Categories
PERCUSSION

best xylophone

Xylophone – Opinions, Analysis and Buying Guide in 2021

 

Do you want to start creating beautiful melodies using a xylophone? Well, there are many things to take into account, but, the most important thing is to start by acquiring a good model for you. The WHD JBXP-537 model , for example, is ideal for those who want to dabble in orchestras or practice the most complex pieces of music in complete comfort. However, if you want your child to become a great concert performer, then the Top Bright Rainbow will make your little one approach and grow in the world of music, developing his xylophonist skills, while learning many other things, such as colors. and various children’s songs.

 

 

Shopping guide

 

Types of xylophones

Before making a hasty decision you should bear in mind that not all xylophones are the same or produce the same sound, so it is necessary to make a guide to buy the best xylophone for you considering what you are looking for and also what you need.

First, xylophones are characterized by using one of either of these two musical scales: the chromatic and the diatonic.

The last of these is the most used in xylophones for children and beginners, although it can perfectly also be used in instruments for professionals, since the range of musical notes offered by the diatonic scale is the standard one, known for its tones in: Do-Re -My-Fa-Sun-La-Si. It is the simplest scale to learn, so playing such a xylophone is usually easier.

The most complicated scale, but with a greater sound range and with more possibilities of notes for advanced musicians, is called chromatic. It is also known as the twelve-tone scale, and this is because it comes with a succession of 13 musical notes, or semitones, taking into account the octaves. That is to say, C and C # -Re and Re # -Mi and Mi #… until reaching B, which is the only note that does not have a sustained semitone.

If you do not take this into account when comparing xylophones, you may decide on the good and inexpensive option without considering the fact that you may not have the necessary notes to produce a complex piece of music.

Another aspect to highlight is the dilemma that exists between metallophones and xylophones. Technically, metallophones classify as a different instrument to the xylophone, because they are made of different materials, the first has metal sheets while the second has wood sheets. However, despite the difference, their sounds are so similar and their shape is so similar that many people insist on considering the metallophone as a simple metal xylophone. Because of this, you may find several metallophones with the xylophone name on the market.

These usually come in a diatonic scale, however they come in three sizes: soprano, high and low. Depending on the size of your instrument , musical notes may sound higher or lower. Having a metallophone is not bad, but if you are looking for a xylophone, only buy those that are made of wood.

 

Materials and accessories

Before you find out how much the xylophone costs and buy the cheapest one, remember that bad materials are usually the cause of low prices when it comes to instruments. Xylophones are not exempt from these, because, in the market, you may find metal, wooden or even plastic structures. This not only affects resistance, but also sound quality.

Xylophones have been made of wood for years, therefore, the best option will be to acquire an instrument that is made of wood both in the sheets and in the base structure. If the base is metallic, it is also a resistant product, but if the sheets are also metallic, then you have bought a metallophone. Plastic bases, on the other hand, are used more for children’s xylophones and are not at all recommended for professional use. The drumsticks should always be made of wood, otherwise the sound may change with the impact of another material.

To make your experience better, try to buy xylophones that bring accessories with them, as these will surely facilitate your time with the instrument. Two of the best extras you can get are: a quality case for your xylophone and also an adjustable stand for it.

The case will make it easier to move and store it, preventing bumps and falls that can damage it, and providing comfort. The base will let you play the xylophone while you are standing up, without having to hold it, freeing your hands for more control of the instrument.

 

Education level and weight

Although almost all xylophones, in addition to children’s models, look exactly the same, not all of them serve the same purpose or are suitable for use by certain types of people. There are xylophones for apprentices and also professionals, so you must be careful when making your purchase.

Young children who are inexperienced in music should always opt for child role models that allow them to become familiar with the sound, the notes and the way of playing it. Even for the youngest, in this case, babies, there are toys for them.

Aim for the lightest xylophones. This will depend on whether you make an effort to wear it, or not.

 

 

 

Frequently asked questions

 

Q1: What kind of instrument is the xylophone?

Xylophones, being instruments that need to be struck lightly on each sheet in order to produce the vibration that the sound generates, are considered percussion instruments. They are found in the same family of instruments as kick drums, timpani and even drums.

 

Q2: Xylophone or metallophone, which is better?

It all depends on what you want to search for. Metallophones stand out for producing longer and louder sounds, as metal sheets will always have a longer vibration time than wooden ones, however, if you want the classic sound, then a wooden xylophone is better for you.

Children’s “xylophones”, most of the time, are usually metallophones because of their sound and because of their metal bars. Also because, usually, the musical notes are recorded in the material to facilitate learning. Therefore, if it is an instrument intended for a child, then the metallophone may be a more suitable alternative.

 

Q3: Where did the xylophone come from?

The origins of the xylophone can be traced back hundreds of years, specifically in the southern part of the Asian continent, where people used sheets of wood separated from each other and when struck they produced a nice sound. This is believed to have taken place in approximately the 14th century.

Starting in the 15th century, the xylophone managed to reach African lands, where it easily mixed with the culture of the region and became part of the music of Africa. With the slave trade in the 16th century, Africans brought the knowledge of this instrument to America and Europe and, what began as a simple instrument, began to take on complexity. On the European continent, drumsticks were generated, standard sizes began to be designed and, after the effort, the xylophone as we now know it was completed.

 

Q4: How to make homemade bottle xylophone?

Making a homemade xylophone is one of the simplest crafts you can do and it will be quite fun for children.

You will only need 7 glass bottles, with a considerable thickness to prevent them from breaking when hit. Fill each one of them with water, however, start by filling one to the top and gradually begin to decrease the amount of water until the last.

If you want, you can add food coloring to the water to distinguish one note from another. Place them, horizontally, on top of two wooden boards that will meet at each end parallel to each other, and adhere them.

Using cutlery, wooden boards, or whatever else you can think of, you can have drumsticks to play with. With small taps you can start producing the sounds

 

Q5: How many notes does a xylophone have?

A diatonic xylophone has the 7 standard musical notes, from C to B. While chromatic xylophones have 13 musical notes, six of them, from C to A, bring their respective sustained variants, and finally the B, which has no variant in this scale.

Professionals can have up to 48 musical notes, as they cover different tones such as soprano, bass, etc.

 

Q6: Which is better, xylophone or marimba?

If you are looking for a smooth and sharp sound, then the marimba is better, as it is tuned from 3 to 5 octaves, even more.

If you want a louder and lower sound, then the xylophone is better, as its pitch ranges from 2 to 4 octaves.

Apart from these aspects, it is difficult to choose the best one, since both instruments are very similar to each other and their structures are almost identical.

 

Q7: What is a monochrome xylophone?

Monochromatic can refer to colors, because, although there are some colorful xylophones, many have a single color throughout their structure, especially those made of wood both in the sheets and in the frame.

Chromatic, on the other hand, refers to the musical notes that the instrument can produce and establishes that the xylophone has 13 notes, the natural ones from C to B, and the sustained variants from C to A. The Si does not have this variant.

 

Q8: How is a professional xylophone different from a normal one?

The professional xylophone has, most of the time, various chromatic scales to be played by several people or simply to offer a wider musical range for the xylophonist, as the scales vary from each other by octaves.

Usually, those for apprentices are diatonic versions that facilitate the study of the xylophone, so it is difficult to make complex musical pieces that have a lot of variety in treble and bass.

 

 

 

How to use a xylophone

 

Xylophones are not as well-known instruments as guitars or drums, however, they belong to the same group of instruments as the latter and also offer the same tuning as pianos, so they can help you play beautiful songs. The difference between a piano and a xylophone is that, unlike the former, the xylophone is easy to play and learn, so you won’t need a lot to know how to use a xylophone and start practicing.

 

 

 

Adjust the base

If you are playing professionally, having a stand or stand is essential for using the xylophone. Therefore, to start with, place your xylophone on the base and adjust it to your height.

 

Get in good position

Something fundamental to be able to play a xylophone is the position you take with respect to it. Distance is essential, because if you lean a bit on the instrument or your clothes make contact with it, the sound could be affected.

You must be at least 20 cm away from the xylophone, try not to stoop too much and maintain a posture as straight as possible, to avoid pain.

 

Hold the drumsticks

Grab the drumsticks at the bottom end with a firm grip that doesn’t allow them to slip but doesn’t make your hand hurt either. Keep them a few inches from the surface.

It does not matter if they are not completely straight, because the perfect grip is the one that is most natural for you.

 

 

 

Play the xylophone

Use your wrists to lift and lower the drumsticks naturally. You should not move your arm for this, because, in addition to tiring the arm muscles, the blow may not be precise.

When hitting the wooden sheets, make sure that the force is not too great, as you could damage the xylophone. They should be firm but gentle strokes. Always aim towards the middle of the sheet and strike in the center, because if the drumstick accidentally touches another sheet, the sound will change and the song will be distorted.

When you hit the blade you need to lift the stick again, because if you leave it there, the vibration of the blade will rub against the stick producing distorted sounds. Try to keep your movements between one note and another smooth, and when you don’t have to play for a long period, remove the drumsticks and keep them in the starting position.

 

By the end

When you’re done using your xylophone, bring a clean, dry tissue and dust off your instrument. Doing this regularly will prevent dust build-up, preventing such build-up from damaging the instrument by blocking blade vibrations.

Never use any cleaning liquid and avoid consuming drinks near the xylophone at all costs, humidity is the enemy of wood and could easily damage your xylophone. Besides that, leave your xylophone in dry places, away from mold, or on floors and walls that easily retain moisture.

For added protection, use an instrument case or case.

 

Categories
PERCUSSION

best electronic drums

Electronic Drums – Opinions, Analysis and Comparison in 2021

 

In musical compositions belonging to rock, pop or jazz, the particular touch offered by the drums has become almost essential, since in addition to setting the rhythm, it adds strength and energy to the melody. But this instrument, like others, has been modernized, and now it is possible to purchase electronic drums, which provide among other very interesting advantages, the possibility of rehearsing without your neighbors noticing. For example, in the Yamaha DTX-402K model , we find ergonomic qualities, but also resistance. In addition, it has a special free application, compatible with iOS and Android to learn. Another recommended electronic drum kit is the Roland TD-1DMK., which has 15 drum kits, to be able to play various musical styles. It also has 15 exercises that will help you to learn this instrument.

 

How to choose the best electronic drums

 

You probably already have some ideas regarding the qualities you are looking for in this percussion instrument, but if you want to reaffirm if they are all the features that you should consider, here is a guide to buying the best electronic drums, so it will be less likely that something important escapes you.

Shopping guide

 

Dynamic

Because drums are a percussion instrument and beats can be performed very quickly to accompany melodies, the model must be able to provide dynamics commensurate with the ability of the player. This is especially important if you are a professional musician. So aspects such as the sensitivity of each pad or snare and the sensation it provides when hitting are an important part of the experience of comfort and realism that the model can provide, especially compared to an acoustic drum set , for example. This aspect should be assessed according to the skill level of who is going to use the battery.

 

Design

On the other hand, electronic drums currently have different designs, which are thought to provide the advantages that musicians require for different circumstances. In this sense, it is worth determining who will use the instrument, to take into account their body dimensions and where the battery will be placed.

For example, if you are an adult musician, and you want to take your instrument to different performances, then a standard size electronic drum kit that can be folded would be the solution. These offer metal frames that are solid yet lightweight, in this way they can provide stability, comfort for playing while sitting on a traditional bench and you will have the freedom of movement you need to play each pad.

But if you want something even smaller in size, compact tabletop electronic drum models can be very versatile. These can be found in rigid platform modalities, but also roll-up. Thanks to this, they can be a very convenient option to take where you need to go and continue practicing.

 

Angle and place settings

One of the instruments that must be adjusted the most to the interpreter’s body measurements are the batteries. Especially those that try to simulate an acoustic drums, since the drummer’s comfort will depend on this and that he does not waste time to reach the pad or cymbal he needs in each hit. So, among the most important features that should be reviewed is that they allow an adjustment of each of the accessories, both in height and in angle if possible. These adjustments must be achieved with precision and some models offer screws in their structure, which are used to lower or raise the desired part.

 

Rebound

The ability provided by the pads or snare drums to allow the drumsticks to bounce is important, as they allow greater comfort for the player, so they can perform agile movements. That is why we recommend that you analyze the structure of these pieces, and what materials they are made of, so that you have an idea as to whether it is possible that this feature is covered.

 

Sounds and functions module

A fundamental piece of an electronic drum kit is the module, which is where you can configure the sounds, functions, adapt the connections, etc. A complex module with a wide variety of options can directly interfere with how much one model costs compared to another. However, if it meets your expectations, you are probably willing to pay the difference, to have a greater number of possibilities for your battery.

Among the common functions that drums can include are the voices for each of the pads, pedals, etc. Also, it can include demo songs, preloaded rhythms, special learning functions, or a metronome. Analyze for your comparison of electronic batteries, what functions could be the ones you need the most, so that they are not lacking in the module of your model.

Although in general an electronic drum kit can have high costs depending on its technology and quality, you will surely find a good and cheap one that will help you enjoy this instrument.

 

Parts and accessories

Another point worth considering is how many pads are included in the model you are analyzing. It is likely that in some models, for example, the traditional pedals of a battery are not included and you have to buy them separately, or it is necessary to add the power adapter. Review this aspect in detail, so that you are aware that you do not lack anything or what it would be necessary to purchase separately to complement your set.

 

Connectivity

There are various needs that could arise when you use a battery, such as, for example, it could be to seek to further amplify its sound, in these cases, a sound outlet is essential. But it may also be that you have the goal of recording your performances, for further editing or adding to the tracks of other instruments. Check what types of ports it offers, which can be very varied, from USB, midi, etc.

 

 

 

Frequently asked questions

 

Q1: How to connect an electronic drum kit to the pc?

Whether it is to record the sound of your electronic drums, to mix it with other sounds from various instruments, or to change it because it does not have the nuance you need, in both cases you will probably have the need to connect the instrument to the computer. The first option that you can resort to is very simple, it is about connecting it through a USB port, which many batteries tend to have. But if this is not the case or your model is very old, you probably only have a midi output. In this case it could be necessary that you have a midi in port on your computer sound card and through a cable of this type, the connection can be carried out.

 

Q2: How to make an electronic drum kit with arduino?

Due to the versatility of Arduino boards to develop projects of different types and objectives, it is possible to configure a basic battery without costing you too much money or effort, what you need to assemble it are: an arduino uno card, some capacitive sensors with their respective libraries mounted, some coins, an SD card reader, since in it you can store the sounds that you want to be reproduced when you press the sensor, the audio library to receive these sounds, an 8 ohm speaker and resistors. The connection diagrams can be found on the net and the cost of assembling it in general can be said that it is not excessive and it could be a fun project, especially if you like this type of electronics challenge.

 

Q3: How to amplify an electronic drum kit?

If the volume of your drums is very low and you need more power, the best way to achieve this may be by connecting the instrument to an amplifier, which can be the same one used for electric guitar. However, the volume that it is capable of reproducing will depend on the number of watts of the model and the size of the speakers of this device. As a reference, a 10 watt might be sufficient for a medium sized room, but for a performance on an outdoor stage, it would be necessary to have a much larger amplifier, so that the sound is perceived clearly from several meters away.

 

Q4: Who invented the electronic drum kit?

The origins of this adaptation to acoustic drums were originated by percussionist Felix Visser, who in collaboration with Ikutaro Kakehashi began to develop the idea, but it was in the early 1970s that Graeme Edge in collaboration with Professor Professor Brian Groves of Sussex University, managed to develop the musical percussion apparatus, which was even used to record a musical album. This project is what is considered the precursor of the instrument. It was later planned as a commercial product in 1978 by the Simmons Company.

 

Q5: How to improve the sound of my electronic drum kit?

If the sound you get through your electronic drums is not what you expect, you can change it through some computer applications, editing the track you record of your melody in an application, you just need to have some basic knowledge related to the subject and analyze frequencies.

 

Q6: What drumsticks to use for electronic drums?

Opinions in this regard are very varied, there are those who think that any stick can be used for this type of instrument in particular, there are those who disagree and mention that it is better to choose lighter ones. But it is suggested that nylon tips are preferably used instead of wood, for a better experience.

 

Q7: How to clean an electronic drum kit?

This important step is part of the basic maintenance that you have to provide to your battery, you can use the following technique to keep the parts in good condition. Have on hand a plastic moisturizer, which is similar to the one used for plastic parts of coatings in car interiors, also a clean cloth and a soft bristle brush. A good idea is to recycle the one you have thrown away to brush your teeth. Apply the product generously on the plastic, spread with the cloth and gently rub the entire pad or plate. Then wipe the cloth again.

 

Q8: How to record an electronic drum kit?

Some models of electronic drums already include a recording function, you just have to access the function to later listen to the performance. But if what you are looking for is to edit the sound or join with other instrument tracks, then the appropriate thing would be to transmit the instrument’s sound through one of its ports to the computer to record a track in an application.

 

 

 

How to use an electronic drum kit

 

If you have purchased a battery and have any doubts regarding how to use and maintain it, we will talk more about these issues below. Perhaps these tips will help you enjoy your purchase more and take advantage of all its advantages.

 

 

 

Choose carefully the place where you are going to place it

It is normal that despite the fact that your battery is compact it occupies a little space, it is best that if possible you do not have to transport it too much, since each change of place means that you have to adjust the placement of each plate or pad, to put it in just the right place for comfortable playing. Remember that speed rolls are achieved only with practice and when you have very clear and precise where the snare is. In the event that your battery is not desktop, this aspect will be critical.

 

Try to have a mat under the drums

For electronic drums that have metal frames, you may want to have a mat underneath. This will not only provide you with comfort, but it will also prevent the pedals from moving out of place while you are playing. In addition, it will reduce annoying noises for your neighbors when you live in an apartment, especially for those who are located below the room where you mounted the battery.

 

Avoid dust

Dust that gets into your battery’s electrical mechanisms will have a detrimental effect on its efficiency. So it is best to avoid this factor as much as possible, which is unfortunately everywhere. You can achieve this by covering the instrument when you are not using it. In the event that you do not have a special case, you can opt for simple solutions, such as putting at least one clean sheet over the instrument.

 

Protects from shocks

Sometimes we can get the wrong idea that because electronic drums are percussion instruments, they are therefore robust and survive any blow, but it is not like that. These are delicate instruments, so in case you have to transport it, it will always be a priority that you protect it. In addition, the good care that you offer your model is always an advantage in case it becomes necessary to put it on sale.

 

 

 

Clean the battery periodically

Cleaning the parts of the battery is important so that it looks good in every presentation. We recommend that at least every week, if you play frequently, take a few minutes to remove the dirt. You can do it with products specially designed for this, but in case it is not possible to get them, you can use a little moisturizing liquid for plastics.

 

Know your model in detail

In addition to the aforementioned, it should be added that to obtain the best benefit, it is best that you spend a little time analyzing each function, so that when you need it it is easier to access it.

 

 

Categories
PERCUSSION

best castanets

Castanets – Opinions, Analysis and Buying Guide in 2021

 

The castanets are an incredible and iconic instrument of flamenco music, so, in order to stand out and keep the rhythm, it is necessary to have pairs that allow you to emit the correct sound and are comfortable for you. Choosing a good instrument can be difficult, but models like the Castanets of the South Amateur , which stand out for their included accessories and resistant resin, may be ideal for you. The LP Professional LP432 castanets are also a good alternative. Noted for their contrasting design and long cords, they will allow you to become the next great star of bulerías, concerts and will accompany you for quite some time due to their quality.

 

How to choose the best castanets

 

Castanets are one of the best known and most loved instruments in Spain, however, as they are not such an internationally famous product, it may be a bit difficult to know what to take into account when comparing castanets, since information about them is somewhat scarce. Here you can find some features that are worth taking into account when making the purchase.

Shopping guide

 

materials

If you like flamenco and traditional Spanish folk music, then you should know that the materials are one of the first things that you should take into account when buying a good musical instrument for yourself, otherwise, You could end up getting a pair of castanets with distorted sounds that are not suitable for professional use.

Some of the easiest materials to find in modern castanets are ivory, aluminum, marble, and even glass, however, despite being famous, none of these elements should be your first choice if you are looking for the classic sound. castanets, regardless of how much it costs or if it is the cheapest instrument in the area. The resonance and tone they give is not the same as that of classic wooden castanets. Also, certain materials are more prone to breakage due to the rhythmic pounding the instrument is subjected to.

For that reason, always keep in mind to buy some wooden castanets, specifically rosewood, oak, ebony, granadillo, etc., as they are hard woods and quite resistant. However, if you want something modern and especially if you are learning, then resin or fiberglass castanets, for example, may be good alternatives for you.

No matter what material you decided to buy, you will notice that there are different designs and colors and, fortunately, the decorations do not influence the sound or quality. Therefore, you can choose the ones that you like the most. Acquiring colorful castanets could be the best option for children, as these will attract more the attention of the little ones and they will be more motivated to learn.

 

Types

In your guide to buying the best castanets, you should bear in mind that there are different types and that, depending on which one you choose, the way to use them will be different. To avoid confusion, you should pay attention when making your purchase, because if you make a mistake, you will be finding a completely different instrument. The most common castanets and the ones that you have surely seen people use are the hand ones. These are characterized by being two small pieces with a rope joining them at the top.

Otros tipos de castañuelas que puedes encontrarte son las de base y las de mango. Las primeras son las más diferentes, pues son dos pares de castañuelas unidos a una base, usualmente de madera, que activa su sonido con un muelle para simular el movimiento que se les da en las manos. La segunda opción consiste en un par de castañuelas unidas a un mango, también hecho la mayoría de las veces de algún tipo de madera. Al mover el mango, las castañuelas chocan entre sí provocando el característico sonido.

Con las castañuelas con base y mango no se necesita prestar demasiada atención a los tamaños, sin embargo, si comprarás unas castañuelas de mano clásicas, entonces del tamaño dependerá tu comodidad al tocarlas.

 

Tallas

In order to make good use of castanets, it is necessary that they adapt well to the hands and that they allow you to tap them with your fingers, without having to stretch or shrink them a lot. Good sound depends on the right touch, so it is necessary to choose a correct size for the size of your hands. There are two types of range, the professional and the semi-professional. The first family of castanets generally comes in 3 sizes: 3, 5 and 7.

Size 3 is for hands with a palm larger than 8.5 cm, size 5 for those between 7 and 8.5 cm, while 7 is for those that measure less than 7 cm.

The semi-professional range, which is usually a good and inexpensive alternative for beginners, uses sizes 4 and 6. The first is for hands larger than 7 centimeters and 6 for hands smaller than that measurement.

accessories

In addition to buying a pair of castanets, you are acquiring an instrument that will last you for quite some time. Therefore, if you want to keep them in good condition and, in addition, save money in the long term, it is recommended that you buy an instrument that comes with extra accessories in the purchase.

For example, a cover to protect the castanets when you are not using them and also a small scarf to keep them clean will help you keep the castanets looking like new despite the time of use.

 

 

 

Frequently asked questions

 

Q1: How to make castanets?

If you do not want to spend money and, in addition, you will only use the castanets for fun, there are many ways to make a pair to have at home and create music. One of them, especially for children, is the sheet metal castanets.

On a thin piece of cardboard with a crease, place a sheet at each end so that when you fold the cardboard, the two collide with each other. Adhere them with silicone so that they are well fixed and can be used.

However, if you want castanets more suitable for music, you will only need to find 4 wooden spoons to make 2 pairs. Cut off the top, ditching the handle, and carefully drill two holes just below the cut you made.

Place the hollow parts of the spoons facing each other and with a cord join the castanets until you finish tying the end of the rope, giving space for your fingers.

 

Q2: How to make a case for castanets?

To have both pairs always together, it is ideal to make a case-like case so that there is room for the instrument. Find a quilted fabric and measure both castanets.

From one end, leaving a gap of one centimeter between the end of the cloth with the castanets and also leaving one centimeter or more between them, mark three points along the length. Measure the castanets, mark and lower. Measure the castanets again with the same space and lower, until you make the third measurement.

Bring point 3 to the mark for point 1 and sew the edges. This will be the main case. It is preferable to use a machine. When you’re done, place the castanets in and toward the edge to sew the space between them, so each one can have its own space.

In the front part add velcro, as in the inner part of the upper part that should have been free. Close and go.

 

Q3: What are castanets made of?

Castanets, like many instruments, are made of various materials and you can find many different models on the market.

The traditional castanets and, to this day, the most famous, are made of wood. Oak, rosewood, rosewood and granadillo are the types of wood most used in the manufacture of castanets . However, you can find castanets made of glass, pressed fabric, resin, plastic, etc.

 

Q4: How to play castanets for sevillanas?

Placing your thumbs through the cord, tap rhythmic with the rest of your fingers in a sequence of tones. The rhythms used are “PAN”, “CHIN”, “TA”, “RRI” and “PI”, and to perform them you must vary the speed and the fingers used.

With practice you will be able to perform faster and more complex touches, as well as produce long pieces of music.

 

Q5: How to tie the castanets?

You just need to thread a string through the holes until both loose ends are to the same side, similar to a “U” shape. Make a simple knot that can be released and stretch both ends calculating an optimal space for your thumb between the string and the end of the castanet.

When you have it, make the mark and reinforce the knot. When finished, you will only need to cut the rest.

 

Q6: Who invented castanets?

It is not yet known exactly who were the inventors of castanets , however, the dispute is between the Egyptians and Phoenicians. The castanets are an ancient instrument from approximately 1000 BC that, despite not having been created in Spain, managed to consolidate in the country due to the influence of these ancient cultures in the territory.

 

Q7: How to clean the castanets?

The castanets are not made of materials that get dirty easily, however, sweat from hands and fingers can leave marks and marks. Therefore, a soft cloth can help you get rid of all this without problem.

If the marks don’t come off, then using a little water can help, but remember that if the castanets are made of wood, pouring water on them can deteriorate the material.

 

Q8: How to play the castanets for jacks?

The castanets for the jotas are different in size, however, they are played the same as the common castanets for flamenco, also known as castanets for sevillanas.

The reason why the sound is usually different is because the structure of those used for jacks is smaller, lighter and thinner, however, it has a larger resonance box and, usually, resin is used as the main material. This produces a bass sound that is louder than that of the other castanets.

 

 

 

How to use castanets

 

The castanets are a very practical and beautiful instrument, however, few people master the art of playing it. To learn, you only need the desire and small steps to follow that will allow you to improve until you become a professional, because, despite not being something that happens overnight, you will surely be playing flamenco in no time. If you don’t know how to use castanets, here you can read some recommendations that will help you get started and become familiar with one of the most representative things about Spain and its music.

 

 

 

Get familiar with them

Playing castanets does not just mean placing them in your hands and starting to produce sound by making the material collide with each other, because castanets do not sound the same. One pair will sound higher than the other. The low castanet, also called a male, must go in the left hand, while the acute castanet, known as a female, must go in the right hand. Usually the highest ones have a mark, so if in doubt, look it up so you know where they go.

 

Put them on

Putting on the castanets can be done in two ways, depending on what type of castanets you have purchased. If you have flamenco castanets, or traditional ones, then these go on your thumb.

Place the bead on your thumb, one end should be over your knuckle and the other just above the beginning of your nail to get a good grip. Remember that, to create a good sound, you must wear both, however, before doing so it is necessary that you adjust the first pair.

To adjust the castanets you only need to tighten the cord until it is attached but does not hurt or irritate the skin.

However, if you have acquired a jota castanets, then the process is different, since these, unlike flamenco ones, most of the time, are not used on the thumb, but on the middle finger. You should place one end under the knuckle and the other over it for a better grip.

 

 

 

Do the touches

There are five sounds that you can make with your castanets and all of them are rhythms that are used in music, so it is necessary to learn each of them.

The first, called “TA,” is produced by tapping the left hand quickly with the ring finger and the middle finger following.

The second, called, “RRI”, depends on the right hand. The castanet is quickly tapped with a succession of fingers, starting with the small, the ring finger and ending with the index finger.

The third, called, “PI”, is produced in the same way as the “TA” but using the right hand.

The fourth, called “CHIN”, does not need your fingers but a tapping between the two castanets.

The fifth, called “PAN”, is, most of the time, the final sound of the music. It is produced by striking both castanets simultaneously using the middle and ring fingers at the same time.

 

Save them

With a soft cloth, clean the castanets and store them in a case so that they are protected and impeccable when finished.

 

 

Learn to play the castanets

 

 

Because this minor percussion instrument is used in various cultural manifestations in Spain, when playing it you will have to perform chimes that accompany the flamenco guitar and folk dances. Each musical genre has a specific rhythm, which must be respected by the interpreter, so that the music sounds properly.

 

Body posture

After making a comparison of castanets  and choosing your favorites, the next thing is to learn to play them. To start you must place your back straight and your hands relaxed. In other words, you always have to position your fingers, hands and wrists in the most natural way possible.

In addition to this, the way to catch the castanets is simple. You just have to insert your thumbs between the cord of each one of them. That will be the way to hold the castanets to make the chimes comfortably.

Likewise, it is important to know that the female castanet has a higher sound, while the male is more serious. The first is held with the right hand and the second with the left.

On the other hand, the cords must have the correct tension, since this way the thumbs will hold the instrument with precision and the shells of the castanets will be a little separated from each other to be able to play them.

In addition, an important aspect to know is that, if you are going to play the castanets and dance at the same time, the technique of the hands and fingers must also be the same, that is, respecting the natural state of the body and maintaining an optimal posture of the back. This is because the unnatural postures of the body limit the performance level of the user and at the same time could have negative consequences for the human body. 

For example, something that comes as a result of the incorrect use of castanets is pain in the hands, arms or back. This is because in many musical genres of Spanish folklore you must move your fingers hundreds of times and at high speeds. There are even songs that demand abundant chimes and flamenco dance concerts that last long minutes.

 

Rhythms

There are different rhythms to play castanets or sticks, so it is good to know some of these and learn to play them on the instrument. If you are a beginner, pay attention to each step and you will learn quickly. However, it is best to consult a teacher specialized in castanets, so that you can enjoy personalized learning.

It should be noted that to start playing the instrument you must hold both castanets, the female and male, using their strings. The chopsticks should be in the palm of the hand, ready for the tapping of each finger.

 

 

 

Exercises

Like when you play any other musical instrument, the exercises on the castanets are essential to develop the necessary skills and abilities. An exercise that we recommend is to play a stroke with each finger, index, ring, middle and little finger in quarter time. You can do this slowly and gradually increase the speed. The goal is to perform this exercise correctly in both hands, so that you improve the quality of the sound and the fluidity of your fingers to play the castanets.

 

The flamenco

First of all we mention a simple flamenco rhythm that is played with the little, ring, middle and index fingers of the right hand. In addition to this, you will need the middle finger of the left hand, which is known to many as the middle finger.

The touch of this flamenco rhythm begins with 2 strokes on the right hand and 1 on the left. The first two with the little finger and faster. The third stroke is played with the middle finger. Then make 2 strokes with the ring finger of the left hand and 1 with the middle finger.

Next, perform 2 strokes with the middle finger of the left hand and 1 with the middle finger of the right. Finally, use the left index finger for 2 strokes and the middle of the left hand for the last.

In this rhythm the sounds of the left hand should always sound faster than those of the right. However, let yourself be guided by your ear, since when it comes to music this is an essential factor. Put a flamenco song on a sound system, for example, Entre Dos Aguas by Paco de Lucía or any other that you like, so that the ear adjusts to the rhythm. That is, you must play the rhythm along with the song.

Of course, at first practice the rhythm slowly and without music, so that you master it with precision before doing it at the speed of a flamenco song.

 

 

 

Sevillanas

The toque of the sevillanas is divided into different parts, among which the RIÁ, RIÁ, TI, TA stand out, as it is the most important part in the rhythm of this musical genre.

To learn it, you must first put on your castanets properly. These should not touch your hands, as that would be reducing the volume of the sound. On the contrary, each castanet must be free, so that it vibrates better and the sound propagates without difficulties. Of course, this does not prevent you from holding the castanets with your thumbs.

Subsequently, start the rhythm with the little, ring, middle and index fingers of the right hand and continue with the middle finger of the left. In this way you will learn the RIÁ, which is a sound that will come out when you play the rhythm quickly, at the speed of the sevillanas.

Then do the TI and TA. To do this, the TI is touched with the right middle finger and then the TA with the middle finger of the left hand. To play correctly, start by practicing the slow rhythm and increase the speed as you feel more freedom and independence in the movements of the fingers. At the end, play some sevillanas that you like and practice the rhythm, letting yourself be guided by the music. RIÁ, RIÁ, TI, TA should sound very good.

 

 

Castañuelas del Sur, a company that has made this instrument known to the world

 

 

The artisan work that Castañuelas del Sur has done in the elaboration of this musical instrument of Roman origin has served as an impetus for many people to know it worldwide. That is, their castanets have reached Japan, Russia and Germany, being used not only in flamenco, but also in different types of dances.

 

Manufacture of castanets

The Spanish company Castañuelas del Sur has been manufacturing this minor percussion instrument since 1928. It is one of the best known factories in the world for the excellent elaboration of artisan castanets. 

One of the most used materials in the creation of castanets is wood, since it is resistant and emits a good sound. Also, wood is easy to use to shape this instrument.

On the other hand, we mention that the castanets are made by hand, that is, in a traditional way, thus achieving an authentic shape for each one. In addition, they are made in pairs, a right castanet and a left one. This means that the user in each hand will have a certain castanet and both will sound different.

Also, it should be noted that this company makes professional castanets, which are made of artificial fibers. The latter are not very cheap , but their sound and durability is better.

 

History of Castañuelas del Sur

In Spain Víctor Galiano was one of the first master craftsmen who made castanets. This Madrileño was the one who taught Manuel Vela the task of making this typical instrument. Later, Galiano handed over his manufacturing business to Manuel. The current manager of the company says that it only cost his father a bottle of wine and fried fish to stay with the company.

Manuel Vela was a man who loved the company and dedicated 50 years of his life to it, inspiring his future generations to continue the work. These years of work revolutionized castanets in Spain, even today Manuel’s family is in charge of the factory and distributes these percussion instruments not only within Spanish territory, but also in other parts of the world.

The third generation of the Vela family is running the company today. Only 5 people work in the factory, but due to its fame and large number of sales, Castañuelas del Sur has a turnover of 450,000 euros a year.

In addition to this, it should be noted that 50% of the business’s turnover comes from exports, as the company sends castanets to all continents. For example, some of the countries that receive these products are Germany and Russia. There is even a Japanese guitarist in Japan who lived in Granada and buys castanets from the company.

 

 

 

Diversity of castanets

Thanks to the long experience of the Vela family manufacturing this type of musical instrument, the company offers 3 types of castanets. In the first place, the initiation ones, which are quite simple and have a price of only 40 euros. Also, there are the semi-professional ones, useful for use in music conservatories; these castanets cost around 70 euros.

On the other hand, there are the professionals, that is, castanets (Here you can find some options to buy) to use in concerts; They are made of fiber and their price varies between 150 and 170 euros. In addition, the company manufactures to order, so customers can order specific quantities of castanets. There are even concert performers who visit the company to order castanets with a specific design and sound. In other words, the Vela family is made up of experienced artisans, so that you can demand the percussion instrument according to your requirements and preferences.

In addition to this, it is important to mention that the castanets used in recording studios are not the same as those used to play live. Therefore, professional musicians or dancers usually have several models of castanets, some for playing live and others for recording studios. 

 

Importance of manufacturing

It is through the optimal manufacture of castanets that we can see this musical instrument deeply rooted in Spanish culture. In addition, it should be noted that the Castañuelas del Sur company contributes its help in professional dance and flamenco music. This is because the conservatories of Spain buy large orders of castanets from this company and, as if that were not enough, the main dancers of the National Ballet of Spain use them.

In this way, following the tradition and making more and more castanets is an indispensable task for international culture. If there is no one to make authentic and quality castanets, perhaps future generations will not be able to enjoy them.

 

 

 

Transcendence of castanets

In various regions of Spain castanets are known, thanks to traditional dances that use them. For example, the Bayadiers of Cádiz, as they use the Andalusian castanets. Likewise, the Sevillanas use this instrument, being a song and dance typical of Seville, Huelva and other provinces of Andalusia.

In addition, as part of the folklore of Aragon we mention the Aragonese jota, as it is also a dance in which castanets are used. In addition to this, this small percussion musical instrument is used in the famous Spanish dance known as the bolera school.

On the other hand, in the Region of Murcia this instrument is used, specifically for the cultural manifestation called La Parranda. However, one of the best known dances in which castanets are used is flamenco, which is accompanied by singing and the nylon-string acoustic guitar.

Also, in classical music castanets are used. For example, the baroque guitarist Santiago de Murcia composed songs for castanets. Furthermore, in 1798 Luigi Boccherini, a cellist from Italy, did not skimp on the sound of this instrument, creating a work in which castanets are played.

Even Wagner in 1845 included castanets in his opera Tannhauser. As if that were not enough, Joaquín Rodrigo wrote two songs for castanets, which Lucero Tena performed very well in 1966.

In short, the importance of castanets is wide internationally, so they may continue to be known more and more in many nations.

 

Categories
PERCUSSION

Best drum

Drum – Opinions, Analysis and Buying Guide in 2021

 

The study of music provides great benefits to children and adults, since musical instruments are tools that help achieve integral development, increasing creativity and memory, as well as being positive for health. Drums have been shown to help strengthen the natural immune system, among other benefits. Among the best drums, the MUSIKID DJ0001 stands out , ideal for children due to its dimensions of 40 x 20 cm and being made with selected goatskin. If, on the other hand, you are looking for a marching drum, with a wooden shell and that includes the strap and drumsticks, we recommend the Chester F893000 .

 

How to choose the best drums

 

To choose the best drums it will be necessary, first, that you are clear about your needs before proceeding to buy the product. Think about whether you or your child are going to play it, whether you want it as a gift or even if you want a really professional toy model or drum.

However, you have to know certain aspects that every percussionist should know before going crazy and buying the first drum he looks at, without wondering how much it costs or making an effort to find the most practical and economical model. For this reason, we want to help you by preparing the following guide to buy the best drum, with which you can guide yourself when choosing your next drum.

Shopping guide

 

User age

In the first place, it is advisable to know the age of the person who will use the musical instrument, so it is necessary to know if the drum will be for personal use or that of our young children, since, depending on this factor, many Other characteristics can vary significantly, such as its size, weight, manufacturing materials, sound quality, durability, resistance, tuning among many others.

In view of this, it is advisable to make a comparison of drums, taking into account the models on this list and those that stand out in the current market.

 

Manufacturing materials

In any drum buying guide you will find that the manufacturing materials play an extremely important role when choosing the best drum model. This characteristic varies between the different models according to several factors such as, for example, the age at which the product is directed and the level of music for which it is required.

Drums are traditionally made of wood, but you can find a wide variety of different models and materials such as drums made of aluminum or steel and plastic models. Therefore, it is important to know how you are going to use it.

 

Patches

The heads that the drums use are normally made of 100% pure leather, however, if you are looking for a drum for children, you can surely find models with their heads in a resistant plastic material. However, remember that the sound changes a lot depending on the material of the head, so you will have to choose the drum that generates the type or style of sound according to what you need , either to play it in a school band or to play it in a folkloric act.

 

Tensioners

The elements present in most drums known as tensioners are responsible for keeping the skin head tight and well attached to the body of the drum. A drum with quality tensioners is recommended, as this will ensure that the instrument will offer you the highest quality in terms of sound.

You have to consider that the tensioners are sometimes made with very tight strings or, on the contrary, metal pegs that help maintain the tuning of our instrument. What is certain is that, depending on the quality of the tensioner, the instrument will be able to maintain its good tuning for a longer time. In this sense, take care that the tensioners are of quality or that you can easily replace them in case of damage.

 

Weight

All drums on the market vary in weight depending on how useful you are going to give it, therefore, a toy drum for children can weigh much less than a professional model. It is very necessary to be attentive to the weight of the product, since some drums are used at waist level supported by a special strap as happens with the models for school bands. In this case, what you are looking for is a model of sound quality but that is light enough so that the musician can carry it comfortably.

On the contrary, there are models of drums that weigh a few kilos, which is why they are used, mostly, in traditional African, Japanese or Chinese folk festivals, for example. In this case the weight does not matter so much, since the instrument will always be resting in the same place.

Accessories quality

Some drums include practical accessories such as a pair of sticks or drumsticks, which allow you to start playing as soon as you receive the product, or a strap to hang the drum comfortably on your shoulders, as long as the type of drum is for the waist, which are used in school musical bands.

 

 

 

Frequently asked questions

 

Q1: How to care for a wooden drum?

In general, all musical instruments require delicate handling, as well as frequent maintenance, so that they can retain their sound for longer. Keep in mind that most drums are made of wood and leather, and the quality of the leather is determined by the amount of fat they have. There is a product called shea, which is a butter of African origin that protects the skin patch from dryness, without affecting the rhythm.

 

Q2: What should a children’s drum look like?

A drum for kids should be light and sturdy as you will surely want to walk around beating your drum and you probably won’t measure how hard you hit the head. Additionally, children’s models tend to be much more vivid in color and design, and sometimes include children’s themes such as illustrations of fashionable characters, to make it look more appealing to children.

 

Q3: Is there a drum that is played by hands?

There are several models of drum that are not played with drumsticks or any type of sticks, but with the hands, among which is the Djembe, an African percussion instrument very popular in some countries . It is made of wood with a 100% goat leather patch and a traditional tension system made up of ropes and metal rings. Other models of drums that are played by hand are the Bongos, Afro-Cuban instruments that are played with the palms of the hands and the fingertips. However, they can also be used with mallets or drumsticks.

 

Q4: How to tune a drum?

Normally all instruments need a correct tuning so that they can perform their function optimally and produce the sound perfectly and drums are no exception. It is interesting that some drums must be exposed to heat to tighten the head, since they have a fixed tension system. Other models, on the other hand, allow the leather head to be tightened or loosened using screws as in the case of drums, bongos or the triple drum.

 

Q5: What is the best drum for beginners?

It is recommended, if you are starting to practice percussion and are looking for a drum for beginners that you choose a model according to your level and avoid making unnecessary expenses at this point, since, for now, with an instrument that ensures the production of a Good sound is enough, since the most important thing at the beginning is to learn to hold the drumsticks, as well as to know the different beats and rhythms, which will take a while, depending on the duration of your daily practices. Therefore, it is enough to acquire a cheaper and better drum model if it includes some manual or course to get started in percussion.

 

Q6: How to paint drum?

Para cambiar el color del tambor de tu batería deberás iniciar quitando todos los herrajes como los tornillos, torres y aros para guardarlos en un lugar seguro. Luego, con ayuda de un secador de cabello, ve aflojando el pegamento del vinilo que rodea el tambor de tu batería hasta que se retire por completo. Prosigue retirando todos los residuos del pegamento, utilizando una lija muy sutil. Por último, se aplican de 2 a 5 capas de barniz, lijando suavemente luego de que cada mano se seque por completo para que quede con un acabado completamente brillante.

 

Q7: ¿Cómo ajustar un tambor con bordona metálica?

When a snare continues to vibrate for a long time for an indefinite period of time, it can happen for two reasons: First, it is likely that the strap used to hold the snare is not thin enough, being slightly separated from the resonant head, which tends to happen frequently, especially if you’ve changed the piece. On the other hand, it may be because the snare drum is not well tuned, which happens almost 90% of the time. In this case, try slightly tuning the resonant to a point higher than the beater to try to reduce the harmonics.

 

Q8: Which is better, kick drum or drum?

In general, the two instruments are percussion with a wooden body and taut animal skin patches by means of strings and leather clamps, or more modern systems such as aluminum or metal, which are played by means of drumsticks or mallets and even , can be touched by hand depending on the type of celebration. Both have a cylindrical body and the internal chamber made of wood.

 

 

 

How to use a drum

 

Knowing how to use a drum requires practice and perseverance, as happens with all musical instruments, however, there are models for beginners that incorporate a drum playing tutorial or, you can even look for any guide on the internet that helps you know the technique. On the other hand, it is also important that you know the maintenance, since it is what will guarantee that the drum continues to sound perfectly for much longer. For this reason, we wanted to help you in this task by making a small guide to know how to use a musical drum.

 

 

 

Open the package

First, you must open the package and remove all the contents in a previously cleared place, so that you can organize the accessories that your drum includes. In case you have loose parts or spare parts of the tensioners, it is very important to place them in a place where they will not be lost. In addition, many drums include a pair of drumsticks to start playing and a protective bag to help you care for and carry your instrument easily.

 

Learn to hold the drumsticks

Now, the first thing you must do to be able to start practicing and play the drums or drum is to learn to hold the sticks or drumsticks, also called, sometimes, sticks. There are instruments that include complete instructions to start drumming in the best way.

 

Know the basic strokes

Next, the next thing you should learn to perform are basic hits like flams, flamacues, and paradiddles, among many others. Remember that there are 26 basic or elemental strokes and many other special strokes, so you must learn them all. It is very important that you dedicate all the time necessary to this point, since the beats are responsible for generating the different sounds of the drum.

 

 

 

Take care of your instrument

It is highly recommended to perform frequent maintenance on your musical instrument as this will guarantee that your instrument always produces the best sound and you can guarantee a long useful life to your drum. In general, all instruments need constant and delicate maintenance, and the case of drums is no exception. Most are made of wood and with the 100% original animal skin patch, so it will tend to dry out with time of use, forcing you to put a special product on it to help maintain hydration and flexibility.

 

Fundamental tips

Finally, if your interest is to seriously learn to play a drum, it is very important that you practice regularly, especially testing the beats on some songs, which will help you improve your execution and your playing skills. It is also advisable to practice 10 well executed strokes that 50 quickly and weakly. Also, when learning to play paradiddles, keep in mind that the hand not touching the diddle should be raised slightly, allowing that hand to be ready for the paradiddle. Practice this way so that you can improve your timing, while the start of the paradiddle can sound much better.

 

Categories
PERCUSSION

Best Drumsticks of 2021

Drumsticks – Buying Guide, Opinions and Analysis

 

People who love music, drummers by trade or interested in learning to play this instrument, should know the importance of having a pair of suitable drumsticks so that the sound on the cymbals and the snare drums is pleasant. If you want to buy a new pair of these musical tools or buy the first ones for your drums, then you should consider the opinions of other users about the quality of the models. For this reason, we present the two models that lead sales and user preferences. The first is the Vic Firth 5BB, a pair of hickory wood-tipped drumsticks with a sleek black finish, which are recommended for professional or amateur practice, are lightweight and comfortable to use. In second place, there is the Rayzm 2B model , drumsticks that are made from quality solid wood that helps to generate a good sound and that makes their weight light.

 

How to use drumsticks

 

A very important aspect to take into account when playing a drums is the holding of the drumsticks, since they are the essential implements to generate sounds in the cymbals and drums. For many beginners, their employment is often a difficult learning process. However, we show you these simple tips that will help you use drumsticks correctly.

 

 

 

Check that you have the right drumsticks

Thanks to the boom that music has had, the drums have become a very popular musical instrument, so that every day there is a greater variety of sizes and models of the instrument. It is important that you check if the size of your drumsticks is the right one for you, since otherwise you cannot cope with the drums.

 

Find the balance point

When starting to play the drums and cymbals, it is necessary that the drumsticks have elasticity and bounce during the movement. To achieve this, you must find the balance point with your hands when you grip them. Place the stick from top to bottom in the palm of your hand to identify where it bounces the most on the music box. It should give about 8 to 10 bounces inert.

 

Make a correct grip on the drumsticks

Once you’ve found the balance point, proceed to properly hold the drumsticks. Currently, there are three popular gripping methods: the American, German, and French style. Each of them works in different situations, depending on the intensity with which you need to play the drums. Mainly, it is about holding the drumsticks at 2/3 of their diameter, placing them between the thumb and index finger.

 

Stand in front of the drums

Once you have the proper position of the drumsticks, sit in front of the drummer in a comfortable chair. Have a firm stance and place your legs parallel to the instrument. Next, place your dominant foot on the kick pedal.

 

Support your arms

To play the drums fluently, your arms need to have the proper posture. With any type of grip, the arms should be positioned firmly on the drum. To do this, bend the palms of your hands inwards and let your elbows protrude outwards, avoiding being stiff. This technique can make it easier to gain more power and control from your drumsticks.

 

 

 

Start with simple movements

If you are a beginner, start with simple movements and sequences. Begin by hitting the drum with light bounces, turning your wrists up and down. If you don’t have a smooth bounce, you should improve the position of your arms. Avoid bouncing using your arms, shoulders, or fingers, as it can affect your joints.

 

Practice constantly

The success of the good use of the drumsticks is in the continuous practice with them. As you advance in practice, raise the level of difficulty by handling more complicated sequences, including different bounces with the cymbals.

 

Clean them

After use, wipe them with a damp cloth and let them air dry. Prevents dirt from accumulating, since it will reduce its usefulness.

 

Categories
PERCUSSION

How to make an electric xylophone with free hardware and software elements

Today the technology has advanced at accelerated steps compared to that of past centuries, creating development platforms on a hardware electronic board such as the Arduino. This means that if you want to turn a toy xylophone into something electronic and novel, it will not be impossible to achieve it.

 

In addition, you only need to have basic knowledge, for which you can consult the Internet or read this article, where you will find tutorials and tips that will be very useful.

Also, the materials required to carry out a project of this type are inexpensive. You don’t even need to have the best xylophone to be able to turn it into an electronic instrument, just buy a compact toy. Next, we mention several elements that you will need to carry out this project.

 

Solenoids

A solenoid is used to apply mechanical force, responding to the passage of current through the winding.

The solenoids will be needed to make the electric xylophone, as they will hit the bars of the instrument, sounding each note. It is important to make a glass structure, so that it serves to position the solenoids in the direction of the xylophone bars.

In this sense, each solenoid will work like a piston, but electric. Imagine the pistons of a trombone, but instead of pressing it with your fingers, they will activate themselves thanks to the electrical signal they receive.

 

 

 

Arduino

Although we started talking about solenoids, the Arduino is no less important. It is a free and easy-to-use hardware board. The fact of being a free board means that you can give it the use you want and even merge it with other hardware elements. This opens the way for the user who wants to create new appliances.

Arduino works with microcontrollers and these in turn have a certain storage capacity. They are like the brain in the human body, since it stores and sends orders to the extremities, the eyes, the mouth, etc. That is to say, the microcontrollers save the data you want, so that later they give signals to the different hardware elements connected on a board.

Simply put, an Arduino’s microprocessor will give the necessary signals to the solenoids, so that the notes or melodies are produced in the xylophone.

Therefore, making an electric xylophone means that the instrument will sound on its own, without having to touch each bar with your hands and sticks.

It is important to note that Arduino boards come in different models and sizes, so that you can use the one you require, depending on the project you are doing. However, the Arduino board that will be used for this project will be Adafruit Grand Central M4, as it offers the necessary features.

 

MOSFET and diodes

Other things that will be used to make the electric xylophone are 8 model 1N4001 diodes and 8 N channel power MOSFET transistors.

The diodes will serve to block power, preventing the solenoids from reversing. In addition to this, the MOSFETs will be in charge of turning each solenoid on and off, in turn reducing the amount of energy consumption.

These hardware elements are small and are soldered onto the Arduino board, so they are not complicated to install.

 

CircuitPython

It is a small board through which it is possible to connect a computer and from this program the Arduino board. In this case we mean programming the Adafruit Grand Central M4, so that the solenoids play the notes of the xylophone in an orderly manner.

For its part, Python is a programming language created to make electronics projects easier. Also, it should be noted that when you connect the CircuitPython to the computer, you can use the Mu editor to program the commands you want to give the Arduino. The Mu editor is free software, like the Arduino, so you can program with it to your liking.

This is how you manage to finish the electric xylophone, only a few details and tests remain; in a few minutes you will enjoy the result of your work.

 

Cables

Like almost any electronics project, you will need to use cables of different colors and sizes. Of course, try to ensure that the assembly of all the cables in the Adafruit Grand Central M4 is in an organized and precise way.

For example, the cables that you are going to place from the plate to the solenoids must have a similar length to each other, you can even mark them according to the number of each bar.

 

 

 

The xylophone and electronics

Although they are two very different things, music and electronics have come together in an authentic experiment and worthy of ovations. Furthermore, they have not only merged, but have marked the history of technology. Previously, no one could create electronic equipment so easily, now it is possible to make an electronic xylophone from the comfort of our home.

As technology continues to advance, the time will come when anyone can make a robot that plays the xylophone in the living room.

 

Educational projects with Arduino

The intention of making an electric xylophone can inspire the creation of other projects. Also, this sets an example for students to make new electronics in their school and university courses.

The Arduino offers great possibilities in the world of electronics, since it is free hardware and comes in different models of boards. For example, there are people who have created gumball machines, digital alarms, toys, and other gadgets with Arduino boards. This is how some people make a living today. Perhaps, by making this xylophone, you can discover your vocation to dedicate yourself to electronics.

In addition, the Arduino can be very well suited to music education, as it would be very entertaining to see a teacher giving a class on musical scales with a homemade electric xylophone. Additionally, an Arduino could help create musical instruments that have never been seen before, so luthiers can enjoy its benefits too.

 

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PERCUSSION

The drums of Baena: Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

Baena is one of the richest municipalities in Córdoba in terms of cultural traditions and its Holy Week drums are not far behind. Furthermore, the importance and significance of the Jews of Baena and their drum rolls is so great that Unesco has named them as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

 

This custom begins on the eve of Saint Joseph’s Day, likewise, it is carried out during five days of Holy Week, specifically from Wednesday to Easter Sunday. It should be noted that the Jews of Baena dress in red suits and long hair, differentiating themselves between the white-tailed and black-tailed ones. In addition to this, Baena drums or bass drums are hung on their shoulders, to play while they go on a procession through the streets of the town.

 

The peculiar touch of the Baena drum

This drumbeat is characterized mainly by beats and marching rhythms. Furthermore, as they walk, all Jews must follow the same rhythm, as if they were playing in an orchestra. However, most of those who play the drums are not professional musicians, but learn to play from their past generations, for example, their parents and grandparents. In this way, children, youth and adults can participate in this important tradition.

It should be noted that like other percussion instruments, Baena drums must be played with a pair of drumsticks, these accessories are used in each hand of the player, to perform the rolls with precision. In addition, at the time of playing, the participants rotate in terms of improvisation, performing authentic rolls while they walk through the streets in Christian processions. This means that they play drum solos when others have a fixed beat.  

Due to the name that Unesco has given to this cultural tradition, black-tailed and white-tailed Jews have been more concerned with preserving the custom of drums and the way they are played. Currently, the Jews are part of 16 gangs and have three thousand Baenenses. They participate in six processions each Lent, for example, those of Jesús Nazareno and San José.

 

 

 

Handcrafted manufacture of Baena drums

When making a comparison of drums ( Here you can find some options to buy ) , perhaps those from Baena can be part of the list, because, although different brands of instruments manufacture drums with industrial machinery, in this place they are made by hand. This is what characterizes much more the authentic sound emitted by the Baena drums in the Holy Week processions.

In addition, the manufacture of these drums involves various processes, for example, latería, art by which resonance boxes are created and carpentry, for the manufacture of the rings. The latter are made with beech wood, since it is moldable and can be bent in a circular shape. Consequently, a Baena drum is made of sturdy materials that produce a good bright sound at high volume.

In another vein, saddlery is involved for the construction of these drums, through which the rings of the tensioners are made. Likewise, the tannery is used, because through it the goatskin is prepared, providing the drum with that drummer sound. Another material that is used in the manufacture of these drums is the interlaced string, which holds the hoops and the goatskin to the metal box.

Finally, we mention the wooden drumsticks, which are the accessories with which the drum membrane is struck. All this means that the drums are handcrafted and with high quality materials.

 

The economic and social impulse of the Baena drums

The cultural tradition of the Jews of Baena and their striking drum rhythms have come to be known by many people in other provinces of Spain and the whole world, especially after this cultural celebration was named Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Thus, this appointment given by Unesco has been an impulse for the whole world to put its eyes and ears on this tradition of the Baenense idiosyncrasy. Guillermo Iván Bernal, who is the president of the Holy Week Guilds Association in Baena, thinks that currently the Colinegros and Coliblancos should do more to make this religious and folkloric activity much better every year.

Tourist visits at Easter in the municipality of Baena have been greater, so this tradition has brought an economic and social boost to this Spanish territory. In other words, due to the effort that the town of Baena has made to hold a different Easter, many people from other parts of the world visit the municipality. 

 

 

 

Passing on the legacy to the next generations

In the municipality of Baena the tradition of the drums is passed from one generation to another. It is possible to see a child with his father, grandfather and great-grandfather playing in the procession, because for all of them this cultural and annual festival is very important. In this place not only the rhythms of the drum are transmitted, but also the legacy of the black colinegros and coliblancos. This includes the way they dress, for example, their red and black clothes, the helmet with the feather duster and all the typical ornaments of the Jews of Baena.

The helmet is made of metal, generally made of gold-colored brass and has a design similar to the helmets of Roman officers. In addition, although they weigh a little, the inhabitants of Baena use them during all the processions from Wednesday to Sunday in the Semana Mayor.

The duster is located on the helmet, which can be of a single color or several. This accessory exerts a greater weight on the helmet, but in the culture of the Jews this is not an inconvenience, but they walk and play the streets with faith and enthusiasm.

Finally, it should be noted that the manufacturers of helmets and drums teach their children and grandchildren all the secrets of this art, so that they in turn do the same in the future. Baenenses not only love this celebration, but they respect all the cultural details.

 

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PERCUSSION

The reggae of Jamaica and the drums in Spain: two cultural manifestations that continue to make history

Through reggae and tambourines, we can find percussion at different levels of cultural expression. Furthermore, the reggae of Jamaica and the drums of Spain are not only music, but also values ​​and customs for society. These are two musical genres that continue to make history over the years.

 

Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity 

At this time, both manifestations are Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, as they have attracted the attention of people throughout the rest of the world, being declared in this way by UNESCO. Who does not think of reggae when visiting Jamaica or the bombaradas when he goes to Spain at Easter. This is because they are qualities that define such places and moments very well. In addition, these manifestations are very important in the culture of these countries. 

 

The origin of Jamaican reggae  

This musical genre was born in Jamaica in the second half of the 60s and at first it was an art through which people expressed their criticism of social inequality, labor exploitation, racism, among other social problems. However, there are currently reggae singers who express love lyrics, beach, party, among other themes.

Reggae has its roots in ska and rocksteady, but differs from those genres by slowing down the rhythm and reducing the use of wind instruments. One of the most important representatives of reggae is Bob Marley, who not only criticized through his songs, but also inspired society to be peaceful and to practice love between people. This artist was the one who spread reggae throughout the world, even thanks to him today we hear this musical genre in several languages.

 

 

 

Reggae and drums

This type of music has a deep connection with drums, in fact congas, bongo and drums are some of the main instruments of reggae. In addition, it can be said that the peals on the leather are one of the most characteristic elements of reggae. With a guitar, a bongo and a singer you can already make reggae music at home. However, if you want to play with a band in the future, we recommend that you review how much a good drum costs to make a wise investment.

 

The tambourines in Spain and the reggae of Jamaica

Although they seem two very different themes, the truth is that they have many similarities, so many that both manifestations are recognized by Unesco as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. One of the similarities of these two traditions is that they call for unity, transmitting values ​​such as respect and social equality.

In the Spanish tambourines of Teruel, Córdoba, Valencia, Murcia, Castellón or Albacete you can see group work, brotherhood and discipline of each procession, especially at Easter. Likewise, respect and brotherhood is practiced by the Rastafari, a Jamaican religious movement, to which the majority of reggae singers belong.

All this means that both cultural manifestations have different origins, but are related to the spiritual. The tambourines, for example, are based on the Catholic faith and take place in Lent.

In addition to this, both drums and reggae have cultural and musical characteristics that have remained intact over time. The drumming has passed from one generation to another, that is, from father to son, respecting each peal and custom of the groups. On the other hand, reggae, although it has evolved over time, has not lost sight of the essence of the genre, which is the slow 4/4 rhythm with an accent on the weak beats of the compass, that is, in the second and the fourth pulse. In addition, normally in this genre the guitar is still used to make syncopations.

 

The tambourines of Spain

Unesco registered 15 manifestations of Spain in its list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, among which the Fallas of Valencia, the castells or the Patios of Córdoba stand out. Also, activities with drums and other musical instruments are part of this list, for example, the Baena drum and flamenco. The latter stands out for its guitar sounds and dance, in addition to the flamenco cajon, which, according to some historians, has its origin in Peru.

The tambourines are parades or processions to the sound of the drums, in which people from a certain place participate, for example, the festival of San Sebastián. This is held every January 20 in the city of San Sebastián, capital of Guipúzcoa, Spain. In this cultural and religious celebration drum and barrel peals are heard, in addition, people are dressed in Napoleonic military costumes, since it is a cultural manifestation with origins in the wars carried out by Napoleon Bonaparte.

 

 

 

Tamborrada that collapses balconies

In Calanda, province of Teruel, one of the most emblematic religious and cultural manifestations of Spain is held called breaking the hour. This festival takes place on Good Friday at 12 noon.   

Calandinos gather in the main square dressed in blue and hanging drums of different sizes to celebrate this tradition. It is impressive how seconds before the 12 thousand people gathered in the place make absolute silence to begin at the same time the drumming .  

The noise is so intense that drum vibrations have collapsed balconies in Calanda. However, this is not an impediment so that each year the number of people who attend continues to grow. This demonstration has even attracted the attention of many Spanish citizens and tourists, who go to the municipality at Easter to enjoy this great bombarada that has been going on for more than 100 years.

It is a celebration that unites the religious with the profane, in which Christians or atheists come together to play the drum with joy. The tradition is passed down by parents and grandparents, so that new generations follow suit every Good Friday.

 

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PERCUSSION

Chalk drums reveal a great prehistoric mystery

These might be the UK’s oldest and most versatile drums, the Folkton Drums, which were found in various archaeological digs starting in the 19th century. Thanks to them, one of the most important mysteries of the stone age has been revealed, the construction of prehistoric monuments such as that of Stonehenge.

 

Perhaps they are replicas of possible wooden drums, because of this material they would be lighter to move them from one side to another. However, the fact that archaeologists found these chalk drums may mean that they had a higher value than musical instruments. That is, it may be that the ancestors used these drums in spiritual rituals, marriage ceremonies, harvests, among other cultural activities.

 

Drums that transcend through the years

In 1889 three of the drums were found near Folkton in Yorkshire and the fourth was found more than a century later in West Sussex. According to studies they are 5000 years ago, that is, they were carved in blocks of chalk by people who practiced agriculture in the Neolithic period.

At first, the use that the ancestors gave to these drums was not known, but thanks to studies directed by Professor Mike Parker Pearson, from the Institute of Archeology at University College London, the mystery behind the Folkton Drums has been revealed. . By winding a rope around a drum 10 times, they discovered an exact measurement of 3.22 meters.

The University of Manchester also participated in this important finding and the results of the study were published in the British Journal for History of Mathematics. According to the work team at the time, the four drums offer the same unit of measurement, 3.22 meters.

Perhaps they are the best drums in the history of mankind, since being made of chalk, their durability surpasses almost any musical instrument.

 

 

 

Importance of this discovery

Years ago it had been revealed that the standard unit of measurement used in the construction of prehistoric monuments such as Stonehenge and Durrington was 3.22 meters. This means that people used this unit of measurement to establish the diameters of large circular structures made of wood or stone.

We do not know why the ancestors wanted it that way, but we are sure that they were not wrong in the construction of these monuments, since they lasted until today. In addition, it is a fact that shows the great engineering and architectural advances of the stone age.

This find is so important that today anyone can visit the British Museum to see the Folkton drums.

 

Figures carved on drums

One aspect to highlight with respect to these chalk circles is the art that can be seen on the outside of each one. These are lines and drawings that match on most drums. The blocks of chalk were carved by hand. This fact is related to the way in which human beings make drums today, since on many occasions they carve them with figures around them, especially if they are wooden instruments.

Although time passes, some customs of humanity do not change, as we can see that a style of making drums from 5000 years ago is not completely different from today. Instead, this discovery inspires today’s drum makers, because if the ancestors carved sturdy blocks of chalk so perfectly, this task should be done even better with today’s materials.

 

Folkton Drums and their relationship with geometry

Studies have determined that these drums offer the same unit of measurement of 3.22 meters. However, some are larger than others. This shows the great advances in geometry and mathematics that the British had 5000 years ago.

By turning the drums several times with a string, a standard length measurement of 3.22 meters can be obtained. For example, the smallest drum is turned exactly 10 times with a string to achieve this unit of measure. On the other hand, on the larger drums 9, 8 or 7 turns are enough to reach the same length.

In short, thanks to any of the Folkton Drums, the measurements of the stones could be made with precision, as well as the distance between each one. As if that were not enough, the diameters of the circumferences for monuments such as Stonehenge and Durrington were made through multiples of the standard measurement of 3.22 meters.

 

 

 

Drums for work and entertainment

One theory that could be true regarding prehistoric monuments such as Stonehenge and Durrington is that the former was made of stone to dedicate to the dead and the latter was made of wood because they celebrated life there. That is, the stone would last a lifetime, whereas the wood would not.

It is believed that at the summer and winter solstices, people came from far away to enjoy this natural phenomenon. The sun went straight through a couple of stones of the monuments. Therefore, the ancestors congregated in a religious way to wait for the moment when the rays of the sun will pass between the stones.

According to discoveries led by archeology professor Mike Parker Pearson, many people came around at this time of year, as many remains of food were found in the vicinity of each monument. In short, the people not only went to work on the construction of the place and bury the ashes of their dead, but also took advantage of the occasion to celebrate parties, eat and reproduce. Even though it was a town that lived from agriculture, near the place no remains of elements related to that work were found.

Therefore, there were rituals and festivals in which drums and horns were perhaps played, being the most important musical instruments of the Neolithic period.

 

 

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PERCUSSION

The origins of the xylophone and its versatility

Martín Agrícola is the privileged man who deserves the title as creator of the first xylophone, although there are similar instruments from Asia and Africa that perhaps inspired him to make it. This percussion musical instrument was called Strohfiedel and had 25 bars, each providing its respective musical note.

 

Origin of the xylophone

Regarding its origin, according to some historians and anthropologists they affirm that it comes from Asia and was taken to Africa through migrations. Later, it is known in the 15th century in Europe and in 1528 the first version appeared, which was called Strohfiedel, being manufactured by Martin Agrícola with 25 bars.

Later, in the seventeenth century they made a xylophone with 15 bars, this was made by Michel Preatorius. However, it was not until the 19th century that it was of significant importance, as it became known by musician Michael Josef Gusikov, who used it in his performances while on tour around Europe. However, in the 20th century it reached a greater boom and was used in symphony orchestras, for example, that of Russia, thanks to the interpreters Gayanech, Satrauss and Prokoiev.

 

Parts of the xylophone

 

Resonators

They are the ones that amplify the vibration of the bars and produce the sound that we hear, in addition, these resonators extend to the middle of the frame with a different length each, depending on the note under which they are.

 

Sheets

By this we mean the bars, which are normally made of rosewood or metal. In the instrument they are placed horizontally one after the other, following an order with respect to the chromatic musical scale. These sheets are attached to the xylophone structure by means of two screws located at each end.

 

Hammers

They are also known as drumsticks, as they are plastic and wooden sticks that are used to hit the sheets of the instrument. They are mostly covered in one part by soft materials such as rubber or felt, in order to produce a pleasant sound and protect the bars from scratches or very strong blows that can split them.

 

Metal frame

It has the shape of a table with legs, which is responsible for holding the plates, resonators and other parts of the xylophone. This frame provides stability to the instrument while the musician plays it.

 

 

 

How to Play the Xylophone Properly

If you want to learn to play this instrument, we recommend a series of steps that will help you make it easier. However, you should keep in mind that it requires a lot of practice and effort, that is, dedicating time for you to obtain good results.

 

The position of each note

Each bar gives a specific note, so you must learn the name and position of each one. Generally, notes start with C, that is, C, from left to right. For example, Do, Re, Mi, Fa, etc. They always carry the order of the notes on a piano, from low to high.

 

Chords on the xylophone

To play chords it is necessary to know musical harmony. After learning chord formation you will realize that it is compulsory to play several notes at the same time, unlike scales, for example, C, E and G; this is the chord of C Major, C, E and Sol. Each letter of the xylophone corresponds to a musical note.

 

The scales 

Scales are a set of notes that are played progressively, not at the same time as chords. For example, on the xylophone you can start by learning the C Major scale, which carries the sounds Do, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, A, Si, one note after another. It should be noted that it is one of the simplest scales to play on this instrument, since it does not have sharps or flats. 

 

Using the drumsticks properly

Knowing how to hold the drumsticks when playing the instrument is something that you must be very clear from the beginning of your classes. The rod should be above the middle finger and the thumb, the ball or tip has to rest in the middle of your index finger and with the thumb you will provide pressure on the top. If you don’t use the drumsticks properly, your fingers will hurt, getting tired very quickly.

 

 

 

Respect the rhythm when playing

We recommend using a metronome if you are a beginner, as it is very important that you keep the beat while you are playing a scale or song. You can also turn to web pages or music schools that will help you in this regard.

 

Playing the first song on the xylophone

If you follow all these steps and are guided by a music instructor, you will be able to play the first song. In addition, it should be noted that, even if you have the best xylophone ( Here you can find some options to buy )  of the moment at home, you will not be able to advance without practicing daily. Remember that it is also vital to apply the knowledge that you previously learned, for example, reading music, that is, solfeggio, in this way it will be much easier for you to play a song. However, he begins by playing simple songs.

 

Differences between xylophone and marimba

Although they are physically similar instruments, they are not the same nor do they sound the same. This is because the xylophone has 2 1/2 to 4 octaves, whereas the marimba has 3 to 5. This makes the marimba register a bit wider.

Also, the construction is almost always the same on both instruments, rosewood or synthetic materials. However, the marimba can also be made from paduk, a cheaper wood.

In addition to this, another notable difference is that the xylophone has shorter resonators, that is, we refer to the tubes that carry under the keys. The marimba always brings them longer, thus offering differences in sound with respect to the xylophone. Likewise, the latter is played with drumsticks covered in rubber or plastic. The marimba for its part must be played with drumsticks covered with string or padded cord. This aspect also differentiates the sound that each instrument emits.

On the other hand, the xylophone is an instrument that is normally played in symphony orchestras and concert bands. Instead, the marimba is used as a solo instrument or in small bands. Even the xylophone provides a clearer tone, the marimba, in turn, produces a smooth sound. In this way, although many people think that they are the same, they are two percussion instruments with very important differences.