My taste in music is as varied as my moods. I can enjoy Janis Joplin, Mozart, the big bands, a little Motown, toss in a little Kingston Trio, the
Beetles Beatles, Mick Jagger, Arlo Guthrie and Willy Nelson, Ella Fitzgerald, Abba, Maurice Jarre, Yanni, Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, today’s country, a little Spanish guitar, a piano, and the clear tones of a flute, New Age, and even elevator music. Actually the list of songs and artists I enjoy is too long to name. I’d say I like everything, but that’s not true. Every genre of music has its great sounds, and there ones that sound like fingernails on the blackboard to me within that genre. Music is very individual, but I’m always open to listening to something new.
Friends who know me will often send me something from YouTube with a you-got-to-hear-this message. Which usually sets me down the path of listening to music for hours. It was in the course of one of those off-the- beaten-path musical ventures that I stumbled into Cesar Espinoza playing Unchained Melody. I sent his video to friend whose musical taste is a strange as mine. In return, she sent me the link to Leo Rojas.
I’ll admit both men are easy on the eyes, and both are worth taking the time to listen to their music. The only way to describe it is hauntingly beautiful. And you can’t beat a handsome man playing it!
Leo won a Supertalent 2011 (similar to America’s Got Talent) in Germany, and he has a website there. I have no idea how someone from Ecuador wound up in Germany. Maybe one of those of you who understands German can tell me. Hope you’ve brushed up on your German.
Fortunately Cesar Espinoza’s website is in English and he lives in the USA. When you get there can view a video of him playing and his links to where you can buy his music. That link also give you a chance to listen to various clips of his songs on his albums. I’ve already chosen four that I want!
Now, let me back up and try to explain a pan flute. It’s a series of reeds, stuck together in a long curve, and the bottom of each reed is closed. So I think it’s like blowing into the top of a soda bottle, except these are perfectly tuned. I guess I first heard a pan flute years ago when Gheorghe Zamfir had a whole album done with a pan flute.
I happen to like the sound of a flute. You’re all thinking about that tinny sound from your years in band, right? Think again. When my girls were young, I lived in a townhouse and when a young family moved in, the mother said she played the flute and liked to practice after her husband and children left in the morning. She wanted to make sure it didn’t bother me. I told her no problem, the entire neighborhood was empty by about 9 a.m., and the townhouses were very soundproof. Turns out, if I stood in my walk-in closet, I could hear her. I think I stood there for 15 minutes listening to her. Then I ran downstairs grabbed a cup of coffee and knocked on her door! Every morning for an hour, I had my very own serenade. She played pure classical as she was a concert flutist with a sterling silver flute. To be in the same room, made my skin tingle. Awesome!
(One of my granddaughters took flute in school and made first chair. I promise she never sounded like my neighbor or any of the men who I have mentioned here.)
And who hasn’t bought their child one of those wooden six-holed flutes? Yes, you really can play music on them. My dad wanted to strangle my mom when she bought me a reed flute from a “trinket” store, as we drove through a reservation when I was a child. Mom actually taught me the basics of music during that month-long road trip. (Thanks for putting up with so much, Dad! And thanks, Mom, for the music lessons.)
Flutes seem to be a common folk instrument no matter where you visit in the world. With the American Indians, we normally think of drums and the repetitive vocals. Their flute playing seemed limited to courtship and healing, but also for fun. People like Mary Youngblood and the 1960’s interest in folk music brought these traditional Am. Indian songs to light with the general population and she won a Grammy for it.
I’m a listener. I can barely find the notes to play the piano, I had some ability with a guitar, a mandolin, and I’m the proud owner of a balalaika. I tried so hard to learn the play that thing and never did manage to do much with it other than wear out my fingertips. But my husband could play it. (But if he had a instrument in his hands, he could play it in a matter of minutes and actually sound good!) Back to being a listener… I just know when I like something and apparently what is being played now as native songs have been “modernized” and has what many call a New Age sound to it.
How do you modernize music? I have no clue, but I’ll assume it’s a little like what Hooked on Classics did for classical music and Chip Davis did with Christmas songs (Mannheim Steamroller) And the Trans-Siberian Orchestra (TSO) has done to bring classic to a new level of rock.
I was lucky to grow up knowing Leonard Bernstein and going to many of his concerts. In a way, he probably expanded my enjoyment of music. Not that I sat and had long discussions with him – I was a kid! But being dragged to concerts meant I heard live performances and garnered an appreciation of music.
Today with so many school budget cuts, children are not being exposed to the arts. I’ll save that for another day and another post. But the Internet has opened the world to us and with it, its music. Take a few minutes and click the links on the names Cesar, Leo, and Mary and treat yourself to some new sounds. You just might discover some new music that you enjoy.
And I’ve emailed Cesar and asked him to stop by. I’ll cross my fingers and hope that he comes to say hello. Maybe he can explain this new interest in the pan flute and other native flutes. I know I’d love for him to do a guest post on ethnic flutes.
I do believe I have another western coming with a hero or heroine who plays the flute. I have already written one story about a school teacher who plays the flute, in Ask Me Again. It’s a sexy little novella!
Rob Miller’s life is on overload. His business is thriving and his life is in fast forward, until he’s called home to deal with a family crisis. The last thing on his mind is romance, but when he bumps into Torrey Timberlake, a face from his past, he’s forced to re-evaluate his priorities. Could she possibly be the best thing that ever happened to him at the worst of times?
Yeah, I think I have another flute player coming. Maybe this one will be playing the pan flute and it won’t be Camille Saint-Saens’ Carnival of the Animals he’s playing. It’s been an interesting journey and I hope you explore these traditional sounds, too!