Djolomyga ~ Ukrainian Double Flute

Djolomyga ~ Ukrainian Double Flute
The beautiful Djolomyga is a double fipple flute of the Ukraine and features 13 holes.
When somebody tells you they play the Flute, one immediately imagines the shiny transverse type seen throughout Western orchestras.

Yet it would literally blow your mind to know that in the far reaches of all the Earth, there are in existence, uncountable different kinds of flutes, the sounds of which are beyond the imagination.

This Note section of my blog will as time progresses, be detailing many of these flutes. Indeed, in this blog I will make you believe a flute to be as powerful as thunder.

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Ktak ~ Cajon By Kandu

Ktak ~ Cajon By Kandu
The good Ktak is available in many colours.
Behold, for it is here.

Hand percussion is by far my favourite of all percussive styles, not least for its immensely expressive nature and all round versatility.

Ever since my first pair of Bongos I have been researching endless kinds of hand percussion.

Yet in truth, I have been searching this past decade for one particular kind of drum that would provide every characteristic I desired.

I was looking for a wooden box, yet also an Udu jug… I was looking for a snare yet also a thumping bass… I was looking for portability yet also presence… basically I was looking for the Ktak.

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Kalimbawu ~ Chromatic Thumb Piano

Kalimbawu By Simon Jepps
The Kalimbawu or Double Kalimba
It took a long time, but in the end my years of research, pouring over numerous photos of various different kinds of thumb pianos eventually paid off.

Here is my invention, the Kalimbawu.

It gets its name by borrowing the term “Ba wu” from the Chinese flute of that name, meaning “him” and “her”.

Whilst not a reed instrument, the metal tongues of the Kalimba do resemble the shape of the Bawu flute’s reed. Also as I will explain, the Kalimbawu features two voices, one male and one female.

If that’s not an excuse, the word just works!

The Kalimba, also referred to as a “thumb piano”, is a modern variant of the African Mbira, developed by Hugh Tracey and which features a Westernised tuning system.

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KEYTOI  {Melodica/Pianica/Melodion}

Jepps Keytoi Hohner Superforce 37
This all black Keytoi is the superior Hohner Superforce 37. I own more than one of these, for spare parts and for the security of a decent instrument. Both sweet and powerful, in my opinion, the SF37 is the best reasonably priced professional Keytoi on the market.
Here’s an illusive little known wonder ~ the Melodica.

Call it what you will, what I call the Keytoi is actually a divine messenger of God, born from the heart of a Child.

Once upon a time the Melodica was only found in toy stores, or fairly selective music shops. It was by no means seen to be a professional instrument, not in any way.

It was however embraced rapidly by the Reggae communities and in time became a hallmark of their music.

It was here and then whence stage pianists became interested in the possibility of a more academically encompassing Melodica, with a greater scope for novelty accompaniments and indeed teaching.

Once the guys at Hohner became aware of the interest, they set themselves a little side project, just to test the waters… of a performance grade Melodica.

Hohner released a couple of these “scouts” onto the market… they watched… and waited… looking for any sign of a cultural rustling.

And when it came… it came from the top.

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Special 20 Country Tuned

Special 20 Country Tuning
Paint the country blue… or erm, illusive copper.
I recently blogged about the Seydel Big Six and how the attempt to chromaticize Blues Harmonicas only destroys the very philosophy of its own original voice.

That philosophy, born from the oppressed good black folks of America, speaks of the strength to make the most of what little you have and the meditation therefore, to create more from less.

It is only natural then of the Blues Harpist, to recreate or arrange melodies from other genres in a way that satisfies both the instrument’s demands and the listener’s ear.

More than often this means not only an alteration of style, but to manipulate the existence of notes which are not naturally sounding in the Harmonica.

This is a technique called ‘bending’.

Whilst they may sound harsh if held too long, or whence unnaturally forced to support a piece of weighty Bach, whence employed as careful “passing notes” they can often convey a very subtle beauty of speech.

Yet therein, due to their unnatural sounding, there is an element of truth in what modern harmonica players say, that sometimes if just one note of their instrument were changed, then so would their entire world.

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Sax In My Pocket

Pocket sax jeppsOriginally a lounge Pianist, yet forever intimidated by its inconvenience of size, expense and formality, I found myself in a passionate love affair with a new instrument.

Invented in 1972 by Brian Wittman, a Hawaiian musician, guru and gentleman, the Xaphoon®, more popularly known as The Pocket Sax, is a Trumpet sized Saxophone, that not only fits in your pocket, but whence the dedication and mutual embrace is spoken, will turn your mind inside out as it screams the blue soul of a real Saxophonist.

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The Big Six

Seydel big six harp
Less… art… more…
I had spent many years researching new and innovating Blues Harp designs, specifically focussing on alternate tunings or reed configurations, which allow an otherwise regular harp to be played chromatically off the bat.

There are many.

Most notably the Suzuki Sub30 which actually incorporates an extra ten reeds into the same 20 reed infrastructure, acting as silent “sympathetics”, only sounding when the player instructs them through embouchure.

Yet whilst it was my frustration with an instrument’s limitations that led me to this decade long investigation, it would soon come to pass that this very disposition of the Blues Harp’s design would be the very thing that solves my paradox.

All my life I have taught people a blessed miracle of music, that whence the passion of creativity resides within one, an orchestra can be painted from a pallette of only three colours.

That is to say, music is not the art of playing as many notes as possible as quickly and as loudly as possible… it is the art of creating masterpieces out of only the air, or thus from a flute without even any holes.

Enter… The Big Six.

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