deutsch
english

Aron Szilagyi

  • 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.

  • “A crazy voyage” with the Hungarian jaw harp virtuoso Áron Szilágyi

    Less than 100 km away, southward of Budapest you will find the city of Kecskemét. Kecskemét can pride itself with its institute for music education, which was named after the Hungarian composer, music ethnologist and son of the town, Zoltán Kodály. But Kecskemét is also the Hungarian city of music instruments and in particular it is the city of jaw harps. This is because Áron Szilágyi and his father Zoltán Szilágyi, two of the most important protagonists of the European jaw harp scene live there. Helen Hahmann met Áron Szilágyi in the summer of 2016 in Taucha, near Leipzig.

    Aron Szilágyi at the Ancient Trance Festival 2014

    For me, it’s really important to arouse people’s interest in the jaw harp”, says Áron Szilágyi. For 20 years, Áron travels the world as a musician, trainer, and initiator of projects. As director of the Leskowsky Music Instrument Museum in Kecskemét – the only one of its kind in Hungary – he gives people access to music on a very basic level: “Me and my colleagues go to schools and conduct workshops. This is a very important mission for me. Our work inspires kids and young people to learn such an intuitive instrument as the jaw harp. They can learn to play it without necessarily going to a music school. They can just give it a try and discover it themselves."

    Áron Szilágyi is giving numerous concerts every year. Solo, before with the formation “Airtists” and now with his group “Zoord”. “Our concerts raise a lot of awareness for the jaw harp. The people can hear what we are doing with those little instruments and instantly become curious. Some are keen to give it a try right away and are starting to play.” One opportunity to present the jaw harp to the public is Áron’s very own “Global Vibes” jaw harp party, which always happens in Kecskemét at the end of the year. “It’s a crazy crowd that gathers to celebrate the end of the year, but also the jaw harp: Shamans, rock musicians, Techno DJs, Folk dancers. About 500 people are coming and naturally not all of them share my interest in the jaw harp. However, by such an experience they get aware of this remarkable instrument and our enthusiasm might become contagious."

    Áron plays the jaw harp since he’s 3 years old. He was raised in an environment with plenty of instruments around him as his father Zoltán Szilágyi is one of the best-known and best jaw harp smiths of the world. He’s been building jaw harps for 40 years. When Zoltan Szilágyi heard this specific sound in the radio for the very first time, he became so intrigued, he wanted to make an instrument that sounded exactly the same. He’s never seen a jaw harp before in his life and he built the first instruments without having a template. He tried several options over a long time and made hundreds of instruments until he caught sight of a jaw harp. He stopped everything else and got occupied with jaw harps only, tells his son Áron. The Hungarian term for jaw harp is doromb.

    Zoltán Szilágyi went on a quest for the perfect sound. At some point, someone bought one of his jaw harps and he started to offer them on markets all over Hungary. The folklore movement had many people travel from the cities to the country, so they could learn traditional dances and teach them in the cities. Within that context, a great interest in the jaw harp emerged and Zoltán Szilágyi sold many of his instruments. They differ from other jaw harps as they are hand made high-quality items. As the wall broke down his work got acknowledged beyond the boarders of Hungary. Today, Zoltan builds more than 80 different jaw harp types, which have all a different tone colour. Zoltán’s instruments are not based on a tradition of jaw harp smiths in Hungary. His approach rather aims on enabling an artistic way of dealing with the instrument and exhausting any imaginable acoustic colour.

    Doromb Blackfire made by Zoltán Szilágyi (Hungary).

    Zoltán’s son Áron knows every little detail of the jaw harp smith business, but leaves the part of craftsmanship to his father. He makes wooden jaw harp boxes and caskets, though. His focus lies on the music. Dedicating his life to the jaw harp like his father was anything else than taken for granted. “When I was 16, like all teenagers I was seeking for something to express myself. I saw how people from all over the world came to our house to visit my father. I observed our guests and thought they are free, don’t have to work, travel around the world, and are really cool – and they all have one thing in common: the jaw harp. I liked that and came to the conclusion of becoming a jaw harp pro. There was even no need for me to leave the house. I only had to go to the living room since the jaw harp players that came to visit us were the best in the world. I could learn from them – for instance Spiridon Shishigin, Anton Bruhin or Frederik Crane, all the legendary players of the whole world. With 18 years I played more and more and becoming 20, I had my own bands, went on tours, and gave concerts and workshops. And that’s how I’ve been living until today.

    Those encounters with jaw harp players in the own living room became Áron’s role model and influenced his style. The instruments itself had a great impact on his way to play, he says. At the end of the day he’s been lucky to play with only excellent instruments. Still, “I really don’t intend to play the jaw harp in one style, only specific for me, as I’m doing very different things with the instruments. I feel attracted to an intuitive style, rich with overtone and rhythmic. I’ve learned several breathing techniques and use them in my play. People tell me that my style is giving them a specifically powerful and dynamic style. One of the reasons might lie in the fact that I’m able to play really loud.

    Áron Szilágyi plays his father’s jaw harps. Not out of loyalty, as he says, but because those are the instruments that match his preferences the most: “I like best playing the Blackfire jaw harp, because it works well with all different kinds of playing techniques. They lie well in my hand and I know them inside out. They’re just perfect for me."

    How Áron’s jaw harp play sounds is best to found out by listening to a recording of his band Zoord that released a CD in 2016. On that album they re-interpret traditional melodies from the Tschangos from Seofonbyrig. A remix album of those songs with world music producers and DJs remixing the songs will be released shortly. A solo album from Áron is in the works as well and he promises that it will be quite experimental – a crazy voyage.

  • 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.

3 Item(s)