VIDEOS: White Mountain Folk Festival Highlights

THE White Mountain Folk Festival strings off this year from 29 September to 2 October. The juicy 2011 line-up includes the talents of Aking, Dan Patlansky, Guy Buttery, Jesse Clegg and Rory Elliot.

The setting for the White Mountain Folk Festival is simply superb. Camping and lodges are available with the backdrop of the beautiful central Drakensburg mountains. A small dam is centre stage for boating, fishing and swimming. Food stalls, clean toilets and hippie trinkets are in abundance. There is also an outdoor playpen for the little ones.

The event offers a four-day programme of laid-back acoustic music, as well as a wide choice of outdoor leisure activities, arts and crafts and a beer market. Festival-goers can also make full use of the lodge’s facilities, including a restaurant, pub, games room, swimming pool and satellite TV.

The White Mountain Folk Festival really is one great, family-friendly vibe that (in my opinion) is the best acoustic music festival in South Africa. I’ve been an avid supporter for years and have attended the previous four festivals. I wanted to share my little video productions highlighting the event for anyone who is considering going to White Mountain this year. Hopefully see you there!

White Mountain Folk Fest 2009
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E7nVZnuuPAk[/youtube]

White Mountain Folk Fest 2008
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=axQ2KI1OaJ4[/youtube]

Aunty yo, a South African poi instructor, describes the history and origin of this colorful technique as her students demonstrate the art of poi at the White Mountain Folk Festival.

Poi People
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NwtdtC7j_Bs[/youtube]

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MUSIC AND SPOTIFY: To be free or not to be free?

IT amazes me how music stores manage to survive in the information age. We are already able to stream music online from websites and radio stations, watch music videos freely on YouTube (and download these), listen to hit singles by our favourite bands via their websites and share music with others using our cellphones, iPods and iPads. The number of songs that can be stored on an iPod or MP3 player is also so high that buying a CD with between 10 and 20 tracks just seems like a disappointment.

It is also not difficult to download songs illegally online. File-sharing websites such as The Pirate Bay and programs such as LimeWire have been under scrutiny ever since their launch, but are still around and remain popular. It has even been argued that people who download music are far more likely to buy original CDs than those who don’t. Being able to familiarise ourselves with a new band or artist by listening to more than just one promotional track allows us to make a more informed choice whether or not we want to support the group by buying their original work. It also reduces the risk of being disappointed and R100-odd poorer, so the arguments go.

There is no doubt that music corporations painstakingly attempt to protect their copywrite material. Using just a few seconds of a dated song in an online video could result in a hefty fine. What often happens in the case of YouTube videos that use copywrite music is that a stern e-mail is sent to the creator stating that the video will not be pulled but that YouTube has the right to advertise alongside the video. When this happens your YouTube channel begins to look like a corporate website with big, flashy adverts unrelated to your video content.

The games industry has already realised the value of offering dated games for free online. With the proliferation of new titles, it becomes nonsensical to try to sell older games. But game companies and developers still want us playing and appreciating their previous work and familiarising ourselves with their brands. Offering older titles for free may also muster new fans and potential buyers of their newer titles. So why isn’t the same done with regards to music?

Spotify - the free music website

Spotify

Spotify is one of many websites that allow users to listen to and share music freely online. Their ultimate goal is "to have all the music in the world available instantly to everyone".

Spotify is one of many websites that allow users to listen to and share music­ freely online. It hosts more than 13 million songs and it is free to share everything you listen to on Spotify through social media sites and services such as Facebook, Twitter and even YouTube. The Spotify application is available for PC, Mac, cellphones and even home audio systems. “Just help yourself to whatever you want, whenever you want it,” it says on the Spotify website.

Spotify openly admits that its goal is “to have all the music in the world available instantly to everyone”. It also admits, however, that it takes time to arrange licensing agreements with record labels, which indicates that its goal is a legit one. Unfortunately, this does mean that Spotify is not yet available in every country, including South Africa. It’s no surprise that the countries where it is available are the most liberal when it comes to freedom of information and the Internet, such as Norway, Sweden and the Netherlands.

What is great about websites such as Spotify is that they promote the consumer policy of “try before you buy”. Users are able to purchase songs or albums off the website, which can then be downloaded in MP3 format.

But one might ask, if it is entirely free, in theory, to listen to and share just about any song on the Internet, then what difference does it make whether the same songs are downloaded? We may wish to load up our iPod before a jog or create a music CD for our car — whatever 21st-century convenience tickles our fancy.

It seems a bit bizarre that we (or at least people in some countries) are able to consume the music of our choice to our hearts content all for free, but the minute we want to listen offline at our own convenience we have to pay for it — even if they are songs or albums that are no longer stocked in music stores.

Maybe they want us spending that time listening on their websites so they can build up a record of what we like and send promotions our way.

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ACAPELLA: Mike Tompkins beatboxes 'Firework' by Katy Perry

IT has to be said that Mike Tompkins is an incredibly talented acapella muso. His cover version of Firework by Katy Perry is thoroughly impressive and entertaining. Tompkins turns a song that's sentimental about plastic bags floating in the wind into something that, in my opinion, is far better.

Katy Perry Firework A Capella Cover Mike Tompkins Beatbox
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FyepYaE_JS4[/youtube]

Acapella music is solo or group vocal singing without instrumental sound, or a piece intended to be performed in this way. In modern usage, acapella often refers to an all-vocal group performance of any style, including modern pop/rock. - Wikipedia

Here's a bit about the talented Mike Tompkins from his new website:

"Mike’s novel ‘A Capella’ music has stemmed from over a decade of demanding and diverse musical and production pursuits, starting with beatboxing at the young age of 8. Confident yet amazingly down to earth, Mike’s goal remains to make great music, put a smile on people’s faces, and show his diversity as an artist. With over 200 000 YouTube subscribers and close to 30 million views of his songs, Mike is well on his way to achieving these goals, and it is just the beginning!" - www.mike-tompkins.com

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TOTO AFRICA: Sung by acapella group Perpetuum Jazzile

SINCE writing an article on music therapy and discovering all the wonderful benefits that music can have on the brain, I have begun listening to all sorts of lyrical delights. I am also making an effort to see more live music as this can have the best effect on our brains and psyche. One of my current and favourite musical styles, however, is acapella. To put it crudely, acapella is a musical style performed without instruments - usually by a choir group. To put it more academically, here's a description from Wikipedia:

Acapella music is solo or group vocal singing without instrumental sound, or a piece intended to be performed in this way. In modern usage, acapella often refers to an all-vocal group performance of any style, including modern pop/rock.

This particular acapella group hails from Slovenia. They're quite a talented bunch of vocalists that, in my opinion, do a sterling job of Toto's great hit Africa. The talent of their beat-boxer is also something to behold. The Perpetuum Jazzile video now has over ten million views. I'm responsible for just over half of that. It's a great listen that may even put a tear in your eye. Enjoy!

Perpetuum Jazzile singing 'Africa' by Toto
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yjbpwlqp5Qw[/youtube]

If you enjoyed that acapella music group singing Africa you may find the following article interesting: Music Therapy: Tune in and chill out

Here's a little extract:

MUSIC has the power to play on our moods, fine tune our brainwaves, pluck at our heartstrings, and unite entire nations under song. It has even proven to have a positive effect on livestock. We all know the effects that music can have on reducing stress and promoting relaxation, but music itself is becoming increasingly popular in the modern medical industry — a concept being dubbed as “music therapy”.

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Music Therapy: Tune in and chill out - research & findings

Image: musicgerication dot comMUSIC is a truly magical thing. It has the power to play on our moods, fine tune our brainwaves, pluck at our heartstrings, and unite entire nations under song. It has even proven to have a positive effect on livestock.

Last year a ten year old farm boy from Georgia won first place in a regional science fair for a project on how music improved milk production in cows. Daniel McElmurray tested the effects of classical, country and rock music on his father’s 300 cows. The experiment showed that their livestock preferred classical music over country and rock by producing 450 kilograms more milk.

Music possesses the power to reach parts of the brain that are not yet accessible to us, at least not on a conscious level. It almost makes one understand why so many artists and creatives turn to recreational drug use for inspiration.

We all know the effects that music can have on reducing stress and promoting relaxation, but music itself is becoming increasingly popular in the modern medical industry — a concept being dubbed as “music therapy”.

Music therapy studies and research

Research has shown that music has a profound effect on our bodies and psyche. Those who practice music therapy are finding it beneficial in helping cancer patients, children with ADD, helping ward off depression, promoting movement, calming patients, easing muscle tension and helping with pain management.

Guitar therapyMany experts suggest that it is the rhythm of the music or the beat that has the calming effect on us, although we may not be fully conscious of it. One theory, found at www.holisticonline.com, suggests that we were likely influenced by the heartbeats of our mothers while still in the womb. The idea is that we respond to soothing music at later stages in our life — perhaps associating it with the safe, relaxing and protective environment we once lived in.

Several studies have found that selections of Celtic, Native American as well as various music containing loud drums or flutes are extremely soothing. More interestingly, any music listened to live, even at moderately loud volumes, seems to have the most beneficial response. Equally beneficial is the effect of playing or creating music oneself.

“The entire human energetic system is extremely influenced by sounds. The physical body and chakra centres respond specifically to certain tones and frequencies. Whenever the proper sounds were experienced, an amazing right/left brain hemisphere synchronization occurs” — www.holisticonline.com

Music therapy findings

Even if you are not a believer in holistic medicine and chakra centers, music therapy has yielded several measurable results in recent years, such as:

  • An increase in deep breathing when hearing a particular tune
  • The body’s production of the happy hormone serotonin accelerates
  • Music has been found to reduce pain during dental procedures
  • music notesPlaying gentle background music while working or studying has been found to reduce stress and improve concentration
  • Music therapy can help counteract or prevent the damaging effects of chronic stress
  • It has even been shown to lower blood pressure, boost immunity and ease muscle tension
  • Music can also be used to bring a more positive state of mind, helping to keep depression and anxiety at bay
  • It can help keep creativity and boost optimism levels higher
  • Certain music has been found to reduce heart rates and increase body temperature — an indication that the body is entering a state of relaxation
  • Memorable music from our youth appears to be a very good choice.

According to stress.about.com, “the change in brainwave activity levels that music can bring can also enable the brain to shift speeds more easily on its own as needed, which means that music can bring lasting benefits to your state of mind, even after you’ve stopped listening.”

I can’t live a day without listening to my own brand of tunes. If you are feeling stressed out, uninspired or down in the dumps lately, don’t pop a pill; why not rather put on your favourite golden oldie.

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