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The DAN MOI Jaw Harp Blog ♫

  • Moorsing, Morchang and Gogona: The Jew's harps of India

    Asia is a continent with an extraordinary variety of Jew's harps. Comparatively speaking, we in Europe know very little about the use of the Jew's harp in South Asia, in Pakistan, Nepal and India. But there, too, one can discover a lively Jew's harp culture. Not least thanks to the musician Neptune Chapotin. The World Mouth Harp Festival in Goa provides a platform for Jew's harp music in India, which was first organised by Neptune Chapotin in 2013. In recent years, musicians from Bangalore in southern India were guests at the festival, as were those from the provinces of Rajasthan and Gujarat.

    Screenshot World Mouth Harp Festival of India

    In Bangalore, in southern India there is a lively scene full of many moorsing players. The moorsing (also sometimes written as morsing, mursing or moursing) is not only played as a solo instrument but also in ensembles. "The moorsing is a percussion instrument in the carnatic music of southern India. It is the fifth instrument in the instrumental hierarchy of carnatic music. In this context it is interesting to note that one very seldom sees or hears the moorsing played, although it is one of the main instruments of classical southern Indian music.," says Neptune Chapotin.

     

    Bharadwaj Sathavalli - Melo Lamella - Morsing Album

     

    The moorsing virtuoso Bharadwaj Sathavalli is one of the best-known instrumentalists from Southern India; in 2003 an album of his entitled "Melo Lamella" was released in Europe by Dan Moi Productions.

     

    Week after week, Neptune Chapotin sells Jew's harps from all over the world at his market stall in Goa. When he tells of this activity, one has the impression he sees the buying and selling of Jew's harps as more as an ambassadorial task than a business one: "I spend the whole night teaching people how to play the Jew's harp. I show the instrument briefly to all those who come to my stall and ask 'what is that' and if I have aroused their interest then I ask them if they would like to try it themselves. People often then say "Oh, no", "I am not a bit talented musically, I can't do that." Then I say, "In 30 seconds I will show it to you". The challenge is completely mine: "My offer is, 'You try it out, learn how to play it and then you can leave; you don't have to buy an instrument.' And when they have learned the basics, I say "Take each one of the Jew's harps here and try it, now that you know how to play the instrument. I'll show you the various techniques and Jew's harps, which one plays with the teeth and those that are played with the lips and I'll show you how to hold them. But most importantly: Enjoy playing! Many people do not buy a Jew's harp at my stall but perhaps they find one in a different part of the world." Chapotin is himself an excellent Jew's harp player, who has developed a really individual style: a mixture of diverse Jew's harp styles among them Yakutia, Norway, Vietnam, Pakistan and India.

    In the northern region of India called Assam, the gogona, a bamboo Jew's harp, is played. There are two types of gogonas, one is shorter and thicker, the other longer and thinner. One of the two is the male gogona, the other is the female instrument. The gogona is played in traditional music, but women also wear the gogonas in their hair like a hair pin during traditional dances. The men put the instruments on their costumes for the dance. During the dance the women take their gogonas out of their hair and play the instruments while simultaneously dancing.

    In Hindustani music, the classical music of northern India, the Jew's harp is not played. In Rajasthan and Gujarat the Jew's harp is a folk instrument. There it is called the morchang. The travelling musicians of Rajasthan play the morchang The Kutch nomads also play the morchang, e.g. to pass the time while they mind the sheep. A selection of Jew's harp music from Rajasthan was published in the "Le Chant du Monde" series by bei Harmonia Mundi on a record in1984. Thanks to the CREM archive (Centre for the Research of Ethnomusicology) in Paris, these recordings can now be listened to online.

  • Where can I find good online workshops to learn to play the Jew's harp?

    Advanced Jew's harp players face the same problem as newcomers to the art. How can one learn various playing techniques if one does't have the opportunity of attending a workshop or access to a teacher? A possible alternative is to buy a classical Jew's harp training course with book and CD. Often it is a help when learning to play an instrument if the learner can watch and thus learn by watching. In this category we keep you up to date with useful online workshops and videos which demonstrate how to play the Jew's harp and explain how to do it.

    Jonathan Cope - Play the Jews Harp on Udemy

    Jonathan Cope on Udemy.com

    Jonathan Cope, the British multi instrumentalist has just released a Jew's harp course on line. Newcomers to the Jew's harp can find a thorough video guideline in English on the udemy.com platform. Jonathan Cope is an author of a Jew's harp tutor, "How to play the Jews Harp - The comprehensive guide" (available at DAN MOI), and guarantees the quality of the course with a money back guarantee. In the 35 lessons, Cope introduces the instrument step by step. First of all, the basic skills concerning the Jew's harp and making music are established. Johnny Cope demonstrates how the teeth and lips Jew's harps are played, that is how one plays a classical Jew's harp such as a Khomus and how one plays a Dan Moi. He describes the physiological conditions by which sounds are formed and demonstrates various different playing techniques. In further steps, different rhythmic patterns and the use of the tongue when playing are explained. In the final stage of the workshop Cope demonstrates special effects which go beyond basic level skills and give a perspective of what a possible advanced level looks like. To participate in the course, one has to register at udemy.com.

    Franz Harrecker on YouTube

    Franz Harrecker demonstrates how to play a bamboo Jew's harp. Franz makes bamboo Jew's harps himself and shows some easy exercises to create a pure clear sound in a 10-minute German-language video. He explains how one can increase the volume of a Jew's harp, how one creates different pitch levels and in what way breathing can be effectively used.

     

    Aron Szilagyi - Doromb Tutorial

    Aron Szilagyi on Doromb.com

    A Jew's harp workshop in many lessons by Aron Szilagyi can be understood by all even if Aron explains some aspects in Hungarian. The Jew´s harp tutorials are primarily helpful because they demonstrate exactly which body movements Aron executes in order to achieve a particular sound on the Jew's harp. Aron plays the doromb, a hungarian Jew's harp. Besides the basics, one can learn how to play the tremolo and different intonation techniques from Aron. With a little bit of luck, one may also meet Aron Szilagyi face to face at one of his workshops. He receives invitations to meetings all over Europe as a Jew's harp trainer and musician.

    Hans Smeekes YouTube video showing how to play the Balinese Genggong performed by I Kekut Wirtawan

    Anyone wishing to play the pluck Jew's harp can find encouragement to play the Bali instrument, the genggong, on a video made by Dutchman, Hans Smeekes Smeekes met various genggong players on Bali and and asked them to present the instruments to him and to explain some playing techniques. One has to search for, and select, the relevant video sections.

    For anyone who prefers a printed course, the Jew's harp training courses by Wolf Janscha (in German only) and Robert Vandré are to be recommended. Clemens Voigt of DAN MOI contributed to Robert Vandrés current school.

    Furthermore, there is the possibility of attending a real workshop at one of the various meetings of Jew's harp players such as the Ancient Trance Festival in Taucha (Germany), the Norwegian Jew's harp festival in Gjövik or one can visit a Jew's harp teacher in Austria.

  • Goayandi - Jaw Harps in Natural Organic Trance Music

    2014-goayandi-boom-4 (Medium)

    Since the primary musical instrument we started with obviously was the jaw harp, DAN MOI is trying to support a few jaw harp musicians once in a while. In this article we would like to introduce one of those bands merging live played electronical trance music with archaic musical instruments like didgerdoos, drums and percussions, and last but not least jaw harps. This French band is called GOAYANDI and they call their musical style "Natural Organic Trance".

    We asked François from Goayandi to briefly tell us the story of Goayandi and his personal relationship to jaw harps:

    "Goayandi got created 10 years ago; we were a group of friends gathering in the forest to jam with drums, guitars, didgeridoos et jaws harp around the fire.

    I first played drums and naturally the jaw harp came to me while I discovered this instrument through people in France, India and other places…

    I was fascinated by its sound, by its ecstatic and hypnotic power and its similitude with trance and electronic music. Playing a jaw harp with a drum for me is the best combination to make/translate trance music.

    For me it also represents a good way to meditate or dance.

    I tried several types but my favourite is the “Dan Moi” jaw harp, because it’s easy to play and it can be played only putting it at the lips. You don’t need to use your teeth and damage them!

    Also, the wide range of sounds of this instrument can give a multitude of colors and a cosmic dimension to the music played.

    For me, the jaw harp is the best synthesizer, multi effect, or dj filter ever. This instrument has the most psychedelic sound on earth; you don’t need a machine to make techno music, just play it, naturally, organically…"

    Goayandi on Tour

    Goayandi will be on tour again this year. Check out their tour calendar (will be updated soon!) here: www.goayandi.com/agenda

     

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