by David Powell, low brass tutor
Apologies for the late arrival of this newsletter, which should arrive around the Easter weekend. A reminder that we start back for the summer term on the 27th April; and that the grade exams will take place on the 11th May, so we hope you have been doing plenty of practice in preparation!
Here are some thoughts about something we learn at the Centre, which is not about music, but language:-
For me, one of the fascinating things about learning music (a lifelong preoccupation) has been the insight into other global cultures. Music is often described as a “universal language”, although there are types of music from some parts of the world that we might find quite alien and baffling. However this should not stop us from wanting to learn and understand more.
An important part of what you will be learning here at the Saturday Centre will be a whole new vocabulary relating to instruments and their parts, how to interpret music expressively, and the names of musical styles, etc. You might be plucking, bowing, slurring, oiling your valves, adjusting your headjoint, using your embouchure, learning paradiddle, losing your plectrum; you will almost certainly learn to recognise crotchets and minims, different clefs and dynamic markings etc. Often your parents will not even understand these words!
The classical tradition in music uses mostly Italian terms which you will soon learn, and later on you will probably come across the same instructions in German and French and other languages, depending on where the composer lived. For example, we have probably all come across allegro, which a lot of people think means “fast”, but in fact means “lively”. Here are some others:-
The instrument we know as the “piano” was invented around 1700 by an Italian, and its full name was “pianoforte” which simply means “loud-soft” to show that it was able to produce a much wider range of dynamics than the harpsichord, which it quickly replaced. Most instrument names come from Italian words. My own instrument, the tuba, is named after an instrument from Roman antiquity which would have been a very primitive large (and loud) military trumpet. The word was resurrected in the early 19th century when the bass brass instrument was invented using the newly invented valves.
We use foreign names for specific types of musical pieces, particularly the hundreds of types of dance worldwide from the acharuli to the zumba. Also we have sonatas, fantasias, toccatas, concertos, symphonies, fugues, and so on.
This summer term, as you know, we will be exploring different styles of music from Brazil which has a rich musical tradition influenced by many different imported cultures. Sadly, much of this came about through slavery; for example, West African rhythms are present in almost all parts of the Americas and the Caribbean islands. Some of you may be learning songs in Portuguese, which is the commonest language in Brazil, brought in by settlers or invaders from across the Atlantic. In the same way, in parts of the USA, Canada and the Caribbean, French is spoken: and of course many South American countries speak Spanish.
Which countries or continents have given us these musical terms?
1) Sitar, tabla
2) Suite, ensemble
3) Staccato, sonata
5) Fado, surdu
6) Djembe, kora
7) Waltz, chorale
8) Bolero, salsa
MEET THE TUTOR
Our featured tutor is Andy Grappy, head of the Centre.
How long have you been working for Southwark Music Service, and in what capacity?
I've now been working for Southwark Music Service for 15years, first as head of the Southwark 'STAX' music centre which was based at St Thomas the Apostle School.
My ongoing role is that of Head of Saturday Music Centre, my other role within the music service is as a Wider Opportunities Brass tutor. I have also been an ocarina tutor, world music tutor and peripatetic brass tutor in my time with Southwark.
Give us a flavour of what you have achieved so far in your career, including some highlights.
I started playing at the age 13 (so every pupil at the centre aged 13 and under is better than I was at their age!), very late compared to most of my colleagues, and started to play the tuba at 15. After leaving music school I continued my postgraduate studies at Goldsmiths College, and upon leaving started my freelance career.
As a player I have been privileged to work with world class orchestras such as the London Symphony Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, the orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden etc. I have also worked a great deal in jazz with such legends as McCoy Tyner, Abdullah Ibrahim, Hermeto Pascoal, Charlie Haden, Jazz Warriors etc, I have also played in West End musicals including 'Chicago' for a number of years. I've also worked with Massive Attack, Damon Albarn and other 'pop' musicians. In many instances I have been the first black tuba player to work with most of the London orchestras and this has been important in terms of diversity and being a role model. I am also tubist for 'Chineke!' Europe's first BAME Orchestra set up in 2015 by Double Bassist Chi-chi Nwanoku.
Away from my musical career as a player I am a music mentor for Music For Youth, which involves me travelling around the country assessing performances in their regional and national festivals, and making recommendations for the Schools Proms. I also work as a workshop leader/animateur for organisations such as MFY, LSO, Serious, Kinetika Bloco, BBC Proms, other local authorities, and on occasion as a specialist advisor for music college examinations. I also do some teaching!
Some of the most memorable things in my playing career include Chineke! at the BBC Proms, my first LSO concert and my very first professional recording session. Other memorable moments include conducting a piece on the stage of the Royal Albert Hall that I had co-written with Jason Yarde at the Schools Proms, and seeing Kinetika Bloco leading the welcome home parade for athletes after the Olympics.
I am really proud of the fact that at the music centre we have continued, in spite of cuts and reorganisations over the years, to provide music lessons and to work on a regular basis with such talented colleagues who inspire, support and challenge me to do my best. Away from the centre I am very proud of the work I have done with Kinetika Bloco ( one of our partner organisations in the music hub). In last last seventeen years I have seen young people transform their lives through music and many are at the vanguard of the current jazz revival. I am also most pleased when I meet ex- pupils who are now teachers (music and otherwise) who are now passing on their knowledge to another generation.
Do you have plans for new projects in the future?
At present my plans for the future are very mixed. I'd like to write more of my own music and have it performed. I am also looking forward to some larger scale projects as creative lead.In the next 18 months I'd like to create some space and time to collaborate on newer musical projects and performances. I'd also like to do more piano practice!
What are your interests outside music?
Away from music, I’m very interested in psychotherapy, reading, going to the theatre, mountain biking, keeping fit, cooking, art exhibitions, films, and exploring the world of craft beers and single malt whisky!
Brazilian Lights Summer Concert
(from flute tutor Rachel Hayter)
Our summer concert this year will be on 13th July (put it in your diaries!) and is inspired by Philip Pullman's fantasy book 'Northern Lights', with a Brazilian twist.
We will be telling the story of Millie and Marcelo, two best friends who live in Southwark. For Millie's birthday, Marcelo gives her a wand which was carved by his Grandpa in Brazil. But this wand has magic powers: by using the wand, your spirit animal is revealed, and you can instantly be transported to wherever you want in the world! Since Millie has always wanted to visit Brazil with Marcelo, they both head to Brazil, where they hear rhythms and songs from the Amazon, the North East and Carnaval!
ANSWERS TO THE QUIZ
6) West Africa