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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.

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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.

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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”.

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Does Everybody Love Pop Music?

Pop music is a particular genre of music that is characterized as songs that are “popular” tunes of a current time period.  The term “pop music” began in the early 1920’s.  During that time, pop music was generally music that was family-friendly, and they were songs that the whole family enjoyed listening to; however, over the next few decades, pop music slowly became music that was listened to mostly by teenagers and young people.  Pop music has played a large part in the lives of young people for many, many years.

Pop music is often a combination of many music genres.  Some songs include elements of genres such as: Latin, rock, or rhythm and blues.  Pop songs are generally not too long in length, averaging about 3-5 minutes per song.  They usually include easy-to-remember choruses and very melodic tunes.  Pop music often is upbeat in rhythm and encourages the listener to dance or tap their feet.  The lyrics usually involve words that exhibit common trends of the current times.

Pop music originated in the United Kingdom and the United States, and is still a very popular genre in both areas.  Many countries around the world have some variation of their own pop music.  The commonality across the world, as far as pop music goes, is that pop music is largely written for the vast majority of young citizens and includes lyrics that are simple and memorable.

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An Artist to Check Out

brandi carlile

There are a lot of great bands and artists coming to perform in Birmingham over the next couple of months.  It’s hard to decide which concerts to spend money on when there are so many to choose from!  We are very excited about a particular artist playing at the Lyric Theatre on April 21.

Brandi Carlile’s music is a mixture between alt-country and folk rock.  Before you even ask, she is not related to Belinda Carlisle who is best known for her lead singing role in the Go-Go’s.  Brandi dropped out of high school to chase her dream of being a musician and has been working hard at it ever since.  She taught herself how to play the guitar and piano at a young age. One of her most popular songs, “The Story” has been used in television commercials and shows, and contestants on the hit show “The Voice” have sung it.  While this particular song has had a lot of commercial appeal, the rest of Brandi Carlile’s catalog is wonderful in its own.

She has been playing music with twin brothers Phil and Tim Hanseroth from the early days and they have formed quite a following over the years.  Brandi and the twins have toured extensively and have opened for various artists as well.  The trio, along with the rest of the band, have released numerous albums and continue to play small, intimate concerts, large arenas, and festivals.  They even did a tour where they performed with different symphonies across the country.

Check out the video below of Brandi Carlile and the band performing live at a radio station in Seattle, where they are from.  Her voice is extremely powerful and beautiful and her energy draws you in.  If you are available on April 21 you should definitely visit the Lyric Theatre for what promises to be an incredible evening!

Magic City Music Events

sloss music festival

Recently, I was discussing music concerts with my co-worker when he enlightened me with information about several musical events that take place in our lovely city.  I know that Birmingham is blessed with a number of musically inclined people and the city possesses a number of wonderful music venues and a growing number of musical bands.  It should come as no surprise that Birmingham also hosts a number of music events, also.

Perhaps one of the most popular festivals is the Sloss Music and Arts Festival that is held during the summer, annually, in Birmingham.  This festival is a two-day event that encompasses a variety of musical acts, arts and crafts displays, and a plethora of food and drinks.  There are usually about 40 bands that entertain crowds of patrons during this event.  This event provides an opportunity to explore and celebrate the variety and uniqueness of multiple bands and sounds all within close proximity.

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Birmingham’s Best Known Bands

st paul and the broken bones

Birmingham, Alabama has a wonderful, vibrant, and growing music scene!  The town boasts a plethora of entertainment venues; from a lively, renovated historic district to modern, innovative venues.  Consequently, many musicians are creating local bands and are entertaining Birmingham residents throughout the city. 

A few bands that are popular are: St. Paul and The Broken Bones, Taylor Hicks, Within Reason, Catalyst Red, and Ages Apart.

St. Paul and The Broken Bones band was created in 2012 in Birmingham.  Their specialty is soul music and you can hear the smooth rhythms with the beats of instruments like the keyboard, guitars, drums, and saxophone.  They have released two albums already and they can be heard in venues around Birmingham and as they travel to destinations around the United States. 

Taylor Hicks became well-known in 2006 after he was named the winner of the popular television show, American Idol.  Originally from Birmingham, Alabama, Taylor often plays his classic rock and blues music in venues around Alabama and throughout the U.S.

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Something for Everyone

Birmingham skyline

Birmingham, Alabama is a city that has a lot to offer.  If you’re a sports fan, food fanatic, or a music connoisseur, then Birmingham can supply you with a variety of options from which to choose.  The music scene is particularly diverse. 

If you’re into history, you can combine your interest in music and historic landmarks consecutively.  Birmingham has a historic district where you will find gems such as the Alabama Theatre and the Lyric Theatre.  Birmingham also boasts newer venues such as Workplay, Iron City, Old Car Heaven, as well as a number of bars and restaurants that host live music on a weekly basis.

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Historic Venues in Birmingham

alabama theatre

Birmingham, Alabama is a growing, fun, active metropolis.  More people live in Birmingham than any other city in Alabama.  Since the town’s origin in 1871, Birmingham has become a center of education, art, and culture.  There are several historic landmarks that are still thriving today.  Some of the most popular landmarks that are still in use are the town’s multiple music venues.  A few of the most popular ones are the Alabama Theatre, the Lyric Theatre, and the Carver Theatre.

The Alabama Theatre was built in 1927 and is located in its original location, which is now known as the historic theater district.  When the Alabama Theatre first opened, it only showed silent films.  The building still houses the original Mighty Wurlitzer organ that provided the music during the silent films.  Known as “Big Bertha,” the organ brings people from all over the country to the Alabama Theatre to see and hear it in all its glory.  Check out the video below when it was featured on the PBS show Antiques Roadshow.   

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