Monthly Archives: December 2012

The Secrets of the Cajon and what makes it so popular

Cajon flamenco Camaron

Cajon flamenco Camaron (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I first came to learn about Cajon when a friend of mine told me that he is going to build one. I hardly knew what  Cajon meant at the time and why would any musician like to become a carpenter. Gradually I’ve started to understand the magic.

A Cajon (box in Spanish) is a unique percussion instrument. In its simplest form it’s a wooden box on which the percussionist sits and play it with his hands. It originated from Peru where it is called simply – Cajon. Paco De Lucia the famous Spanish guitarist fell in love with the cajon in one of his visits to Peru and immediately decided to adopt it to the well known Flamenco style of dance and music. That was the breaking point of the Cajon Flamenco and this is what made Cajon’s popular in many music styles. The Cajon’s ability to produce both high and low percussion sounds make it ideal for drummers or small groups who want a full drum sound without having to set the full drums gear.

Today the Cajon is used in traditional Latin as well as Rock, Pop and other modern music styles. The Cajon Flamenco has snare string that distinct him from the “dry” sound of the traditional Peruvian Cajon. There are dozens of Cajon manufactures around the world and it’s popularity reached Japan and China.

The Cajon simple structure made it ideal for Do It Yourself projects and for customizations. There are secretes behind Cajon buildings but there are many examples and demonstrations over the Web showing how to do it right.

I did not yet hear my friend’s Cajon nor did I start building my own, what I did is to build my own website dedicated to Cajons and to Cajon’s players. It’s on http://www.eCajonFlamenco.com, check it out and let me know what you think!

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Music is more powerful if you make it yourself and now everybody can!

The original Guitar Hero logo features more po...

Credit: Wikipedia

A fascinating talk at TED presented by Tod Machover and Dan Ellsey. Tod is a composer and a researcher at the MIT Media lab. His mission is to perform innovative experiments on how modern technology can help us better express ourselves with music. The famous Guitar Hero came out of this lab.

Expression with music, Tod claims, is much more profound than words and can make us do amazing things beyond “just” creating music. With music the researchers were able to help physically and mentally ill people to better receive treatment. More than that, they believe that they should help everyone create music with custom shaped instruments. This is true for Yo Yo Ma and Prince as well as people strand to their wheel chairs like Dan Ellsy. Dan is giving an amazing and heroic performance with a beautiful piece of music that he wrote.

This is a truly inspirational talk about people who are transforming the world with music, and I’m not exaggerating.

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A nice tribute to Dave Brubeck from Persiflage

Persiflage

Perhaps my favourite non-classical album is Time Out by the Dave Brubeck quartet. The most well known piece from that album is “Take Five”, and not undeservedly so. Its distinctive time signature is instantly recognizable, and the saxaphone hook sounds good even on a 80386 running chessmaster 2000. To honour Brubeck (who died recently), here are five different recordings of Take Five.

First, here’s the original 1959 recording which appears on the album:

Second, here’s a recording from 1961:

Next, here’s another recording from ’61. As with the previous recording, the underling structure is very similar. However, note the funky chord on the piano at 0:44 (and a related chord at 0:35 in the second version) which isn’t in the original (where it would occur at 0:49). In the original, there’s a vanilla Eb minor chord (first inversion) paired together with an F in the base line (the piece is…

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