Tag Archives | Germany

That’s How it Goes

The Adelaide Village Band does “oom-pah” right….

Oom-pah is a form of brass band music popular in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and around Eastern Europe, though it is most widely identified with the folk music of Bavaria, a state located in southeastern Germany that borders Austria and Switzerland and encompasses many picturesque Alps. The term “oom-pah” simulates the prevailing sound of “oom-pah” songs–a tuba plays the “oom,” and instruments with a higher pitch, like clarinets, accordions or trombones, play the “pah.” Enjoy some inspired “oom-pah” in this video of “Oom Pah Chaos” performed by Australia’s Adelaide Village Band. The Government of South Australia Department of the Premier and Cabinet Arts and Culture page has described them as: “The only Latvian brass band in the world outside Latvia and the most genuine Oom-Pah band in Australia.”

Did I hear someone say YODELING MEDLEY?

This week in our online class we sing a song we call “Tra La La,” which originated from Germany and Switzerland. The original title of the tune has more to it: “Rosestock, Holderbluet – Landler.” A landler is a traditional Bavavarian/Austrian/German/Swiss folk dance, usually played in 3/4 (waltz-like) time. In our version we laugh, we sing, we laugh some more. In this video we may not quite be hearing landlers, but we do get a chance to enjoy a mix of music from roughtly the same region. Let’s laugh, sing, play the alphorn and YODEL!

99 Luftbaloons

Neue Deutsche Welle (“New German Wave,” or “German New Wave”) started in the early ’80s as an underground movement of bands that developed a distinct sound by blending British punk and British New Wave with their German-language lyrics. When record companies caught onto Neue Deutsche Welle in the mid ’80s they sensed English-language versions might appeal to an international market, and they were right–performers like Nena — who we’ll see in this video performing their hit 99 Luftballoons, with lead singer Gabriele Susanne Kerner, also known as Nena, wearing an outfit that one could only get away with in 1983 — rocketed to the top of international pop charts. This unprecedented success inspired record companies to mine the Neue Deutsche Welle scene for potential pop stars, an act that quickly drained it of creative energy. By 1984 the New German Wave was no more.

(Bonus: Did you know the original German version of “99 Luftballons” is actually a protest song?)

Heino IS Schlager

“Blau Bluht der Enzian” is a traditional German-language song about falling in love amidst the bluest of blue flowers along the road to Enzian, in Switzerland. The most popular version seems to be–and by all means, when you see this video, you’ll agree that it must be–by German “schlager” singer, Heino. “Schlager” is a folk-based, often sentimental style of pop music, most popular in Central and Northern Europe, especially Germany, that came into its own in the 1950s and ’60s as a reaction to American rock. In some quarters Schlager merged with disco in the late ‘70s, and has become popular again as a retro-pop style in dance clubs. If there’s any Schlager singer who deserves some retro popularity it’s Heino.

When I see you dancing I sing with Joy

The song we know as “Tra La La” is an example of a “ländler,” a 3 beat song that accompanies a “1-2-3” ländler dance, which became popular in the late 18th century in Germany, Austria, German Switzerland and Slovenia. Originally a raucous partner dance that featured stamping and yodeling, when it moved into German dance halls in the 19th century it became smoother and slightly more refined. Our version is neither raucous nor refined, but it sure can be fun.

Lederhosen, Yodels and the Slapping of Shoes

Bavaria is a German state located in the southeast of Germany that borders Austria and Switzerland and encompasses many picturesque Alps. Some of Germany’s most stereotypically identifiable folk culture comes from Bavaria–traditional Bavarian shorts known as lederhosen,  yodeling, and, as we see in this video, the Schuhplatter dance.  Schuplattler a style of traditional Bavarian folk dancing in which dancers stomp their feet, clap their hands and slap the soles of their shoes (Schuhe), their thighs and their knees with their hands flat (platt). The dance is playful and acrobatic, full of colorful costumes, jumping, leaping, kicking and fun. There are over 150 local variants of the dance — each village seems to have its own — but everyone cherishes the chance to wear their drindls.

Bach was more than just a musical dad

Johann Sebastian Bach may not have been known in his time as a great composer–he was a mainly known as an organist, music teacher and father of several respected composers (four of his twenty children)–but today classical musical fans recognize his 1,100 works as those of a genius. Bach’s abilities in using “counterpoint” and harmony, in creating chorale works and preludes and concertos and compositions for organ, most especially in composing fugues (what is a fugue? look here)…. As other composers have long known, especially since the mid-1800s when composer Felix Mendelssohn led a Bach revival, Bach could do it all. In this video, listen to Bach’s most famous work for organ, “Toccata and Fugue in d minor.”

Under der Linden

In the 12th, 13th, and 14th centuries, though Latin-language religious music was still all the rage in Germany, a number of aristocrats who traveled from court to court and had picked up music along the way began to compose and perform decidedly non-religious love songs. These performers, known as Minneseingers, eventually made way for middle-class craftsmen known as Meistersingers
who studied music as their main profession. Enjoy 12th century minnesinger Walther von der Vogelweide’s “Under the Linden” with English subtitles (the singing starts at about 0:50).

Making Much Music in Germany

All Around This World map of Western Europe featuring GermanyThis week in our online class we’re going to Germany…hurrah! Okay, so Germany had what one could only most, most generously describe as “a complicated 20th century,” but this season we’ve chosen to focus more on the genres of music from each of our Western European countries than on each nation’s history. So, let’s celebrate Germany by learning about its music…which, as we’ll see, is complicated enough.

Germany has long been a nation of musical visionaries. From the 12th century, when German Benedictine nun Saint Hildegard explored the idea of wedding Catholic “plainchant” with moral drama, through the “common practice period” (1600-1920), during which German composers regularly reinvented both opera and instrumental classical music, way into the late 20th century–wherever would we be without Kraftwerk?–German musicians have consistently found new ways to think about music, in turn inspiring new ways to think about the world.