page contents

All About the Glockenspiel

Musical instruments are available in a huge variety of shapes, sounds, purposes, materials, and sizes.  It would be a difficult task to name all the instruments of the world, much less learn the history of them.  One instrument that is interesting to learn about is called the Glockenspiel.

Glockenspiel is just a fun word to say aloud, and it is also a fun-sounding musical instrument.  Similar to a xylophone in appearance, the glockenspiel is a percussion instrument that has a set of bars that are usually played with a small rubber mallet.  The glockenspiel falls into the metallophone category because its bars are made of metal; unlike a xylophone’s bars that are made of wood.  The glockenspiel is usually smaller in size than a xylophone, and creates musical sounds that are higher in pitch.

The glockenspiel originated as an instrument consisting of bells in multiple sizes in the early 14th century.  The translation of the word “glockenspiel” literally means “bell-play”.  There were large glockenspiels that were initially used in church towers to create the unique bell sound, and smaller ones that people had in their homes.

Read more

I’ve Got the Rhythm & Blues

The genre of rhythm and blues, better known as R&B music, has a particular sound.  Sometimes, the sound mimics moods of heartache, pain, failures, and triumphs.  Originally started during the 1940’s, R&B music was played mostly for the African-American population; however, over the decades since then, it has become widespread throughout various singers and musical bands.

Rhythm and blues have played a part in influencing the town of Birmingham for many years. There are several R&B bands and clubs throughout the city.  There are also R&B festivals that are held annually around town. 

R&B music combines many genres.  Sounds of soul, gospel, funk, hip hop, and pop music can all be heard in various musical selections.  Typically, instruments such as the piano, guitar, drums, saxophone, and keyboard are used to create the sounds of R&B. 

The lyrics of rhythm and blues songs often have poignant messages.  They tend to focus on serious issues of people’s lives, including aspirations, relationships, and economics.  They are often sung in a very melodic fashion and with a lot of heart.

Read more

Amazing Grace

If you are familiar with the television show, America’s Got Talent, then you may know the name Grace VanderWaal.  She was the $1,000,000 winner of the 11th season of the show.  She sang her own lyrics and played her own music with her ukulele in order to become the champion.  The unique sound of her voice and of her chosen instrument, the ukulele, provided her with the tools she needed to create such an interesting performance.

I recently found out that Grace has ties to the Birmingham area.  I had hired the best electrician Hoover AL had to offer and while he was working on some repairs, I was watching the rerun of the show when Grace won.  My electrician was very proud to tell me that she was his niece.  What a small world!

The ukulele is very unique because it is relatively small in size, yet creates a very distinguishable sound.  It was originally from Hawaii, but during the 20th century became very popular in the mainland of the United States.  Eventually, it became popular worldwide.

The ukulele is designated as a member of the lute classification of instruments.  It is a guitar-like instrument that has four nylon strings that are plucked with the player’s fingertips or with a felt guitar pick.  Ukuleles are usually made of wood, but some can also be found that are made of plastic.  The traditional wood that was used in the construction of the ukulele was acacia koa wood, but many other types of wood have also been used to create this petit instrument.  The name ukulele comes from the Hawaiian words, “uku”, which means gift or reward, and “lele”, which means to come.  The literal translation is “the gift that came here”.

Read more