Sunday, June 6, 2010

Week 23: Around the world...

This post is going to combine two aspects of life that I absolutely love, but do not get nearly enough of - music and travel. I recently received a National Geographic travel magazine showing all the incredible places you can go (with time and money, of course). I loved the idea of going on their "Around the World" package until I noticed the $64,000 price tag. So in lieu of going around the world, and in an effort to both expand my musical horizons AND show readers an awesome music website, I am going to take a musical trip around the world. For each country I'd like to visit (the below is an abridged list), I picked a native song that stuck out to me for one reason or another.

In the spirit of the blog, I did all this using only free web based resources. In this case, I was able to do this thanks to Grooveshark, a free, legal streaming music website. Between Grooveshark, Pandora, and YouTube, you should be able to find just about any music you'd like to listen to. Through advertisements, Grooveshark pays the artists on its site, and removes those who do not want to be listed.

With that, put on some headphones and listen to all the new music I heard today... You can either click song by song, or load the entire playlist. The playlist will take a few minutes to load. Once you're in Grooveshark, double click the song title to listen.

Colombia: Pepe by famous Cumbia artist Lucho Bermúdez.

Cuba: Son De Negros en Cuba by an awesome singer/guitar player called Compay Segundo.

Senegal: Bul Ma Miin by Orchestra Baobob. I had to post a video here because seeing them play with Dave and Trey is really cool - if you don't want to listen to the whole thing just watch minutes 3-4. The version without Dave and Tim is also incredible.

Egypt: Mabrouk Wo Arisna by Ali Hassan Kuban, the "Godfather" of Nubian music. In this song you can really hear the fusion of African percussion, Middle Eastern melody and jazz.

Mongolia: Another video for this one, which is really a mix of Mongolia, India and the Flecktones - A Moment So Close, which starts with a Mongolian throat singer. These guys are just awesome, they can sing three tones simultaneously. The rest of the song is also insane; I'll be impressed if anyone knows what time signature it is in.

Australia: A neat little mix of English/Kriol, reggae/jam, Australia folk - Drangkinbala by Blekbala Mujik, an Australian band with a huge cult following.

Iraq: Halat Wayd by Naseer Shamma, one of the most famoust Oudists in Iraq. This song surprised me; I definitely did not expect the song from Iraq to be among my favorites from this exercise, but it is. There is so much tension in the song, both due to the percussive spacing and the really unique mix of instruments. If you're too bored to listen to the whole thing, just listen from minutes 5 to 6.

Costa Rica: Found a really cool song called La Bikina by a Costa Rican Grammy winning jazz band called Editus.

Argentina: The obligatory tango, but one I really like... Si soy asi by tango legend Hugo del Carril.

Finland: I'll leave you with a song by Finnish accordionist Maria Kalaniemi; the song is called Ahma.


  1. Great stuff Steve! Really dug Ahma and Halat Wayd. Keep the posts coming!

  2. Carioca posts:

    Great selection of links, tunes and songs. Unfortunately and, of course, by necessity, a mere sampler…just scratching the surface.

    I miss a good, fast-paced Brazilian batucada or, during these pre-World-Cup-days, the sound of the vuvuzela. Similar to the Brazilian corneta, the three-foot long vuvuzela (apparently that’s the original Zulu-derived name, more common in South Africa than lepatata, the name in Setswana) makes a loud sound which some claim resembles the sound of an elephant. Maybe I haven’t heard enough elephants but to me, when it’s blown at the same time by thousands of fans in a soccer stadium, the loud noise rises beyond mere cacophony or a single animal’s sound and becomes uniquely musical, with a bit of resemblance to the music of cigarras or a swarm of locusts. Although I don’t know any specific recordings which incorporate or mimic vuvu sounds, I’d be very surprised if it’s not part of some popular recording somewhere... I’m sure it will be heard many times beginning this coming Friday…Uniquely South African.

  3. A "musical trip around the world" many fascinating ways to chart this...

    Another interesting track along the same international and global lines is what was started early last century by the two Hungarian pioneers, Bela Viktor Janos Bartok (1881-1945) and Zoltan Kodaly (1882-1967), and was then continued by the remarkable sound documenter Moses Asch (1905-1986). In addition to being one of the great composers of the 20th Century, Bartok and his colleague, Kodaly, became two of the founders of ethnomusicology. They created a folk music research program which eventually collected, recorded and classified the musical tradition of a large number of ethnic communities in Central Europe (Romanian, Hungarian, Slovakian, Ruthenian, German, Gypsy, Bulgarian, Serbian,Croatian, Slovenian). By some estimates more than 100,000 folk songs were thus recorded.

    Moe Asch, born in Poland, came to New York as a young man. Apparently a meeting with Albert Einstein inspired him “to document the world’s sounds.” In 1939 he started Asch Records and, eventually Folkways Records in 1948. During four decades he released nearly 2,200 albums. In the mid-80s, he agreed to an arrangement with the Smithsonian Institution through which he donated his collection to the Smithsonian partly in exchange for the Institution’s promise to preserve and continue the recording of international folk music. During the past 22 years Smithsonian Folkways has released more than four hundred titles, including this year Nati Cano’s Mariachi Los Camperos in conjunction with the featured country at the 2010 Smithsonian Folk Festival – Mexico.
    Also during this year’s Festival, through the Ralph Rinzel Memorial Concert, there was a special tribute to Moe Asch in recognition of his life and work.