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The DAN MOI Jaw Harp Blog ♫

  • Zoord: With the jaw harp on the frozen Lena

    They call their music Power Folk. And it’s true, the music of Zoord has an energetic rhythm and instantly gets into your feet. Brand-new melodies from the East of Europe, outright revealing a lust for life and joy of playing. The first CD of the unusual trio from Hungary around the energetic jaw harp specialist Áron Szilágyi was released in 2016. In 2017, they had intermezzos at the Ancient Trance Festival in Taucha and at the Sziget Festival in Budapest.

    Our music originates from Siebenbürgen. We keep the connection to tradition, but form it as we understand it today, and we alter it according to our mood and our feeling”, says Áron Szilágyi. Zoord’s regional focus roots back to their violinist Béla Drabant. In recent years he frequently travelled to Siebenbürgen, to play with those musicians who learned the old melodies from their parents and grandparents. Some of those musicians are not alive anymore, but their melodies live on – amongst others in the music of Zoord.

    The interaction of drums, violine and jaw harp is something very special. This is unprecedented. Over the last 10 years, the three musicians have been playing together in various music formations. The three of them have completely different musical backgrounds. Drummer Krisztián Almási is also active in punk and rock bands, but he creates music programmes for kids, too. His speciality is combining punk and traditional music. Áron Szilágyi is one of the most versatile and powerful jaw harp players in the world. He dedicated his whole life to music. Not only as a musician, as he is also the director of the Music Instrument Museum of the town Kecskemét. All 3 musicians have their roots in the area around the Hungarian town Kecskemét, which is known for its folk music scene.

    The initial spark to form a band project was a memorable journey to Siberia. “In 2014, we had a 14-days tour in Siberia. In the midst of winter. It was very cold. The warmest temperatures we experienced were –30 degrees Celsius. After we returned from the tour that made a really great impression on us we decided that the band name should refer to the cold tour through Siberia.” And so Zoord is the animalistic, wild interpretation of the Hungarian term “zord” that bears the meaning of gloomy, cold and rough.

    We were invited to the International Khomus day and gave a big concert in Yakutsk. After that we travelled to smaller towns and villages.” At the Zoord concert in 2017 during the Ancient Trance Festival in Taucha Áron tells the auditory from their legendary trip to Siberia: the community rooms, where the concerts happened, always appeared to be far away from the nearest houses. Far and wide no other neighbour towns or villages were to be seen. Only steppe, as far as the eye could see. How would someone ever get to their concert in such a remote area? But right before the start guests from all directions pushed into the concert room and were delighted by what they heard. “It really was an adventure to travel through the steppe and on the frozen Lena. After the journey we wrote several new songs that reflect on our impressions.”

    Currently, Yakutia is globally seen the region with the strongest jaw harp culture. How does a jaw harp musician change after such a profound experience? “Clearly, it became evident to me that melody and rhythm play different roles in Yakutia. In Yakutia jaw harp rhythms have much more a flowing character. You are not so much bound to a beat, rather the music simply flows. This playing style serves to reach a different state of consciousness, to drift away from the presence.

    Such impressions from the journey and the experience of another culture provided Áron’s jaw harp play with more depth, he retrospectively says. In Zoord’s music the jaw harp is sometimes the bass, at times the drone and at other times a melodic instrument. The CD “Zoord” is released now and the band toured to other “crazy” places in the world, among them Japan and Kazhakstan.

  • Birdsong Fun with Children

    In many countries around the world, International Children's Day is celebrated on 1 June. As like in Germany, the countries in Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe, such as Poland, Bulgaria, Romania and Slovakia, celebrate this day, the day when children's dreams and interests take center stage. Even in the USA, in Ecuador, Portugal, and China the "Day of the Child" is celebrated on 1 June. Then kindergartens and schools organize summer and children's parties with games, sweets, dancing and music for the youngest. And of course, there are often small surprises. Here is a sounding suggestion from DAN MOI for a chirping children's day.

    Groowah

    The duck-call instrument Groowah is our own original invention. The special thing about the Groowah is its "big belly". Compared to traditional bird calls or bait instruments, the Groowah has a cavity through which a variety of sound variations can be generated by closing and opening a hand in front of the sound opening. The idea for the Groowah had DAN MOI founders Sven "Roxi" Otto and Clemens Voigt, who played together as musicians in the "Little Tongue Vibration Orchestra" and used usual duck-call instruments for special sound effects. These had only a small resonating cavity. To modulate the sounds, Roxi and Clemens therefore used both hands and formed a cavity in front of the exit of the duck calls. Closing and opening the hands created playful new sounds. Thus, the idea was born to build an instrument in which there is already a resonant cavity and in which only one hand instead of two hands are needed – an effect instrument that is able to provide lively, rhythmic sounds on stage.
    The prototype of the Groowah had to have a narrow neck, which opens into a 4 to 5 cm large, round cavity. With this idea, Clemens and Roxy went in search of a clever craftsman who could make such an instrument according to their ideas. In Vietnam, they found a master of his craft, who to this day makes the Groowah for DAN MOI. The Groowah is fun for children, teens and adults alike, it is easy to play and provides a great variety of playful sounds and rhythms.

    Twittering Birds - Water Warbler

    There are many other birdsongs that can be imitated with instruments. With the help of these small sound producers, children can get to know and explore bird sounds. Or just having a lot of fun, as with our funny Twittering Birds - small water warbler made of clay, which are filled with water and can be easily brought to happy chirping.

     

    Vogelpfeiferl Swazzle

    The Vogel-Pfeiferl is also very versatile. With this swazzle you can mimic the most varied birdsongs from the nightingale to the sparrows and it fits in every little pocket.

     

    The Chirping World of Birds

    A bird call effect whistle from France is used to imitate cuckoo and dove. The owl-call can be heard from differently sized Wooden Owls. There are also musical instruments that imitate tawny owls, blackbirds, geese, crows and many more.

     

    Wind Machine

    Our effects instrument for wind noise was actually used quite conventionally by ornithologists as a lure for jays or magpies. But we've already seen children summon the most powerful storms with it. ;-)

     

    The Most Beautiful Instruments for Children

    In addition to the bird calls and effect instruments you will find more exciting and playful sounds for young and old in our shop, e.g. shakers, nose flutes, sheep's voices, tambourines, crack insects and ocarinas, just to name a few.

    >> Link to our Webshop >>

     

    The DAN MOI Team wishes you a lot of fun warbling on International Children's Day

  • About the healing powers of the jaw harp. The Yakutian jaw harp artist UUTAi

    In the province of Yakutia located in the far East of Russia the jaw harp is an instrument with national relevance. It is a symbol and an ambassador of that region. One of its refined artists goes by the name of Olena Podluzhnaya who uses the stage name UUTAi. With her set she was a guest at the Ancient Trance Festival 2017 in Taucha. Helen Hahmann from DAN MOI met her in person and, among other things, they had a chat about the effects of jaw harp music to the human body.

    “Yes, the jaw harp is the central music instrument for the people in Yakutia”, said Olena Podluzhnaya. “We call it the khomus. It is an ancient and shamanic instrument in our culture. Everyone, whether young or old, plays the khomus.” I am sitting with a brilliant jaw harp player at a folding table in the barn of the Taucha Castle. We’re drinking hot tea from white plastic cups. Here at the temporary backstage area of the Ancient Trance Festival a lot of international jaw harp players have prepared their instruments for the stage. The Yakutian mouth harp smiths Petr Osipov and Revoriy Chemchoev were at this place, too. This was during the conference of the International Jew´s Harp Society back in 2014. Right in her first sentences Olena Podluzhnaya does not leave a single doubt about what’s so special about the Yakutian jaw harp: “This music is healthy for the people. It has healing powers. The khomus initiates deep shaman processes. That’s why the khomus is regarded as holy in Yakutia.”

    “When I’m playing I can feel the healing effect on my body. But the instrument has also a positive effect on the body of the people that are listening to the khomus. The vibration is good for my head, my teeth, and my whole body. The vibes emanate through the whole body. People who listen to the khomus can feel those vibes as well. The sound can be physically noticed. The vibes of the khomus get people to cry, laugh, dance or sing.”

    About 40 years ago, Olena Podluzhnaya’s parents moved from the Ukraine to Yakutia. Her family is not very deeply rooted into the language and culture of Yakutia, tells Olga and laughs about the wide-spread wrong assumption that traditional culture would be something ancient in any case. Olena was born in Yakutia and this culture is her culture, she says. Olena is playing the khomus for 24 years now. She learned to play the khomus at school. Although she is a trained pianist, the khomus has become the center of her life: “I’m a truly happy person as I pursue the work I love; I play and teach the jaw harp.” For two years, UUTAi was also part of the trio Ayarkhaan with Albina Degtyareva. Albina was her jaw harp teacher at school.

    The stage name UUTAi is a combination of the Yakutian words “water”, “secret”, and the verb “create”. So the meaning of UUTAi is: “The secret that was created from water.” One cannot ignore the strong connection to and the sounds of nature in the songs of UUTAi: “It roots back to shaman tradition. The animal voices of cranes, horses, and wolves that I imitate on the jaw harp are sounds from shamanic rituals. During the ritual, a shaman is changing roles. He becomes a wolf or a crane, and thereby travels between worlds.”

    “In today’s Yakutia, men and women play the khomus. Back then, this was only done by women, though. When a woman expected her man back from hunting she would play the khomus. She would be sitting at the fireplace in front of the house and while waiting she would carry out a ritual, so the husband would return safely from the hunt. Today, the khomus is also used by shamans, that is to say the female shamans, the so called Udagan.” There are people that come to UUTAi that ask for her help. UUTAi herself does not claim to be an Udagan, but states the khomus can help people in difficult circumstances. “The khomus creates the magic moments, not I.” She considers herself as a medium who mediates between khomus and human. It is the khomus that can help the people with meditation, she says. And, the khomus cleanses and helps people to listen to their hearts again.

    “When I appear on stage I never know what I’ll be playing beforehand. That is because the khomus plays with me. It plays with my emotions and with the people who listen to the concert. The khomus absorbs all those energies and transforms it into music. I cannot claim the music I am playing is mine. It is the khomus that plays it.” Those are improvisations that UUTAi presents on stage. She merely utilises a certain repertoire of techniques to form the music such as the cry of the wolf. The music has no titles as such. There are rather themes that she likes to describe with the jaw harp, for instance a fight between warriors in ancient times.

    UUTAI performs international solo concerts and meditative concerts. She teaches master classes, among other she worked as a musician and conducted workshops in China, Japan, Norway, Sweden, Lebanon, Venezuela, Hungary, and Germany.  She has published jaw harp online lessons in Russian and English, too.

    “I possess jaw harps that I only play at concerts. Others, I only play for meditation. And others I use for putting humans into trance. My preferred jaw harps are from Afanasievich Mandarov. But I also have many other jaw harps from around the globe.” The concert khomus UUTAi plays to entertain the people and get them to dance, has a loud sound and has strong vibes. For meditation, she rather uses instruments with a slow vibe generating long vibrations. As these sounds have a soothing and relaxing effect.

    UUTAi takes the last sip from her teacup, grabs her bag with the jaw harp and starts to get ready for the concert on the court of the Taucha Castle. She holds a costume made of leather, metal, fur coat and horsehair in her hands and says to me as I’m about to leave: “This is a Udagan Amazon costume. It expresses that I’m part of the nature. Everything is connected, you see, the costume, the music, the atmosphere and the khomus one uses ...”

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