Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Rebab baba baba

What is a spike fiddle and how can a 1000 year old instrument rock so hard? Think Juldeh Camara. (Well, actually his ritti doesn't have a spike because that would poke him in the belly, but it is the one string Fulani version, so I think it counts. )

The spike part: The spike sticks out of the bottom, so you can rest it on the ground or your leg or whatever.

REBAB : The spike fiddle is considered a rebab, which is part of the lute family, and typically has 2 or 3 strings. The word rebab is an Arabic term translated as bowed string instrument. It is closely associated with Islamic culture, and dates back to at least the 8th century. Its roots are probably in Arabia or Persia, and its influence has reached from Indonesia to Europe and Africa (it is thought to be the earliest ancestor of the violin).

There are two basic types of rebab: wooden fiddles with pear-shaped bodies, and spiked fiddles, named for the spike on the bottom of the instrument on which it stands while being played.

Spiked rebabs typically have no frets, but instead, the fingers of your left hand become movable bridges. ( I blatantly stole the above info from a website whose URL I did not copy at the time...sorry, don't sue me whoever you are.)

It can be a rather lo-fi instrument, as demonstrated by this article on how to make one out of a tin can. It's definitely one of those large, loosey-goosey instrument families. Read more at Wiki if you like - interesting history. Then there are people creating beautiful spike fiddles today.

I've been wanting to know more about that instrument for months, and finally got around to looking it up. OK.

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Swagger is all I can come up with. I listen to the new Mahala Rai Banda disc, Ghetto Blasters, and it just struts. Like "we've got it and we know it." And they do.

"The mating of shamelessness and noise is one of the keys to this music’s charm," reports PopMatters . Or as the band's website puts it, "Mahala Rai Banda combines gypsy strings and accordion with a big brass section to deliver a high-speed, kick-ass, take-no-prisoners, no-remixed-needed session that reminds you of why gypsy music is the new punk rock." But hey, they have the chops to pull it off.
Dance, follow or get out the way! It's Mahala Rai Banda.

Edgier than their more established big Balkan brass compatriots like Kocani Orkester, Boban Markovich, or Fanfare Ciocarlia, the boys from the Mahala have put out another great party disc. I would hope fans of those artists who filter this genre through beats and samples (not that there's anything wrong with that!) like Shantel, the Balkan Beats crew, Beriut and Balkan Beat Box have prepped enough folks so there is a curiosity about and a market for the real thing. Wouldn't a U.S. tour be a wonder? Well, try this Romanian Mastercard commerical instead.


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Hey Veronica Fever, would you please answer a question for me that lingers from your whole "one download is worth about 40 cents" discussion. Why do different downloads come in at different bit rates and what does that really mean? I am not intentionally ordering higher or lower quality downloads; hey, with the stuff I want, I'm just happy to find any downloads. What's it all about? Thanks!

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Finally, in the who'd a thunk it category, I got a mailer from the JDUB foundation the other day, asking for money as so many organizations do this time of year. You know those guys? Among many other projects, they release Balkan Beat Box's discs in the U.S. Anyway, one of the new discs JDUB is promoting is Girls in Trouble, "a folk-inspired, indie rock song cycle that re-imagines the stores of the Bible's unsung heroines, brave and complicated women not always given voices in the text."

Wow. Huh. Being a music gal, rather than a lyrics gal, I'm not really interested in hearing this, but somehow I think it's rather great that somebody did such a project at all.

Like The Red Tent meets Mateli.

So here's a fun older interview with Tellu, one of the architects of the Mateli project, for all you old Hedningarna fans.

Mateli Kuivalatar 1771-1846 >>>>