After a year of absence, I’m coming back to write: This time with a new look and new format. From now on, this blog can be read in English and Hebrew and invites everyone on the globe to be part of my musical world. Last year I experienced a massive upheaval in my life as I knew until now. After a long and intense process, I moved to live with my love in the United States.
I wasn’t ready for the intense emotional experience involved with such a change. And so each time I encounter a new sight, new behaviors, the different seasons – all these raise associations to my fevered brain, and naturally, there are many appropriate soundtracks for these associations. The next mixtape ‘nugget’ features tracks that accompanied me at different times in my life, some of them at very young age, some later and some from recent weeks. Each one of them sparks something very emotional in me.
My first encounter with Indian music started like many others with the Sitar of George Harrison in the song ‘Within Without You’ from Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band of The Beatles. It was at the age of 12, and I remember the first times I listened to the record I just lifted the tonearm and skipped to the next track – it was too hard for me to digest this kind of sound. Not much time went by, I decided to give the song another chance and after several playings of the record, something drew and hypnotized me to this musical mystery. In 2002 I went to India, headed directly to Varanasi, there I started to learn to play the sitar for a few months. One of the first things of the irritating routine there was the absolute flood of current hits from the contemporary blockbuster Indian films. At least in 2002 the pop music that was presented in a typical Indian street was taken from the cinematic musicals (that are famously known as Bollywood movies). Every place you pass, if it’s just on the open road or when you sit to eat in a restaurant; when you walk through shops or in the market – everybody listens to Bollywood songs. That way, as a foreign tourist, love music or not, you can’t get away from them.
Like every new thing you experience in a place like India, and particularly a place like Varanasi, it takes time until you absorb something outside of your Western ‘European’ layers such as I possess. And so, this kind of music trickled slowly to my veins, and in the minute I started to discover some interest in these songs, I realized what drew me so much – to differentiate from the traditional Indian music, the music of Bollywood is incredibly rich with music instruments and especially festive strings. These lush arrangements bring with it harmonies respectively, at least, this is how I recognized it as a western listener. And this is not just harmony, it is sometimes very bold harmony, depicted with very bold chord progressions. If I compare it to the current chord progressions or sequences in a typical western pop song – the Bollywood harmony style will challenge the average western ears. Only in a much later stage, I understood that this “harmony” that I’m addressing to derived because of the use of the traditional Indian music motives (the Indian Ragas). Ragas could be very asymmetric comparing to the ordinary western keys and scales. The arrangers that made the orchestrations for those Bollywood productions composed the orchestral accompaniment in a way that will thicken the melody and the singing in the songs which are usually based on Ragas. When we come and analyze the orchestrations and harmonies with the notion about Ragas, the perception is changing and we could easily see that this “bold harmony” is only a matter of combination between the traditional Indian motives, scales, and musical ornaments and only rarely real chords are played like in western music fashion.
The acknowledgment and the study about the behavior of the music and arrangement of Bollywood songs gave me huge inspiration for my own personal music creation, and if nature will, you could experience some of it too.
Meanwhile, you have here a colorful first sale for a holiday.
Click on the play button:
In these unbearable days of lack of real positive horizon, I feel it will be the right thing to upload this post to the air. I don’t have any kind of pretension to give here an idea for conflict solution, or maybe it will be more accurate to say an idea to prevent from these factors to rule our lands and governments who just want to keep the peace away from us.
But, let’s put the politics aside. This time I decided to wallow in the most nostalgia without any kind of concerns about my will to share ‘decent’ musical material or less familiar like I tend to do on the posts of this blog.
All started a few months ago while I cleaned my apt. I decided to solve some very irritating problem that I found just when entered to live here, but it took me a while until I decided to do something. Are you familiar with these sliding doors that slide into the wall? I have such double doors in my bedroom. For some reason, they couldn’t be open completely, and it really pissed me off, so I removed the stopper that prevents the doors to move the opposite way, and then I got way to the inner tunnel inside the wall – and what did I found there? the thing that prevented the doors from sliding to the end were simply old newspaper chunks that someone stuck there for an unknown reason. Of course, I pulled them out and as an elderly coming nostalgia enthusiast, I spread them, and I discovered some entertaining stories and advertisements.
Most of these newspapers are from 1984, and then I recalled that I have a reel tape found in a pile of reel to reel tapes that my former boss gave me some years ago while I worked in a local radio station. My boss worked before for years as a technician in the national Israeli broadcast authority and one of the things that he did there was preparing commercials and jingles for the radio. Until the computer age with sound and actually until the mid-1990s the radio stations used Cartridge tapes for jingles and commercials (you can see bellow the pics of these tapes and their player).
One of the advantages of this kind of tapes is that their internal magnetic tape is constructed as a loop when the recording material finishes it returns to the start position and the player automatically stops and ready to play the cartridge from the start.
The cartridge player had a nickname – Toaster, because of the resemblance to the bread toaster. One interesting anecdote, I don’t know who of you can pay attention to the audible signals between the commercials that I fixed between the songs on this featured mixtape. I remember myself as a kid hearing these ‘ding-dongs’ between the jingles and commercials and I didn’t understand why they been there. Apparently, this is the electronic signal that tells the cartridge player to switch to the next commercial that was recorded on a different cartridge and was located in a different slot of the player.
I came to a conclusion that these ads prepared for broadcasting at the end of August 1984. With the relics that I found behind my doors I got the inspiration to create this mixtape and then recalled with a pic of myself, very typical of this era while I was 6. I used to sit on the floor and played for hours with Lego and listen to the radio (besides my mythologic record player that I already mentioned here).
In this nugget I don’t find a lot of musical value with the songs that I picked, some of them I really love and anyway my purpose is sheer escapism when we have a desperate crisis.
For better routine, here is the new nugget:
I think I’ve got a real good timing for releasing this mixtape – We are on our post-holiday of Poorim (a Jewish holiday that can be compared to Haloween – people dress in costumes etc.) The musical content that integrated here deserves this fun atmosphere of the holiday which many times related to some common figures from the media when many people wear costumes of famous characters that sometimes come from TV shows, movies and so, and of course, each one of them has a certain musical theme. Most of the tracks that are featured here had a function which was to serve these themes for TV, movies or radio transitions. Most of them are extremely seriously performed by their artists, but I assume that today most of the average listeners who accidently encounter which such music will probably raise a smile (which is completely cool) or maybe they will be attacked with sticky nostalgic emotions (oh well).
I have another ulterior motive to publish this mixtape. I think it is almost a week from since our Israeli minister of communications, which is responsible for the public TV and radio network, declared that he’s going to dismantle this immense authority. This subject of media institutions relates in my mind to the fascinating creativity of different musicians who were asked to compose for the institute or the musical directors and editors that have been invited to pick some already recorded materials as functional music which suppose to serve the goal of attracting attention momentarily from not necessarily captivated listeners.
An excellent example is the closing track in this collection. The mythologic George Martin composed it as the opening theme for BBC’s BBC 1 radio station. You can hear the superb composition and arrangement of Martin (pay attention to the accurate melody and the ‘spicy’ harmony). I haven’t checked it thoroughly, but I won’t be surprised if the Beatles members are playing there. Other interesting examples are the tracks that John Williams is credited for, which he created some years before he became the frequent musical partner for Steven Spielberg. I chose to add some other tracks that related to Classical music, but here I picked some works that had transcripted, which means, they originally composed for one instrument, for example, piano or organ, and much later arranged for orchestral performance – this thing is captivating my ears, different interpretation, and orchestras in general…
Wandering the net I encountered with a ‘video clip’ that was filmed for one of these tracks that are featured on my mixtape. The visual composition was really entertaining for me:
I want so much to thank for this opportunity to the courtesy of the artist Dragan Nikodijevic for letting me use his art for the cover of this nugget which is very appropriate for the musical content. You can click this link for watching his other works.
Please hit the play:
I don’t know what is going on with me recently, the musical need for dealing with more core and mellow materials, the intensive work that I have with singers and acoustic guitars… anyway, one of the genres that always caught my attention is Folk. As you might know, the word is coming from the term folklore – popular tradition. I must make here a definite diagnosis, maybe for ones that are not familiar with the musical terms – there is Folklore that resembles tradition for certain people or nations, and there is Folk. When today people mention Folk, they relate it to the Folk Revival movement that started initially in the early 20th century in the USA. It resembled the people story textually. Practically, the singers that performed the songs of this movement were usually accompanying themselves with an acoustic guitar. And I want to focus on this matter – at least when it concerns to me when people mention the word Folk I have immediately the association of acoustic guitar with steel strings (and not the nylon strings that Spanish classical guitar has). In the 1950s there was a progression of this movement, and the artists start to perform their own materials rather than the popular, sometimes anonymous texts, and from there comes the term Singer-songwriter. As a musician, composer, arranger and soundman I always paid attention to the music and only much much later I started to pay attention to the words too. In this mixtape, the ‘advenced’ listeners could catch the mixture of genres that you can’t always relate to Folk. The important thing for me here is to glorify this beautiful instrument, the acoustic guitar. I think it is the most important instrument among the modern pop music genres. This day I can say sweepingly, if I could have the option as a kid, I’d rather take the energy to learn to play the guitar and not the piano, which has, of course, its advantages especially for composers and arrangers. But if I can compare I’ll say that the acoustic guitar is always combined, in my opinion, in a perfect way with a singer’s voice. It is always gentle but could be very rhythmical when needed like a percussion. Always when someone starts to have some interest in playing on a musical instrument and ask for my advice, I will always recommend on the guitar. As always like in previous nuggets, I tried to combine excellent tracks that resemble the right vibe of the subject:
OK, this time I have a sequel mixtape for the series Through the curtains. This set is dealing with musical mood and not with a genre or particular subject. Here experienced musical ears will recognize the common materials that are interesting and exciting for me. I gave my heart the option to randomly court after songs or tracks that drew my attention lately. This time I don’t have any historical, nostalgic or technical story for the music, only strong desire to share this sequence for anyone – you are most welcome to
click on the play icon on the picture:
Have a great warming winter!
Yes yes…. it is almost one year since I wrote here for the last time. I have a critical year, many vicissitudes my destiny held for me, and there are more to come. Through all this time I never stopped pondering about my musical activity as a music curator and editor, one that I find interesting and inspiring. This time I chose to deal with a primary music genre, one that can accidently be considered as marginal to my musical environment (of course it is not). The ones that follow this blog and may get an impression of esoteric or eclectic taste that I possess, a taste that not always please fastidious ears. This time I deal with a much more widespread musical domain: I’m talking about Rock, and especially Classic Rock. It leaks from the roots of the Blues to some more rough zones that are characterized by intensive use of the Overdrive effect (Or Distortion God forbid. Personally I prefer the sourness sound of the Fuzz effect between these options). Hence, this domain goes beyond the standard harmonies and patterns of the Blues, on which the original Rock music is based.
So as I mentioned musically, this mixtape contains some examples from the Classic Rock pantheon (mainly from the early 1970s) but also newer materials, all of them are painted with the sourness, warm and energetic ingredient – and from here comes the name for this nugget:
The Jewish holiday of Hanuka is here, and as Israelis, it floods us with associations and memories. Here, as always, I mention these nuggets that waiting for the right time – this is the best time to present a nugget that expected, much longer before I even thought I’ll have such a thing as a blog for sharing my musical schemes. This is a great musical collection of songs that originally created for the Israeli children in the 1970s and 1980s. As a straight sequel to the previous mixtapes ‘Israelick I’ and ‘II,’ this nugget features some of the Israeli music giants. I remember one interview of one of these musicians, Yoni Rechter, about his amazing masterpiece for children “The 16th lamb”, and from his own point of view, he came to compose this project like every other musical job he did for adults before, with the same eye level. This was in 1978, and as the years go by this immortal piece is crossing through generations and different backgrounds in the Israeli society.
This time, because I found so many decent songs (for my opinion of course), not that I only exceeded the usual length of a radio hour per mixtape, I created a double release for the first time, and here you have an extended double nugget.
Most of the songs were digitized from vinyl records. Unfortunately, this time I really understood what my soundman colleagues and teachers spoke about old Israeli recordings – for the first time as an adult listener with experienced ear, I discovered that the sound job that was done on many of these recordings was amateur in our current notions. Lot of the songs have pretty bad audio mix work, and about Mastering I can’t talk at all. I also tried here to bring the best I could from the original records, and I think that I got a pretty satisfying result. If we pass over the names of the writers and the composers and the arrangers of these songs we’ll discover the names of the giants from the Israeli creators. Starting with Moshe Vilensky through Matty Caspi, Shem Tov Levi, Roman Kuntzman, Shlomo Gronich, Yair Rosenblum, Kobi Oshrat and of course the best leader Israeli well-known performers like Chava Alberstein, Arik Einstein, Yehoram Gaon, Nurit Galron, Netanela, Ariel Zilber, David Broza, Sasi Keshet and more. I want to make a spot for paramount two musicians. The first is Rafi Kadishson that unfortunately doesn’t get enough credit that he deserved for his making which is very extensive. Here in this nugget, I picked some amazing tracks that he composed and arranged for the Israeli version of Sesame Street TV show. (pay attention to the songs that performed by Mazzy Cohen מזי כהן, it is pure crafted Progressive Rock!). The second musician that I want to mention is Ilan Wirtzberg – I think that at least one-quarter of the songs that presented here been done with his wand if we are talking about compositions or ‘only’ arrangements that are amazing by themselves, even innovative for the time they been made. I want to dedicate this nugget for some beautiful friends of mine that are going to be new parents in these days and in general for those who have already children. May it be so the door will open for new, innovative, sophisticated, valuable music creation for children, like the former great musicians that treated this job not less, maybe more seriously than they do when they create for adults.
This time I’ll focus on an individual musical domain which I love and connected to since ever. I’m talking about this ‘royal’ element that you can’t necessarily relate to a particular musical genre. The most related thing to a musical genre that I can think of was in the late 1960s – Baroque pop, and as you could listen soon this royal element is leaking between many genres outside of pop, and that’s good. I mentioned in some previous post about Modal character which is essential to this musical domain. The composers of the above field embraced some common musical principles from the Baroque era which its roots are mainly from Italy, but also from the British folklore that includes the whole area – Scotland, Wales and Ireland, and even parts of France and other places in western Europe. It is interesting to mention, maybe naturally, the Modal influences and harmonies that are suitable for them, came to other areas through the Christianity and the church, to the eastern Europe and the Balkan folklore music.
The Modal musical materials alone, are familiar with cultures around the globe. But with our ‘royal’ case we can distinguish a typical vocal presentation that includes some particular phrasing or word cutting that became familiar in other countries far from the British Isles. As you can listen in the next nugget, one of the most common instruments is the Harpsichord which I really love. (One of my dreams is to own a harpsichord when I reserve enough room for it… beside some other fantasies…)
The Harpsichord was a predecessor to the piano that we know today. Its way of producing the notes is entirely opposite to the piano. When we hit a key on the piano, we’re triggering an internal hammer to hit the strings. With a Harpsichord, hitting a key causing to pluck a string as you can see in the following video: (I suggest to forward it to the 1:15 min)
I think that the choice of using the Harpsichord helping to emphasize the majesty that characterizes the music and the performance in this domain. More common musical ingredients that we can find here are the massive vocal harmonies, and Counterpoint in particular, and of course the use of acoustic instruments like flutes and plucked instruments. On the first ‘nugget’ that I posted here in this blog, we have some great example for the folkloric use of Modal motives of the young Israeli state. In this nugget, I chose to pick some tracks that contain the ‘royal’ domain but have some additional values that keep them out from the classic folklore music. I think that at least half of the tracks that presented here, come from the Progressive Rock music genre which is one of my musical foundations, and also as an important musical form it will get a tasty nugget series in the future.
As I mentioned in one of my previous posts, I’ll expand my words about my musical birthplace – My first record player. It accompanied me, placed in the room’s corner on some cabinet while it plays and plays… My parents taught me how to turn it on since I remember myself. The amazing thing is that I didn’t have a clue then that this is a changer turntable, one that can play six records continuously, as a matter of fact, six sides of records. You can watch this clip with my lovely first record player:
I discovered this trick only much later. As a child, I listened to the records in the usual way – one by one. A typical picture you could see if you entered my childhood room in my parents’ home was a small child sitting on the rug and playing with Lego for hours while listening to records from the 1960s. In much fewer times I listened to some children records, especially the Israeli Children Music Festival records that were very popular in Israel while my sisters and I had grown. These were the only newer records that my parents bought beside those 1960s records my father purchased in his teens. One of my first memories as a young child was that I wanted to have a good stereo system. (How many toddlers in the age of 2-3 you know that wish for a good stereo?) Probably at this age, I was already aware of the existence of lower and higher frequencies that this record player couldn’t produce. It is a device that plays through one built in speaker (as is, it is Mono), the sound quality is minus mediocre, especially because of the use of a Ceramic cartridge. In general, this piece is very primitive built, even though it contains vacuum tubes (something that considered good these days), it has a small diameter speaker that can’t provide impressive sound quality. I must point that the suitcase and the internal amplifier built in Israel (there is a label of the manufacturer inside the case). The turntable itself made by Garrard, which was one of the most famous British brands that era. It is an ‘autoslim’ model which means it senses the size of the record automatically while it drops down through the long spindle. There is a side lever that moves while the record falls to the platter, and then the arm knows where to land, whether it’s a 7, 10 or standard 12-inch record. The wish for a good stereo system fulfilled in a later age, and maybe because of this first absence, I collected (fixed and also gave to others) many types of record players through all the years.
And now for the music itself. The small record collection that I had then (and of course still exists in my current library), included mainly Rock’nRoll, Twist, Blues, Soul and some Israeli music that my father bought as a youngster from the beginning of the 1960s til 1966. Then he recruited for the military service (there are no any newer records that he bought after). When I was ten, I started to buy my own records.
Here are some things that he tells as a response to my questions:
“The first album that I remember that I had was of Chubby Checker [the singer that sings Let’s twist again]. “My exposure to new music and especially from abroad was very limited. We had in Israel only three radio stations back then, and they used to play western pop music very sporadically, there wasn’t any scheduled radio show for this music or rather a special DJ that played this music. We also listened rarely to some broadcasts from abroad like the BBC stations through the Short waves, and we had some exposure from there. I don’t remember any record purchasing experience. In the Qrayot area (Haifa’s suburbs) there were not any record stores, and in Haifa, there was ‘Hataklit’ record shop in Hertzl street, which was quite modest. I remember that there used to be some undedicated stores, like toy stores, or stationery shops that used to hold some records for sale. I remember I visit a record store on Ben Yehuda street in Tel Aviv, but that was it. I must say that differently from what today’s media use to mention about the 1960s in Israel – as the establishment was against the pop culture from USA and UK, I haven’t felt it. I was a cadet in the social youth movement, and then a guide. At the youth movement activities we had a very ideological environment, and still, I remember at the same time, there was a club, its name was ‘Fulfillment’ [And I add here – how ironic…]. In this club, they used to play music for dance, and we used to go there right after our meetings at the youth movement house, so I don’t remember that was any rebellion feeling among the youth. From the other hand, there wasn’t some form of typical engagement or swarming after the culture or fashion from abroad, and particularly not after Rock music. I don’t remember any Rock concerts in Haifa area, and I don’t remember any person that held an electric guitar at home or any group that played around.
About the record player – it was placed in my room; my parents didn’t care much about music. I knew about this function of the automatic record changing, but I didn’t like this feature, I thought it could damage the records, and I didn’t use it. Later I had a reel to reel tape recorder, and I liked the idea that I can choose the music myself [My father made mixtapes!], And I don’t have to be dependent on the fixed playlist of a record, that sometimes I didn’t like all the songs it contained. This way I recorded music from the radio or from records I borrowed from friends, and that was enough for me – the songs were what was important for me and not the audio quality, that was the reason that I never bought a stereo system. Even though I always find music entertaining, it has never been in high priority, and when I went to the military service I came only once a month to visit home and besides for relaxing I had other things to do that were more important than music.”
Big number from this record selection were various artists collections that been edited in Israel and published under ‘Hataklit’ label in Haifa. I found an interesting interview with ‘Hataklit’ owner, Dov Zeira that tells very briefly about his pioneering with this subject in Israel, by distributing this music. TL;DR he answers to the interviewer question about the past: “I had the sense to know what will be a success, that’s all.”
In this picture you can see the back side of the sleeve of one of these records, which says:
“For you only!
That’s our slogan!
This record designed and produced for you only!
You can say – every record created for me – I’m the customer
And therefore – we wouldn’t try to contradict your words, the customer…
But go out and see how many records can’t adjust themselves to the average music amateurs. “For you only” produced only for you, wherever you like Dion’s singing or the theme from the film “Navarone guns,” or if “The Shirrels” voices are your favorite or Craig Douglas or John Leyton.
This record contains a song like “Teen queen of the week” together with the fantastic tune from the movie “The singer, not the song.”
This record contains Twist following the voice of Jack Scott; this is a record for you, and for you only!
We hope that you will enjoy from the songs same as us while we compiled this record.
‘Hataklit’ LTD Haifa”
As Dov Zeira’s words, like my father, you can hear some lack of particular interest that was in that era for this music, I guess they probably got these things as they are and didn’t feel that something new or important is happening. And amazingly, I don’t know if it’s luck or not, but those collections designed primarily my music taste and the way that I understand how the music changed profoundly in our days.
So yes, after I hear these things from an authentic source that lived in those days. As a witness to the development of the music and the modern fashion in the world and the way that it accepted in Israel, I have a little bit stronger and accurate perspective now, comparing to what the current media likes to tell about the 1960s in a nostalgic way.
There wasn’t such resistance for things that came from abroad, and from the other side, people and youngsters didn’t run after it, they were busy with other things. While I thank so much that I won, probably accidentally, to be exposed to that kind of music in that sort of way. So here is a nugget that contains a good selection from the soundtrack of my childhood. I think it has a lot of value, most of these songs didn’t turn to be classics, but I found a lot of musical value inside them, much more than a personal nostalgia. I made this nugget from the actual records that for my great pleasure, they survived the years especially after a small child abused them. I even hustled and connected my old record player to the computer to transfer this experience in the most authentic way that I can, with the limited monophonic sound. Pay attention – those of you who have sensitive listening capability will hear the slightly faster speed playing from the standard. That’s the way this record player is playing (it doesn’t have a Pitch knob like in advanced tables where you can adjust the playing speed accurately)
That’s it, now click the play:
With the last 3 years, I’m working as a music director and technician in a local radio station. Because it is a station that doesn’t occupy many live shows during the day, we have a lot of extra empty hours in which in regular times the computer use to random music and jingles or pre-recorded shows. When I had free time, I started to create my own playlists to broadcast in these open hours. And with my natural way, these playlists turned out to be extremely eclectic. So I decided to upload some of them for your pleasure:
Oh, how long I waited to come back and to right here… There are so many materials and experiences I gathered through these months, and only now, after my ‘forced’ holiday vacation, I could find the time to seat and to finish some things for this precious blog. So here, I’ll take the advantage to present the first nugget after a long break, and this time I want to touch the new music that I’m being exposed to, new music that being created within the current years. I’m happy that I mustered the energy to listen to new music that being created these days around the globe and that after I felt that in those last years from some reasons, even the independent music is uninspired. I think that this feeling of mine, though others, comes from the enormous flood of information that getting bigger as long as the time moves, and like this the sources for creation and documentation, and also the storage availability and the easiness of sharing these materials are incredible. I think we are witnessing for phenomena that didn’t exist before – the number of productive musicians is relentless, and they document themselves like never before. I don’t pretend to bring here any news, only to tell about my experience. I have to put so much time to find some new music that will be exciting and interesting for me, and when I think about the Sisyphean investment I have to do – it makes me take distance from the endless search. But what can I do? There is always a time when all my musical sources are getting old, and the ears want to refresh with something new from our age.
So I spent the last weeks with deep digging after new materials, some of them are appearing in this nugget. Bands like ‘Greazly Bear’ that I shame to admit that I haven’t known before feature here on the side of more senior artists like David Byrne (Talking Heads leader). I think some music diggers will resent me for my old distaste for this band or some other acts from the cold 1980s. This song is an excellent example for co-operating between Byrne and St. Vincent (which is Anny Erin Clark, a notable musician that collaborated with great artists of the Indie domain through the last decade).
In short, I’m completely satisfied from this puzzle 🙂
I want to use this occasion to add another link for a guest mixtape that I made for the Israeli Jewish new year’s eve, on my friend’s blog ‘The Shell.’ Except this, there are many other nuggets waiting for exposure, and the next one is going to deal with one of my biggest loves. Keep follow!