Archive for Category ‘Listen‘

Three (3) Righteous Melodies

Finding musical gems is time consuming, and I often content myself by listening to my library of familiar recordings rather than delving into the vast collection of music available on iTunes. Here are a few fresh tracks which I have discovered lately and added to my playlist. “Fresh”, in this instance, is relative to my own experience, and can mean that a song is over 50 years old.

“Blue Moon of Kentucky”
Elvis Presley

“Blue Moon of Kentucky”, originally recorded by Bill Monroe, is the B-Side of Elvis’ 1954 breakout single on the Sun label. The A-Side was the hit song “That’s All Right”. The dawn of Elvis recordings is raw, punchy, and vibrant. The spontaneity of this single delivers a power that was entirely lost as Elvis’ music became over-produced and mainstreamed in the years that followed.

“Elvis Presely Blues”

Gillian Welsh

Gillian Welsh begins this vocal meditation with the words “I was thinking that night about Elvis, day that he died”. The song twists and turns on itself with rolling lyrical returns and diminished sevenths. Her work on this folksy track is beautiful. The song has been subsequently covered by both Joan Baez and Jimmy Buffet

“Dunu Kan”
Issa Bagayogo

Bagayogo weaves African motifs and funky electronic jazz into rich and complex melodies. The percussive elements of “Dunu Kan” produce a driving rhythm that is difficult to isolate from the snappy texture of the stringed section. His lyrics are entirely undecipherable, but the depths of his pitch and the rapid fire delivery of verse compliment the bursting instrumental composition.

“Bad Bad Bad Brother”

Here is a video of Isaac Hayes from 1973, performing his hit song from the blaxploitation film “Shaft”. I don’t like Isaac Hayes, or this song, I post this video for another reason. See if you can identify the man from the start of the video who introduces Hayes as a “bad bad bad brother”.

Hang Drum Redux: Hank Drum

This is an update to my earlier post about the amazing hang drum. Apparently the widespread interest in the innovative musical instrument coupled with the lack of availability has driven a resourceful instrument maker to fashion an alternate version of the hang drum from a common propane tank.

DIY instrument pioneer Dennis Havlena has published his plans for the “Hank Drum” (read Hang + Tank) that can be crafted from a propane tank and a few common power tools. has an illustrated tutorial on hank drum construction here.

Below is a short video of Dennis Havlena himself, demonstrating his creation. Dennis is no Manu Delago, but the hank drum has a warm and bright tone which can be heard in the video.

“He’s a Musical Genius”

This very small man is a giant of jazz piano. Michel Petrucciani. Enjoy.

Hang Drum

This instrument is remarkable. I watched the following video on YouTube and thought it was a hoax until I did some investigating and found that two Swiss craftsman (Felix Rohner and Sabina Schärer) designed this melodious percussive steel instrument based largely on the steel drum of calypso fame.

Unfortunately demand has far exceeded the production capacity of this hand-crafted instrument and they can only be acquired by visiting the Hanghaus in Bern, Switzerland.

Wikipedia Entry for Hang

Free University Courses as Podcasts

Open Culture has a concise guide to university courses published as podcasts for consumption by the general public. UC Berkeley, for example, has entire courses available for free as both audio and video podcasts.

Link: 25 UC Berkeley Courses Available via Free Video | Open Culture.