(2011-11-19) English and Music Class 7 - Instrumentation, continued
by 李友誠 2011-11-19 05:55:47, Reply(0), Views(1293)

English and Music at OUK

Hello and welcome to English and Music at the Open University of Kaohsiung. Welcome back. This is Patrick Francis, your instructor. Today is class 7 – Instrumentation, Continued. Last time we talked about different instruments that are used to make music and to make recordings. We listened to guitar, and we talked about different string instruments, violins, cellos, and basses. We talked about what instruments are used. That’s simply instrumentation means. What is the instrumentation of the song? This means what instruments are used (by) composers and song writers (who) select certain instruments that suit their needs. Music producers are very good at picking instruments that will bring something interesting and unique to songs. So today Instrumentation let’s get started.


Last time we talked about guitar. This is just to refresh our memory. On the top left we have an electric guitar. That’s a Fender Stratocaster, one of the most popular types of electric guitars made. At the bottom, in the middle of the page is an acoustic steel string guitar. This guitar is very popular in rock, pop, country music, and folk music. It’s a very versatile instrument good for accompanying a singer. And in the top right, we have a classical guitar or nylon string guitar. (The slide shows these three type names of guitars) There’s an electric (guitar). There’s an acoustic (guitar). And there’s a classical (guitar). The classical guitar (is) popular for folk music and classical music and extremely popular in South America and parts of Europe, particularly Spain. Spain has a long tradition of guitar building, and (the) guitar (has) been a part of musical culture of the country. In Spain, almost everybody can play guitar, and there’s a certain genre of music called Flamenco guitar which is a product of Spanish subculture called the Gitano Culture. They play Flamenco guitars and use nylon string guitars. (The) special nylon string guitar (is) called Flamenco guitar that is made to be bright and loud. It’s made to be played fast. So in the three guitars here, electric guitar, of course, is popular in rock, pop music, blues music, and jazz. Acoustic has been we talked about already, and classical guitar… we’ve heard a good example of classical guitar in the Sting song Fragile, which features a beautiful classical guitar introduction and solo in the middle. The Acoustic steel string guitar was featured in Time in the Bottle by Jim Croce. The love song, Time in the Bottle, (that song) features two steel string guitars playing together. This time we talk about the review. Let’s move on.

Vaya con Dios

Now we’re going to listen to Vaya con Dios, which we heard before. This is an example of electric guitar. They think about electric guitar is that it can produce many (many) kinds of sounds because it’s an electronic signal that is producing a sound, and there are an infinitive number (of) ways to change the sound of electric guitar. Well, what we’re going to listen to here is the sound of electric guitar that is from the 1915’s. It is very… we call it a clean guitar sound. A clean guitar sound (is) not really changed very much from the natural sound that the instrument produces. Let’s listen to that.

Vaya con Dios

(Playing the song Vaya con Dios)


OK. That was Vaya con Dios recorded by Mary Ford and Les Paul. Les Paul was playing the guitar on their recording. Les Paul as you might remember was the inventor of the Les Paul guitar which after it was invented the kind one of the most popular guitars about the time. Les Paul guitars are still produced today, and they’re very popular with rock musicians. Next we have bass guitars talking about instrumentation. We have electric bass here. We have an upright, or what is called a contrabass. This is a very large instrument, about 7 feet tall which is over 2 meters (2 and 1/3 meters), made from wood and noticed as its bow in the front of this bass. Generally the bass player will play this kind of instrument (by) his finger plucking the strings. In the classical world, they all use the bow to produce the sound to make the string vibrate and produce the sound. That’s an upright bass or contrabass. Some people call it a standup bass. (Many name for this bass, and then double bass, also) here’s a special kind of bass guitar. If you notice, look at the strings. There are 5 strings on this bass guitar. The standard electric bass, the blue bass guitar on the left, has only 4 strings. The 5 strings bass here has a larger range for the bass player and is more convenient for bass solos (have a wider range). This is a special kind of bass, or it’s called a fretless bass. A fretless bass produces a very interesting sound. If you (notice) look at the neck of this bass guitar, you see that the fretless bass (in the upright bass) the neck look very similar to a piece of dark black wood. If you look at the electric bass, the blue bass, notice on the neck of guitar. There are little metal bars going from the top of the neck to the bottom of the neck. Those little bars are called frets. Those frets enable the player to produce different notes on the bass. On the fretless bass, the upright bass, the player has no frets, so they have to be very accurate and very precise to produce the right sound, the correct tone, not to be out of tune. The fretless bass has different tone quality (in the electric bass) because the player can slide between notes. It’s very common for that. (The fretless bass player slide into between notes). (And) we’ll hear some fretless bass later. (So) these are different types of bass guitars. Each of them has distinct sound and sound quality.


Next, we get to talk about drums. In the top left, here we have a basic drum kit. We have drums, and we have gold color discs call cymbals. Cymbals produce a sound like a splash (splash sound). That’s the cymbal sound. In this particular drum kit has three cymbals. It has (1, 2, 3, 4)5 drums. The drums are blue (The drums’ blue cases). The largest drum is tama on the front. Tama is a brain of drum (very good brain of drum). The starting at the far left for the drums, there is a tom-tom. Actually that’s called a floor tom. T-O-M is a kind of drum. (The tom is a…) that’s a floor tom meaning stand on the floor. (And then) the next are a pair of drums nearly the same size on the front of the drum kit. Those are tom-toms. There are different sizes, and the different sized drums produce different pitches. The smaller the drum is, the higher the sound is. (So) If you can imagine having several drums of different sizes, you can produce many different pitches with the drum, like a piano (they can produce different pitches). The drum on the floor with the black cover is the tama on the front. That is a bass drum. The bass drum is a lower bass sounding drum in the drum kit because it’s so large. It’s also called kick drum because the drummer will produce the sound of that drum with kicking motion. He has a device called a pedal, much like a pedal in your car (or) pressing the gas in your car, but when you press down on this pedal, it makes a little hammer hit the drum head. So, that’s how the drum is activated (with) the foot and the leg, and then behind the large drum and tom-tom, there’s a small drum (there) called snare drum. The snare drum produces different sound from the tom-tom drum or the bass drum. The snare drum gets its name from metallic…like strings almost but metal wires that are touched to the drum. When you hit the drum, its wires vibrate producing an interesting sound. That’s the snare drum. And then we have cymbals there (the 3 cymbals). The cymbal (is) on the far right if you look at it closely or notice exactly two cymbals facing one another. That’s called a hi-hat, and the drummer can activate that cymbal with his foot as well. If you look at the bottom below the hi-hat cymbal and goes straight down, you will see a kind of a pedal-looking device there. So that’s a basic drum kit that is common in jazz music and pop music. If you look at the far right corner, the extended drum kit that is (the drum kit) is a little bit crazy. This is (this drum kit) belong to Neil Peart from the rock band Rush. Rush is a Canadian rock band that was very popular in 1980’s, and Neil Peart was famous for his very large drum kit and also famous for his drum solo during concerts. He has so many drums. As you can imagine sitting in the middle of all those drums, he has a lot of things. You can hit in different sounds you can produce. (There are) so many (many) drums. I see (1 to 7) tom-toms…correction, ten tom-toms. Bass drum…looks like two bass drums, and variety of other extra percussion, large number of cymbals. So this drum kit as I say is considered extremely large. You will only see the drum kit like this in a big rock concert. This is not a practical drum kit for anyone to carry around to play for fun or casually. This is a drum kit of rock star, but these are drum’s fundamental part of pop music and rock music.

Piano and Keyboards

OK. Next (we are) talking about piano and keyboards. Keyboard is a general term for any kind of piano like instrument. First, we have a piano here. This one picture is a baby grand piano. That is a size of piano. A grand piano is a very large piano that (the type of the piano) you will (here) be performing with the symphony orchestra or be in a concert hall. Typically, that’s a grand piano, even larger than that piano. Baby grand piano is a little more practical for people to own and to have (it) (at) home, but they still need very large room to have a baby grand piano. Next, we have an organ here. This is a Hammond B3 organ. This instrument is keep a bullet of many different sounds. If you look at the keyboard, you will notice there are actually two levels of keys. And above the keys are little nods, (and) switches, (and other) things one can press to create different sounds. And below are pedals. Pedals…if you look at the word that players’ feet will go, there are several wooden long (wooden) strips, and when players press their one of these pedals, it produces a very low sound. So the Hammond B3 organ can produce a lot of sounds and many different kinds of sounds. It could sound like variety of instruments in an orchestra. This instrument is very popular with rock bands in the 60’s and 70’s, particularly in the 1970’s. But if you look at, it imaging moving this instrument for your concerts, it extremely has a weight, hundreds of pounds (or) hundreds of kilos. And it’s not very practical to move around, if you plan in a local establishment. But it’s a wonderful instrument and produces variety of sounds. It’s very popular in blues, some jazz music as well as rock music in the 70’s. Hammond is a brand name. B3 is a modal, and this is an organ. Next here we have a synthesizer. Synthesizer is a keyboard instrument that electronically produces sounds. Synthesizers came out research been down and major in the United States universities, electronic and engineering area. Stanford University is one of them where they have a long history of experimenting with electronics and music. Synthesizer…scientists discover that could electronically produce the sound of instruments a number of ways. This leads to commercial production of synthesizers by companies such as Yamaha and Korg. The synthesizer is now for any kind of music you might hear on the radio. It’s extremely useful for musician to experiment with their compositions and very useful for composer to write music. They hear their music with the sound of the instrument that they’re imagining. It’s not always convenient for a composer to have his music to perform, and a synthesizer enables a composer to listen to his music very close to what it sounds as played by a live person. It’s a very powerful tool. A synthesizer is a keep a bullet of reproducing recorded sound (like any sound) you can imagine. You can record it (and) store it digitally in a synthesizer and reproduce it with a touch of a key. That’s you have recorded a bird’s sound. If you recorded a bird’s sound, you put it in your synthesizer and you can play bird’s sound on your keyboard. So that’s the synthesizer. In the 1980’s, there was a movement in popular music called Synthpop music which was a part of new wave of music in the 1980’s. Synthesizers play very large part of music. OK. So those are keyboards, baby grand piano, Hammond B3 organ, and synthesizer.


The next thing I’d like to talk about is vocals. The voice is not an instrument you can play, but it is certainly still a very powerful instrument in many considerate the most powerful instrument that can touch the hearts and minds of people. There’s nothing more impressive than the human voice. Our ears can pick up the slightest change in the human voice because it’s how we can communicate (how we survive) in many ways. It is by the hear changes in human voice. So voice is a powerful instrument. Here you have a picture on the left, the singer, female singer, and lead singer here.

 Lead singer is the person who’s in front of the band usually (and) the one leading all the songs. Lead singer usually sings the most part of a song. This is a solo singer her name is Jolin Tsai (lady). And then on the right here we have a lead singer with two background singers. The one we will talk about here is background singer. Background singers can add a wonderful demention to any song. The sound of a voice singing together is something that has long love by people. When we hear background vocals, you can create very lush and beautiful sound behind the singer. We’re going to listen a little later to a song with some background singers. But typically background singers support what the lead singer is doing in some way. They may sing the same words as the lead singer (sings), or they may sing other things. They may sing a syllable like woo…or ah…or nonsense words like lalala…thinks bad nature. It doesn’t necessary to be working directly with the lead singer. But typically what they do is to support the lead singer in what he or she is singing. Often background singers will play an instrument as well like a tambourine and a hand-held percussion instrument. The tambourine is common to see background singer using, or some other percussive instrument keeping rhythm of singing in adding to the texture of music besides just singing. Vocal are very important because vocals are what people really listen to when they are listening to the song. You turn on the radio. You want here are words. You want here the voice of the singer. It’s the most important part of pop music. We want to hear the lyrics. We want to hear the quality of the singer’s voice. That truly moves people is the human voice. OK. Let’s move on.

Active Listening

We talked about active listening before. That is listening to music and doing nothing else. And you can listen to a song this way. If you take this step further or few steps further, you can listen to a particular instrument. That’s plan doing a song. That’s one way to really understand how instrument interactive for another. You can listen to how two or more instruments interactive. For example, we listen to Vaya con Dios earlier, and the instructions we’ll too listen for how the guitar interact with the voice and other instruments. That’s another way you can approach it. So the song “Don’t let the sun go down on me” by Elton John…listen for guitar, bass, drums, keyboards, and vocals…I encourage you listen to the song repeatedly once you heard it in the class to better understand the music. OK. Let’s give that a listen.

Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me

(Playing the song)

Slide 11

All right. That was “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” by Elton John. Elton John was a huge influence in the 1970’s. (He is) one of the most successful pop artists of his time which is piano based pop music and his large orchestration at the innovated song, we heard brass instruments and many singers as a choir behind him, singing how many we talked about vocals, we talked about instrumentation earlier in that song. I hope you’ll listen for elements, pianos, guitars, bass, drums, and voice. I feel to mention brass instrument, trombones and trumpets. I really want wonder for recording a great song. OK. I think that will rab of today’s class. I hope enjoy the class and found it interesting and lightning until next time. Take care.