►Strange instruments, reloaded

I swear it’s not my fault 😉 that I had to do a follow-up to the first post, no, it’s all the “fault” of Facebook and a friend and follower of this blog (Luis HenriquesAtrium Musicologicum) who happens to have interesting acquaintances who seem to have even more interesting connections. So, he commented on a photo showing something I’d never seen before:

The Ophicleide

It’s another historic brass instrument, invented in 1817, played in the nineteenth century until it was basically made redundant by the Euphonium and the Tuba.

Its name means something like “serpent with keys”, remembering a renaissance instrument called “the Serpent”.

It wasn’t produced anymore and disappeared, today it’s only found as a museum piece, except for one, which is being played, with great virtuosism and musicality by Nick Byrne, who even has a CD recorded with music on Ophicleide and runs a website, which probably is the best ressource about the instrument available: here is the link.

Oh yes, this one does sound very nice indeed, don’t worry, it’s not like the sarrusophone, here’s an example of Nick’s recordings:

Preview of Oblivion – Astor Piazzolla (played by Nick Byrne on Ophicleide)

( it actually sounds REALLY great… hope I manage to become famous one day (lol), so I could write a song for it and invite him to record for my project… Sigh…. Guess I have to stop day-dreaming and get back to reality. Yes, definitely. )

►The Alternative Music Lounge: Revolution Void

In the first post of this series I’d like to introduce to you a project that describes it’s music style as “nu-jazz, electro-jazz or electronic breakbeat jazz” and their name is:

Revolution Void

Having been founded by producer and jazz pianist Jonah Dempcy, their recordings also feature a number of guest musicians including among others Seamus Blake, Matthew Garrison and Lucas Pickford .

Combining electronic music with live improvisation, Jonah considers his main jazz influences to be John Coltrane and Cannonball Adderley, as well as contemporary artists such as Kurt Rosenwinkel and Brad Mehldau.

Six years ago, Jonah began releasing music online through the Creative Commons, beginning with the album Increase the Dosage. Since then, Revolution Void has been an active member of the online music-sharing renaissance, regularly releasing albums and singles in their entirety for free online.

That’s how I got to know them, actually, found their album available for download on a torrent site that only includes LEGAL downloads.

I immediately liked their music, right from the first listen, every single track of the album.

What I especially admire is the quality of sound, improvisation, production and the diversity and creativity of each track.

I also love the different rhythms and beats they used, while still managing to mantain some connection throughout the whole album.

So, as I suppose you’re almost at the point saying “stop talking, I want to LISTEN!”, here goes a widget with some of their tracks:


And to finish up this post, here’s the link to their website .


About this series:

One of the ideas I have for this blog is to start periodic post series about a few interesting topics. Like one post a week or a month, about the same topic but always bringing you new (or classic but little known) musical discoveries.
This series that I gave the name “The Alternative Music Lounge” is about presenting you bands and projects that I like a lot or respect much because of the quality of their music although they haven’t made it into the so called “main stream” and therefore probably will remain unknown for many people.
Whatever might be the reasons for this (sometimes their creations are just too good, too unique, lacking any “commercial characteristics”, othertimes it’s just another case of being disregarded by the music industry, we all know what’s usual to happen…), I think the’re more people out there who might like their music but just didn’t have a chance to discover it yet, so I hope these publications of mine might be helpful.
By the way, if you’re a musician and think I might like your music and would like to propose your creations for being featured in a post of this series, you’re welcome to comment this post or any other future post of this series, stating your project’s name, a link to where I can listen to some tracks and a way to contact you.
I promise to try and listen to everyone’s tracks and respond, even if I happen to not accept the proposal.

►Brazilian composers

Went to a concert tonight, called “Brazilian Piano”.

Two brazilian pianists (Bernadete Castelan Póvoas and Mauren Frey – here is the link to the program of the concert) I’d never seen before around here giving a nice performance, I enjoyed a good part of the concert and what was especially interesting for me was to get to know a little about quite a few brazilian composers I’d never heard of in my “ignorance” :P…

So I thought I’d dig out a little bit more music from them and share it with you…

Osvaldo Lacerda

Link to his biography.

Two examples I liked on youtube (the pieces I heard was impossible to find decent recordings – “Aboio” and “Terno de Zabumba”. If anyone knows one, please share.):



“Pequena Suite I”


Ronaldo Miranda

Link to his biography (he has a site of his own, nice).

Two examples (the first is one of the pieces I heard today, the other one I might well consider learning one day on guitar, sounds great… but suppose it’s quite hard to play…):





Sérgio Vasconcellos-Corrêa

Link to his biography.

And again, two examples (the first is the piece I heard tonight, although it was on 4 hands piano, while here I found it for orquestra, sounds really great…)

“Baião (from the Suite Piratiningana)”


“Variações sobre um tema ‘Cana-fita’ ” (the composer himself playing)


And well, that’s all for today, folks.

No, wait, I have one more, here is Heitor Villa-Lobos‘ “Impressões Seresteiras” that I also heard tonight, just for you to enjoy listening, this is so beautiful 🙂


►Feeling nostalgic: songs I haven’t heard for some time

Some days ago, on a Friday evening when I was driving home from work, once again, 250 km like every week, listening to the radio, feeling tired and far away in my mind, suddenly a song was played that got my attention, because I hadn’t heard it for some time… so I thought I’d do a little post here with a few songs I’ve always liked but are rarely transmitted on radio or other means.

Not all are what you would call a classic, in fact one ist quite recent. But they all share one thing: although they managed to be successful to some extent, they never got into those mysterious “standard-playlists” that appear to be almost the same everywhere and nobody really knows why, although everybody suspects the same. You know what I mean.

It’s not that these were “underground” or whatever, they just had something “too much unique” (so there would be people actually disliking them, which generally is a good sign, because people SHOULD have different tastes, something that seems to have gotten into decline over the last decades, but let’s not talk about that now) or didn’t have enough commercial feel (would really love to find out one day how those “program people” up there in radios and magazines, online-review-sites and record companies editing “best-of-some-year-genre-or-what-have-you-compilations” get to the conclusion that a certain song is an all-time classic or should be classified as “one-time-hit” and therefore remain in the disc-archive starting to accumulate a thick layer of dust…

Nostalgic Listening Suggestion no. 1:

Bran Van 3000 – Drinking in LA


(maybe it’s the band name that wasn’t convincing? But then again, how on earth could someone calling herself “Lady Gaga” be successful? Doesn’t “gaga” mean something like “crazy”, useless yadda-yadda, or even, according to TheFreeDictionary, somebody who isn’t in possession of his complete mental capacities anymore?)


Nostalgic Track no. 2:

Youssou N’Dour ft. Neneh Cherry – 7 Seconds


(let’s see… this song was number one in many countries’ charts and was played on “Live8”, but in these days on most radio stations I happen to listen to, it plays maybe once a year? Maybe here the “problem” is the song being to “polemic”, talking about racism?)


Not-really-nostalgic-at-all Listening Suggestion no. 3:

Hercules And Love Affair – Blind


(you’re going to say: “hey! Wait! This song is from 2008!” and I have to admit you’re right. But wait, the point I’m trying to make is this: their song disappeared pretty quickly from radio play, at least in this country and until that last friday I had never heard it again, despite it being a great track (at least in my humble opinion). They just published their second album, but I somehow don’t think they will be chosen for those “infamous” playlists. They are just too “different”, not mainstream enough. Read this interview and you know what I’m talking about.)

So, to finish this post (going too long already lol): maybe it’s all in my head. But what I see around me, everywhere, regarding music business, is a total degradation of the relation between quality, originality, artistic value or musicality and the level of success that’s reached. In most cases, they get more success with totally pointless videos containing almost pornographic scenarios than with music. Real music.

But then maybe that’s not new and it has always been like this, only changing style, outfits and (stupid) names?

►Regarding Walter Piston and two strange instruments

At university, we had a test in musical analysis last week, so I dedicated myself a little bit 😉 to studying for it.
As it mainly concerns analysis of orchestra music regarding instrumentation, timbre, articulation and so forth, some of us definitely needed some “upgrade” regarding knowledge in orchestration, so I started reading the book of Walter Piston.

This gentleman, who lived from 1894 until 1976 was a notable american composer, music theorist and professor at Harvard University, one of his students was Leonard Bernstein.
Very interesting and very well written, doesn’t leave out the smallest detail and all very easy to understand.
What I couldn’t resist, was to write about a quite unknown instrument he presented in the family of winds, I found really curious and had never heard of before:

The Sarrusophone

(Author Matthias Kabel)

It is a large transposing brass instrument played with a double reed mouthpiece like the bassoon.
It existed in various sizes, but the most common was the Eb version.
Having a strange sound, it was only very rarely used in classical music with some exceptions and seems to have been “forgotten”, although there’s a rumour of having been played by a Jazz virtuoso who later denied it… Read the full story on Wikipedia.

Now listen to a demonstration, it really sounds weird, I don’t like it 😛

Having scared you this weird “metal beast”, now it’s time for another strange instrument, altough much prettier and with a much nicer sound and also quite a little more common:

The Sousaphone

(In: rayfrenshamworld)

Click here to read the story about it, one could say it is a tuba in portable format.

Or should I say a mobile tuba? No, it doesn’t have Wi-Fi ahahaha 😛

Listen to it being played solo:


►Collecting material for a new song

Some time ago I had the inspiration for the next song, and have since then been collecting some ideas and material.
One of these things are little voice snippets I’ve been recording or asking people to record, of always the same words, trying to get the most variated voices and some different accents, too.

Those words are “Keep calm and carry on”, a sentence written on a famous poster of the british government from 1939. You can read the whole story here.
Although those words definitely were said in a little ironic way at the time, I think they aren’t that wrong at all, it only depends on the context, sometimes it really is the best thing you can do, othertimes obviously not.

But as I like this kind of polemic material and one day happened to see the poster:

Poster Keep calm and carry on

printed in a magazine my dad was reading, I thought: “that’s it!” and decided to use that as inspiration for my next song.
I don’t want to tell you any more details so not to spoil the surprise, but one thing I can add: it’s going to be very much on the electronic side of music, quite different from the other songs I produced until now.
And I’d also like to launch a little invitation: If you’d like to contribute, you can send me your own recording of those 5 words, quality isn’t important, I actually like the idea of some of the takes having different sound qualities or even background noises.
The only important part is that the sentence has to be said in a natural, almost neutral way.
Send your take in mp3 format to this email adress:

joydivision “at” sapo “dot” pt

(substitute “at” with @ and “dot” with . and remove the spaces; this is against spammers)

The name of people contributing with their voices to this project will naturally appear in the credits. So, stay tuned to updates, and don’t forget to subscribe to this blog if you haven’t yet 🙂