Category Archives: Music

The Soulful Gospel Music

Gospel music is relatively easier to grasp and is filled with feeling and emotions that one can easily relate to. The theme for all gospel songs is the same, they resound the relationship with God. Talking from personal experience, gospel music has always managed to calm my tensed nerves, all because it comes from the depths of the human heart.

Gospel music doesn’t restrict itself to a particular genre of music, thus, it can be expressed in any of the music styles, including blues, jazz, reggae, and even rumba.
Roots of Gospel Music
Gospel Music
Tracing back the roots of gospel music, it seems to fore-date the African tradition of oral communication. How is this remotely connected? Well, most African music was centered around daily activities including agriculture, hunting and war. Singing, automatically became a means to achieve harmony both with nature and the cosmos.

As we know, majority of the African tribes were enslaved and forced to attend worship services. These slaves eventually learned the traditional hymns sung at these worship services, and sang them while working on the fields. Over a period of time, their understanding of the Christian doctrine grew, and the slaves began to draw strength from the biblical passages and compose their own songs. The technique of call and response stayed, and it is what gave birth to gospel music.

These African-Americans sought to singing verses and songs as a means to seek solace in their troubled times. The Church thus, became a medium for venting out their repression. The songs inspired from the Bible became a symbol of redemption, a sign of hope and freedom. The birth of gospel music became synonymous with the blacks living in South America. By the late 1800’s, this form of expression reached the rest of America through traveling minstrels.
Gospel Music in church
Prior to 1870, gospel music took the role of work songs, jubilees and social gospel. The fight for civil rights and equality gave birth to a whole new genre of gospel music. This music incorporated widely accepted social messages into songs that were sung both in church and outside.

Post the success of black music in the 1960s, gospel music became more performance-aware and equally, socially and spiritually engaging. The 70’s and 80’s saw the marriage of funk and disco into the essential gospel music. The 90’s blended an upbeat explosion with the introduction of R’n’B that scored big. Seeing the increasing popularity, the British boosted their existing gospel groups.
Due credit to Thomas Andrew Dorsey popularly called the ‘Father of Black Gospel Music’, who combined the rhythms of jazz and blues into Christian praise songs. Songs like Precious Lord and Peace in the Valley have played a major role in delivering words of assurance even today. Another noteworthy mention is that of Mahalia Jackson, also called the ‘Queen of Gospel Music’, who through her melodious voice caused a regeneration. Such was the power of her singing that people felt encouraged to wholeheartedly participate in the singing.

A Rhythmic Walk Through the Golden Era of Music

Queen Elizabeth not only mandated the arts, she herself was skilled in musical instruments. Her personal instruments were the virginals and the lute. While the Tudor reign generated magnificent amounts of music, musicians and theater, it was most prominent during Queen Elizabeth’s time. As far as music was concerned, she led by example. She would often have her court musicians play for her while she danced, as she considered it a great form of exercise.
Elizabethan music thus entered the homes and lives of all people. Native folk music was seen being played at the dinner tables when families came together for a meal. People who belonged to the higher strata of society in this era were known to hire a musician almost every night. In case of people who could not really hire such musicians, they always had at least one musical instrument and one servant who could play it.
The Popular Instruments
Just like we divide vocals according to the natural range (like tenor, soprano or contralto), the instruments in the Elizabethan era had their own tonal range. Every family of instruments was categorized according to this range and would therefore vary in size and shape, even though they were the same instrument.

The different instruments were also used to denote the status of a person as well. For example, wind instruments such as the trumpets were played to mark the arrival of royalty.
String Instruments
Dulcimer mountain music
♫ The most popular of all stringed instruments was the lute. All the artists in the Elizabethan court could play it. The chitarrone was a huge (almost 6 feet) version of the lute that was also used at the time. The lute was an instrument of soft and controlled melody rather than power, due to which it was used more commonly in a closed environment. It was still the instrument of choice for many street musicians as well as court musicians. The sound box is shaped like an elliptical melon, with multiple ribs (or sides). More ribs meant a deeper sound box, giving a deeper tone.

♫ The fiddle was a street music instrument and was played almost like the modern violin. The fiddle was commonly used by street and town musicians and could either be played with a bow or plucked. The hurdy gurdy was another version of the fiddle that was quite popular in street music as well. You had a wheel that could be rotated using a crank. The wheel brushes against the strings to produce sounds through friction.
antique lute
♫ The harp and the psaltery were in common use. The psaltery was played like the lute, but its sound box was trapezoidal and it usually had 12 strings. The upper society usually preferred keyboard instruments, while the harp was most common in chamber music.

Music Therapy Classical Music

Classical music is one such music genre that has the ability to create a positive aura around you. The effects of classical music on the brain can be perceived well when you listen to its melody and get absorbed in it completely. We have provided you some interesting facts about this effect.
Listening to classical music becomes an addiction when you start feeling the lyrics and allow the melody to get infused in to your mind. A lot of research has been done on the effects that classical music has on the brain, and the results have been proven true. The effects are more pronounced when you submerge yourself completely into the music and listen to it religiously without diverting your mind anywhere else. The rhythms harmonize with the vibrations present inside your mind and you feel intensely relaxed. Classical music is capable of mellowing down your agitated mind and soothing your senses in a unique way. We explain you further in the upcoming segment.

How Does Classical Music Affect the Brain

The two significant elements of classical music that make it so intensely appealing, are its rhythm and melody. The rhythm acts like a stimulant for the brain while the melody sparks up your mind. Melody and rhythm when combined together affect the performance and organization of the brain in the positive direction.

¶ Several studies have shown that production of serotonin is elevated in the brain when a person is engrossed in the music. It’s a sleep inducing hormone, that also acts as an anti-depressant. Secretion of serotonin takes place when your brain is exposed to positive shock, like music, poetry, movies, etc. When your mind is tuned to the notes of classical music then you can automatically sense a pleasing aura around you. The soothing vibe that you feel around yourself is the outcome of serotonin which is released under the effect of classical music. Scientists also say that, classical music can bring down the levels of hormone cortisone, whose excessive presence can cause anxiety, stress and depression.

¶ Instrumental classical music from India and other Eastern countries has a spellbinding effect on the brain. Classical music played with instruments, like santoor, sarod, sitar and flute can rejuvenate your mind instantly. The harmony in the notes and the soft melody played can improve your concentration power. You can resort to this form of music while suffering from anxiety, exhaustion and restlessness. Classical music also encourages your creative instincts, which is a direct outcome of the effects it has on your brain.

¶ The most pronounced is the effect of Mozart’s 60 beat per minute composition of the baroque period. The Mozart Effect says that, improvement on the performance of spatio-temporal reasoning and short- term memory takes place through the listening of complex music, such as Mozart’s two-piano concertos. The waves generated inside the brain has a specific amplitude and frequency. Listening to this particular form of music can influence the pattern of the waves produced inside the brain. It further improves your reasoning and cognitive abilities. As a consequence of change in frequency and amplitude of the waves, your brain responds quickly and it is able to process information more swiftly. You can read the book, ‘The Mozart Effect: Tapping the Power of Music to Heal the Body, Strengthen the Mind, and Unlock the Creative Spirit’, written by Don Campbell for acquiring in depth knowledge about this phenomenon.

The History of Rap Music

Rap music has its roots in Africa. Even before hip-hop or rap originated, the Griots (village story tellers) of West Africa narrated stories in a rhythmic way with drum beats. Rap music is also closely related to the songs that were sung by the African-American slaves, while they worked in the fields and did other manual labor. These songs were about the hardships and suffering that the slaves were forced to endure at the hands of their masters. The ‘call and answer’ emceeing technique is believed to have originated from such songs, wherein, one of the slaves would lead the song by calling out a part, while the others answered the call by singing the next few lines of the song. According to Blues guitarist and historian, Elijah Wald, people were rapping blues lyrics in 1920s. The call and answer technique was incorporated in gospel music as well, and sung by the church minister while making sermons.

Apart from rap pioneers such as Dewey “Pigmeat” Markham and Gil” Scott-Heron, a group of African-American poets in 1969, The Last Poets were making rap music about politics, society, race, and discrimination. Their song “Wake Up, Niggers” (1970) and among other songs contained spoken words, poetry, and jazz. The soul album ‘Black Moses’ by Isaac Hayes, had songs that were titled “Ike’s Rap” and “Ike’s Rap II”. The first big rap single that took America by storm was “Rapper’s Delight”, by Sugarhill Gang in 1979. This song revolutionized the genre. The single was a great commercial success and producers were finally ready to produce rap records. Many new rap bands like, Run-DMC and Kool Herc came up and found numerous fans.

The Myth

During the seventies and eighties, there was a myth among people that, this genre was for the Blacks. Bob Dylan’s ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’ (1965) was a try on rap, too. In 1981, a new-wave white band, Blondie, tried it in the song called ‘Rapture’. In 1982, Afrika Bambaataa released ‘Planet Rock’, which was a huge success. He was the first Black Muslim making rap music. In 1986, this form of music reached the top of the charts with singles like, ‘Fight For Your Right’ by Beastie Boys and ‘Walk This Way’ by Run-DMC. Soon, Run-DMC became the first rap band to feature regularly on MTV (Music Television). In the mid 1980s, the first female band, Salt-n-Pepa, released their single, “The Show Stoppa”, which was a success, and henceforth, there was no looking back for this band.

Rap through the Years

Rap is “food for the soul” as many describe it. Rap is a lifestyle; it means different things to different people. The beauty of rap is the fact of relating it with oneself. People often wonder as to why rap sounds aggressive and revolves around miserable circumstances. Well, that’s because, there were and are troubled times in people’s lives. The music is what inspires people through venting and how! Similarly, rapping about champagne, cars and partying is very much a lifestyle too. It’s a feel-good factor in this case. There is no right and wrong when it comes to music. What we need to understand is that music is not esoteric and is there for the taking.

Tupac Shakur Songs : That’ll Forever Rule the Rap World

Tupac Shakur (June 16, 1971 – September 13, 1996) born as Lesane Parish Crooks―also known as 2Pac―was an American rapper and actor. He is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the best-selling rap/hip-hop artist ever, having sold over 75 million albums worldwide, including 44.5 million sales in the United States alone. 2Pac rapped on every subject―good and evil, war and friendship, life and death. If it was worth discussing, he rapped about it. He was never scared to speak his mind. His fearlessness and resilience is also what kept him at the top from his debut as a rap artist to long after his death in 1996. Till date, he continues to reign supreme.

Here’s a look at his top 10 greatest songs.
California Love (1995)
This song sung by 2Pac, featuring Dr. Dre and Roger Troutman, celebrates the hip-hop lifestyle of California. Tupac and Dre rap about all the creativity and activity occurring around them. They also mention, with pride, about the gang violence, crimes, and social ailments that prevail.

★ The song was nominated for a posthumous Grammy Award as a Best Rap Solo Performance and Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group in 1997. It has two platinum certifications from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), and gold certifications each from the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA), Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA), and the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI).
How Do U Want It (1996)
It was performed by Tupac Shakur and featured R&B duo K-Ci & JoJo. The song includes a diss of gangsta rap critic C. Delores Tucker. The song focuses mainly on the perks and problems associated with fame. While thoroughly enjoying the benefits, 2Pac reminds everyone of all the problems fame brings along with it.

★ The song was nominated at the 1997 Grammy Awards for the Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group. It has two platinum certifications from RIAA, and a gold certification from ARIA.

Ghetto Gospel (2005)
This song was written by Tupac Shakur as an outcry, speaking about the futility of racial discrimination and dissidence. Through his lyrics, he pays homage to the murdered activists Malcolm X and Bobby Hutton. He also talks about how society views people from the “hood”.

★ This song is platinum certified by ARIA, and also has two gold certifications.
Dear Mama (1995)
Tupac wrote this song as a tribute to his mother, Afeni Shakur, detailing his childhood poverty and his mother’s addiction to crack cocaine. He claims that his love and respect for his mother overwrites the bad memories. In 2010, it was added to the National Recording Registry in the Library of Congress, as it was “culturally, historically, or aesthetically important, and/or inform or reflects life in the United States.”

Melodious Ancient Roman Musical Instruments

Music has been a part of every land known to mankind. The ancient civilizations had their own music which was independent of any influence and was usually an extension of their history and the nature around them. The Greeks set the bar very high with regards to culture and folklore, but the Romans weren’t too far behind. Let’s look at the music in the life of the ancient Romans.

Musical Instruments of Ancient Rome
Wind Instruments
String Instruments
Percussion Instruments
Despite having been a powerful empire, it is quite unfortunate that as compared to the ancient Greeks, there is not much evidence of the history of Roman music. One possible explanation could be the suppression of music and musical instruments due to its presence in everything pagan by Christianity, once the Roman empire embraced it as its official religion. It is said that the Romans were not as creative as the Greeks when it came to music, nor did it form an integral part of their life, culture, and education. The evidence that we have been able to discover suggests a few instruments that the Romans fancied.

Nevertheless, music was used in military, civil, and religious ceremonies when they were performed by the State or for entertainment purposes. Though not original, the Romans did admire the music of other cultures, that of the Greeks in particular. Influence of the Etruscans and also the Mid-Eastern and African regions, when the Roman empire expanded to embrace these regions can also be seen in ancient Roman music.

It is believed that music accompanied comedies and pantomimes. However, there is no evidence if music was composed for epics and poetry as it was for the Greeks. Music was used in the wars, for funerals, and during public gatherings and performances. Musical competitions would be regularly held during the Roman rule, and they had a large audience too.

Wind Instruments

The Roman tuba was a long, straight horn, about four feet in length. It was made of bronze and had a detachable bone mouthpiece. It was borrowed by the Romans from the Etruscans and it assumed an important place in military activities sometime around 500 BC. The Romans used the tuba to make bugle calls to signal commands like ‘charge’, ‘retreat’ and changing of guard in battles.

It was a semicircular, ‘G’ shaped musical instrument that was made out of bronze. It had a cross bar across the widest part that helped the player to rest the instrument on his shoulder. It had a conical bore and a mouthpiece made out of bone. It had great wartime utility.

It consisted of two reed pipes that were not joined other than at the mouth band that the player used to blow into. It is believed that there was a less popular version of the tibia that had a single pipe. This instrument has a mythological association. Its ancient Greek equivalent was aulos. It is said that the aulos was found by the satyr Marsyas after Athena threw it away when she realized that her face became contorted whenever she tried to play the Aulos. The less popular single pipe aulos has today come to be known as the flute and is used extensively in local folklore. It produces a simple and soothing musical experience. It is easier to make and tune than the Aulos.

Take Care Musical Instruments

It is a well-known fact that taking care of a musical instrument is considered an essential part of learning to play that instrument. Proper care of musical instruments helps to consistently maintain the quality of their musical output. Musical instruments vary in their size, usability and manufacturing material. Depending upon these characteristics, the methods applied to take care of different instruments differ.
Caring for Wind Instruments
Wind instruments are those instruments that can be played by blowing air through their channels. Some popular wind instruments include flutes, saxophones, clarinets etc.


Never pick up the musical instrument by the keys. Ensure to hold the instrument at the two ends when removing it. The same care needs to be taken when replacing the instrument back after its use.
The channels of wind instruments tend to catch moisture due to the air blown through them when they are being played. This moisture can affect the internal surface of the instrument and create cracks in them, thus affecting the quality of the music emitted. Similarly, internal moisture may lead to fungal growth in the channels of the instrument.
Always use a clean cloth to clean your instrument. Usage of damp wiping material in any way should be avoided.
If the instrument is supposed to be assembled before its usage, then ensure that all joints are cleaned before they are assembled. The musician may also apply grease in very small proportions on corks if required.
Avoid consuming food before playing a wind instruments as there is a high chance of food particles being blown inside the instrument when playing it. This not only affects the quality of music emitted but makes the instrument unhygienic.
If there are any joints in the instruments held together with screws, ensure that they are adequately tightened.
Every once in a while, take your instruments to the repair workshop to ensure that the instrument is perfect. You may opt for some professional help in getting your instrument cleaned.
It is recommended that you clean and wipe the mouth piece of these instruments just before and immediately after using them.
Caring for Brass Instruments
Brass instruments are popularly used as band instruments. Some popular brass instruments include trumpets and trombone.
Brass instruments are generally easily dismantled. However, if a certain cork is tight do not force the screws of the cork to open. Always opt for some professional help.
These instruments once dismantled can be washed with some warm water to remove dust particles inside the instrument. Use a soft cloth to dry the instrument. You may dry the instrument thoroughly in a cool dry place without direct exposure to sunlight.
Take care to grease all valves of the instrument with a special valve oil before reassembling the instrument.
Avoid usage of chemicals such as brasso to shine your instrument as these chemicals tend to leave a sticky feel on the instrument’s surface.

This Brief Biography of Mozart

Mozart: The Early Years

One of the widely appreciated prominent musical maestros to have lived, Mozart was born on January 27, 1756 in Salzburg, Austria to Leopold Mozart (a business-minded composer, violinist and an assistant concertmaster at the Salzburg court) and Anna Maria Pertl.
Mozart was named Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Gottlieb Mozart in honor of his grandfather (maternal) and a Saint, Johannes Chrysostomus with whom he shared his birth date. Being born and brought up in a family where music was in the air, and was life and dreams of everyone, Mozart was naturally attracted towards music.

From his childhood, Mozart learned and developed immense interest in music. When he was just 5 years old, Mozart started composing small and beautiful melodious numbers. Looking at his children’s musical talent, Mozart’s father decided to use this opportunity to showcase the talent of his children (Wolfgang and elder daughter Maria Anna “Nannerl”) in front of the world.
At the age of six (in mid 1763), Mozart and his elder sister performed in many concerts in European Courts (in Paris and London); they also gave performances at major cities where they met many music lovers. They also performed in front of the Bavarian elector, royal families and the Austrian empress. Wolfgang and his sister played piano and violin and were more than successful to tie their audiences to the chairs.

After coming from the tour of Vienna, Wolfgang tried to concentrate on improving and learning new skills in music, for this reason he did not plan any tour till 1770. In next three years from 1770 to 1773, Mozart toured Italy three times and gave many outstanding performances. While on a tour of Italy, Mozart even wrote two of his famous operas ‘Mitridate’ and ‘Lucio Silla’.
Mozart showcased his talent and astonished his audience when he adopted Italian style in his music. Mozart further started his journey of music composition, he wrote a set of string quartets and also some symphonies.
When Mozart was at Salzburg during the period from 1774 to 1777, he worked as Konzertmeister (Concertmaster) at the Prince Archbishop’s Court where he performed in some piano and violin concerts (about half a dozen piano sonatas), masses, symphonies, etc. During the same period, he visited Munich once in 1775 for a premier of his Opera La Finta giardiniera.
Mozart: The Awaited Concert

Wolfgang was very ambitious and wanted to obtain a very high position in the world of music, he knew that by staying in Salzburg it was never possible to achieve what he wanted. In 1777, he left Salzburg with his mother and set for Munich and Mannheim. There he tried his best to find a good post for himself but was never offered one, he then moved to Paris in search of the same.
For next two years, Wolfgang worked at Court and played concerts at Courts and Cathedrals. He actively participated in concerts, serenades and also composed music for dramas. He also continued composing and creating symphonies. In 1780, he received the most awaited opportunity to perform in an opera at Munich.
Love, Longing and Marriage

Mozart’s love interest, Aloysia Weber, refused to reciprocate the same feeling of affection. She was a previous acquaintance and had once claimed to love him, however, it is believed that once she became famous as a soprano, her feelings for a not so famous Mozart waned and fame took predominance.
Along with many concerts, operas and music composition for dramas, Mozart also wrote beautiful music compositions, which have become the masterpiece of his artwork. Mozart was sent to the court at Vienna where he was not allowed to work for the post he wanted the most, he finally gave up trying to perform at the court in Vienna and got out of the job in 1781.

The Story of Hank B. Marvin and Beyond

The ’60s’ was a time when pop music was all the rage, and rock was slowly evolving from blues and jazz into something more individualistic. Eventually, we saw the rise and of Rock n’ Roll that is still influencing and shaping lives all across the globe. But nothing beats the classic sounds of the Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Queen, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Eric Clapton, and others. But before they all came and changed the way we listened to and experienced music, there was a group of boys from Britain known as The Shadows. While they might have started out as a backup for another legend, they slowly and literally emerged from the shadows to form an image of their own.

There was one member though, who stood out for his geek-chic image, and more importantly for his skill and technique with which he played the guitar. That man was Hank B. Marvin, the lead guitarist, who has been named as a great influence for many mainstream musicians who have succeeded him. Here is a look into the life and success of this legend.
Hank B. Marvin was born on October 28, 1941, in Newcastle upon Tyne in England, United Kingdom as the not-so-jazzy Brian Robson Rankin. As a kid, he had already picked up the banjo (which he bought from his teacher) and played the piano. But watching legend Buddy Holly is what inspired him and egged him on towards guitar (thank you, Holly!). On his 16th birthday, his dad gifted him a Hofner Congress guitar, and from there began the musical journey of this star.

As a youngster, he was nicknamed Hank, to avoid confusion in his friend’s circle, which consisted of other Brians. When he started his career, taking up stage names was all the rage. He too, joined the bandwagon and named himself Hank Marvin, the latter coming from country singer Marvin Rainwater’s name. Hank had stated in an interview, “I love the sound of that name Marvin, it sounds good.” Eventually, he and fellow performer Cliff Richard both legally changed their names with a deed poll.

When he was 16, he left home for London with his school friend Bruce Welch. He had hoped to play music, and get recognized and signed, which is why they ended up at Soho’s “2i’s Coffee Bar”, which was known to host many talents (including Cliff Richard, with whom he later created many hits). As luck would have it, Richard’s manager, Johnny Foster, was at the bar in search of guitarist Tony Sheridan to be a part of Richard’s backup band, The Drifters, but instead he encountered Hank, who impressed him so much that Foster asked him to be a part of the backup band. Marvin promised on the condition that his friend Welch also be taken as a part of the team. And this is where the success story for both Cliff Richard and what we now know as The Shadows, took roots. He had played for some other bands like The Vipers, The Railroaders, The Crescent City Skiffle Group, and The Five Chesternuts. But his music journey had truly launched when he was signed on by Foster.

Modern Wedding Songs

Inarguable, wedding is one of the most special phases of everyone’s life; the finest hour, a pious occasion, and a time full of excitement and anticipation for a loving couple. And no wedding can stand up to its existence and true meaning without the touch of music. Music, undoubtedly, has always been one of the basic elements of any special occasion in any corner of the world. Unlike before, weddings, nowadays, are getting defined in unique and personalized ways and this has created the need to include the touch of contemporary wedding songs, more than ever. Although, in some churches there might be a restriction on the choices of songs, however, in most cases, couples have ample choices to play their favorite numbers. They may either get a professional vocalist to sing, or making good use of their sound system isn’t a bad idea too.

Wedding Ceremony Songs

Music has the charm of setting the mood of any sort of occasion, whether it is a wedding, birthday party, anniversary, or farewell party. What is important is to go for the right songs which can heighten the spirit of the moment. The songs are as follows…
Only Time – Enya
Unforgettable – Nat King Cole and Natalie Cole
The Look of Love – Dionne Warwick/Burt Bacharach
The Vow – Jeremy Lubbock
Wedding Processional – Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein
Can’t Help Falling in Love – Elvis Presley
When I’m Sixty-Four – The Beatles
Storybook Love – Willy DeVille
Come What May – Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor
Angel Eyes – Jim Brickman
Circle of Life – Elton John from the Lion King
You and I – Stevie Wonder
Unchained Melody – The Righteous Brothers
Evergreen – Barbara Streisand
Truly – Lionel Richie
Air – Handel
Air on a G String – J.S. Bach
Sunshine of My Life – Stevie Wonder
You To Me Are Everything – Real Thing
Grow Old With Me – John Lennon
Through The Eyes of Love – Carrole Sager and Marvin Hamlisch
Take My Breath Away – Tuck and Patti
Processional Songs

This is the part of the ceremony when the bride makes her entrance and the couple take their places before the commencement of the vows. This moment is full of anticipation, and it marks the beginning of a couple’s most sacred wedding moments. So, here is another list of some good contemporary wedding numbers to decorate your special moment.
Only Hope – Mandy Moore
Only Time – Enya
Heaven (slow version) – DJ Sammy
Because You Loved Me – Celine Dion
What A Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong