A blog about the Jaw harp.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Winter 2007

Greetings to all J-harpers in this winter season! Let's get warmed up and start with a Winter Waltz...

Here's an overview of what's happening in our boinging world.

I want to bring to your attention a group from Norway called Trio Mediæval. Working in a similar vein of early music as Anonymous 4, here's a trio of female vocalists plus a male drummer/j-harper. Watch and listen to a clip here. They're on tour right now so buy a ticket, put on your warm coats, bring your j-harps to play along (discreetly!) and enjoy.

Photo: Asa M. Mikkelsen

Speaking of traditional music, although more contemporary to us, Dust-to-Digital has released a neat new compilation of field recordings by Art Rosebaum, an amateur of Old Time music. Some tracks feature our beloved instrument. The label also offers among other CDs a collection of Tuva throat recordings. Audio samples and more info at their website.

Some lucky j-harpers got to recently attend the first International Jew's Harp Festival in Leipzig, Germany. There's a nice slide show here and a few video clips featuring Nadishana.

There was another J-harp festival in Kecskemét, Hungary in September of 2007. Here's a clip of Aron Szilagyi playing an electrifying piece at the Third Hungarian Jew's Harp Festival. Filmed by Luca Recupero of iPERCUSSONICI fame.

More video clips of the festival here.

The North American Jew's Harp festival was held in Bay City, Oregon on Aug. 2-5, 2007. Here are several clips of the event.

Be sure to let me know about future events so I can post them here and at the Jaw Harp Group on yahoo.

As gift-giving season is arriving, you may want to consider an unusual J-harp from Wang Li. It is the smallest jew's harp in the world, produced by an ethnic group in northern China. You can play either by plucking or blowing. Here's a demonstration:

Peruse his website, he has other unique J-harps, some made by Chinese Masters.

You may also want to consider other sources for your purchases such as Jonny Cope, based in the UK. Jonny's passionate about jaw harps, a nice man and a proud dad. He sells other instruments such as Tibetan singing bowls, flutes, didgeridoos and more.

Another nice person to deal with is Mark at Mouth Music in the U.S. He has full chromatic sets that I've been eyeing for a while.

I leave you with this very cute animation of Mr. Jew's Harp's adventures. It's very much in the spirit of the season.

Take care of yourselves and others, and keep a-boingoing!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Around the world

Hello, friends.

First of all, thanks to all for getting on the map.

Next, focus on Norway. Here’s a new CD release showcasing J-Harp material from the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation archives.

The Norwegian Jew's Harp Forum has released a double CD compilation called "Fille-Vern - Old and new masters in Norwegian Jew's Harp tradition". The first CD contains archive recordings from 1937 to the '70s. The second CD gives samples of performances at the NMF festivals and the "Landskappleiken", the main national competition for traditional music, song and dance. Checkit!
Also from Norway, there’s a new release from Daniel Sandén-Warg & Sigurd Brokke called Rammeslag. Sigurd plays the j-harp and here’s a sample of his playing.

You can buy the CD or preview and purchase single mp3s here . It's not all j-harp music but it's good.

Again from Norway (I believe) is Ädne Seyland, a player who just knocked my socks off. No pyrotechnics, no special effects, just simple, beautiful playing. Enjoy.

If anyone knows where to get a hold of a Norwegian j-harp, please let me know.

Switching from Northern Europe, we go to India where Bharadwaj Sathavalli, senior engineer at Dell India R&D Centre, has a nice page and samples. He’s come up with what looks like a polyphonic j-harp. He calls it a HexaMorse and it is quite beautiful. Do visit his website or listen to his playing:

Let's move around the globe some more and visit Down Under. Hailing from the Tatarstan-Udmurtia region of Central Russia and now residing in Australia is multi award-winning, lovely voice ( and I must say attractive) Zulya Kamalova.

She has a new album called "3 Nights" that is already in the top 10 of the European World Music Charts. Go to her website for sound samples or read this review of her latest album. Here's a sample:

From Sicily by way of London, England, half Spanish and half Italian Gigi Damico , a sound engineer who has worked with artists such as Rickie Lee Jones, Gloria Gaynor, The Temptations, Blonde Redhead, and others has been working on "The Future Sound of Sicily", a production using the J-Harp, a traditional Sicilian instrument.

And of course, Nadishana is always pushing the envelope. Here he plays a set of five Vietnamese Dan Mois. Quite impressive.

Last but not least is the upcoming North American Jew's Harp Festival in August. It's listed in the events sections on the top right nav of this site. Checkit and be there.

Next time, I'd like to write about Tuva j-harps so if you have any info or samples, please let me know. Until then, toodle-oo, boing!

Monday, May 21, 2007

What's boinging on

Greetings, jaw harpists! Jaw harping is happening so get ready to be highly in demand for sessions. LOL!

First of all, thanks to all for getting on the map. Just remember to add your email address so we can get in touch with each other, network, exchange tips, and whatnot. Looking at the map, it's nice to see that we're not alone.

The jaw harp is alive and kicking as demonstrated by a batch of artists that is not afraid to tell like it is—or isn’t. Among them, and with a country twang, come two talented (and I must say intelligent and attractive) ladies who have just put out albums using the j-harp. The first is Elizabeth Cook who besides her website has a page at MySpace. Listen to Times Are Tough In Rock N' Roll, a happy boinging song. Yeah, Liz! Go to YouTube and watch a great video about Elizabeth. Her Dad is interviewed and he's a gem.

Next is Miranda Lambert with her “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” album. She too uses the jaw harp on several songs. Listen to Me and Charlie Talking . Miranda is a Grammy nominated artist and hats off to her for using the j-harp. She's a young and promising artist with plenty of talent.

Following up his CD "Shoot Out At The OK Chinese Restaurant",
Ramsay Midwood has also put out an album called "Popular Delusions & the Madness of Cows" where he uses the J harp. He has a spot on MySpace but no clip of his song "Rattlesnake". Too bad but you can find short clips on the web. You can buy the album from his website.

By way of France, Persian artist Morteza Esmaili has just released a very interesting CD called In Touch with the Five Elements where he plays the Didgeridoo and the Jaw harp. He has many samples to listen to on the New Artists website. He is also involved in a project called Harmonic Fusion whose goals is for artists worlwide to meet. Morteza will be performing this June; look under Events on this blog.

In other news, Dennis Havlena has been busy going to schools educating the young about music and demonstrating instruments including bagpipes, a hurdy-gurdy, a fiddle, a tin whistle, and the Jaw harp. Way to go, Dennis! He offers a bunch of low-cost plans for all kinds of instruments on his website for those who are interested.

Let's not forget Doctor Oakroot who's got some boinging going on some tracks of his new CD now available at CD Baby.

Here’s a video of traditional music featuring English jaw harpist Michael Wright and a singer with a pretty voice named Lucy. This was recorded at the First Jews Harp Conference and Concert in Oxford, April 2007. Michael has an interesting website with a lot of info including tips on how to play the J harp. Also noteworthy, Michael Wright was elected as Chair of the English Folk Dance and Song Society in December, 2005.

The biodynamic trance project AIRtist provides us with a video of their performance at the Kecskemét Fringe Festival in Hungary back in March of 2007. This is definitely mouth music with a beatboxer, a Didgeridoo, a jaw harp and no loops, synths or effects. The jaw harpist is Aron Szilagyi, of Navrang fame. Visit the website for many interesting mp3s. They have a CD scheduled for release this month.

Wang Li has recorded a mixed poetry/jaw harp ambient sound piece with Frédédric Nevchehirlian. It’s in French but you’ll get the intensity. Last call by the way for Wang Li’s personal collection of J harps. He has some pieces left to sell so get them now. There's a link to his website in the links section of this blog.

Congratulations to Johnny Cope and his loved one, they have a new baby. Johnny recently posted some videos showcasing several kinds of the J harps he sells. Our friend Danibal is also expecting soon so good thoughts to him and his mate as well. We look forward to and welcome this new generation of Jaw harpists. Mind you, they'll do what they want and perhaps become doctors and lawyers. Heck, it's all good,

I've been researching David Coulter of ex-Pogues fame and Daniel Higgs, ex-Lungfish, both Jaw harpists so if anybody has any information or samples, please let me know. Just use the submit event link at the top.

FInally, Mark at Mouth Music Press is about to raise his prices due to the bad currency exchange on the dollar. Most of his J harps are imported and he has no choice. Might as well do our Christmas shopping early this year.

As always, keep me posted with your whereabouts so I can let others know what's happening. Keep on boinging!

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Get on the map

Add yourself to this map so that other j-harpers know you exist. Don't forget to add your email address so we can all get in touch easily.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

J-harp happenings

Greetings one and all! If this is your first time on this blog and don’t know much about the jaw harp, click here to get a primer.

Following are some updates from the j-harp world.

Danibal in Holland has been busy performing with his two-man band, Plunk! Somebody recorded them with a phone camera and here’s a sample in which he plays with three Schlütter j-harps::

If you are interested and have time, there are many more videos here.

Vladiswar Nadishana in Russia (I think) has also been experimenting with multiple harps. Here he plays four Altaian Khomuses.

Here’s a close-up photo showing his creation. He is also having a series of performances in the next few months. Vladiswar's website is at http://nadishana.com

Also in Russia, George Andriyanov aka Father Gorry of Bugotak is finishing work on a new album. We should hear from him very soon.

In Poland, Youtuber rafciu2you posted what appears to be an instructional video. Only problem is, it's in Polish. If anybody can translate, please let us know.

I received an email from Luca in Italy, Catania to be precise. He's involved with a group that has been busy having the second annual Marranzano World Festival. Sicily in the Spring just seems like a perfect place to be.

Here is a video of his band IPERcuSONICI having way too much fun.

Luca was also kind enough to send in an archive recording from the 60's by Giuseppe Giuffrida (aka "u'Curtigghiaru") from Catania, playing a short traditional dance tune. This was recorded by Roberto Leydi and published by Albatros.

From China by way of France, Wang Li has been busy as well. He posted a couple videos and here's one.

He's also selling part of his private collection. Contact him via his website to inquire about prices. He speaks English and will answer any questions you may have.

Also from France, a CD release of new recordings by the Yakut virtusoso Spiridon S. Chichigu. More info in French here. You can order the CD straight from Emilie.

Another CD release comes from Doctor Oakroot in the U.S. He uses the j-harp on some tracks. His new CD is now available at CD Baby.

Dr. O has been making homemade instruments since he was a kid and now plays mostly homemade cigar box guitars. He plays rough-edged blues and is an active member of the CBG Yahoo group that promotes Prim Rock. They are a great bunch of guys and gals who play one, two, three and even sometimes FOUR strings.

I leave you with a classical piece from the 18th Century by Austrian composer Johann Georg Albrechtsberger. This piece is the Finale - Allegro Molto of the Concerto for Jew's Harp, Mandora and Orchestra in F Major. It features Fritz Mayr on Jew's Harp, Dieter Kirsch on Mandora and the Munich Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Hans Stadlmair.

That's all for now. Keep me posted with your endeavours so I can let others know. Happy boingoing!


Friday, February 16, 2007

Meet the Jaw harp

This is a blog about the Jaw harp, an ancient instrument called by many names all over the world. Called Guimbarde in France, Scacciapensieri in Italy, Maultrommel in Germany and Austria, Trump in various forms and spellings is used today in Europe, such as Mondtrom in Dutch and Tromp in Flemish. Harp is used in Scandinavian countries, such as Norway, Munnharpa, Denmark, Mundharpe and Finland, Huuliharpu. Doromb can be found in Hungary, with Drymba in Ukraine and Drombulja in Croatia. As we go further east we have variations on Komys, Kupus, and Khomus in northern and eastern Asia, while Morchang, Morsing, Dan Moi and Gengong can be found in India, Vietnam and Indonesia. The Jaw harp is an international instrument that is likely to have originated in Asia and travelled to Europe, arriving sometime around the 13th century. Here's an excerpt from an article from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

The Jew's harp, jaw harp, or mouth harp is thought to be one of the oldest musical instruments in the world; a musician apparently playing it can be seen in a Chinese drawing from the 3rd century BCE . It is also sometimes called a Jew's trump or juice harp, among other names, and has no particular connection with Judaism.

The instrument is a lamellaphone, which is in the category of plucked idiophones and consists of two types: idioglot, where the vibrating reed or tongue of the instrument is cut from a single piece of wood, bamboo, bone or thin flat metal, such as brass, and hetroglot, where there is a cast or bent metal frame to which is fixed a separate, flexible metal reed.

Since trances are facilitated by droning sounds, the Jew's harp has been associated with magic and has been a common instrument in shamanic rituals.

A few adepts still play the instrument and it is used in various genres. Here's an example of Primitive Techno:

Here's some hard rocking Blues-Rock:

Some down home Country-Folk:

And some more traditional style of playing:

Here's a gem of classic folk music from Mike Seeger.
Listen to this wonderful song called Did You Ever See the Devil, Uncle Joe?

And of course, Jack Elliot of Birtley, UK.

Listen to a short clip from Genticorum, a trio from Québéc that incorporates the dynamism of today's North American and European folk cultures in their music.

This is an interesting beatboxing piece from Danibal who lives in the Netherlands. In France, Jeanjean is doing something in the same genre.

Check out an interesting use of the Jaw harp on a song called Morning Wonder by The Earlies, a UK band.

In a different vein, Jacob Max Nasim's Psychedelic Jew's Harp project is a trippy venture into totally live, electro-acoustic, psychedelic grooves.

Here's a funny, Borat-sounding clip by George Andriyanov of Bugotak which explains how to play a Jaw harp. I assume the birdie at the beginning is a Siberian form of greeting:

He also does some interesting throat singing along with his harp playing. Here's his take on Come together by the Beatles.

Here, Norwegian musical director and composer Terje Isungset demonstrates some of the melodies and rhythms he plays with his Jaw harp.

Daddy Dirk demonstrates how to play the Ozark Jaw harp:

This is Hank Plow, a poet and musician cowboy from Gila Bend, AZ giving an introduction to the Jaw harp:

The Asian harps sound slightly different than the ones more familiar to us. Here's a clip demonstrating playing a bamboo harp:

Here's a performance on a Chinese Hoho by
Vladiswar Nadishana:

Another performance on a Taiwanese Lubu, a multi-reed harp:

Here's an interesting video showing the fabrication of a harp by a Hmong Monk from beginning to end:

This is probably good enough to start. I invite all of you interested in this neat instrument to join and participate to the new group I started.

Happy boinging!