This was my fourth year participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge, and possibly my most successful, in terms of getting new followers and visits to my blog. In 2012, while waiting for my first novel to be edited, I decided to take part (thanks to James Duckett), and used the theme of writers, poets, essayists, and lyricists for my posts. Ah, but I had done no planning, and found the task of keeping up with writing, proofing, and posting to be daunting (I did a lot of work on those no-post Sundays!). Lesson learned.
By keeping my posts very short this year (under 100 words, with a video under five minutes), I think I was able to get more readers (everybody’s busy). And by creating and scheduling the posts in March, it freed me up to do more visiting. I found some great blogs that I will continue to follow.
I prefer WordPress to Blogger, as a reader. It was easier to follow blogs that didn’t require a code, a magic word, or triple confirms to follow. It was easier to “like” a post when I didn’t feel a need to comment.
The A to Z team was fabulous! Thanks to co-hosts for following, liking, and commenting on my posts. I loved the inspirational posts throughout the month.
Zither wasn’t my only choice, but it’s a beautiful musical instrument, and a lovely way to end this month of musical posts. I hope you’ve enjoyed them, and maybe learned about a new instrument!
The word ‘zither’ is a German rendering of the Latin word cythara, from which the modern word ‘guitar’ is also derived (source: Wikipedia). Zithers generally fall into three categories: the concert zither, the Alpine zither, and the chord zither. The zither became a popular folk music instrument in Bavaria and Austria at the beginning of the 19th century, and here you’ll listen to a traditional melody from the region:
We go back to China for the “Y” post. The yangqin, or yang ch’in, is a trapezoidal dulcimer-like instrument, originally from Persia (believed to have been introduced to China via the Silk Road). Hammered dulcimers are very popular in China, and also in the Middle East, India, Pakistan, and Eastern Europe.
With bronze or silk strings, the yangqin has a soft tone, although steel strings are more commonly used today.
You were so sure it would be xylophone, right?
The xun is a vessel flute that’s been around in China for about 7,000 years. It’s egg-shaped, with holes in front and back for fingers and thumbs. It was used mainly in palace music, and its sound is associated with ladies in sorrow. Listen up:
The willow flute is a Nordic folk flute with no finger holes. You play it by varying the amount of air blown into it, and by using a finger to control the hole at the bottom, covering it at times. Modern willow flutes are made from plastic, but originally, they were made from the bark of green willow branches. They could only be made in the spring, and when the bark dried out, they were unplayable.
I love the violin. I wish I could play it. First seen in 16th century Italy, the best-known and most prized instruments were made by the Stradivari, Guarneri, and Amati families.
There are some notable violinists, but my favorite performer is without a doubt Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg. I’ve never seen anyone play with as much passion.
Not the tuba. Or trumpet. Or trombone. Today, “T” is for triangle, a percussion instrument made of steel or copper bent into the shape of a…..yeah, a triangle. One of the angles is left open a little, which gives it some pitch.
The poor triangle is the subject of jokes. Remember Ed Grimley on Saturday Night Live? However, some triangle parts in classical music can be difficult – really! Watch here:
Usually made of gleaming brass, the sax was invented by Belgian Aldophe Sax in 1840. It gained popularity for its use in military bands in France and Belgium, and is featured in military bands all over the world today, as well as in classical music, jazz, blues, and popular bands.
Some of the world’s greatest saxophonists were Charlie Parker, Clarence Clemons, and this guy, Boots Randolph.
The recorder was popular in medieval times through the Baroque era, but it declined in the 18th century as the flute, oboe, and clarinet took over. It’s associated with pastoral scenes, suggesting shepherds and birds.
It’s thought of as a child’s instrument, due to its simplicity. But when you listen to this, you’ll see that it’s not just for kids.
Note: I don’t pick a topic unless I know I can cover the alphabet!
The qanun is a stringed instrument played mostly in the Middle East, central Asia, and southeastern Europe. It’s derived from the Arabic word kānun, which means rule or norm, and its sound is decidedly Middle Eastern.