Friday, July 8, 2011

Musical Instruments: Mandolin, Banjo, Violin, Cello, Koto and Shakuhachi


Mandolin is part of the lute family with exceptional long history.  The two principal types were the Neapolitan and the Milanese.  This instrument is 2’ long, their Strings were twanged by a pick.  The famous composer Mozart used the Neapolitan Mandolin to accompany the famous serenade in “Don Giovanni”.

This American instrument Banjo has 4 to 9 tuned metal strings, a long neck and a unique soundboard consisting of a parchment covered by a drum.  Strings are plucked or strummed in very fast succession for sustaining effect. 

Among the string instruments, violin is also one of the most played and  popular. The violin family also includes the Viola, Violoncello (Cello) and the Double Bass.

Cello is a bass musical instrument of the violin family with four strings.  The size is 27.5 inches  long  has  deeper ribs and a shorter neck than the violin.  Among the composers who used Cello on their works are Joseph Haydn, Mozart, J.S. Bach, Beethoven's five sonatas for cello and piano, Claude Debussy and among others.

Koto and Shakuhachi
Two traditional Japanese instruments with hundred years of history.  The Koto has a long box, larger at one end then the other, played with both hands like a Harp.  The Shakuchachi came from Chinese tradition.  Japanese composers often used  these instruments in western style compositions and been introduced to the solos, duos, and ensembles performances.