This is Scandinavian folk music played on two instruments straight out of Tolkien: the Swedish nyckelharpa, part fiddle, part hurdy-gurdy; and the Hardanger fiddle, the ornate hobbit-like violin of Norway. Both instruments create a unique other-worldly sound that transports listeners to far-off Nordic lands, here represented by both traditional-style dances such as the Swedish polka but also contemporary music that has used these extraordinary instruments to create interesting sound palettes. Playlist by Tim Woodall for Songlines.
Synonymous with the rise of salsa, the Fania label was created in 1964 by Dominican bandleader Johnny Pacheco and US lawyer Larry Masucci to give voice – and a vital dance-friendly soundtrack – to the lives of the thousands of Puerto Rican and Dominican migrants who had arrived in the New York barrios of Harlem, Brooklyn and the Bronx. Signing up emerging artists such as Cheo Feliciano, Pete “El Conde” Rodriguez, Ray Baretto, Celia Cruz, Rubén Blades and many more besides, Fania would evolve a house style that fused Afro-Caribbean rhythms, Cuban son, Latin jazz, funk, mambo and blues, while allowing individual artists the space to experiment and establish their own takes on what would collectively be dubbed Nuyorican salsa. In retrospect, it can be claimed that Fania did for Latin American rhythms what Motown did for soul, commercialising and globalising a hybrid, hitherto marginalised music and culture. Playlist by Chris Moss for Songlines.
In the brisk and sometimes gloomy winter days, what’s needed is something to regale us. Here’s a selection to help you embrace the wet and windy weather and celebrate the crisp chilliness of the season. Sixteen tracks to warm your heart and soul by the fireside, until it’s time to say farewell to winter’s frost and fire. Playlist by Tony Gillam for Songlines.
In the March issue of Songlines, the legendary broadcaster Sir David Attenborough speaks to Julian May about his love of world music. You can enjoy an extract from this fascinating interview below. To read the full interview, buy the latest issue of Songlines today!
David Attenborough has been making natural history programmes for 60 years. He is held in such high regard that when he went to the White House, it was the president of the US who interviewed him rather than the other way around. I wonder if, after discussing the fragility of planet Earth, Obama and Attenborough had a conversation about another concern they share – music. After all, one of Attenborough’s earliest collaborations, as a young television producer in the early 50s, was with Alan Lomax, the American folklorist who collected songs from Leadbelly, Jelly Roll Morton and many others.
“I had become interested in folk music through the Third Programme, now Radio 3,” Attenborough tells me. “The BBC brought Alan Lomax over, initially to make programmes about flamenco. When I heard them, I thought it would be a good idea to make a series about traditional music here. Alan was very enthusiastic and soon musicians from all over Britain and Ireland were coming to the studios at Alexandra Palace to take part in our series called Song Hunter. Among them were people who became famous figures: the Copper Family, the great fiddle player Michael Gorman… and Margaret Barry. She left her banjo under the studio lights, so when she came to sing ‘She Moved Through the Fair’ not a string was in tune, and she had taken her teeth out. The audience disagreed, but I thought she was magnificent!”…
Read Julian May’s full interview in the new issue of Songlines (March #125) with David Attenborough’s playlist on the free cover-mount CD with the magazine. Subscribe here: www.songlines.co.uk/subs