WESTERN KY (5/22/12) – You probably weren’t even aware that "Buy a Musical Instrument Day" existed, and the origins of the celebrated day are unknown. Regardless, this day occurs right in time to encourage a new hobby for kids who are soon to be out of class for the summer.
The gift of music is much more than simply buying a guitar, a horn, or a set of drums. Opening the doors of creativity by means of music can be a life changing experience for some. Music is a powerful tool that can connect different cultures and age-groups in ways that not many things can. Music is a universal language shared among all of Earth's people.
If you are an experienced musician and you’re already packing a few too many instruments, as most tend to do, you can still celebrate with the rest. Consider some of the more unusual instruments, that may not yet be part of your musical collection, to get your creativity flowing. There are a wide variety of instruments in existence that we don't often consider. It's easy to focus on recognizable, more popular instruments.
Here is a list of five instruments you may not have tried that you might discover a newfound passion for.
A djembe is a West African rope-tuned drum, with a goatskin covered head, that is played with bare hands. The name djembe comes from the African saying “everyone gather together in peace”, which literally defines the drum’s purpose. The djembe is one of the most versatile drums you can get, as it produces a wide variety of sounds when struck at different levels of intensity in different places on the drum’s head. You can buy synthetic American made djembe drums that use “tuning keys”, but the true djembe sound will be sacrificed at a lower price point.
Another African instrument, also known as a “thumb piano”, is the mbira. This instrument is a piece of wooden board on which 22 to 28 staggered metal keys are attached. When playing, the instrument is stabilized by placing the pinkie finger on the right hand through a hole located in the bottom right corner of the instrument. The keys are then stroked by the thumb and index fingers on both hands. The left hand usually plays the bass line while the right hand plays the upper melody.
The didgeridoo is an Australian wind instrument made from native hardwoods, such as eucalyptus and bamboo. Hollow, termite-infested, live trees, are hunted and harvested. The center of the tree is then removed. The didgeridoo is played by vibrating the lips to produce a continuous drone while using a breathing technique called circular breathing. You breathe in through your nose while simultaneously pushing air from your mouth into the instrument. Properly done, an advanced player can sustain a note as long as they like. Non-traditional didgeridoos can be made from PVC pipe, non-native hard woods, clay, glass, fiberglass, metal, and hemp.
Appalachian Dulcimer –
The Appalachian dulcimer is a fretted string instrument having either three or four strings. The first Appalachian dulcimer appeared in the early 19th century among Scots-Irish immigrants in the southern Appalachian Mountains. This instrument is played while sitting down. The instrument lays flat across the lap. It is strummed or plucked with the right hand, while fretted with the left. If you are drawn to folk music, this should be the next instrument you pick up and toy with. Once you have it mastered, you might consider moving on to the "hammered dulcimer".
Misa Kitara –
The Misa Kitara is an experimental digital guitar that is shaped like an electric guitar, but has a touch screen interface used to control the digital audio. This instrument unites the technique of playing traditional guitar with a digital sound. The neck has buttoned frets and notes are played by touching the screen. The position and style of touch determine the sound generated. This instrument may not appeal to traditional guitarists, but the possibilities for musicians who specialize in audio synthesis and sampling in their music might just find the Misa Kitara’s possibilities endless. Techniques can be used on the Misa Kitara that aren’t possible or comfortable on a digital keyboard.
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