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Article

Siv B. Lie and Benjamin Givan

Jazz manouche, also known as ‘Gypsy jazz’, is a musical style based primarily on the 1930s recordings of French jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt (1910–53) with the Quintet of the Hot Club of France. Well-known 21st-century exponents include Biréli Lagrène, Stochelo Rosenberg, Angelo Debarre, Tchavolo Schmitt, and Adrien Moignard. The style characteristically features stringed instruments (primarily the acoustic steel-stringed guitar, violin, and double bass) in ensembles of between three and six musicians. Repertoire largely comprises American and French popular songs dating from the 1920s and 30s, such as ‘All of Me’, and tunes composed by Reinhardt, such as ‘Minor Swing’, ‘Nuages’, and ‘Django’s Tiger’. Performances consist of accompanying guitarists playing a duple-meter percussive chordal stroke called la pompe over a pizzicato walking bass line while soloists take turns improvising virtuosically on the harmonies of a cyclically repeating form, typically 32 bars long (see ex. 1). Improvised melodies often use techniques derived from Reinhardt’s recordings; eighth notes are swung and tempi vary considerably, sometimes exceeding 300 quarter notes per minute. Jazz manouche originated in the late 1960s, when music inspired by Django Reinhardt’s improvisations and repertoire began to be played in some Romani communities (the term ‘jazz manouche’ was never used during Reinhardt’s lifetime and did not gain currency until around the year ...

Article

Daniel Goldmark

(b Minneapolis, MN, 28 March, 1941). Composer for television, conductor, arranger, and orchestrator. Clausen grew up in Jamestown, ND, where he took up French horn and piano, as well as singing in school choirs. He attended North Dakota State University studying mechanical engineering before a summer in New York City, before being exposed to first-run Broadway musicals and other professional musical settings convinced him he should pursue music instead. He took up string bass and baritone sax and graduated with a degree in music in 1963, followed by a masters degree at Berklee College of Music.

After moving to southern California, his first high-profile professional gig was as an arranger for the second season of The Donny and Marie Show, and eventually conductor and music director for the show’s third season. He moved away from variety and into scripted drama with his work on Moonlighting; during this time he also scored the comedy series ...

Article

Tony Bacon and Arian Sheets

[bass guitar]

Electric guitar, usually with four heavy strings tuned E′–A′–DG. Early forms of the electric bass guitar were brought to market by Vivi-Tone of Kalamazoo, Michigan, in the early 1930s, Rickenbacker (or Ro-Pat-In) of Los Angeles in 1935, Audiovox of Seattle in 1936, Vega of Boston in 1939, and Regal of Chicago in 1939. Gibson also made several electric basses prior to World War II, but did not formally market them. Early electric basses employed a variety string types and pickups, but most had longer scales and were fretless, designed to be played in a manner similar to conventional acoustic upright basses. Audiovox, with its short-scale, fretted version, was a notable exception.

The modern full-scale fretted solid-body electric bass guitar was introduced by Leo Fender and was first marketed as the Fender Precision Bass in late 1951. The instrument was introduced to meet the needs of musicians playing the bass part in small dance bands in the USA: they wanted not only a more easily portable instrument than the double bass, but one that could match the volume of the increasingly popular solid-body electric guitar, and could be played with greater precision than their large, fretless, acoustic instruments. Fender’s electric bass guitar answered all these requirements. It was based on his already successful Broadcaster (later named Telecaster) six-string electric guitar, with a similar solid body of ash and neck of maple. The four strings were tuned to the same notes as the double bass (an octave below the bottom four of the six-string electric guitar), and a single pickup fed controls for volume and tone; the fretted fingerboard offered players the precision they wanted....

Article

Kokyū  

David W. Hughes and Henry Johnson

Spike fiddle of Japan (from ko: ‘foreign’, ‘barbarian’; and kyū: ‘bow’). It is about 69 cm long, with a soundbox measuring 14 × 12 × 7.5 cm; the bow is about 95 to 120 cm long. This is Japan’s only indigenously evolved fiddle (although several others were used in minshingaku music). It is smaller than the shamisen, but otherwise nearly identical in shape and construction, differing mainly in its long spike, the shape and position of the bridge, and the lack of any device to generate the buzzing sound (sawari). The kokyū is held vertically, its spike inserted between the knees of the kneeling performer or (especially for women) resting on the floor in front of the knees. As with the Javanese rebab the instrument itself, not the bow, is rotated to select the appropriate string; the bow always follows the same path. There are usually three strings, but certain schools double the highest string (a practice introduced in the mid-18th century)....

Article

Claire Levy

(b Yambol, 30 March 1933; d Plovdiv, 12 April 2014). Bulgarian composer and music educator, famous for his work in different genres but mostly for his distinctive contribution to the field of film music. He graduated from the Bulgarian State Conservatory in 1961 under Pancho Vladigerov (composition) and Assen Dimitrov (conducting). Author of the music for over 120 cartoons and more than 40 feature films, Karadimchev also wrote songs for rock bands, marked usually by laconic yet highly attractive melodic lines. His lyrical Byala tishina (‘White Silence’), performed by Georgi Minchev and The Shturtzite, made a particular breakthrough for Bulgarian rock music on the national level by winning the first prize at The Golden Orpheus Pop Music Festival in 1967. And his close collaboration with The Tangra in the early 1980s developed ‘the melodic style of rock’ in songs such as Bogatstvo (‘Fortune’) and Nashiat grad (‘Our Town’). Some of his title songs written for movies such as the ...

Article

Claire Levy

(b Sofia, 8 Dec 1934; d Sofia, 12 July 2008). Bulgarian conductor, composer, pianist, and arranger, of Armenian origins, remembered for his prominent role as a musician and public figure in the development of popular music in Bulgaria. He graduated from the Technical University in Sofia (1957) and studied in the Faculty of Theory at the Bulgarian State Conservatory. In 1953 he joined the band Jazz of the Young. By the end of the 1950s he played the piano also at the Satiric Theatre Orchestra and founded Studio 5, a band famous for its supportive role in promoting young singers. Following a similar purpose, later on he initiated Trombata na Vili (‘The Horn of Vili’), a radio contest for discovering new talented pop singers. Since 1960 Kazassian’s music activities have been closely associated with the newly created Big Band of the Bulgarian National Radio where he took successively the positions of pianist (...

Article

Claire Levy

(b Haskovo, 29 June 1896; d Sofia, 31 July 1978). Bulgarian singer, internationally famous as a schlager performer, nicknamed the ‘Knight of the Upper F’. As a child he was a solo singer in the church choir in the town of Stara Zagora. Later on he went to the military school in Sofia and in 1920 took professional vocal lessons. In 1923 Leshnikoff went to Berlin, where he received a scholarship at the Sternischen Konservatorium. In 1927 he was appointed at the Grosses Schauspielhaus – a review theatre – and in 1928 joined Comedian Harmonists, a newly formed male vocal sextet, to perform the first tenor part. Becoming one of the most popular groups in Europe before World War II, Comedian Harmonists developed a style, based on aspects of German schlager, bel canto opera singing, pleasing tunes influenced by traditional lyrical songs, and Afro-American-derived patterns associated with the blues, gospel, and close harmony vocal techniques. Their records were released by labels including Odeon, Electrola, Columbia, and His Master’s Voice. In ...

Article

Claire Levy

(b Plovdiv, 19 Dec 1937). Bulgarian composer, pianist, conductor, arranger, and bandleader. He was internationally acknowledged for his innovative ideas, cross-cultural experiments, and contribution to the concept of fusion and free improvisation. Classically trained at the Bulgarian State Conservatory (1955–60) under Pancho Vladigerov (composition) and Andrey Stoyanov (piano), he is the author of numerous compositions in styles and genres including jazz, pop, symphony, chamber, film, and theatrical music. He conducted the Radio and Television Big Band in Sofia (1962–6) and led his own avant-garde quartet, Jazz Focus’65 (1965–8), which won the Critic’s Prize at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1967. In 1970 he left Bulgaria for political reasons and moved to the USA where he joined the Don Ellis Orchestra (1971–8), and later collaborated with the classical/jazz quartet Free Flight. He also played with outstanding jazz musicians including Art Pepper, Billy Cobham, and Dave Holland, among many others....

Article

Claire Levy

(b Ruse, 7 Nov 1911; d Sofia, 24 Oct 1971). Bulgarian composer, acknowledged as the father of Bulgarian schlager/pop song and a contributor to the acculturation of Western urban mentality in music during the decade before World War II. In 1939 he graduated from the Law Faculty of Sofia University and, in parallel, took lessons in music theory and composition with Pavel Stefanov and Vesselin Stoyanov. Along with his prolific work as a composer in the 1930s and 40s when he wrote numerous vocal and instrumental pieces, including tangos, foxtrots, rumbas, and waltzes, as well as operettas for the Odeon Theatre in Sofia, he was among the founders of the Bulgarian Radio in 1936 and managed the gramophone label London Records (1937–40). Among the most popular of his songs created in the 1950s were Kervanut (‘Caravan’) and Spi, moya malka sinyorita (‘Sleep, My Little Señorita’). However, after World War II the genre of ...

Article

Karel Steinmetz

(b Chrudim, Czechoslovakia, 24 June 1947). Czech pop singer. The daughter of musical parents, she was taught the piano and singing as a child. As a student she was successful in talent competitions in Prague, voted fourth – and two years later, first – in a poll of Czech singers. After completing high school (Gymnasium) at Chrudim (1965) she became a member of the Rokoko Theatre in Prague, and began making recordings for radio and appearing on television. In 1966, together with Marta Kubišová, a colleague at the Rokoko Theatre, she took part in the prestigious Czechoslovak Bratislavská lýra festival, and won the second prize. In 1968, together with Marta Kubišová and Václav Neckář, she set up the Golden Kids, a very successful trio, which was dissolved three years later owing to the politically motivated prohibition of further performances by Marta Kubišová. At that period she became the most successful Czech female singer abroad; she recorded albums for companies in Japan and in the German Federal Republic, and appeared regularly at international festivals and venues in Canada, Brazil, Cuba, and Turkey, achieving her highest success in winning the Grand Prix in ...