Musical Instruments A-Z
A fresh take on James Brown, Queen, and Kurt Weill from the 15 women accordion players of the Main Squeeze Orchestra, performing this Friday, 8pm, April 21, at Mo Pitkins' House of Satisfaction, 34 Ave. A, [2nd/3rd] 212.777.5660. $12.
Three-sided, three stringed, with a vibrating sound similar to the mandolin, it's the distinctive hook in Lara's Theme from Dr. Zhivago…You can hire the Russian Band USA for events — in addition to Russian music, they play Gypsy, Ukrainian, and Klezmer music, using the balalaika, domra (a 3- or 4-string instrument), drums, garmoshka (a button accordion), guitar, contrabass balalaika, and cello.
CUNY's Center for the Study of Free-Reed Instruments is a scholarly resource for anyone studying the round squeeze box with buttons on both ends…To buy one, you want the Main Squeeze, 19 Essex [Canal/Hester] 212.614.3109, "for all your accordion needs."
The Drummers Collective, 541 6th [14th] 212.741.0091, is a learning center for drumset players and percussionists at all levels, established in 1977…Djoniba Dance and Drum Centre, 37 E. 18th [Bway] 212.477.3464, offers drumming classes, sells African drums, and offers Joneeba, a fitness program incorporating floor exercises, yoga, African dance, and drums.
The long, tall oboe with the soulful sound is a difficult instrument to master. Dvorák gives the instrument one of its most famous solos in the largo of New World Symphony. That symphony's premiere was on December 16, 1893 by the New York Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall.
A flute, rather than the French beans, with several variations, none of which is currently in high demand. The instrument was used in the 17th and 18th centuries to teach canaries to sing. Find them at the East Village Music Store, 85 E. 4th [2nd/Bowery] 212.979.8222.
At Fretted Instruments School of Guitar and Banjo, 117 Sullivan [Prince/Spring] 212.243.7957, you can learn guitar and banjo as well as mandolin and fiddle.
This is the string instrument in which the strings are stretched over a trapezoid. Steve Schneider has been called the master of the hammered dulcimer and used to teach here. He's no longer in NY, but he does do long-distance teaching.
An indoor bagpipe blown by a bellows. It has about twice as many notes as outdoor bagpipe. "It may be the least friendly instrument in the world," says Bill Ochs, who considers it a lifelong pursuit. The Irish flute is more accessible: a wooden flute with six open holes that's blown sideways. You can hear these and other traditional Irish instruments presented by Blarney Star and rounded up by Murph Guide.
JAPANESE BAMBOO FLUTE
Also called the shakuhachi, this instrument hasn't changed in the last 1200 years according to James Schlefer who both performs and teaches the instrument. It's a single length of bamboo, about two feet long, with four holes on the front and one on the back. The haunting sound is often associated with Zen meditation.
The koto is an oblong wooden box with 13 strings, each with its own bridge. Think of it as a Japanese harp. The performer, wearing three ivory koto picks on three fingers, often plays while kneeling, though the koto can also be placed on a stand, with the player seated. Highly regarded koto player Masayo Ishigure offers lessons.
The lyre is part of the logo for Steinway and the NYC Ballet…In the Hudson Valley, beautiful Rose Lyres (pictured) are made by Nature's Song.
On Tuesday, April 18th, you can hear the music of Zimbabwe and Mozambique that features mbira (thumb pianos), timbila, percussions, bass, and vocals. It's from 9pm-midnight, no charge, and takes place at Detour, 349 E. 13th [1st/2nd] 212.533.6212. It's presented by Tribal Soundz.
The ney is a type of flute and one of the oldest instruments still in use. Bassam Saba is widely considered the best ney player in America. Mr. Saba has early memories of his father playing the ney in Lebanon. "The sound enchanted me, there was a mystery to it." You can hear the ney played by Mr. Saba on the soundtrack to a new documentary about a group of Israeli and Palestinian bereaved families, called Encounter Point, which will premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 26th.
The oud is a pear-shaped string instrument from the Middle East, where a pictorial record of it goes back over 5,000 years. The lute is a European descendant of the Oud (or 'Ud)…Najib Shaheen calls himself the Oudman. He builds and restores ouds and is also a performer…On Thursday, May 18th, 8pm, at Symphony Space, you can hear a concert called the Art of the Turkish 'Ud. $25.
You can find info about taking a tour of the Steinway factory here. Worth doing, but wear comfortable shoes — you cover a lot of ground.
Searching for the South American flute called the quena? A hurdy-gurdy or some pueli sticks or a douzangouni? Try Music Inn World Instruments, 169 W. 4th [6th/7th] 212.243.5715 or Tribal Soundz, 340 E. 6th [1st/2nd] 212.673.5992.
People often learn to play the recorder in groups, which adds a social element to learning an instrument. You can find recorder classes for ages 6 and older at Diller-Quaile School of Music, 24 E. 95th [5th/Mad] 212.369.1484.
The Charlie Parker Residence, a NYC landmark and on the National Register of Historic Places, is at 151 Avenue B [9th/10th]. Bird lived there from 1950-1954.
You can learn horns (and all kinds of instruments) at Mannes College of Music Extension, 150 W. 85th [Amst/Col] 212.580.0210.
The Tiny Bubble Band is the place to turn when you're looking for a group to entertain with uke, Hawaiian steel guitar, and a tropical groove.
The School for Strings, 419 W. 54th [9th/10th] 212.315.0915, has been New York's best-known Suzuki-based music school since 1970, fostering confidence among kids through the study of music.
A staple of many Broadway orchestras, they're used at key moments of heightened emotion — the musical equivalent of goose bumps. The garden variety are available at Pearl River (inexpensive) and Smith and Hawken.
The 2nd Annual African Xylophone Festival takes place on May 5-7, hosted by Makor, with events taking place at Makor and Columbia University. All kinds of concerts and workshops will take place and you can get an all-festival pass for $50.
The yang chin, a kind of hammered dulcimer, the yueh ch'in (a lute), and the yun lo (a gong), are just three of the traditional instruments played by the musicians of the Chinese Music Ensemble of NY.
The zither's claim to fame is its prominence in the soundtrack for Orson Welles' The Third Man. You can hear the zheng, a Chinese zither, featured by the Chinese National Symphony Orchestra when they play Avery Fisher on May 9, 8pm.