“Music has always been a matter of energy to me. A question of fuel. Sentimental people call it inspiration but what they really mean is fuel.Hunter S. Thompson
I have always needed fuel, I am a serious consumer”.
“Happiness” Is Not Always What You Think It is.
Sons De Carrilhoes by Joao Pernambuco is a 7th grade Trinity College London exam piece and I really enjoy teaching it.
It’s so happy and likeable, students really enjoy learning and playing it, in turn people love hearing it because it exudes happiness.
How do you get to create such happy music?
Because of popular culture and Hollywood we don’t often get a real vision or picture of what the past was really like.
For instance, talking to some young students they thought that slavery was invented by Americans and was only practiced in America but the truth is that until the 1800’s no society had ever not practiced slavery.
Today we see slavery as hideous and incomprehensible that anybody could find it acceptable.
If we look at it this way…to try and gain an understanding of how it was seen in the past…in today’s world we accept that some people are born into a wealthy family while other people are born into poor situations.
It’s sad and not fair but we accept it.
A couple of hundred years ago it would have been accepted that some were born in wealth, others born in poverty while there were others were slaves and that’s just the way it was.
It was a long battle to stop the practice and thankfully we don’t live in a world that finds it acceptable today.
The ancient world was a horrible place… it worked like this – the biggest thug with the biggest gang of thugs got to call himself names like “the King”.
The King got to tell everybody else what to do and if they didn’t obey they were in serious trouble.
So if you couldn’t defend yourself against such thugs, then a bigger army would turn up and kill all your men then sell your women and children into slavery.
Slavery, Colonisation and Military Power
I remember reading where Alexander The Great was asked why he wanted to conquer Persia? He answered “so they don’t do it to us”!
It’s said that Ancient Rome’s population was 60% slaves and it’s even been suggested that the reason why Rome didn’t have their own Industrial Revolution was because they had slaves doing everything.
So there was no need to put 2 & 2 together and invent the steam engine although they had the knowledge and ‘know how’.
The big slave markets were in North Africa.
Places like Algiers, Tripoli and Cairo also Zanzibar in East Africa saw millions of people sold into slavery and misery.
There was also a huge slave market in Crimea which prompted the Pontian Greeks and Ukrainians to implore Russia to take over Crimea and to push the Turks away and preventing them from selling their people into a life of slavery.
North African slavery traders would make raids to England and other European countries.
It is estimated that there were as many as 2 million white European slaves around the world at any given time during the 1800’s but as the European military power grew, they were more able to protect their citizens.
In addition, the British navy also grew in size and strength so they were able to deter the North African slave trader’s raids.
It was said that the British navy had a two fleet advantage which meant that the next biggest navy, France, if they had a ship – the British had 2 of them!
Not only did the English navy stop the raids but it was instrumental in stopping the slave trade all together.
England had outlawed slavery in 1832 and the story of William Wilberforce and his Crusade to end slavery is told in the movie “Amazing Grace” and yes the song “Amazing Grace” has a huge story behind it which is depicted in the movie.
If you haven’t seen it I highly recommend you do.
The Slide Guitar Origins Will Surprise You!
One of the most bizarre stories I’ve heard is how slide guitar came to Hawaii and subsequently to America.
It’s about this young Indian man in India in the early 1800’s.
A Portuguese ship turned up needing sailors to man the ship so they kidnapped this poor young fellow and took him aboard the ship forcing him to work.
This practice was called “impressment” and press gangs were a constant threat. Navies were entirely manned by these impressed young sailors.
Anyway, back to our young Indian fellow, the Portuguese landed in Hawaii and he saw an opportunity to escape which he did.
The Hawaiians at the time had gone crazy for guitar and they were creating their own approach to playing called “slack key guitar” but our young Indian fellow played the “veena” which is an Indian string instrument that’s played across the lap while sliding a metal bar called a “mizrab” on the strings.
The Hawaiians went crazy for this! And slide guitar, or steel guitar, became an integral part of Hawaiian music in which Hawaiian music had a period of incredible popularity.
I’d always thought that slide guitar was invented by Black American Blues musicians but surprisingly it was these Hawaiian cowboys working in Texas around the turn of the century, they were seen playing steel guitar and it took off from there.
The Father Of The Brazilian Guitar & Sons De Carrilhoes
Sons De Carrilhoes is a Choro which is a form of music from Brazil.
Also called Chorinho it means “cry” or “lament” and was created in Rio De Janeiro in the 19th century by Afro Brazilians and despite the name it’s very “happy music” as Is Sons De Carrilhoes.
Bazil ended slavery quite late, in 1880, but elsewhere in the world it lasted much longer.
Turkey ended slavery in 1924 as part of the terms of surrender after WW1 while China ended it in 1924.
As the African contribution to American music is huge so Brazilian music is the richer for the African contribution and considering the hardship that these musics came from I think it makes them enormously valuable.
Joao Pernambuco is seen as the father of Brazilian guitar.
His father was Portuguese and his mother was of Indigenous Indian heritage.
Villa Lobos, Brazil’s great composer, greatly admired him.
I came across this quote by the American personality Hunter S. Thompson –
“Music has always been a matter of energy to me. A question of fuel. Sentimental people call it inspiration but what they really mean is fuel.
I have always needed fuel, I am a serious consumer”.