was the culture of his birth; and the instruments of the Orff Orchestra which represent Europe are the glockenspiels, double bass, timpani, and sleigh bells. The most distinctive of these are the bells: glockenspiels and sleigh bells. Here are some examples of these sounds in European culture. As you watch these videos, remember how these sounds are placed, side-by-side with African, South-East Asian, North American, and Latin American aesthetics. The Orff Orchestra is really a marvel of ingenuity.

Most people think of strings when they think of European music, even though these instruments are Arabic in origin. Here are some classic sounds of strings.

The piano is a distinctly European instrument (albeit with Asian and North African roots).

In the Orff Orchestra, Carl Orff makes a bold and beautiful statement, one that certainly would have gotten him killed if he had ever said it aloud in 1930s Germany, but one that shouts triumphant whenev…

Xylophones and Drums: the African contribution to Orff

Welcome to the African roots of Orff. In this post we'll explore drumming and xylophones in African music. Let's begin.

In this next one notice how similar the timbre is to the Javanese examples from the last post. But the African rhythms and style is very very different. One thing that American Orff teachers can do that their European counterparts may not is to layer rhythms like Africans. Our rich tradition of African-American music is part of our taste and ear.

Now to West Africa

Here's a little fusion from Capetown


The entire world is in the Orff orchestra. Let's explore the Asian portion of the ensemble, that which was inspired by the gamelans of Southeast Asia. The sound of these amazing groups is very exotic, exciting, and thrilling to Western ears. Take a listen...

Notice how the opposite hand dampens the bar after the strike.

Javanese gamelans have a different texture. The tempo is slower and the texture is thicker. Mesmerizing!

This is the "monkey dance." I saw this done live at the American Spoleto festival in the early 90s. It's spectacular. The tempo is blindingly fast and the quick notes are performed by elaborate hocket ostinato patterns. To hear a more Western version of this concept, check out this video.

Does this singing style remind you of anything? Native American perhaps?  Hmmmm

I'm very skeptical of the old "land bridge" explanation of how people came to inhabit North America. I find it very condescending. I think that the musical tradition of t…

Hot Shots!

These are some videos of hot shot Orff groups I found. Enjoy!

I love the "switch!" chant. I also like the simplicity melodically and the fun rhythm of the piece they use. Very fun indeed!

Again with the fun rhythm. This is at an Orff conference in Spokane.

I can't get enough of this piece! These high school students do it with great dramatic flair!

Go Alaska!

If anyone gets the music from this woman, let me know.  I need to email her and try to get it.

I love the total investment of these children! They are owning their music and taking such pride in it.