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Richard Wang

[Benjamin] (David)

(b Chicago, May 30, 1909; d New York, June 13, 1986). American clarinettist, composer and bandleader.

Goodman received rudimentary musical training from 1919 at Chicago’s Kehelah Jacob Synagogue and, more importantly, two years of instruction from the classically trained clarinettist Franz Schoepp. He made his professional début in 1921. During his formative years he absorbed the music of the New Orleans musicians; he was particularly influenced by Leon Roppolo, the clarinettist with the New Orleans Rhythm Kings. In summer 1923 he met Bix Beiderbecke whose influence may be heard in Goodman’s on-the-beat attacks, careful choice of notes and across-the-bar phrasing on A Jazz Holiday (1928, Voc.) and Blue (1928, Bruns.) – especially on the latter, where Goodman played solos on both alto and baritone saxophone. In August 1925 Goodman left for Los Angeles to join Ben Pollack. Pollack’s band returned to Chicago in January 1926 and early in ...

Article

J. Richard Haefer

[juspeña, guitarra quinta]

Five-stringed guitar of Mexico, probably originating in the Tecalitlán area of Jalisco. It was one of the earliest mariachi instruments. It is also colloquially known as quinta or jarana (not to be confused with the jarana huasteca or jarana jarocha). Typically it has a soundbox 33 cm long, 31 cm wide (maximum), and 11 cm deep; a 32 cm neck (4 cm of the fingerboard overlapping flat on the soundboard) with 12 metal frets; and 56 cm string length. The soundhole is decorated with nácar (mother-of-pearl) and wood inlay in a starburst pattern, and the purfling has intricate limoncillo wood inlay. The five wooden pegs are inserted from the rear of the pegboard, which has distinctively curved sides and two open f-holes between the pegs. The woods used to build golpes are the same as those for guitarrones.

Tunings used nowadays including the following: d–g–b–e–a (used by Gaspar Vargas); ...

Article

J. Richard Haefer

Large guitar of Mexico. It is played as the bass instrument in mariachi and other Mexican ensembles. The guitarrón mexicano (literally ‘large Mexican guitar’) is shaped like a guitar but with deep sides and a V-arched back. Typically it has a soundbox 63 cm long with a 48 cm maximum width and maximum depth of 21 cm at the sides plus an additional 9 cm to the apex of the back. The fretless neck terminates in a pegboard with pegs inserted from the rear. A 10 cm soundhole on the ...

Article

Paul Oliver

[Dodds, Robert; Spencer, Robert]

(b Hazlehurst, MS, May 8, 1911; d Greenwood, MS, Aug 16, 1938). American blues singer and guitarist. As a boy he travelled with his mother around plantations and labour camps playing the jew’s harp and the harmonica. About 1927 he acquired a guitar. He was married in 1929 but his wife died in childbirth the following year. He then led a brief and reportedly wild adult life as a musical hobo in the South. Shortly before his apparently violent death, he made a number of excellent and highly influential recordings in San Antonio and Dallas; they characterize Mississippi blues of the mid-1930s and form the link between this tradition and modern Chicago blues. His work was influenced by Son House and recordings by the guitarist Lonnie Johnson, and clearly shows an awareness of Skip James and Hambone Willie Newbern, whose themes he adapted in 32·20 Blues (1936...

Article

Czech underground band formed in Prague in 1968. Its principal members were Milan (Mejla) Hlavsa (1950–2002; founder, lead vocal, bass, composer), Vratislav Brabenec (b 1943; saxophone, clarinet), Josef Janíček (b 1947; guitar, keyboards, vocals), Jiří Kabeš (b 1946; violin, viola), and Martin (Ivan) Jirous [Magor (‘Loony’)] (1944–2011; artistic director/manager). Their main influences included The Velvet Underground, Frank Zappa, and The Fugs. With psychedelic stagecraft that included fires built in urn-like receptacles, flickering flying saucers, painted faces, and togas, the PPU started performing weekly shows in February 1969. These props served the band’s concept of a mythological world of sun and planets and what they called the ‘great nation’ that ‘lives in velvet underground’. This early repertoire was sung mostly in English with Czech recitatives in between. Their innovative approach and charisma helped them attract a devoted audience and win the national competition of amateur bands in ...