Many of you have undoubtedly seen at some time or another the legendary film noir masterpiece The Third Man. The theme song from the film is every bit as famous as the film itself, perhaps even more so. Here's Anton Karas, the original composer of the charming and memorable little tune, playing the Theme from the Third Man, on zither.
How Did Ancient Greek Music Sound?
The music of ancient Greece, unheard for thousands of years, is being brought back to life by Armand D'Angour, a musician and tutor in classics at Oxford University. He describes what his research is discovering.Song Of The Sirens [more inside]
In the early years of the 20th century, a pair of ex-piano retailers invented an instrument that looked something like a miniature piano. Manufactured by the Toledo Symphony Company it was called a Dolceola. But why read about a musical instrument, when you can hear one? A Dolceola demonstration by Andy Cohen. Ray Skjelbred playing "Dolceola Blues". [more inside]
Have you heard of Washington Phillips? He was possessed of a wonderful voice, and delivered his simple but gorgeous gospel tunes in an easy and utterly unprepossessing style. He accompanied himself not on guitar or piano, as might be expected, but rather on a chiming, delicately ethereal zither, lending a curiously timeless air to his recordings from the 1920s. An altogether unique performer, his music is a real treat for the soul: Take Your Burden To the Lord, What Are They Doing in Heaven Today, Denomination Blues, I Had a Good Father and Mother, Lift Him Up, Paul and Silas in Jail, Mother's Last Word To Her Son and Train Your Children. [more inside]
Pronounced "chin" ("stringed instrument") or "goo chin" ("old stringed instrument"), the qin / guqin throughout its long history has been the musical instrument most prized by China's literati. They categorized it as one of their "four arts", collected it as an art object, praised its beautiful music, and built around it a complex ideology (compare its image in popular culture). No other instrument was described and illustrated in such detail, so often depicted in paintings, or so regularly mentioned in poetry. And its tablature documents the world's oldest detailed written instrumental music tradition, allowing both historically informed performance (requiring silk strings) of the many early melodies, and practical exploration of the relationship between Chinese music theory and music practice. The guqin silk string zither work of John Thompson. [more inside]
If you were around between the 1870s and the early 1900s, you were rocking out to the sweet tunes of the organette. Some were ornate wooden boxes played by turning a crank. Cool kids had tiny organette/harmonica hybrids called Rolmonicas that were played by mouth. Other variations included the Celestina, the Musical Casket, the Playasax, the PlaRola, and the Triola mechanical zither among others. Happen to have one? Pull it out of that yard sale! You can still find music for it.