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Instruments

In this category we introduce musical instruments in our shop. We write about our favourite instruments and we present the most exciting new instruments in our shop here.
  • Stay Home! Make Music!

    Stay Home Make Music

    In these challenging times many of us are at home to help slow down the spread of Covid-19 - and that's good! Also we at DAN MOI work mainly from our home offices and are thankful for those who keep the delivery of goods going.

    However, for some of us there is certainly more free time these days (after the home office, taking care of the kids, some time outside, etc.) to spend on music - time for the home studio! Therefore we have collected some ideas for you, which are based on our experiences of the last years. Many well-known companies from the professional and home studio sector are currently offering free software (time-limited) for us musicians - we spice them up with a few tips of our own for you!

    For all following suggestions you will find enough tutorials on the popular video platforms. 😊

    What you will definitely need is a computer. For the following ideas you do not need big machines. Your usual equipment should be able to handle them.

    Microphone

    From our long experience the following microphones (in the low-cost range) have proven to be perfect:

    Sennheiser e845(S)

    It is perfect for live and studio use of the Jaw Harp. This dynamic microphone has been accompanying us on stage for many years and is also suitable for the home studio. It now has a follow-up, but is certainly available at a reasonable price at various online portals (eBay etc.).

    AKG C 3000

    For all other instruments, from guitar to flute or kalimba, an inexpensive large-diaphragm condenser microphone with versatile possibilities. This microphone is also available as used item at a reasonable price on many platforms. But for the condenser microphone you need a 12V phantom power from a mixing console or directly from a suitable soundcard. And that brings us to the next point.

    Sound Card

    The built-in sound cards in desktops and laptops unfortunately quickly reach their limits in the home studio. This affects sound quality, latency and the preamps, among other things. We therefore recommend the use of an external sound card.

    Focusride Scarlet: Solo or 2i2

    Very recommendable are the small red soundcards from Focusride and here especially the Focusride Scarlet Solo or 2i2. Best sound also in the microphone preamplifiers at a relatively small price, robust and flexible. The sound card then directly in connection with a DAW...

    Digital Audio Workstation (DAW)

    A DAW is the "software heart" of the home studio. This is where everything comes together and where everything is controlled.

    Ableton Live

    The digital audio workstation Ableton Live is a very intuitive recording and composition program that we love to use. Currently Ableton offers 90 (!) days trial duration for the demo version. In Ableton you already have effects, looper, synthesizers and much more.

    Steinberg Cubase/Wavelab Elements in the #stayhome Collection

    Steinberg currently offers this unique collection for 60 days free of charge.

    Free DAW programs

    The following programs are free of charge and have only minor limitations compared to the paid DAWs.

    Waveform Free (formerly Tracktion7)
    Cakewalk
    Pro Tools/First
    Studio One 4 Prime
    Audacity (audio editor exclusively for editing sound signals)

    Plug-Ins

    For beautiful reverb, exceptional echoes and other effects, you'll need high-quality plug-ins for your DAWs. These are effects, synthesizers/instruments and drum machines. These plug-ins are mostly compatible with all DAWs, by the way.

    Soundtoys Effect Rack

    The finest effects from the US noble brand can now be used free of charge until 30 June.

    FabFilter

    Award-winning effects from the Netherlands - test them now 30 days for free.

    Free Plug-Ins

    You can find free (!) effects and plug-ins (synthesizer or drum machines) here:

    Jhud Vocal King Pro (compressor)
    Fuse Audio Labs RS-W2395C (equalizer)
    Acon Digital Verberate Basic (reverb)
    Ben Schulz JP-ME-1 (reverb)
    Fanan Clarinetica (virtual clarinet plug-in)
    Beatassist ITS (rhythmic synthesizer)
    Electronic Sound Lab ESL-110 (virtual drum machine)
    Sampleson Push (the one button synthesizer)
    Visare Tone Style Organ (virtual organ)
    Manda Audio 7Q (equalizer)
    Manda Audio MT Power Drum Kit 2 (virtual drums)

    And here is a free sample library from the highly acclaimed studio with cinematic-orchestral sounds from their latest project. Free of charge on the occasion of the Corona crisis:

    ProjectSAM - The Free Orchestra

     

    Making Music Together

    And then? Where are the others with whom I love to make music? At the moment surely and hopefully at home! But you can meet and work on your ideas and projects almost simultaneously. For example on Splice, a platform created directly for musicians all over the world. Here you can share, edit and publish your music projects with your friends or even musicians you don't know yet. The cloud feature runs, if you like, in near real time.

    Soundful wishes,
    Your Dan Moi team

     

    Disclaimer

    We receive neither financial nor material support from the above mentioned companies and have no business relationship with them. It is only a personal recommendation without claim to completeness.

  • The heartbeat of the orchestra: The frame drum Riq

    Through many centuries, the Riq (or Riqq) has been the most important percussion instrument in countries such as Egypt, Lebanon, and Syria. Until 70 years ago, without the Riq Arabic arts music was simply unthinkable. Although the frame drum is not bigger than a plate, it is a highly esteemed instrument in classic Arabic music, due to its rich sounds and diverse sound colours, but also due to its demanding playing techniques that challenge the player. Today, in most ensembles the Riq has been replaced by the Darbuka, and, as a consequence, has eventually lost its significance. Nowadays, there are only a few musicians around that have mastered playing the Riq.

    Adel Shams del Din is regarded as the most talented contemporary master of the Riq. He develops the virtuoso classic Riq playing technique further – with a style full of nuances as well as seemingly never-ending and continuously surprising rhythmic twists. Born in Alexandria, del Din has been living in Paris for almost 40 years and focuses on teaching his art, giving concerts with the Al-Kindi ensemble, and recording CDs. In 2012, another important Riq player, Michel Merhej Baklouk, from Lebanon published his textbook "Classical Riqq Technique", where he provides insights in his playing technique. Furthermore, inspiring Riq rhythms are to be found in the recordings of Umm Kulthum. For more than 40 years, the Riq player Ibrahim Afifi led the rhythm group of the orchestra from Umm Kulthum and ranks as one of the most influential Riq players. The Riq was the heartbeat of traditional Arabic orchestras. It controlled tempo and intensity of the music. Today, many percussion masters play the Darbuka as accomplished as the Riq.

    The Riq is a tambourine. Traditonally, it is made out of a wooden frame with fish skin. The wooden frame has 5 bells, which come in pairs of twos. Those elaborately finished instruments have ornaments of little mosaics made of pearls, bone and horn or coloured wood.

    The meaning of the Arabic word Riq translates as skin or parchment. It alludes to the thin drum skin which is partly responsible for the varied sounds. Precise, explosive beats are just as possible as subtle, tender and fragile sounds. The bells are a vivid element of the frame drum and contribute to an agile and powerful sound. The new Riqs are covered with synthetic material that is more robust than natural material. The drum skin of higher quality instruments can also be tuned.

    The Riqs from DAN MOI were made in a Turkish facility that is committed to highest quality. It comes in two versions: the Riq Premium with bells of smooth brass and the Riq Pro with wrought brass bells that increase its sound variability. The frame made of mahogany is covered with a synthetic skin that provides excellent sound properties, and needless to say: those instruments are tunable.

    The Riq is often held vertically with both hands on the lower side. The drum skin points away from the player's body. The thumbs hold the frame and the fingers are used to play. One bell is right in the middle of both hands. When the skin is being hit and the instrument is rhythmically moved or shaken the bells begin to make a sound. If the bells are intended to make only a few sounds the Riq is tilted a bit. If the player has trouble to hold the Riq it can also be placed in the lap, so the arms relieved.

    Today, the Riq is also a popular percussion instrument in other parts of the world. Young percussionists use the Riq in their music to have another sound colour in their portfolio. This is true for players like Yshai Afterman, David Kuckhermann, or Glen Valez.

  • Queen of the flutes: the bass flute Fujara

    During the opening celebrations of the cultural centre of the Slovakian town of Detva, which was conducted by the president of the parliament (and the later president) of Slovakia, Ivan Gašparovič, he gave a memorable present at the reception of his guests. He accepted the invitation of the host to play a piece on the Fujara that calls the very region its home. Without a moment of hesitation, Gašparovič began to play a piece on the bass flute that has the height of a man. No other gesture could have conveyed to the town of Detva that Gašparovič is connected to Slovakian culture. 

    Photo by Tibor Szabo.

    Detva is located at the bottom of a valley near the West Carpathians in Central Slovakia. Since the 1960’s, the small town is well-known as a centre of vivid Slovakian folklore. Detva is also the cradle of the shepherd’s flute Fujara. In the memory of the Slovakians, the Fujara has accompanied the concept of national sovereignty and independency for more than 300 years. With the founding of Slovakia in 1992, the Fujara became not only a cultural, but also a national symbol. Ivan Gašparovič himself was often giving one of these extravagant instruments as a gift to his state visitors. The Fujara can be seen in this field of tension between national roots, cultural adaptability, and modern adaption.

    It is the distinctive size, the form and the sound that make the Fujara something special among the European flutes: its sound is deep, smooth and organic. At the same time, it also sounds agile, strange and futuristic, which is due to the dazzling high overtones up to 4 octaves. The melodies originate by skillfully combining hand movements with overblowing the basic tones. That’s how those special sounds come to life. They roar, flow, gently scream, call out, and time and again find rest in murmuring sound colours.

    Instrument of Outlaws and Shepards

    Among the Slovakian Fujara masters there are names like Pavol Smutný, Tibor Kobliček, Juraj Kubinec and Dušan Holík. They know how to play the traditional way. The Fujara music is based on a handed-down repertoire of shepherd’s and bandit’s songs. Yes, bandits and thugs were also companions of the Fujara. As the history of Central Slovakia goes, they were supposedly living on the meadows and in the woods, practically close neighbours of the region’s shepherds. When shepherding the herd, the shepherds were playing various flutes. Two of them are well-known: the little Koncovka and the big Fujara. The Koncovka is sometimes called the little sister of the Fujara. Its size is approx. 50 cm and it does not have any grip holes. The tones are merely generated by overblowing and opening as well as closing of the lower opening of the flute. The bigger flute, the Fujara, was considered as the instrument of the herd leader and highest-ranking shepherd. The smaller Koncovka was rather played by his assistants. That is also one of the reasons the Fujara is being called the “queen of the Slovakian music instruments”.

    The above-mentioned close vicinity of shepherds and social outsiders is reflected in the portfolio of the Slovakian songs: those songs do not merely tell about the life with nature and an emphasis on humane and sincere interconnections. Those are also improvised pieces that reconstruct the flow of the river or the murmuring of the trees. The disenfranchised people that lived outside of the villages incorporated the call for justice and freedom against occupation and suppression into their songs. The robbers and the bandits of the 17th century are also the ones that are considered as fighting for Slovakian independency. Their most well-known representative was the robber Juraj Jánošík who today is regarded as a national hero.

    Fujara Playing Technique

    The handed-down songs for the Fujara combine instrumental play and singing. That’s why the Fujara players have been good singers, too. A performance usually begins with the signature motif, a signal that is called rozfuk. The whole range of tones is played from the highest until the lowest tone of the instrument. Traditionally, on the Fujara a 12-tone, Mixolydian scale is being played. After the opening tune rozfuk follows the first strophe, which is freely played with rich improvisations. Right after the Fujara player stops playing, he starts singing the strophe, to present the text to the listener. The master Ladislav Libica gives an example of such traditional performance in the recording of the tune “Kade idem, vsade trniem”, „Wherever I go, I tremble“: 

    The size of the Fujara is impressive. Its tube is up to 200 cm long. It is rarely shorter than 140 cm. The player holds the instrument vertically in front of the body. Due to its length, the Fujara is played with a mouthpiece that is connected to the body of the instrument and thus makes it easier to play. The blowing technique is similar to the one of the South American Moseño flute. That is why the Fujara (same as the Moseño) is relatively easy to play. Equally to the recorder the tone is generated by a so-called windway. The player blows air through the pipe and a tone emerges instantly. The challenge of playing the Fujara well lies in applying the correct grip and breathing technique.

    The Fujaras have three grip holes at the front and they are located at the lower third of the instrument. The player often needs to stretch his or her arms to reach the grip holes. The middle finger of the left hand covers the most upper grip hole. The right hand is being led to the lower tone holes. The thump of the right hand covers the middle grip hole and the middle finger the lower tone hole. In general, the Fujara does not have a grip hole for the thump at the back of the pipe. A video shows the fingers of the highly recognized Fujara master Dušan Holík at work:

    Unfortunately, we don’t know much about the origins of the Fujara. There is certainty that the making of those instruments can be dated back to the 17th and 18th century. Possibly, other music instruments of the art music sector played a role in its evolution. The bassoon and the Baroque bass recorder may have provided inspiration for making the Fujara. 

    The Fujara in the 21st Century

    Any Fujara is unique and something special. The instrument is still being hand-made. That is why every single one of them follows an individual aesthetic and tonal concept. Over the years, responding to demand the construction method was continuously adapted to the needs of the musicians. Today’s instruments meet the current needs as they are easily transportable, perfectly tuned and therefore combinable with other instruments. The distance of the grip holes, too, is slightly more convenient if compared to older instruments.

    The length of DAN MOI Fujaras are 150 cm or 170 cm and they are made of elder-wood. They have a splendid production quality, are well-tuned, and carefully treated to last for a long time. The flutes are tuned to the 4 basic tones A2, B(H)2, C#3 and D3 or G2, A2 B(H)2 and C3. The newly developed Fujara Integral, with which you can improvise wonderfully, can be played more intuitively. The range can be extended by many tones of the overtone series. When blowing the breathing air into the instrument with a varying intensity more tones of the overtone range can be produced by applying the “overblowing” technique. The Fujaras of DAN MOI are made by a Slovakian instrument maker who has his studio in Czechia. The Fujaras have a delicate ornament in the upper part of the flute. The surface of the flute is treated with linseed oil. They also bear a valve by which condensation water emerging during playing can be discharged.

    Today, there are more Fujara players than ever, not only in Slovakia, but also in other countries of Europe and the American continent. Meanwhile they are rarely shepherds, but work e.g. as doctors, teachers, electricians or lawyers. New compositions for the melancholic bass flute emerge, and more and more people become interested in the instrument. For many years, musicians from jazz or world music have discovered the Fujara and have been bringing her into play in various settings. Musicians as Marco Trochelmann, Bernhard Mikuskovics or Max Brumberg have made the Fujara popular beyond national borders. Nowadays, the Fujara with its touchingly deep and smooth sound is used for therapeutic purposes or for meditation.

    In Slovakia itself awareness for the Fujara has been significantly raised with the won independence in 1993. After the founding of the Folklore Festival and with instrument research in the 1960’s a first increase was already perceivable, in 1975 a Fujara competition for players and instrument makers followed. The latter can be seen as the starting point for the revival of the instrument and its repertoire. The Fujara has become known throughout Slovakia, though its traditional centre is still located in the region of Podpol’anie, Central Slovakia.

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