Janissary Pedals

December 11, 2013 § Leave a comment

The Janissary band originated in Turkey in the fourteenth century as an elite corps of mounted musicians composed of shawm and bass drum players.

In the seventeenth century, the trumpet, small kettledrums, cymbals, and bell trees were added to this ceremonial ensemble, thereby producing a loud and highly percussive effect. The Turkish sound captured the imagination of the Viennese masters, who attempted to re-create it in their orchestral and theatrical works. Haydn wrote three “military” symphonies, Beethoven composed three orchestral works with Turkish percussion (including his monumental Symphony No. 9, which has a Turkish march in the last movement), and Mozart and Haydn, among others, used this military sound in their operas. Mozart noted that “Music must never offend the ear, but must please the listener, or in other words must never cease to be music.

The influence was felt even in piano music—notably in Mozart’s appealing Rondo alla turca from his Sonata in A major, which we will hear. So popular was this style that some nineteenth-century pianos featured a “Janissary pedal” to add percussive effects.It was a rhythmic and melodic style full of energy and bravura, and German harpsichords were occasionally built incorporating extra pedals that would ring bells, beat a padded drum stick against the underside of the soundboard, or activate a variety of cymbals and snares. Inevitably the late 18 the Century pianos from Vienna featured the Janissary Music pedals as well. Particularly in the period of 1810 to 1826, grand and square pianos made in Vienna were frequently built with these popular stops included. Square pianos made in Vienna between ~1810 and 1828 frequently feature an additional pedal for Janissary effects. Immigrants to America such as Joseph Newman, Joseph Hiskey, and George Huppmann, all of whom settled in Baltimore Maryland, or Andreas Reuss of Cincinnati, Ohio, began producing pianos in America with the extra pedal. These are built on a general style of the wrest plank in the front over the keys, the strings running diagonally from lower left to upper right, and in the upper right corner, the effects of a drum stick and bell are arranged. Depressing the outside rightmost pedal beats the drum, and quickly releasing the pedal rings the bell, giving a boom ring effect with each pedal pump, which can be easily synchronized to the music at the keyboard.

The bell is usually a nicely turned brass bell with a high clear chime. The drum stick is a hardwood paddle hinged at the instrument case struts with a brass hinge, with a horsehair stuffed leather striker, and comes to rest on a similar horsehair stuffed pad. The striker for the bell is an iron rod perched on a thin spring steel arm which is further attached to a wooden paddle hinged in leather to the case, and the travel against the bell is limited to the spring action allowing the heavier iron rod to strike and rebound from the bell on quickly lowering the pedal. At no time does the rod rest on the bell, and the pictures above are of the action under repair. Variants of this basic scheme are to be found in all squares with Janissary pedals.

Although the fascination with Turkish music proved to be a passing fancy, it nevertheless affected the makeup of the Western orchestra by establishing percussion instruments of Turkish origin (bass drum, cymbals, bells, triangle) as permanent members of the ensemble. It’s hard to imagine an orchestra today without them! The Turkish Janissary ensemble also influenced the military band in the West; these same instruments now form the heart of every marching and concert band.


The Mozart Effect

September 24, 2011 § Leave a comment

We all realise how music can change your mood, regarding researches the effect of music is not just the change of the mood, music can also make you smarter and heal you.

Back in 1993, Frances H. Rauscher and her colleagues who were exposed to the first movement “allegro con spirito” of the Mozart Sonata KV 448 for Two Pianos in D major scored significantly higher on standardized tests of abstract/spatial reasoning ability than those who were instructed to relax or those who just sat there in silence.

No doubt listening to the music you like has a healing effect. Then does the music is directly making you smarter or the is there something specal about listening to classical music and not any other genre?

Mozart wrote more than six hundred major compositions during his lifetime, beginning at age five. The clarity, form, excellence of the performance, and frequency response have all gone into the selection of this special series of Mozart’s music. The music has been sequenced for different activities. Music containing high frequency for stimulating the auditory system in the brain has been selected based on the work of Dr. Tomatis. The relaxation albums are slower and do not include the higher frequencies. The selections have been sequenced according to key, tempo, and a variety of other psychological, physiological, and aesthetic factors to achieve a variety of auditory, physical, and emotional responses.

Music helps release the stress of being ill; it can vitalize, inspire, and reduce pain. The ear is essential for balance, language, expression, and spatial orientation. Music and rhythmic patterning are used extensively before and after surgery and for patients who have had strokes and head injuries.

Chez Dusty

August 29, 2011 § Leave a comment

Back to fifties Paris, there was a bar near the Boulevard St Germain which was a cross between a gentleman’s bar and a library. Around the walls were Jazz Records (78s). The barman working as a DJ as well, found the records the customer requested and played them. The club was called “La Discotheque”.

In the early sixties London, the place that defined what discotheques were the Ad Lib Club, dark and sexy with mirrors round the dance floor. Later the Ad Lib burned down, the new address was the Scotch of St James, the Cromwellian, Maunkberry’s, Tramp and the Speakeasy. Although loosely termed discotheques, these club had small dance areas which was secondary to the club’s social propose of providing a meeting place for “in” people (sounds familiar isn’t it?)

These discos had their equivalents in other capitals,like Arthur in New York.

Here is “the sound” of the time :

Let’s have a quick look now :

1857 Phonoautograph invented in France
1878 Edison patented phonograph
1906 Reginald Fessenden transmitted the first audio radio broadcast in history also playing the first record, that of a contralto singing Handel’s Largo from Xerxes
1909 The world’s first radio disc jockey was Ray Newby, of Stockton, California.
1927 Christopher Stone became the first radio announcer and programmer in the United Kingdom, on the BBC radio station.
1935 American commentator Walter Winchell coined the term “disc jockey” (the combination of disc, referring to the disc records, and jockey, which is an operator of a machine)
1943 Jimmy Savile launched the world’s first DJ dance party by playing jazz records in the upstairs function room of the Loyal Order of Ancient Shepherds in Otley, England.
1947 The Whiskey à Go-Go nightclub opened in Paris, France, considered to be the world’s first commercial discothèque, or disco (deriving its name from the French word meaning a nightclub where the featured entertainment is recorded music rather than an on-stage band)
1953 Regine began playing on twin turntables in The Whiskey
1955 Bob Casey, a well-known “sock hop” DJ, brought the two-turntable system to the U.S.
1969 American club DJ Francis Grasso popularized beatmatching at New York’s Sanctuary nightclub.
1973 Jamaican-born DJ Kool Herc, widely regarded as the “father of hip-hop culture,” performed at block parties in his Bronx neighborhood and developed a technique of mixing back and forth between two identical records to extend the rhythmic instrumental segment, or break.
1974 Technics released the first SL-1200 turntable, which evolved into the SL-1200 MK2 in 1979
1974 Kraftwerk released the 22-minute song “Autobahn”
1975 DJ Grand Wizard Theodore invented the scratching technique by accident.

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