Exploring Military History through Music

Exploring Military History through Music

The Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps in the armed forces is a part of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard). It is stationed at Fort Myer, VA. This unique military unit performs in uniforms based on those worn by the musicians of General George Washington’s Continental Army.  Uniforms from this time included black tricorn hats, white wigs, waistcoats, colonial coveralls, and distinct red regimental coats.

The corps features two historical music ensembles.  Watch this video and listen to The United States Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps play historical music:

This interesting regiment recalls New England’s historic past through its music. As mentioned earlier, our state and region were a central part of the United States’ early formation. Massachusetts was one of the original colonies and many of the patriots that participated in the Revolutionary War were from Massachusetts. The music that the United States Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps plays is the same music that once inspired the patriots serving in the Revolutionary War. As you participate in Veterans Day ceremonies, take a moment to listen to this early music and remember those who served this nation.

Learn more about this interesting regiment at www.fifeanddrum.army.mil.

[Photo Credit: Sienna Wildfield]


Excerpt from Learning Ahead: Cultural Itinerary for Western Massachusetts (Seasons: Nov/Dec), a downloadable bimonthly publication produced by Hilltown Families that sheds light on embedded learning opportunities found in cultural resources that exist within the geography, history, and cultural traditions of Western Massachusetts.

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HFVS Families Make Music Episode with Guest DJ, Michael Napolitano (Radio Show/Podcast)

Hilltown Family Variety Show

Listen to Podcast:

Families Make Music Episode with Guest DJ, Michael Napolitano

Michael Napolitano of Michael & the Rockness Monsters and Preschool of Rock brings to you an educational show spanning years of family music. Michael started his musical lifestyle at an early age of 3 when placed lovingly behind his father’s drum set. This show features musical acts composed of families immersed in music. You’ll find some of your favorite Kindie artists as well as some new and old classics – more family combinations then you can wrap your head around! — www.preschoolofrock.com

Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am
February 27th & 28th, 2016
WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
Northampton, MA

Featured Video: “Pirate Song” by Michael & The Rockness Monsters.


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Listen to Podcast:

  • Gladys Knight & The Pips – “Feeling Alright” [If I Were Your Woman]
  • Michael & The Rockness Monsters – “Pirate Song” [Michael & The Rockness Monsters]
  • The Ronettes – “Be My Baby” [Presenting The Fabulous Ronettes Featuring Veronica]
  • We Are Family – “Sister Sledge” [We Are Family]
  • Part Of Me – “Tedeschi Trucks” [Made Up Mind]
  • Michael & The Rockness Monsters – “Fisherman” [Michael & The Rockness Monsters]
  • Sly & The Family Stone – “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)” [Single]
  • The Beach Boys – “Trombone Dixie” [The Pet Sounds Sessions]
  • The Everly Brothers – “Bye-Bye Love” [The Everly Brothers]
  • Joanie Leeds and the Nightlights – “Bandwagon” [Bandwagon]
  • Keely Smith & Louis Prima – “Old Black Magic” [Single]
  • Bob Marley & The Wailers – “Trenchtown Rock” [Live!]
  • Secret Agent 23 Skidoo – “Family Tree” [Easy]
  • Lennon and Maisy – “In The Waves” [Single]
  • Michael & The Rockness Monsters – “In A Band” [Michael & The Rockness Monsters]
  • Alistair Moock – “A Twinkle Baa Reprise” [These Are My Friends]

HFVS Black History Month Episode (Radio Show/Podcast)

Hilltown Family Variety Show

Listen to Podcast:

Black History Month Show

Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am
February 20th & 21st, 2016
WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
Northampton, MA

Featured Video: Ella Jenkins, the First Lady of the Children’s Folk Song, performs “I Know a City Called Okeechobee.”


 Archived Podcasts Radio  Facebook Twitter

Listen to Podcast:

  • Booker T. & The MG’s — “Green Onions
  • Ella Jenkins — “Black Royalty” [A Life of Song]
  • Count Basie & Tony Bennett — “Jeepers Creeper”
  • Duke Ellington — “Merry Go Round”
  • Earl “Fatha” Hines — “Stoway”
  • Nat King Cole — “Kee-Mo Ky-Mo”
  • Queen Latifah — “Walk the Dinosaur”
  • Bessie Smith — “Alexander’s Ragtime Band”
  • Little Richard — “Good Golly Miss Molly”
  • Aretha Franklin — “Respect”
  • Diana Ross — “When We Grow Up”
  • Mahalia Jackson — “I’m On My Way”
  • Ella Fitzgerald— “Chew-Chew-Chew”
  • James Brown — “Give It Up or Turnit A Loose”
  • Taj Mahal — “Brown Girl in the Ring”
  • Michael Jackson — “The Girl is Mine”
  • Rufus Thomas — “Walking the Dog”

Art History and Music Studies at the Amherst Cinema this Fall

Vermeer and Music: The Art of Love and Leisure
Tour of London’s National Gallery Exhibition
Screens at Amherst Cinema this Fall

The latest in Amherst Cinema’s EXHIBITION screening series, Vermeer and Music: The Art of Love and Leisure, documents and deeply examines the Johannes Vermeer‘s works on view at the London National Gallery. The film, hosted by British art historian Tim Marlow, tells the story of Vermeer’s life, a Dutch painter from the 1600’s, and gives viewers a chance to experience both the exhibition – which, notably, includes several works by Vermeer that have never before been exhibited together – as well as some stunning close-up footage of the paintings themselves, accompanied by Marlow’s knowledgeable analysis of the works.

The exhibition focuses on the popularity of music as a theme in Dutch paintings, and illustrates this connection quite clearly through its inclusion of “Lady Seated at a Virginal,” “Lady Standing At A Virginal,” and “The Guitar Player,” all by Vermeer himself. To highlight the significance of the instruments’ inclusion in the paintings – and the differences between the instruments and their two-dimensional representations – authentic 17th-century virginals (similar to harpsichords), guitars, and lutes are on display along with the artwork…

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The Black Man in Song: 18th Century Music & History in Deerfield

The Black Man in Song
Memorial Hall Museum in Deerfield, MA

The Old Deerfield Sunday Afternoon Concert Series will conclude it 2013 season August 25th with a special concert in tribute to Lucy Terry Prince, Deerfield’s 18th century African American resident and America’s first African American poet who was also known for her singing and story telling.

This Sunday, August 25th, is the 267 anniversary of the last of the Indian raids which took place in Deerfield, MA. Known as the 1746 Bars Fight, the event helped to shape the community of 18th century Deerfield’s relationship with their Native American neighbors. The event is chronicled in the only surviving work of Lucy Terry Prince, a notable African-American poet, songwriter, and storyteller of early Deerfield. A former slave, Prince’s unusual life has become an important part of western Massachusetts folklore.

At this week’s Old Deerfield Sunday Afternoon Concert, Prince’s life and work will be celebrated in song, marking the first annual Lucy Prince Tribute. Titled The Black Man in Song, the concert will include both traditional and contemporary music, including a commissioned piece based on letters written by George Washington Carver. Songs will be performed by tenor Irwin Reese and pianist Julia Bady, and the concert will take place in the Victorian Music Room of the Memorial Hall Museum, allowing concertgoers to enjoy historic surroundings while celebrating the village’s past.

While 18th century music may not be the typical favorite genre of most kids, the concert presents a unique musical lens to learn about American history. Older students who have some preexisting knowledge about early American history and the Revolutionary War can expand their learning with specific historical details through song, and will be able to broaden their understanding of artistic expression in early America…

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The Instrument that Rocked the World, Rocks Western MA!

GUITAR: The Instrument That Rocked the World
Rocks the Springfield Museums!
January 18 through April 21, 2013

GUITAR: The Instrument That Rocked the World, an exhibit celebrating what is arguably the single most enduring icon in American history, will be on view January 18 through April 21, 2013 at the Springfield Museums.

Throughout history, the many different media that humans have used in order to channel their creativity has expanded – whether as a result of changes in technology, shifting culture, or the availability of different and materials, the ways in which we convey and share our creativity constantly evolving.  The Springfield Museums’ most recent addition explores the history behind one particularly interesting and popular means of expression – the guitar.

“GUITAR: The Instrument that Rocked the World,” is a nationally touring exhibit which, after five years of visiting museums around the country, will culminate in the creation of a national guitar museum.  It will be on view in two museums at the Springfield Museum from January 18 through April 21, 2013.

This fully immersive exhibition allows visitors to interact with the guitar from a historical perspective, learn about its evolution and design, discover the music that guitars have helped to create, and understand the guitar’s role as an agent of personal freedom, social change, and expression. Featuring guitars from greats like Steve Vai, Johnny Winter, and others, the exhibition includes more than 60 instruments – from the rare and antique to the wildly popular and innovative. There’s even the world’s largest playable guitar (over 43 feet long!), along with performance video and audio, hands-on interactives, touch screens, and photographs.

The George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum houses an exhibit made up of guitars of all shapes and sizes from all over the world, illustrating the evolution of the instrument across cultures and throughout history.  The exhibit also includes examples of early relatives of the guitar, including stringed instruments from Africa and Asia.

The Wood Museum of History is housing the second half of the exhibit, which details the modern history of guitar.  The introduction of electric guitars into the music world drastically changed the instrument’s role in music, as well as the way in which guitars can be played.  The second part of this exhibit includes many different modern guitars, including some pretty outlandish ones, like an 8-necked electric guitar and the world’s largest playable guitar (a full 43 feet long!).

A visit to the exhibits can help students of all ages learn to make cultural history meaningful, and would be a terrific supplement to music studies.  Music in almost every genre includes elements of guitar, and students can learn about the evolution of music by studying how this one important instrument has changed.

Before or after visiting the museum, families can learn about several types of guitars (and their use in music) from Grammy-nominated children’s musician, Mister G, a contributor of Hilltown Families.  Mister G’s recent vlog for Hilltown Families takes viewers straight into his studio, for a special lesson on guitars in his monthly column, “Under the Hat: Independent Music Education.”  Families can learn about the unique sound each has, and will learn about how Mister G uses each one to enhance his music.  Great for kids of all ages!

You can also check out this video to help understand the physics of the rock guitar, as illustrated by physicist Mark Lewney:


The Springfield Museums are located at 21 Edwards Street in Springfield, MA.  Museum hours are Tuesday-Saturday from 10am-5pm and Sundays from 11am-5pm.  For more information, call 800-625-7738 or visit www.springfieldmuseums.org.

New Youth Musical Explores History and Culture of Rhythms

The Evolution of Rhythms
Youth Musical Explores the History of Beats
Saturday, Oct. 27th in Pittsfield, MA

Most kids today enjoy popular music of some sort – especially hip-hop!  But where does the style (and the unique name) come from?  Pittsfield’s Youth Alive presents, The Evolution of Rhythms, an original musical that explores the history and cultural context and significance of beats on Saturday evening, October 27th in Berkshire County. The show features local youth performers (as well as some special guests) and pulls the audience through changes in musical styles and genres from the late 19th century until today.

Students may be surprised to learn that even though modern hip-hop is perceived as the music of younger generations, its roots actually lie in the clapping and stomping dances done to djembe, a traditional Malawean drum brought to the United States during the 1800’s slave trade – it has been around for quite a while!

Rhythm and beats remain central to the storyline of The Evolution of Rhythms as the show moves forward through time, and each scene features exciting original performances of drum, step, dance, song, and spoken word.  Students can use the show to supplement (or begin) studies of music and/or art history – it will provide them with a unique look at the cultural context within which traditions are created, changed, and passed on.  The show is written, directed, and narrated by Pittsfield native and former Youth Alive member Jerome Edgerton, Jr.  and will be performed at the Barrington Stage Company’s mainstage (58 Union Street, Pittsfield) at 7pm on Saturday, October 27th.

Edgerton says a key reason for creating this play has to do with the youth’s ignorance of historically forms of music on today’s most popular forms. “The youth today don’t really understand the culture and where the term hip-hop came from. So, The Evolution of Rhythms gives a history of how hip-hop has its influence on society today. It started with people clapping their hands and stomping their feet to the drums and djembe.”

The Evolution of Rhythms is also sponsored by the City of Pittsfield Office of Cultural Development, Youth Alive, Berkshire United Way’s Pittsfield Prevention Partnership, and the Pittsfield Cultural Council. The Pittsfield Prevention Partnership will present their quarterly SAY It Proud Awards at the performance, recognizing young people who are involved in positive activities and making healthy choices.

Tickets to The Evolution of Rhythms are $10/adults, $5/seniors & students, and free for kids under 12 years old. To order tickets, call the  Barrington Stage Company box office at 413-236-8888. Ticket will also be available at the door the night of the show.

Music Trekking: The History of La Bamba

Let’s Stomp and Shake to… La Bamba!

Who would think that a humble little folksong from the region of Vera Cruz, Mexico would grow up to be a best-loved song all over the world – and even get itself listed as # 345 in Rolling Stone’s Magazine’s List of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. Such is the impressive history of a song called “La Bamba”.

Although La Bamba has been recorded by artists such as Harry Belafonte, Los Lobos and even by a Greek Musician named Tzimis Panousis, most people are familiar with the version recorded by Richie Valens in 1958. Surprisingly, although Valens was proud of his Mexican heritage, he spoke no Spanish and had to go to his aunt, Ernestine Reyes, to learn the lyrics of this song phonetically. Other musicians in the band helped add a rock and roll edge to the song and it became a chart-topping success. Years later, both Valens and the song were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for this contribution to popular culture.

But what is “La Bamba”? The name refers to a dance. Most foklorists guess that it comes from the Spanish verb “bambolear” which can be translated to “to shake” or “to stomp,” a perfect title for an active upbeat dance that sometimes got faster and faster as it went on. What about the words? That’s a bit tricky because there is no definitive set of lyrics since many of the verses were improvised. The tune and the chorus were well known in Mexico – especially in Vera Cruz. However, clever singers or deejays would add new verses in order to charm or amuse the crowd. They might sing about how silly your uncle looks in his flowered shirt of how beautiful a young lady appeared as she stepped into the room. Although there are lots of verses, the most popular ones can be heard in most modern versions of the song.

“Yo no soy marinero/I am not a sailor” is one or the verses everyone recognizes. In Spanish, the singer is telling everyone that he is not a sailor – he’s the captain, a verse that would make sense in that area of Mexico known for it’s fishing. Can you make up your own silly or funny verses to this song – of course! If you speak Spanish, add a line or two in that language. If you speak English or another language, try your hand at it as well! The melody is addictive and you may just create the next great version of this popular song.

In my version of La Bamba, I chose to stick with the verses I had heard most often. You can check it out here:


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Award-winning children’s performer, DARIA (Daria Marmaluk-Hajioannou) has created 7 cd’s that have won national honors. She has the most awesome job of traveling the world to sing for kids and peace. Her “world music for kids” website, www.dariamusic.com, was given a 2009 Parents Choice Award for its musical and cultural content.  She has also created a multicultural kids video site as well as My Favorite Multicultural Books.

Music Trekking: A History of Kumbayah

Come by Here: A Short History of Kumbayah

If you’ve ever gone to summer camp or sat around a campfire with a guitar, chances are good you’ve sung “Kumbayah.” It’s one of those wonderful – make it up as you go – folksongs. After the first verse of Kumbayah, you can sing that someone is crying, laughing, sleeping, etc. and add as many verses as you want. The song is different and unique each time it is sung. But have you ever wondered where it came from and what it means? Here’s a little bit of the background and history, plus two slightly different versions of this well-known song.

History of Kumbayah

Did someone compose this song? Is it from Africa? From America? It’s background is a bit cloudy, but this much is certain. A minister named Reverend Marvin V. Frey claimed to have authored the song in 1936 when he was inspired by the preaching of a woman evangelist. He published it as a songsheet with the title “Come By Here”. The original meaning was that the song was a prayer or invocation. The words ask God to come and be by our side as someone is smiling, or laughing or sad. The Rev. Frey claimed that the song changed names around 1946 when a missionary family returning from Africa traveled around the USA singing it with the altered lyrics, “Kum Ba Yah”. However, the song also appears as “kumbayah” sung by people who speak “Gullah” in the Georgia and South Carolina Seas Islands. So, it is hard to say what it’s exact origins are, but clearly the song has been well-loved, popularly sung and made it’s way around both the United States and the world, and has been changed as it traveled from country to country.

Here’s my video version of Kumbayah with a South African feel.

Here’s a version that is quite different but still very beautiful sung by the Soweto (South African) Gospel Choir for your listening pleasure:

So after checking out these two versions, are you ready for a campfire-style sing-along of the popular version of this song? Before you groan because you’ve heard this song so many times, remember that if you are singing it with your family or friends, you can make it fresh in lots of great ways. If you have children, you can play with the hand motions. If you’re doing a boring task, ask your kids for an activity and then sing new verses for each of them. If you’re stuck in the car for a long ride, try making up verses from something seen out of the window: “Someone’s driving in a blue Ford truck, Kumbayah.” “Someone’s walking their dog by the side of the road, Kumbayah. “ Believe it or not, it’s great first songwriting exercise and a fun way to play with words, sounds and music in the form of a game.

No matter how you chose to share this well-loved song, you’ll be inspiring some wonderful musical memories. What a great way to become part of the folk process!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Award-winning children’s performer, DARIA (Daria Marmaluk-Hajioannou) has created 7 cd’s that have won national honors. She has the most awesome job of traveling the world to sing for kids and peace. Her “world music for kids” website, www.dariamusic.com, was given a 2009 Parents Choice Award for its musical and cultural content.  She has also created a multicultural kids video site as well as My Favorite Multicultural Books.

A free copy of this month’s song can be downloaded on Daria’s Monthly Song Page.

Trumpet Talk: A Look at Culture and History through Musical Instruments

Hitting the Right Note: Trumpet Talk in the Berkshires

Information learned about the trumpet’s place within different cultural contexts throughout time can be used to supplement cultural studies and music history.

As civilization has evolved, so has culture and artistic expression.  Trumpet player and teacher Paul Sundberg will present a workshop Sunday, January 8th at 4pm on the evolution of trumpet music and playing throughout history.

Taking place at the Stockbridge Library, the event will teach attendees about the mechanics of the instrument and its role within many different musical settings throughout history.  Sundberg will also be displaying and demonstrating ten different trumpets, including the flugelhorn, an animal horn, the cornetto, and a cornet.

This event is best for older students and parents, but no musical knowledge is necessary in order for it to be a fun and educational event!  Information learned about the trumpet’s place within different cultural contexts throughout time can be used to supplement work in cultural studies or music history.  It could even serve as an introduction to music history, or it could be just the thing to inspire your kid to try out music making for themselves!  The event takes place in the Bement room at the Stockbridge Library (46 Main Street), and is free for everyone!  You can call the library at 413-298-5501.

[Photo credit: (ccl) Marc Wellekötter]

History of Brass Musical Instruments

Music History: Brass Instruments

The Premier Brass Quintet presents The History of Brass Musical Instruments through performance and show and tell on Sunday , Oct. 16th in Southwick. The antique musical instruments used in the program are authentic historic pieces, and were made between 1800 to 1900.

The First Congregational Church of Southwick presents an free opportunity for older students to learn about the history of brass instruments!  This unique opportunity will give participants a specific glimpse into music history.

Mark your calendars… The Premier Brass Quintet will perform at the church on Sunday, October 16th at 7pm. Accompanying the performance will be a show-and-tell that provides a history of brass instruments and shows audience members authentic instruments made and used during the 19th century.

The group will play a mix of classic literature combined with modern pieces in order to musically illustrate the evolution of music written for brass instruments.

Presented by the Southwick Cultural Council and the Massachusetts Cultural Council.  The First Congregational Church is located at 488 College Hwy in Southwick, MA.


[Photo credit: (ccl) Brian Wolfe]

HFVS Black History Month Episode (Radio Show/Podcast)

Listen to Podcast:

Black History Month Show

Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am
February 12th & 13th, 2011
WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
Northampton, MA

Featured Video: Ella Jenkins, the First Lady of the Children’s Folk Song, performs “I Know a City Called Okeechobee.”


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  • Booker T. & The MG’s — “Green Onions
  • Ella Jenkins — “Black Royalty” [A Life of Song] Music
  • Count Basie & Tony Bennett — “Jeepers Creeper”
  • Duke Ellington — “Merry Go Round”
  • Earl “Fatha” Hines — “Stoway”
  • Nat King Cole — “Kee-Mo Ky-Mo”
  • Queen Latifah — “Walk the Dinosaur”
  • Bessie Smith — “Alexander’s Ragtime Band”
  • Little Richard — “Good Golly Miss Molly”
  • Aretha Franklin — “Respect”
  • Diana Ross — “When We Grow Up”
  • Mahalia Jackson — “I’m On My Way”
  • Ella Fitzgerald— “Chew-Chew-Chew”
  • James Brown — “Give It Up or Turnit A Loose”
  • Taj Mahal — “Brown Girl in the Ring”
  • Michael Jackson — “The Girl is Mine”
  • Rufus Thomas — “Walking the Dog”

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