"From the Halls of Montezuma" The Official Song of the U. S. Marines
Click below to hear our assembly song of the week.
Featured Musician of the Week:
YANNI Greece 1953 Genre: World Music and Instrumental Contemporary New Age
Listening Example: "World Dance"
Our musician this week is Yiannis Chryssomallis, who is known by his professional name, Yanni. Yanni was born in Greece in 1954 but has spent his adult life in the United States. He is a composer, keyboardist, pianist and music producer. Yanni is known throughout the world as one of this century’s most original and successful composers and musicians. His compositions have defined a new genre of music which some refer to as ‘new age’. It is an instrumental blend of jazz, classical, soft rock and world music.
The Acropolis in Athens, Greece
Yanni gained international recognition by producing concerts at world historic monuments and by producing videos that were broadcast on public television. His first successful concert, Live at theAcropolis, was the second best-selling concert video of all time, after Michael Jackson’s Thriller.
SOCIAL STUDIES CONNECTION
The Acropolis is an ancient citadel, or forthold, located on a high ricky outcrop above the city of Athens, and contains the remains of several ancient buildings of great architectureal and histori significance, the most famous being the Parthenon.
Yanni's Concert Tours The historic sites for Yanni’s concerts include some of the places we have learned about, such as India’s Taj Mahal, China’s Forbidden City, Russia’s Kremlin, the Egyptian Pyramids, the Great Sphinx of Giza, the Royal Albert Hall in London, and many others. Yanni has performed in over thirty countries on five continents. Over five million people have seen his live performances.
LISTEN FOR . . . Yanni’s music reflects both his encounters with different cultures around the world and his personal philosophy of “one world, one people”. His music surpasses global boundaries.
Our video today is called “World Dance”. It shows how Yanni incorporates top-performing artists, ethnic instruments from around the world, and a fun energy into his concerts.
COMMENTS FROM YANNI'S DRUMMER: In a 2004 interview, drummer Charlie Adams was asked to point out which shows stood out in his mind in the last 25+ years of working with Yanni. Adams replied, "Obviously the most exciting one for me was Live at the Acropolis. Playing in front of over 10,000 people every night, right below the Parthenon in Athens, Greece. The thing that made it so exciting was it was the first time for Yanni to be playing at home in front of his fellow Greek citizens it made you feel warm in the heart for him. Also, I was playing a drum solo in front of a majority of people who did not speak English yet responded to my drums, I really felt that the drums communicated with them, you know. Like drumming and music is in fact an international language. A great experience that will stay with me the rest of my life." Check out the awesome drum solo in "Marching Season"!
MUSIC LISTENING LINKS
"Marching Season" features an amazing solo by drummer Charlie Adams. You'll want to watch this one!
Listening Example: "Prelude and Nostalgia"
An Armenian duduk
Yanni is a self-taught musician who had no formal music training. As a child growing up in Greece, he heard music of all styles over the radio, including classical, jazz and various rock groups of the '60's, mostly from European stations. His parents encouraged him to explore his musical creativity. He never learned to read or write music.
Yanni was a good swimmer, and at age fourteen, he won a gold medal by setting a Greek national record in the 50-meter freestyle swimming competition!
Kalamata, Greece, 1969
Since Yanni couldn't read or write music, he developed his own type of musical shorthand to help him remember melodies he created. He has said that it looks sort of like Egyptian hieroglyphics.
MUSIC TECHNOLOGY - MIDI In today’s world of computers, he is able to use music technology called MIDI, which stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface. This is a software program where one can play music on a keyboard that is connected to a computer, and it will be printed into a form that others can read.
YANNI'S MUSIC SOUND: Yanni’s influences include music from Asia, Latin America and the Middle East, as well as classical, rock and roll, jazz and electronic music. This mixture is a big part of his success. His use of Oriental elements sounds exotic, and certain songs leave you with a sense that you’ve just heard a bit of a Chinese flute or Japanese koto, or a Greek bouzouki or an Australian didgeridoo, mixed with energetic Mediterranean rhythms.
There are two basic moods to Yanni’s music: 1) exhilarating, moving and inspiring, like our example from yesterday; and 2) dreamily contemplative—a peaceful, easy-feeling that links pop music and classical style music.
LISTEN FOR . . . Our video today focuses on world music and features an ancient instrument called a duduk [doo-dook]. This double-reed flute is made of apricot wood and is indigenous to the Middle Eastern country of Armenia. It is commonly played in pairs. While the first player play the song, the second plays a steady drone, and the sound of the two instruments together creates a richer, more haunting sound.
MUSIC LISTENING LINKS
Click below to see a short documentary insight into how Yanni creates a concert with top professional musicians from around the world. You’ll want to watch the end of this video to see an Australian didgeridoo being played.
Click below to hear pretty piano music from a concert in Puerto Rico.
"Until the Last Moment" is a beautiful and soulful piano and violin duet with interesting background imagery.
"In the Morning Light" is meditative music with relaxing images and positive, uplifting quotations.
Listening Example: "Nightingale"
In 1997, Yanni became the first Western artist in modern times permitted to perform at the Forbidden City in Beijing, China. The stage was set up on the steps directly in front of the palace. In an interview, Yanni remarked that he was further honored by his mother being given a tour of the palace.
YANNI GETS A PANDA! During his 2011 tour of China, Yanni became the first Western artist to be invited to adopt a giant panda bear cub at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding. This is a privilege usually reserved for countries rather than individuals. Officials from the research institute said their decision came from the inspiration and harmony that comes from Yanni’s music. Yanni named the panda “Santorini”, which is the name of a Greek island. He explained that the Greek word irini means ‘peace’.
Yanni with Santorini
LISTEN FOR . . . Our music video is a composition called “Nightingale”, named after the bird known for its powerful and beautiful song. In an interview, Yanni told how he was inspired to write this music after he heard a nightingale singing outside his hotel room in Venice, Italy. This performance is from the Forbidden City concert. The flute technique imitates the sound of the bird.
MUSIC LISTENING LINKS
Renegade is an upbeat composition that is more jazz in style especially compared to most of Yanni's music. An awesome, surprise ending with a violin and saxophone duel. Violin of course played by our wonderful Karen Briggs and Saxophone by maestro Pedro Eustache.
"Aria" is based on the famous "Flower Duet" from the opera Lakme by Delibes.
Hear "Santorini" (the name of the Panda bear and the Greek island) played at The Dream Concert Live from he Great Pyramids of Egypt in 2015. Includes fireworks.
St. Patrick's Day
Music from Ireland
While people associate shamrocks with St. Patrick’s Day, the harp is the official emblem of Ireland. It is unique to have a musical instrument used as a symbol to represent a country.
The Celtic harp is engraved on the official seal of the President of Ireland. Although Ireland’s current flag is the tricolor, the President’s flag consists of a golden harp on a background of azure blue.
The harp is featured on Irish currency and on the reverse side of Irish Euro coins, and it is associated with popular Irish brands such as Guinness.
The Irish harp dates back to medieval times, when it was at the center of Irish society. Harpists in those times commanded high social status. They were patronized by the aristocracy in Ireland. That is why they can be seen in illuminations such as the ones seen in today’s art examples. These harps were smaller and built to be played in a person’s lap. At one point in history, Queen Elizabeth I banned harps and harpists because they were thought to be causing rebellion among the Irish people.
The most popular Irish harp is the folk harp which is smaller than orchestral harps. There are many different designs of folk harps, some very elaborate.
One of the most famous Irish harp players was Turlogh O’carolan, who was blind. He is commonly known as Ireland’s national composer. A number of Irish harpists have been blind.
Today, the accordion has replaced the harp as the most popular of Irish folk instruments, along with the fiddle.
Irish music festivals can get really creative in their advertising.
Along with music, the Irish love dancing. The jig is most associated with Irish dance music, and jig music was often included in dance suites. In the past, travelling dance masters taught all over Ireland. Places for competitions were always small, so there was little room for the Dance Masters to perform. They had to dance on tabletops, or even the top of a barrel! The dancers had to keep their body and arms very still while they moved their feet.
As time went on, larger places for dance competitions were found, so styles grew to include more movement and dancing across the stage. Step dancing became popular in 1994 by the world-famous show Riverdance. Step-dancing is noted for its quick, precise leg and foot movements, with the body and arms being kept stationary. Our video is a performance by Riverdance.
MUSIC LISTENING LINKS
Listening Example: "The Rain Must Fall"
While Yanni has composed lots of beautiful and exciting music, listeners can more fully appreciate his talent as a musician by watching videos of his live concerts. He has highly talented artists from around the world who perform regularly with him. His drummer, Charlie Adams, led the band Yanni first played in during college, and they’ve been performing together since then. You can watch a fantastic drum solo by Adams on the music culture page in the piece called “Marching Season”.
Charlie Adams, drummer
When performing, Yanni is not only focused on his own playing, but he is totally immersed in the playing of the other performers. As you watch, it is as if he is reflecting their performance in a mirror and becoming an integral part of it. That is the quality that defines his expertise as a music producer, and makes his concerts so appealing to his audiences.
The featured video for today is from a live outdoor concert at El Morro, a 16th century castle in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico is an island in the Carribbean.
LISTEN FOR . . . Most of Yanni's pieces last from five to seven minutes. While the opening theme is important to set the mood, usually the best part comes towards the middle or the end of the music. "The Rain Must Fall" begins with soft rock, then transitions to a jazzy-blues feeling. About half way through, the bass guitar player has a solo, followed by a fantastic fiddle solo at 5:15 - 7:31 minutes.
MUSIC LISTENING LINKS
"Nican" (In Your Heart) is from a concert in Acapulco, Mexico. It feature children singing on stage.
Click below to hear a brief documentary of Yanni's experience in Tunisia a few days after a bombing incident.