The DAN MOI Jaw Harp Blog ♫

  • Krishna's instrument: The Bansuri and the "divine tone"

    Christian Lärchenwald plays Bansuri Christian Lärchenwald plays Bansuri

    The Bansuri bamboo flute is one of the best-known Indian instruments. Owing to the fact that the flute was played mainly within the context of Indian folk music, it has been part of the canon of instruments of classical Indian music since the last century. The word bansuri is composed of the Sanskrit words "bans" (bamboo) and "sur" (melody). The instrument is historically tied to Indian mythology.

    The Indian bamboo flute, bansuri, was first mentioned in Vedic texts from the 6th century before Christ . The Bansuri belongs to the most sacred and oldest music instruments in India. It is connected to the Indian God Krishna. Krishna is shown cross-legged and playing a flute in many depictions. The sound of Krishna's instruments is said to have had beguiling effects on people and animals.

    In Buddist representations the Bansuri is played equally by human and godly beings. It accompanies singing, but also appears as part of ensembles. For centuries, the Indian flute sounded on religious occasions. There are different types of Bansuris that were played on different occasions.

    Professional Bansuris by Partha Sarkar in the DAN MOI Shop Professional Bansuris by Partha Sarkar in the DAN MOI Shop

    As well as the cavity one blows through, the bansuri boasts six, on some instruments even seven more holes, set out in a line which are opened and closed using the fingers of both hands. By blowing the flute and by moving the fingers you control not only the sound of the instrument, but also the tones and pitches. To play the flute, it is held laterally in a horizontal position with the instrument pointed slightly downwards. The thumbs hold the bansuri in position. In classical Indian music, these flutes are now often gladly used because they allow better control of sound and tonal variety. There are also bansuris which are longitudinal flutes. They are mostly played in Indian folk music.

    The bansuris are originally tuned to the "divine tone" A = 432 Hz. Therefore, all tones of the instrument sound a little lower compared to the concert pitch A = 440 Hz. This somewhat lower tuning is sometimes described as the "better frequency". To some people's ears, instruments tuned to 432 Hz sound more relaxed, peaceful and centered. This perception also corresponds to number cosmological contexts.

  • Clemens just passed the "Supertalent" casting with flying colors

    The casting for "Das Supertalent" (the German clone of "Britain's Got Talent") on July 2nd worked out greatly. Clemens enchanted the jury with some improvisations on the Pocket Synthesizer.

    But the invitations for the next round will be announced end of July. So, the suspense continues!

  • Completing Sounds

    by Gabriele Albanese

    Official DAN MOI Endorser Gabriele Albanese plays Marranzano Jaw Harps Official DAN MOI Endorser Gabriele Albanese

    Playing the Marranzano Jew's harp has had a strong effect on my career as a musician. It was love at first sight. As I was getting familiar with this instrument and having felt its strong passionate energy, I was powerfully attracted to it. I owe this introduction mainly to my professional collaboration and friendship with Mimmo Cavallaro. Thanks to him I approached the instruments of Mediterranean folk tradition.

    In my opinion the marranzano (Sicilian name), known in Italy as scacciapensieri, and in my region of origin, Calabria, malarruni, holds a special place which makes it a bit different from all the other instruments I play and with which I am used to be challenged. I can make this statement for many reasons. First of all, in spite of being seen as an instrument only found in Sicily, it is actually part of the cultural heritage of several countries all over the world. Anglo-Saxon musicians are familiar with it (they call it Jew’s Harp) and is quite constantly present also in Asia and in the music of the Balkans. It is thus a signature instrument of World Music and as such has helped me immensely in my sound explorations, allowing me to learn not only a new way of making music, but also giving me access to an entire cultural universe that until then I perceived as distant and inaccessible.

    Behind this thin vibrating blade, mounted in shapes and materials which vary from metal to wood (some of them are even made of bamboo), there's a long and complex manufacturing process which requires extreme technique and a meticulous attention to details.

    I had the chance to witness the creation of a Marranzano Jew's harp in Sicily, in Monterosso Almo, during a day I spent with Carmelo Buscema, a true and well known expert in the field. After showing my musician friends who accompanied me and me some of the Marranzano Jew's harps he had made, Carmelo gave further proof of his extraordinary ability by modelling a beautiful wrought iron leaf before my astonished eyes. He gave it to me as a gift and I still carry it with me. It was exactly during that afternoon that I believe I decided to perform a comprehensive study on this instrument, focusing not only on its technical features, but also on the historical and social context in which it originated.

    Since then, the Marranzano Jew's harp has became a crucial part of my artistic expression. It is not just an instrument of traditional study, it is an essential starting point for anyone who wants to experiment with original rhythmical and melodic combinations, and apply them with versatility to various musical genres, from pop to rock, from techno to dance music, to name a few.

    It can produce enchanting sounds. It sends shivers through your soul.

    Gabriele Albanese

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