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I am working out in Geneva so this month’s blog looks at music and instruments of Switzerland and we start with an amazing performance of the Alphorn by Russian horn player Arkady Shilkloper - I love the string arrangement!


A number of years ago I worked with an Austrian singer who could yodel, but it is in Switzerland where there has been a bit of a renaissance. Mainly through a singer Melanie Oesch, who has become a young star of folk music, singing as part of a family band, Oesch’s die Dritten.

My favorite marching band - Top Secret Drum Corps are an amazing drum corps based in Basel who first became famous at the Edinburgh Tattoo in 2003. The city of Basel has a rich drumming history and it is said to have around 3,000 drummers who perform at traditional events like Fasnacht, the Vogel Gryff and various parades.

I am out in San Diego - which has 19 Native American people groups, the largest number in any county in the USA. This month’s blog looks at the growing contemporary First Nations music.

Bill Miller is a singer/songwriter of Mohican heritage and a player of the Native American flute. Miller’s songs are deeply spiritual exploring his faith using his own indigenous language.

Martha Redbone’s mix of rhythm and blues and soul is fused with elements of traditional Native American music. Her web site says –

Alongside her career as a recording artist and songwriter Martha Redbone has maintained a steady involvement with causes she believes in utilizing her celebrity in Indian Country for fundraising and leadership.

Ms. Redbone holds an annual Traditional Music Workshop within the United Houma Nation’s Cultural Enrichment Summer Camp program teaching grade school age children the music from her Choctaw and Cherokee heritage as well as incorporating the tribe’s own Houma-French language.”

Robert Mirabal is a Pueblo musician and Native American flute player and maker from Taos Pueblo, New Mexico. He won a Grammy Award in 2008 for his album Totemic Flute Chants. Mirabel says -

"I’m very much a part of two different worlds, there is the Native culture that’s my heritage and the rock & roll culture I grew up with. They are both part of who I am and one of the primary goals of my music is to express that combination."

This months collection of musical expressions has a topical theme of water (after the deluge we have had in the UK) - we start with water music made by the woman of Gaua, in Vanuatu a South Pacific island during their Arts Festival.

Africa: Water Drumming from boothfilms on Vimeo.

This musical moment is from Cameroon - the Baka people

Lastly - water as ice -

Norwegian musician Terje Isungset creates music using instruments that he crafts out of ice. Isungset has been making ice music since 1999 and over the years has made a wide variety of ice instruments including horns, xylophones, and harps. 

This month’s blog comes from a playlist from the skies! I have been flying a lot this year and spent a good few hours searching through the International music sections for new music and films. Yesterday on the way to San Francisco I found a new artist from Sweden I had not heard of before called Laleh. Her web site says "she was born in Iran, fleeing that war-torn country a year later, first to Azerbaijan, then to Minsk in former Sovjet, and finally, at the age of 9, to a refugee camp in Tidaholm, Sweden."