Cuba, women, and charanga

“The concept of cute doesn’t interest me.” -Brenda Navarrete
Myrta Silva 1964

Ah, the Havana of yesteryear, and the grand orchestras of Cuba.

You can listen to a few of them here, in this 47-minute documentary video “Las Grandes Orquestas de Cuba“, in Spanish.  So what all is in this documentary?

  • There was El Mozambique de Pello,  created by Pedro Izquierdo (1933 – 2000) , known as Pello el Afrokán.  The”mozambique” was a dance rhythm related to the conga line dances that had its heyday in 1962-65.
  • There was Benny Moré…
  • Roberto Faz
  • Pacho Alonso
  • Conjunto Casino (with more of a jazz orientation, but still heavy on the brass section)
  • La Sonora Matancera (but the article for lead singer Myrta Silva  has no photo)  She is not a “BLP” (1927 – 1987), so no “fair use” concerns.
  • La Aragón – the best cha-cha-cha and charanga band of the 40s and 50s – with its violin section and flute solos played in a high register
  • Cachao (Israel López Valdés) – a Cuban dance musician popular in the U.S.
  • the conga santiaguera, a music form unique to the carnival of Santiago de Cuba, that uses brake drums as percussion, along with the corneta china.

Ah, but where are the women, you may ask.

  • Brenda Navarret, percussion (red link), in particular, batá drumming, “a hypercompetitive ritual among men, judged on speed and memory; women are widely regarded as lacking the physical stamina for the instrument. In the religion (see Santeria) , women are allowed to sing but are often prohibited from playing the batá and sometimes even prevented from standing near the instrument.”  Hmm, how about an instruction video?…The drums are played in sets of three, here she is :

The first group of women in Cuba and probably in the world who play the Bata drums professionally is Obini Bata (red link).

  • Melvis Santa (red link), 2018 Grammy nominee, and the current lead singer of Maqueque, also a member of Interactivo, a Havana-based musical collective, along with her half-sister Navarrete.
  • Yissy García (red link), drummer, member of Maqueque and fronts her own band, Bandancha. She is the daughter of Bernando García (red link), of Irakere orchestra

So what about these charanga flutes?

The most well-known player is either Jane Bunnett or it might be Sue Miller (red link) and her UK group Charanga del Norte. In her book, Cuban Flute Style: Interpretation and Improvisation, Miller writes about studying the technique of Richard Egües and José Fajardo.

Here she plays Egües’ El Bodeguero

And the flutes?

They might be modern flutes, or they might be 5-key French flutes.

Charanga flutists play in an extraordinarily high register, inhabiting the third and fourth octaves most of the time, seldom venturing down into the second octave. This is because charanga developed at a time before sound amplification. As the lead voice, the flute must be heard over a large ensemble that includes at least two (frequently three) percussionists. The high register cuts through the din. Unfortunately, many flutists today are not usually aware of the fingerings for notes more than a whole step into the fourth octave.”

You can buy a new wooden one for “as played by the old masters in the Orquestas Francesas, Danzon and charanga bands. Copied from a fine French original…”

Here are fingerings for the Jerome Thibouville Lamy five key, more fingerings for five and six-key, an essay in the Flutist quarterly, a short description by Sue Miller, with a transcription of a solo by Richard Egües, and another essay that promises somewhere are “transcriptions of solos by Melquiades, Richard Egües and Eduardo Rubio”.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHere’s what they look like: oldflutes.com. The bore is conical, and any unneeded keys are sometimes removed. The end plug is moved closer to the embouchure hole, for better tuning in the higher registers, and the slide is pulled out. Sometimes the embouchure hole is also made smaller, depending on the artist.  The small size of the fingering holes is retained.  These flutes are usually in the key of B-flat, and they are played an octave higher than the written music. (So with the slide pulled out, does that make it play in the key of C?) Here is what the wooden flute sounds like, here played by Jose Fajardo. I think they have a different (mellower?) tone from the modern Boehm silver ones.

María Emilia Martínez

María Emilia MartínezMaría Emilia Martínez is a Mexican musician, singer and composer, best known as a vocalist and flutist for the group “Klezmerson”, a Mexican group that combines Jewish “klezmer” music with Mexican music, rock, and jazz. She is well known in the Mexico City music scene and has played at live venues, television and has appeared at festivals. She has also offered classes in music composition.

According to her friend Victor García, cited in an interview with El Ingenio magazine, she plays jazz, rock, children’s music, klezmer, blues, and other genres.  Her recording credits include performing with the creator of the famous “Amalia Batista” Luis Angel Silva, “Melón”; with the Brazilian music group “Quem”; with the Canadian-Mexicans of “People Project”; with “¡Qué Payasos!” on their recent album;  withMonocordioin their production “La verdad es una mentira en los ojos de quien la mira”.(the truth is a lie in the eyes of those who look at it) (YouTube); with Fratta in their production “Malafama” (YouTube); with Natalia Lafourcade on the album “HuHuHu” (YouTube); with the ”Aguacates” on their record of the same name; with the Balkan group “Klezmerson” on their second production “Klezmerol”; with the tribute record to León Chávez Teixeiro (vocals) (YouTube); with vocals on an interpretation of “De fábula” on the tribute record to “Botellita de Jerez”; and  with “Sr Mandril” on their second production.

For 12 years of her career, she has played the usual venues: Pata Negra, the Black Horse, the Vicio, the Zinco, Multiforo Alicia, El Imperial, El Amapola, El Metropolitan, El Teatro Helénico, Centro Nacional de las Artes, among others. She has also played in the Zócalo, in the Lunario, in several television programs, several times in the Quimera Festival, and in the Latin American children’s song festivals of Argentina, Colombia and Uruguay. She performed at the Veracruz Afro-Caribbean Festival, at the Barna Sanz Festival in Barcelona, ​​in the Basque Country, Uruguay, Argentina, Colombia, the Montreal Jazz Festival in 2007 and 2008, at the Santa Lucia jazz festival, at Cumbre tajín 2009, and at Vive Latino 2009.

Over the years she has played with more than a dozen groups, most for several years, such as:

Here’s a small snippet from a blog by Hugo García Michel, who says, “Excellent recording yesterday morning, in the studio of Iris and Jehová. The guest was the wonderful María Emilia Martínez, who with her flute gave a beautiful color to “Amanecer” and “Oye oye”. There is a photo on the blog and a very informal recording of him on guitar doing Oye Oye here in his YouTube channel.

Discography

Videos

  • Informal recording in a club, guitar and vocals – Facebook
  • Misirlou, with Klemerson. Flute solo.
  • Music by Leontines, video for the single “Mar” (sea) released March 28, 2019 [Facebook]
  • Interview (documentary for Argentine art station)
  • Klezmerson track 01, Apertivo en Concerto, recorded live Nov. 15, 2015 [Youtube]
  • Coro Acardenchado (vocals), 2018. [YouTube]
  • Ana Carolia, Una Piedra, 2012 [YouTube]

Compositions (playlist on FB)(playlist on ReverbNation)

  • De Fabula (tribute to Botellita de jerez)
  • Una piedra
  • Ana
  • El Vecina (tribute to Leon Chavez Texeiro)

Social media

Women play Misirlou

Desert shadows creep across purple sands.
Natives kneel in prayer by their caravans.

There, silhouetted under and eastern star,
I see my long lost blossom of shalimar

You, Misirlou,
Are the moon and the sun, fairest one.

Old temple bells are calling across the sand.
We’ll find our Kismet, answering love’s command.

You, Misirlou,
are a dream of delight in the night.

To an oasis, sprinkled by stars above,
Heaven will guide us, Allah will bless our love.

Eisenreich + Misirlou

Martina Eisenreich (German WP only)  is a German violinist and composer of motion picture scores. She has nine albums, including the soundtracks for the films Nimmermeer and Milan, which have won various awards. She teaches film scoring and sound design at the Academy of Television and Film in Munich.

Misirlou” is an old Middle Eastern tune popularized by Dick Dale in 1962, but it has roots in the Greek and Jewish communities.

You have not heard Misirlou until you have heard it done by Martina Eisenriech and her quartet.

Moar Misirlou

Klezmerson (Spanish WP only) is a Mexican band that combines Jewish (“klezmer“) and Mexican music with rock and jazz. The amazing flute soloist in this rendition of Miserlou is not credited (quelle surprise), but the comments say her name is Maria Dies. Spanish WP says the flautist is María Emilia Martínez.

María Emilia Martínez

There is an interview with María Emilia Martínez done by El Ingenio magazine, with a lot of biographical information. She is well known in the Mexico City music scene. Here is some extended information about her career:

According to her friend Victor García, she plays jazz, rock, children’s music, klezmer, blues, and other genres.  Her recording credits include: with the creator of the famous “Amalia Batista” Luis Angel Silva, “Melón”, with the Brazilian music group “Quem”, with the Canadian-Mexicans of “People Project”, with “¡Qué Payasos!” on their recent album,  – withMonocordioin their production “La verdad es una mentira en los ojos de quien la mira”.(the truth is a lie in the eyes of those who look at it) (YouTube) –with Fratta in their production “Malafama” (YouTube) -Con Natalia Lafourcade on the album “HuHuHu” (YouTube) – with the ”Aguacates” on their record of the same name – with the Balkan group “Klezmerson” on their second production “Klezmerol” – with the tribute record to León Chávez Teixeiro she performed vocals (YouTube) – she also participated with interpretation of “De fábula” on the tribute record to “Botellita de Jerez” – with “Sr Mandril” on their second production.

For 12 years of her career, she has played the usual venues: Pata Negra, the Black Horse, the Vicio, the Zinco, Multiforo Alicia, El Imperial, El Amapola, El Metropolitan, El Teatro Helénico, Centro Nacional de las Artes, among others. She has also played in the Zócalo, in the Lunario, in several television programs, several times in the Quimera Festival, and in the Latin American children’s song festivals of Argentina, Colombia and Uruguay. At the Veracruz Afro-Caribbean Festival, at the Barna Sanz Festival in Barcelona, ​​in the Basque Country, Uruguay, Argentina, Colombia and the Montreal Jazz Festival in 2007 and 2008, at the Santa Lucia jazz festival, at Cumbre tajín 2009, and at Vive Latino 2009.

Over the years she has played with more than a dozen groups, most for several years, such as:

Here’s a small snippet from a blog by Hugo García Michel, who says, “Excellent recording yesterday morning, in the studio of Iris and Jehová. The guest was the wonderful María Emilia Martínez, who with her flute gave a beautiful color to “Amanecer” and “Oye oye”. There is a photo on the blog and a very informal recording of him on guitar doing Oye Oye here in his YouTube channel.

Discography

Videos

  • Informal recording in a club, guitar and vocals – Facebook
  • Misirlou, with Klemerson. Flute solo.
  • Music by Leontines, video for the single “Mar” (sea) released March 28, 2019 [Facebook]
  • Interview (documentary for Argentine art station)
  • Klezmerson track 01, Apertivo en Concerto, recorded live Nov. 15, 2015 [Youtube]
  • Coro Acardenchado (vocals), 2018. [YouTube]
  • Ana Carolia, Una Piedra, 2012 [YouTube]

Social media

Compositions (playlist on FB)(playlist on ReverbNation)

  • De Fabula (tribute to Botellita de jerez)
  • Una piedra
  • Ana
  • El Vecina (tribute to Leon Chavez Texeiro)

Okay, end of María Emilia Martínez, back to Misirlou….

If you just want to doze off to a sleepy version of this, Orchestra Mosaika is an ensemble of immigrant and Italian people that does Guinea Bissau, Finnish, Sephardic, Sinhalese, and original compositions of the orchestra musicians. The woman playing harp at the beginning is again uncredited, but this looks like her identified as Diane Peters, originally from Australia, unfortunately not micked very well in the quarantine working-from-home version “L’Orchestra in smart working al tempo della quarantena”.

The Yxalag Klezmer Band is a German Klezmer ensemble playing traditional Jewish folk music – swing, classical, Balkan – from eastern Europe. Nele Schaumburg, Kayako Bruckmann, and Juliane Färber on violin.

A search for the Arabic word مصرلو turns up a version from Greek singer Sofia Vembo (1910 – 1978)

If you want to wake up a little, here is American violinist Caroline Campbell with William Joseph and Tina Guo.

The Ayoub Sisters are a Scottish-Arab group from Scotland.  They played Misirlou/ آه يا زين  at BBC – Proms in the Park 2018 in Glasgow [link] but there is a better one by the same group. Here are the Ayoub Sisters doing Misirlou/Ah Ya Zein with the Cairo Celebration Choir in 2018, a different (and more interesting) arrangement:

Misirlou, yes dudes can play it

And ZOMG what is this…okay I guess I can post one with just dudes…not credited, just some impromptu thing in an unnamed club.

Here’s some more dudes improvising in the back yard in Germany. This is nice.

U?

If you want to try it at home, here is a viceo of the complete score…wanders back and forth between bass and treble clefs, but it’s about the only sheet music on YouTube, so you should be able to find your range in there somewhere. The classic Dick Dale recording is here, another 2009 version here, but there’s a better one somewhere from the 60’s where the dancers are doing the twist.

Other languages

The only Arabic version is here, a 1944 version by Clovis el-Hajj, an Arabic Lebanese musician, titled “Ya Amal.” This seems to be another copy of Maestro Clovis in .wmv format. The 1927 version in Greek is here. This would appear to be the recording by Michalis Patrinos in Greek, circa 1930 circulated in the United States by Titos Dimitriadis’ Orthophonic label. Caterina Valente did it with Edmundo Ros in 1960 in Spanish as a cha-cha. George Abdo, an Egyptian-American did a belly dance instrumental version in Boston in the 70s.

 

But if you only have time for one Misirlou, listen to the first Martina Eisenriech one.

Luireach: hymn against sickness

The most well known Irish luireach, or lorica for protection is probably the Deer’s Cry, Faeth Fiada, part of the larger Breastplate of St. Patrick. Audio recordings of this are not that easy to find in Gaelic, mostly they are in English, but there are a few, and mostly done by women.

Faeth Fiada is from Old Irish féth fíada, the magical mist that the old Irish deities, the Tuatha Dé Danann were able to summon for concealment from danger.

The breastplate of St. Patrick is based on the saint’s near-encounter with King Láegaire and his druids, described in seventh-century Latin hagiography, but does not appear in the literature until the 11th century in a collection of hymns – a middle Irish preface to the text in the Liber Hymnorum (like this one?). Even so, the oldest copy I could find was not a manuscript in a museum somewhere, but from a scan of a book published in 1903, in the Internet Archive. A big thank you to Brewster Kahle at the Wayback Machine who makes this open source platform possible, so we can all have this historic document to look at.

The original music is unknown, but there are a number of modern renditions.

So, for the listening pleasure, and the promotion of the health of my devoted readers in this time of pestilence,  here are the hymns, along with a sort of tutorial for the Gaelic pronunciation.

* Recommended*
Luireach Phadraig by Irene Buckley, performed by St. Mary’s Pro-Cathedral Girls’ Choir

Written and sung by Irish nuns:

Irish pronunciation tutorial:

Composed by Marie Dunne and sung by Patricia Bourke D’Souza:

Dagda? (from an album)

*** Highly recommended (okay it’s a dude, but you will like it):
“Saint Patrick in the Spirit”, from Eire: Isle of the Saints by John Doan

**Highly recommended (although it is in English):
Filmed on location in Northern Ireland featuring Jean Watson and cast members and crew from ‘The Game Of Thrones’.

Vivaldi’s Domine Deus

[H/T Graaf]

Shall we go for baroque?

Vivaldi’s “Domine Deus” from the Gloria in D Major, RV589 is a well known solo for soprano and oboe.

Here is a very nice one, even if they don’t bother to credit the oboist.

The soprano here is more my style. This is the Chamber Orchestra & Choir of Utrecht Music Conservatory, in the Netherlands:

This is most excellent, with a star-studded cast, and includes the whole choral piece (playlist is in the first comment), and also includes charming footage of the group members interacting in the darkened church between recording sessions. The director is Rinaldo Alessandrini and contralto Sara Mingardo is also featured. Sadly, the oboe part is played by a violin, but don’t let that stop you from watching it, and getting out the good speakers to plug into your laptop. This is really most excellent.

If you want to play this yourself, here is the score so you can sing or play along. The rest of the score is below the fold.


Continue reading “Vivaldi’s Domine Deus”

The endless women’s music thread

Since it looks like we might be inside for all of International Women’s Month, endlessly washing our hands like Lady MacBeth, the least we could do is put on some music.

This was started off by rosashills, with keyboardist Maria Chiara Argiró on “To the Sea” from the album Hidden Seas, and “Dream R” from The Fall Dance.

Maria Chiara Argiró (red link) was born in Rome, where she studied piano and African percussions (Djambè- doun- doun). After completing a degree in ethnomusicology at Tor Vergata University of Rome, and playing with the University Jazz Ensemble, she moved to London and studied at the London Centre of Contemporary Music. She completed a bachelor’s degree in jazz at Middlesex University. While she has played keyboards with a number of musicians, she is most known for working with These New Puritans.

Albums:

  • The Fall Dance, Odradek Records (November 2016).
  • Hidden Seas (2016)

Since Maria Chiara Argiró is part of the London jazz scene, this leads in quite naturally to a list of performers at https://www.thejazzmann.com/news/article/ , including some special women’s selections for Women’s History Month.

Next from the list is Monika Herzig and Sheroes.  Herzig is the organizer, plays keyboards and composes. She is a professor, an author, and has received several awards.  The other women in the all women group are veteran jazz players who have all known each other for a long time, and play together for fun.They are: Leni Stern (guitar, Germany/USA), Ingrid Jensen (trumpet, Canada/USA), Ada Rovatti (saxophone, Italy), Jamie Baum (flutes, USA), Reut Regev (trombone, Israel/USA), Jennifer Vincent (bass, USA), Rosa Avila (drums, Mexico) and Mayra Casales (percussion, Cuba/USA).

Albums:

  • Come With Me, Owl Studios, 2011.
  • Sheroes, Whaling City Sound, 2018. Singled out for special mention from this album are “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” and “House of the Rising Sun”.

Alto saxophonist Rachael Cohen is also from the London jazz scene. She is originally from the Shetland Islands and studied at the City of Edinburgh Music School. She later studied jazz at the The Birmingham Conservatoire. Her album ‘Halftime’ made it to MOJO magazines top ten jazz albums of 2014.

  • Album:  ‘Halftime’, Whirlwind Recordings, 2012.

Camilla Ferrari and the A Tergo Lupi band

A Tergo Lupi is an Italian musical project that aims to integrate instruments of ancient origin with contemporary instruments.  According to their profile,

“A Tergo Lupi is about ancient dark sounds, tagelharpa, bouzouki and ritual drums, and is about guitars, electronics, industrial distortions.”

The band was formed in 2018 with three members: Camilla Ferrari on tagelharpa, vocals, and lute; Luca Villa on Irish bouzouki, throat singing, and flutes; and Fabio Del Carro on lead vocals, percussion, lyre, bass, and guitar.

The group started out as a demonstration group for Ebanisteria Musicale, a family business for handmade musical instruments now run by Ferrari, but quickly evolved into an independent music project. Their music is distributed through Spotify, Amazon, and iTunes, and also through Ferrari’s website.

The phrase a tergo lupi comes from the Latin expression “A fronte praecipitium, a tergo lupi.” or “A precipice in front, wolves behind”.

Fans compare the group to Scandinavian folk metal bands like Heilung, Faun, Skald, Danheim, Wardruna, and Omnia.

I first discovered this group looking for historical instruments, specifically an  example of tagelharpa music –  and believe me, there is some really awful tagelharpa music out there.  Camilla Ferrari seems to be one of the few decent tagelharpa players on the internet.

So what should you listen to?  Their new album “Out of the Fence” is now on YouTube.

Camilla M. Ferrari

Camilla Ferrari is an artisan, luthier, and cabinet maker.  She runs the family artisan workshop Ebanisteria Musicale, specializing in hand-made musical instruments, and electrification of craft, ethnic, or historical instruments. 

The historical instruments built by the shop include hammered dulcimerNorwegian Kravik lyre (Kraviklyra), Anglo-Saxon lyre, tagelharpa, monochord and scheitholt, and the percussion instruments Peruvian cajon and shamonic frame drums.  One typical tagelharp coming from this shop (the one used in the video “Hunted”) is tuned B – B – F# (bass drone).

Ferrari was born in Sassuolo, a small town in northern Italy.  She grew up in a family of artisans and musicians, and studied music and woodworking at an early age, learning to use her great-grandfather’s woodworking tools, and her father’s electronics and audio equipment.  She has a bachelor’s degree in Cultural Heritage Sciences from the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia and a degree in Archeology from the University of Parma.

Ferrari with skull-shaped lyre.

Ferrari was an archivist with Archivio di Stato di Modena (State Archives of Modena), now part of the part of the Ministry for Cultural Heritage and Activities.  The nucleus of that collection is from the Este estate and the archives of Duke Cesare that became the property of the state when the duke fled to Modena from Ferrara in 1598.

She is the author of two academic papers about graveyards and corpse mutilation: “Le mutilazioni e lassenza di parti anatomiche dalla sepoltura alcune interpretazioni” (Mutilation and the absence of anatomical parts from burials: some interpretations), and “Sepolture anomale: il problema delle sepolture anomale in Italia tra tardo antico e medioevo” (Abnormal burials: the problem of anomalous burials in Italy between late antiquity and the Middle Ages).

Discography

Albums

  • a tergo lupi - out of the fence - square coverOut of the Fence, 2019.  Full album, YouTube.  Playlist: 1) To the Roots (remastered) 2) Cozu 3) Syringa 4) Break the Breath (Remastered) 5) The March of the Stones 6) The Song of the Moth 7) A Ballad of Life and Death (Kravik Lyre) [YouTube] 8) Two Steel Ravens 9) Cauterize 10) Hunted 11) Lyra 12) The Wood Creaks 13) Deadlyre 14) Rot

Singles and EPs

Projects

Demos

  • The Swedish medieval ballad “Varulven” (the werewolf), played on a Kravik lyre. YouTube.
  • Happy New Year, from A Tergo Lupi to their fans. YouTube.
  • Camilla Ferrari soldering the preamp to a hammered dulcimer.
  • Stringing a scheitholt. YouTube.
  • Tagelharpa cello. YouTube.

External links

A Tergo Lupi

Camilla Ferrari

About historical instruments