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The Hang Drum 

Resembling a small UFO crafted during the The “Byzantine Empire, the Hang Drum” is actually not a drum at all, it is simply called a “Hang” (pronounced “Hung” and meaning “hand").  It was created in late 1999 in Bern Switzerland (you know, the place that is home to the Large Hadron Collider, the worlds most advanced particle accelerator?) by two instrument builders named Sabina Scharer and Felix Rohner from the company Panart.  

The Hang is played by flicking the sides of the thumb over the different indentations, which each produce a different tone.  Each Hang is designed typically in one scale so there are essentially no wrong notes to hit (an F minor hang, a C major hang, etc.).  This encourages fluid and almost hypnotic playing styles, driving by constant rhythm.  
Although the Hang resembles a steel pan it is actually categorized as a membranophone
A Music Company called Lark in the Morning, specializing in rare instruments, gave the name “Hang Drum” to the “Hang” to increase it’s marketability.  After popularity of the instrument spread in the early 2000’s from busker’s video performances being uploaded to Youtube, the name “Hang Drum” had spread virally.  Unfortunately for it’s creators, the name “Hang Drum” has caused an overwhelming amount of confusion over the internet.  Naming the instrument a "drum" has caused many players to damage the instrument and injure themselves from hitting it too hard.  It requires a light and quick technique rather than a hard hitting one, like many percussion instruments typically favor.  The term "Hang" is also a registered trademark by the company and any spin off instruments of their invention are known as "Handpans".  
Want to hear what it sounds like? Watch this beautiful performance by the talented London street performer, Daniel Waples (check out his FB page by clicking the his name), please comment below and share this blog with your friends!  I appreciate all of your thoughts, words and ideas!

Six Song Mash-up Provides Good Evidence All Country Sounds the Same 

A now viral video shows six different country hit songs mashed into one. The video's creator, Gregg Todd, made the mash-up to illustrate the similarities in popular country music, using pro-tools and a good ear.  Todd was quoted saying "It was the formula at work: a tight, mid-tempo backbeat; a quick, two-verse set-up, often laced with clever wordplay and bouncy, lyrical melody; and — bam — the power chorus to bring it all home and keep them coming back." Not only is the music in the songs almost identical, but the lyrical content is so interchangeable that you're almost able to follow the story as if it is one song.

The six songs in the mash-up are:

  • "Luke Bryan's Drunk on You, written by Josh Kear, Chris Tompkins and Rodney Clawson.
  • Shelton's Sure Be Cool If You Did, writen by Clawson, Jimmy Robbins and Tomkins
  • Cole Swindell's Chillin' It, written by Swindell and Shane Minor.
  • Florida Georgia Line's This Is How We Roll, written by Tyler Hubbard, Brian Kelley, Bryan and Swindell.
  • Chase Rice's Ready Set Roll, written by Rice, Rhett Atkins and Chris DeStefano.
  • Parmalee's Close Your Eyes, Iritten by Adam Craig, Trent Tomlinson and Minor.
But it's not all bad and not all or even most listeners or writers are offended. A large part of this phenomenon is attributed to a team of extremely successful writers in Nashville who have a hand in almost everything that makes it to the radio and then a stream of writers trying to mimic the trends they start.  KNIX-FM Radio in Phoenix, AZ even played the mash-up on the air and had a Q&A with some listeners who were avid country fans and although they too noticed the similarities most of them didn't really mind.  

Todd continued: "Not only do I have nothing in particular against the 'formula,' I actually embrace it for the sake of achieving the near-impossibility of getting a song played on the radio," he says. "I heard the similarities in these particular songs and challenged myself to do something creative with it."

Now it's up to you.  Too similar?  A good business model?  Watch and comment below!


Joe Perry, Johnny Depp and Alice Cooper plan LA Rock Show as Hollywood Vampires 

Johnny Depp, Joe Perry and Alice Cooper are collaborating to perform as the “Hollywood Vampires”, at The Roxy in LA and in Brazil’s Rock in Rio Music Festival.   

Originally a club  formed in 1972 and according to Alice, by being able to simply outdrink everyone else who wanted in, consisted of names like: Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison and John Lennon.  The group was just a group of famous musicians who partied together.  Hard. 

The proceeds of all the artis proceeds will be given to MusiCares, a company dedicated to spotlighting human service issues that directly impact the health and welfare of the music community.

A teaser for the album can be seen below. 


A Ned Flanders Metal Band is Trying to Create a New Genre 

In an ever evolving world of interconnectedness it grows more and more unlikely by the day to be introduced to a truly unique musical idea.  Well…today is a lucky day for all of you who yearn for something original. 

Meet “Okilly Dokilly” – A Ned Flanders Themed Metal Band.  Yes, they are real.  What are their names?  Head Ned, Red Ned, Stead Ned, Bled Ned and Thread Ned.  You can argue with your friends as to which way you'd assign their names.

While shopping at a convenience store, two of the members were sharing a laugh at coming up with softcore names for hardcore bands and they stumbled upon the idea of a Ned Flanders metal band.Their song titles, such as “They Warned Me” are clever hints of Ned quotes in episodes of The Simpsons.  They are all avid Simpsons and Futurama aficionados and are watching avidly when they aren’t creating Ned influenced puns to use in their lyrics.

Head Ned told Rip It Up when asked how they compare to other Simpsons based bands: “We're not as fast as Bartcore, and a little cleaner than Krusty Punk.  They actually refer to the genre they play as "Nedal".

Okilly Dokilly will have their debut in their hometown of Phoenix Arizona on September 5th

What do they sound like?  Well….imagine Satan and Ned Flanders were locked in a house for a few weeks with Marshall stacks, some Ibanez guitars, a drum kit, recording software and maybe a little bit of acid….but I’ll let you be the judge.  Leave a comment on your thoughts. 



Astroturf (4/19/14) 

Thin green plastic flakes, tightly woven to the hard ground; textile corn rows. They smell like hot shoes, fresh out of an oven from being baked in the afternoon sun. I am kneeling down with my face against the surface of the astroturf, burning hot against my face, scratching me like flimsy exfoliants designed by Picasso. I hear each green fleck of turf bending and flicking like a tiny deck of cards being shuffled by a potato bug in Vegas, brimmed hat around his head, cigarette in his mouth, waiting to send some poor stink bug home with nothing. I wonder why this beautiful outdoor carpeting isn’t used in every front lawn; it never needs maintenance, it stays green all year and it’s perfect for putt-putt golf. I look up, remembering it actually is my turn. A light breeze carries the scent of the hot pretzel stand nearby right up into my nose; hot salted dough, the smooth baked surface of those warm brown knots wrapped in crinkling wax paper…maybe I should forfeit my shot to go get one. I turn back with the thin steel club and begin to forget about the astroturf and start focusing on how I will nail this hole in one.

Anthill (3/20/2014) 

The baby blue noon sky lights up every inch of the yard.  An open patch of dirt in the middle of the grass.  My legs shuffled underneath me, my hand bracing against the coarse fibers of the lawn, speckled pebbles and dirt.  Directly beneath me is an anthill.  Getting as close as I can my eyes are only a few inches away.  I smell the heat radiating off of the ground like the tangy air the radiates from an electric blanket.  The anthill becomes a towering pyramid.  The pharaoh ant commands the others “faster you dogs, the queen is waiting!” Huge boulders stacked upon one another with mathematical precision.  Angular red monsters working in highly coordinated efforts, transporting with utter efficiency almost hovering above the ground, tickling each others faces to pass on messages.  I can hear the faintest scuttling and tapping of feet, like a tiny office of elves punching away keys on typewriters.  Little dollops of residual peanut butter an jelly are stuck to my teeth, sweet pockets of flavor for my show.  I hover over, an unimaginable god to them, what would they think of this god if they became aware of me and my peanut butter and jelly teeth? 

Birds (3/19/2014) 

This one goes out to all of you early birds and all of you bird watchers.  You'll enjoy this. 

Out of the windows and into the labyrinthine backyard with a yawn and a pair of huge black binoculars.  The cold plastic fits awkwardly against the contour of my eye socket.  The crisp mocha aroma of coffee grinds being washed with piping hot water into a mug filters through the hallways and slithers up my nose.  The inside of the house is filled with the silent noises of the early morning.  The melodic buzz of the refrigerator, the phantom creaks of the ceiling, shifting of air as I move from window to window. I look out. The creeping spectrum of dawn slowly stretches and bathes the sky with hues of pastel blues, turquoise, faded pinks.  I can hear the commotion in the trees.  Like a playground full of alien babies, the thousands of birds are singing, squeaking and fluttering about on every branch, furiously pecking at the tiny peach grains in the feeder.  Looking at one another for the briefest of moments.  I hold my breath and steady my hand, trying to focus on a blue jay.  Opening the window, I can taste the grass bejeweled in beads of dew, the adolescent flowers blooming and bursting with color and pollen, firewood.  The wobbling doppler of car engines as they whir by. 

Blizzard (3/17/20 

The entire neighborhood runs and slides and screams and laughs.  An enormous silver blanket is being slowly pulled over the sky, tiny translucent fractals pepper the ground and pile up into a thick white ocean.  I stand at the top of the hill of my backyard, faced with a 45 degree decline ending in a finely engineered ramp of snow, worthy of a Motocross course.  Microbursts of fresh alpine winds sting and awaken the rims of my nostrils, clean and cold.  The whole mob of us, children, parents and even a grandparent or two run around like maniacs, mummified in brightly colored down coats, black nylon pants that zip and whir against the ground, disheveled scarves and messy hair frozen to our faces, chunks of ice clinging hard.  We close our eyes and look up, sweet crystalline of fractal candies wildly dancing and melting on our tongues like diet rock candy.  I feel the under layers of my cotton cacoon clinging with sweat, heat radiating and escaping up and out, the cold trying to come in, a miniature front battles at my collar, the smell of hot freshly dried cotton dryer sheets.  I hold the inner tube as serious as an Olympic bobsledder, run and dive, the light initial bounce, focus and careening towards the ramp, the people watch and hold their breath as I go arial, frozen eight feet off the ground, time almost freezes, bluebirds flying by slow as clouds, hands go up to mouths, my face is wrinkled as hard as a pugs, eyes, squinting and then……….a thud, an icy smooch and I stand up in a patch of briers and hold the inner tube high, a successful landing!

Object Write - Cotton Candy (3/13/2014)  

The hockey game is neck and neck between the Bruins and the Capitals, but my only concern is decorating my face with cotton candy.  I become a maniacal candy-hybrid Santa Clause.  Airy pink fluff, melting and beading against my face, my dad and his work friends cackle at my deranged creativity.  I take bites of my sticky beard, sugary sweet dissolving fibers in my mouth.  The stadium is a cacophony of smells, stale hoppy bitter beer spilled in sticky layers on the ground, the sour B.O. from the obese man below, the salty hot popcorn.  For a kid on an adventure with his brother and his dad, this is probably the loudest one yet.  The rattling of the plexiglass body checks, like angry timpani hits, the oooohs and aaaaahs of 20,000 die-hard fans, laughter and a thousand conversations I don’t understand, like a walled pond filled with squawking geese.  The uncomfortable strangely angled seats wobble and the spring loaded support pushes me slightly forward even though I want to recline.  I stand and sit as frequently as an old sunday congregation in a Catholic church, lifting my feet to pull them from the sticky film of spilled soda  on the dirty grey concrete floor. 

Object Write of the Day, Fireflies.  

Since we're actually only 4 months away from arguably the greatest month in MD, this is for all of you who have caught fireflies before, this is what my experience was like:

Firefly (3/4/2014)

All the kids in the neighborhood scramble with their mason jars. The parents smile and coach them from the unfinished wood porch, “theres one!”. Giggles and screams and the symphony of crickets playing arepetitive pulsing concerto. Cool dew covered grass tickles my feet, the occasional bump of a molehill, or a patch of weeds. Hopping and jumping and reading for those little lemon-lime stars blinking in morse code to one another, probably saying “help, these crazy giants are taking me”. It’s a frenzy of innocent summer fun in our next door neighbors well groomed front yard, dusk dissolving into a freshly swept night sky, littered with the grandfathers of these little blinking bugs. They smell bitter, sour earthy. Sips of coca-cola in between our search parties keeps us amped and jittery, the bubbling sweet bite of dark artificially colored syrup. We race to see who can fill our mason jar up first, sporadic clinks and chimey thuds of clumsy hands dropping them onto the lawn. The porch decorated with beer and strange conversations only adults would understand, the harmonious laughter of good jokes. No better times in life than the natural phenomena of late June in Maryland, surrounding by your friends and family. 

This one came out great.....let me know if you have done this!