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Golden Music Center Blog
The Szasz Friderich Line at Golden Music

Featured Violin - the Szasz Friderich line exclusive to Golden Music; we have been visiting Romania and buying the "fritzy's" since 2007. At an affordable price for a single maker master instrument, the Fritzy's are hand crafted in Reghin, Mures, in the heart of Transalvania, population 33,000.  The industry of Reghin is closely related to the traditions of the medieval trades, starting with the resources in the close vicinity, rich in wood and farm produces, the goods of the private producers from Reghin are in the market all over Romania and abroad.   Reghin is well known for the industry of the musical instruments, especially of violins. There are many companies that produces instruments using the famous resonance wood from Calimani and Gurghiu forests. The violins made in Reghin are used abroad.

 

Szasz (nickname "Fritzy") began his work in a violin factory in 1977.  He left the large factory for a small workshop in 1990, where he was an apprentice to Ciurba Nicolae.  He perfected his technique alongside a master with his guidance and experience.  In 2003, Szasz opened his own workshop.  Hemakes instruments for people all around the world.  

Here is an example of one of the Golden Music "Fritzy's (click here)"    Right now we have several in stock including product number 4579 and 4580.

 

This picture is from our first trip to Reghin in 2006.  It is the owner, Mary and Fritzy.

 

 

 

Our Luthiers are Getting Ready to Move into the Lakewood Facility

We will all welcome the luthiers from the Golden location that are preparing their work space now at the Lakewood facility.  We are putting the flooring now and beautiful new benches are on their way.  We can't wait to have the wonderful smells of the oil finishes and fresh wood smells wafting through the store, and your company again, not to mention having all the string luthier services at ours and our customers' fingertips.  

 

Gregory Walker - An Inspiration to Musicians

Five questions for Gregory Walker

From a family of scholars and musicians, he grew to become an ‘interpretive artist in the classroom from CU

Four generations of Gregory Walker’s family have been scholars and musicians. So perhaps it was destiny – but probably more so an abundance of talent – that he has become a critically acclaimed violinist and award-winning composer as well as a professor at the University of Colorado Denver.

“I don’t think I really got to choose a career … I didn’t really think in terms of having a choice,” Walker says. His father, George T. Walker, is a composer and pianist and the first African-American to win the Pulitzer Prize in music. George Walker also taught at CU-Boulder. Gregory’s mother, Helen Walker-Hill, is a pianist and music historian, holds a degree from CU and also was a faculty member. Gregory’s grandfather, George Siemens, taught genetics at CU Denver.

Even before he finished his doctoral work at CU in 1992, a family friend – Associate Professor Emeritus Donna Bogard – encouraged Gregory to apply for a teaching position at the university: “Way back in 1991, the music faculty here knew they wanted somebody comfortable with rock music, but really didn’t know where to start. Lucky me.”

Walker has been a soloist with orchestras and symphonies around the world and composed numerous pieces, including those for electric instruments. He has produced CDs for several record labels and performed with a diverse group of artists, from pop star Lyle Lovett to violinist Itzhak Perlman to pop and jazz trumpeter Doc Severinsen.

He says music (to the occasional impatience of his wife, Lori, and sons Grayson and Dashiel) doesn’t go away when he gets home from “work,” but he finds time to participate in the traditional Chinese martial arts and to write. His novel, “Trigram Cluster Funk,” will be published by Double Dragon Press in October.

1. Your CD, “Electric Vivaldi: Global Solstice,” will be released in September. How did this collection come about and why is it special to you?

One of the reasons I enjoy working with my College of Arts and Media colleagues is that their mission of creating an intersection of art, technology and commerce resembles my own passion. That maybe doesn’t have so much to do with commerce as it does with extending new artistic expression to a wider audience, which just happens to include that commercial population. I think I’d be happy pursuing any number of creative directions, but about 10 years ago, I was listening to an obscure European orchestra’s colorful approach to the popular Vivaldi Four Seasons violin concerti. Suddenly realizing that it might be possible to not only take the orchestra’s ideas even further, but also create an accessible version of the music for contemporary audiences with electronic sounds, I launched into a yearlong process of pulling together financial and artistic support for a first “Newport Classic Electric Vivaldi Four Seasons” compact disc. When it was released, I knew there were possibilities that still hadn’t been fully explored, but my creative attention span is much too short to continue mining the same vein for very long. Consequently, this latest Centaur Records “Electric Vivaldi: Global Solstice” adds elements of world music and a new instrument that was a big part of my youth, the electric guitar.

2. Tell me about the instruments you play and your compositions. 

At one time or another, as an orchestral soloist I’ve been engaged to play a variety of different kinds of violins, guitars and electronic paraphernalia. For other types of engagements, I may resort to other instruments, usually ones with strings. Even the instruments I love the most don’t necessarily come easy, but I’ve always been motivated by untapped potential, theirs and mine. And I do admire anyone who can play the piano.

I’ve written dozens of songs for local progressive rock bands and electronic dance music producers, as well as a similar number of large-scale symphonic, chamber and electronic works that have been premiered around the United States and abroad. Then there are the recordings and music videos that I contribute to as engineer, director, editor, art director, you name it. This summer, there’s even been an invitation to show off mellow stylings I did not know I had with Swing Je T’aime, an up-and-coming gypsy jazz band.

3. Why did you choose to compose for and perform with orchestras? What are the actions you take when you compose?

I grew up in a family of classical musicians. Music wasn’t entertainment, wasn’t a job, just a way of life.  The symphony orchestra was considered the ultimate medium. In some ways, the orchestra is the closest music can get to the diversity of the natural universe. On the other hand, it also embodies culture’s regimented, domesticated mass obedience. The soloist is a defiant point of light.

When the time comes to actually write for the thing, I go to the instrument for which I have no aptitude, the piano. Every little idea emerges clumsily over weeks because my fingers can’t move any faster. So slowly, many ideas are just lost mid-stream, but we can hope that if they were forgotten, they were forgettable. Eventually, imagination and the wonders of computer software allow me to add additional dimensions. And when the world premiere finally arrives, it’s over in minutes … maybe leaving an impression there was something behind the notes.

4. What are some of your favorite stage performances? What made them special?

There are two aspects of musical performance that are especially poignant for me, but they’re easy to miss.

The first is the sensation of audience connection, real or perceived. Some years ago, I was hired as a violin concertmaster for a small orchestra performing Handel’s “Messiah” at a church in Boulder. At one point, a profoundly bitter and inebriated homeless man walked in the door and loudly proceeded to the front of the audience. We all just tried to concentrate and ignore him. When we got to the famous “Hallelujah Chorus,” the audience joined in singing along with the orchestra’s choir. After the last chord and before the next aria, the homeless man stood up and walked toward me. I saw him out of the corner of my eye, reached over the edge of the stage, and we shook hands.

The second aspect is personal challenge and visceral risk. In 2009, the Philadelphia Orchestra engaged me to premiere a violin concerto by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer George Walker, my father, with a $4.5 million dollar Stradivarius in a performance that was broadcast nationwide on National Public Radio. This would seem like an enviable, dossier-enhancing activity for anyone who has not suffered from lifelong stage fright.

My father’s music carries a unique meaning for me not only because it’s cool to play your dad’s music, but because I believe he’s an unsung musical genius for the ages.

5. What is your teaching philosophy and what do you hope students take away from your classes?

Compared to my diverse and accomplished colleagues at the College of Arts and Media, I’m not much of a teacher, per se. I try to be a kind of interpretive artist in the classroom. The value of a music curriculum, of all things, can be just like the proverbial tree falling in the forest with no one there to hear it – unless I can interpret the curriculum’s significance and bring them around. Going to where those who share this world – the students – are, and coming to a mutual understanding so they can actually be inspired to accompany me. Because the only thing they’ll ever bother to take away is what became significant.

Hope from Music.... Golden Music

Bad is stronger than good, that’s an established fact. Negative events—losing money, being abandoned by friends, receiving criticism—have a stronger impact on us than the equivalent positive events—winning money, making friends, or receiving praise. We remember their sting for years. Salient incidents of conflict shape our identities, our relationships, and our memories more so than incidents of harmony.

That’s probably why negativity sells so many records. Heavy metal, gansta rap, shock rock, industrial, punk—those are all genres that succeeded by harnessing negativity.

One thing we don’t hear a lot of in contemporary music is hope. Yet this kinder and gentler concept can be powerful in its own way. Think of the power of Bob Marley’s ubiquitous image, music, and lyrics so many years after his death. As Roger Steffens wrote in an essay on Bob Marley, his imagery, gracing numerous t-shirts, flags, and other manifestations, is “well nigh a new universal language, the symbol… of freedom throughout the world.”

The reason Bob Marley lives so strongly in the public imagination is because his music had a meaningful positive message . It wasn’t just positive in a let’s-have-a-good-time kind of way, though there was some of that. Marley’s music was transformative, aspiring to make the world a better place (and arguably, made real progress on that front).

Leaders who are able to truly have a long-lasting influence are those who give us hope. In a chapter in the recent book How To Be A Positive Leader, professor Oana Branzei of the Richard Ivey School of Business at Western University defines hope as the belief that people and situations can and will change for the better. Political leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela or religious leaders like Mother Theresa and Archbishop Ddesmond Tutu had their powerful impact because they convinced others that a better future was possible and doable.

Hope is powerful because it energizes and propels people forward even when the odds are against them. It helps people find innovative ways to work around their constraints. Hope helps people rise above their circumstances.

Both positivity and negativity can help people get through tough times. The difference is that positivity can lead the way toward positive action for a better future. In periods of great social upheaval such as United States in the 1960s, positive music provided a motivating soundtrack.

Recently, a resurgence of positive reggae music has been offering messages of hope to a growing audience. Bands such as Rebelution, SOJA, Tribal Seeds, The Expendables and Iration have brought reggae and its positivity into the twenty-first century. For these bands, reggae music enhances the effectiveness of what they have to say. As Hazrat Inayat Khan wrote in The Mysticism of Sound and Music, “Music raises the soul of man even higher than the so-called external form of religion…That is why in ancient times the greatest prophets were great musicians.”

“If I would just say my lyrics in a speech without the music, I don’t know if it would really get to people,” told me Eric Rachmany, front man and songwriter for the reggae band Rebelution. “But because I’m doing it through music, it has a way to get to the soul in a way that can’t necessarily be done just through speaking.” The fans seem to be getting the message. The band’s fourth album, Count Me In, recently entered the Billboard charts at number 14, selling 17,201 copies in its first week.

“People want to root for positive music,” said Rachmany. “They hear an uplifting song and they want to spread it to their friends and their family. I think people are really dying for this positive movement.” Rachmany himself was inspired by another reggae artist, Don Carlos. “I felt loving energy when I saw him play and I want to do the same thing.”

Leaders can also harness the power of hope to bring out the best in others and create more positive and effective organizations. Branzei offers three guiding principles for infusing hope into work. First is acting “as if,” or taking action as if the positive outcome is guaranteed. Acting “as if” helps overcome the inertia of the status quo. It presents the goal as possible and attainable. Second is offering relief from hopelessness. Leaders can remind people to focus and refocus on the positive. To keep moving forward. Third, leaders can create hope by making it public, by staging opportunities for hope to be shared and spread.

If they use hopeful music, they might be able to do all three more effectively. Given all the negativity out in the world, they will need all the help they can get.

From Forbes Magazine

The History and Origins of the Piano

The story of the piano begins in Padua, Italy in 1709, in the shop of a harpsichord maker named Bartolomeo di Francesco Cristofori (1655-1731). Many other stringed and keyboard instruments preceded the piano and led to the development of the instrument as we know it today.

Mankind’s knowledge that a taut, vibrating string can produce sound goes back to prehistoric times. In the ancient world, strings were attached and stretched over bows, gourds, and boxes to amplify the sound; they were fastened by ties, pegs and pins; and they were plucked, bowed or struck to produce sounds.

Eventually, a family of stringed instruments with a keyboard evolved in Europe in the 14th century. The earliest of these was a dulcimer, a closed, shallow box over which stretched wires were struck with two wooden hammers. The dulcimer led to the development of the clavichord, which also appeared in the 14th century. These were followed by the spinet, virginal, clavecin, gravicembalo, and finally, the harpsichord in the 15th century.

The harpsichord, however, was limited to one, unvarying volume. Its softness and loudness could not be varied while playing. Therefore, performing artists could not convey the same degree of musical expression as that of most other instruments. The artistic desire for more controlled expression led directly to the invention of the piano, on which the artist could alter the loudness and tone with the force of one’s fingers.

The harpsichord was a particularly important development leading to the invention of the piano. Its ability to project sound more loudly than its predecessors, and refinements in the action (or touch) inspired many more musicians to compose for the keyboard and thus, to perform keyboard works.

First exhibited in Florence in 1709, Cristofori’s new instrument was named gravicembalo col piano e forte (roughly “soft and loud keyboard instrument”). Eventually, it was shortened to fortepiano or pianoforte, and finally just piano. His earliest surviving instrument dates from 1720 and is on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

Pressing a key on the piano's keyboard causes a padded (often with felt) hammer to strike steel strings. The hammers rebound, and the strings continue to vibrate at their resonant frequency.[2] These vibrations are transmitted through a bridge to a soundboard that more efficiently couples the acoustic energy to the air. The sound would otherwise be no louder than that directly produced by the strings. When the key is released, a damper stops the string's vibration and the sound.  Despite the fact that a piano has strings, it is usually classified as a percussion instrument because the strings are struck rather than plucked (as with aharpischord or clavichord).

Despite many improvements during the past 300 years, it is truly astonishing to observe how similar Cristofori’s instruments are to the modern piano of today.

From Pianonet.com and Wikopaedia

Origins of the Violin - the Lyra, Fiddle, to the 16th Century

The Lira is the Origin of the Violin

The history of bowed string musical instruments in Europe goes back to the 9th century with the lira (or lūrā, Greek: λύρα) of the Byzantine Empire, a bowed instrument (held upright). The Persian geographer Ibn Khurradadhbih (d. 911) of the 9th century, was the first to cite the bowed Byzantine lira as a typical instrument of the Byzantines and equivalent to the rabāb used in the Islamic Empires of that time.[1] The Byzantine lira spread through Europe westward and in the 11th and 12th centuries European writers use the terms fiddle and lira interchangeably when referring to bowed instruments (Encyclopædia Britannica. 2009). In the meantime rabāb was introduced to the Western Europe possibly through the Iberian Peninsula and both bowed instruments spread widely throughout Europe giving birth to various European bowed instruments.

Youtube video of a person playing the 6th century lyre: http://ow.ly/yyd0P

Gamba and braccio

Over the centuries that followed, Europe continued to have two distinct types of bowed instruments: one, relatively square-shaped, held in the arms, known with the Italian term lira da braccio (meaning viol for the arm) family; the other, with sloping shoulders and held between the knees, known with the Italian term lira da gamba (or viola da gamba, meaning viol for the leg) group.[2] During the Renaissance the gambas were important and elegant instruments; they eventually lost ground to the louder (and originally viewed as less aristocratic) lira da braccio family of the modern violin.

Emergence and early spread of the Violin – 16th Century

The violin as we know it today first emerged in northern Italy in the early 16th century especially from the Brescia area. Many archive documents testify that from 1485-95 Brescia was the cradle of a magnificent school of string players and makers, all called with the title of "maestro" of all the different sort of strings instruments of the Renaissance: viola da gamba (viols), violone, lyra, lyrone, violetta and viola da brazzo.  One of the firsts documents that testify the excellence of brescian masters is the 1495 order of three "viole" from Isabella D'Este Gonzaga to an anonymous maker in Brescia.  One can find "maestro delle viole" or "maestro delle lire" and later, at least from 1558, "maestro di far violini" that is master of violin making.  From 1530 the word violin appears in brescian documents and spread all around north of Italy especially in the last decades of the century. While no instruments from the first decades of the century survive, there are several representations in paintings; some of the early instruments have only three strings and were of the violetta type.  Most likely the first makers of violins borrowed from three different types of current instruments: the rebec, in use since the 10th century (itself derived from the Arab rebab), the Viola da Braccio (or Renaissance Fiddle), and the lira da braccio. The earliest explicit description of the instrument, including its tuning, was in the Epitome musical by Jambe de Fer, published in Lyon in 1556. By this time the violin had already begun to spread throughout Europe. (Wikipaedia)

When did the Lyra start to be Bowed - Leading to the Violin?

The question of when and where the bow was invented is of interest because the bow made possible several of the most important instruments in music today. Authorities give different answers to this question, and this article will give only the predominant opinion.

Scholars are agreed that stringed instruments as a category existed long before the bow. There was a long period—possibly thousands of years—in which all stringed instruments were plucked.

In fact, it is likely that bowed instruments are not much more than a thousand years old. Eric Halfpenny, writing in the 1988 Encyclopædia Britannica, says "bowing can be traced as far back as the Islamic civilization of the 10th century... it seems likely that the principle of bowing originated among the nomadic horse riding cultures of Central Asia, whence it spread quickly through Islam and the East, so that by 1000 it had almost simultaneously reached China, Java, North Africa, the Near East and Balkans, and Europe." Halfpenny notes that in many Eurasian languages the word for "bridge" etymologically means "horse," and that the Chinese regarded their own bowed instruments (huqin) as having originated with the "barbarians" of Central Asia.

The Central Asian theory is endorsed by Werner Bachmann, writing in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. Bachmann notes evidence from a tenth-century Central Asian wall painting for bowed instruments in what is now the city of Kurbanshaid in Tajikistan.

Circumstantial evidence also supports the Central Asian theory. All the elements that were necessary for the invention of the bow were probably present among the Central Asian horse riding peoples at the same time:

  • In a society of horse-mounted warriors (the horse peoples included the Huns and the Mongols), horsehair obviously would have been available.
  • Central Asian horse warriors specialized in the military bow, which could easily have served theinventor as a temporary way to hold horsehair at high tension.
Statue of Lyre and Bow
  • From all this it is tempting to imagine the invention of the bow: some Mongol warrior, having just used rosin on his equipment, idly stroked his harp or lyrewith a rosin-dusted finger and produced a brief continuous sound, which caused him to have an inspiration; whereupon he seized his bow, restrung it with horsehair, and so on. Obviously, the degree to which this fantasy is true will never be known. To this day, horsehair for bows is taken from places with harsh cold climates, including Mongolia,[7] as such hair offers a better grip on the strings.
  • Rosin, crucial for creating sound even with coarse horsehair, is used by traditional archers to maintain the integrity of the string and (mixed withbeeswax) to protect the finish of the bow.[8]

However the bow was invented, it soon spread very widely. The Central Asian horse peoples occupied a territory that included the Silk Road, along which goods and innovations were transported rapidly for thousands of miles (including, via India, by sea to Java). This would account for the near-simultaneous appearance of the musical bow in the many locations cited by Halfpenny.


The last of the bowed yoke lyres with fingerboard was the "modern" (
ca. 1485 – ca. 1800) Welsh crwth. It had several predecessors both in the British Isles and in Continental Europe. Pitch was changed on individual strings by pressing the string firmly against the fingerboard with the fingertips. Like a violin, this method shortened the vibrating length of the string to produce higher tones, while releasing the finger gave the string a greater vibrating length, thereby producing a tone lower in pitch. This is the principle on which the modern violin and guitar work.Lyres appearing to have emerged independently of Greco-Roman prototypes were used by the TeutonicGallic,Scandinavian, and Celtic peoples over a thousand years ago. Dates of origin, which probably vary from region to region, cannot be determined, but the oldest known fragments of such instruments are thought to date from around the sixth century of the Common Era. After the bow made its way into Europe from the Middle-East, around two centuries later, it was applied to several species of those lyres that were small enough to make bowing practical. There came to be two broad classes of bowed European yoke lyres: those with fingerboards dividing the open space within the yoke longitudinally, and those without fingerboards. The last surviving examples of instruments within the latter class were the Scandinaviantalharpa and the Finnish jouhikko. Different tones could be obtained from a single bowed string by pressing the fingernails of the player's left hand against various points along the string to fret the string.

While the dates of origin and other evolutionary details of the European bowed yoke lyres continue to be disputed among organologists, there is general agreement that none of them were the ancestors of modern orchestral bowed stringed instruments, as once was thought.

Paraphrased from Wikipaedia