Judo

道 (“judo”) meaning ‘gentle way’, was created as a physical, mental and moral method of practise and teaching. Judo was created in 1882 by 嘉納治五郎 (“Jigoro Kano”). This sport is categorized as a modern martial art, but it is also a combat and Olympic sport now. One of the key elements in this martial art is its competitive element, as the objective is to throw or takedown an opponent to the ground. How one does this, is by immobilising (by disrupting the balance of the opponent) or subduing (by a pin, a joint lock or a choke) an opponent. Strikes or kicks are not allowed in a normal judo competition. Someone who practises judo is called a ‘judoka’.

 

The history of Judo

As previously mentioned, Judo was established in 1882 by Jigoro Kano. The sport was developed by combining jujitsu with mental discipline. Jujitsu derives of sumo again, and sumo has a long history. Sumo goes as far back as the year 720.

From the 12th to the 19th century, Japan was ruled by the samurai. The samurai were a class of professional soldiers. This caused various martial arts to develop. In addition to fighting with swords and bows, the samurai developed jujitsu to fight enemies at close quarters. Several different styles of jujitsu developed from that, and was spread as an important form of military training.

The samurai era came to an end in 1868. Then Western culture began trickling into Japanese society. Jujitsu lost its popularity, but it was kept alive by one young man; Jigoro Kano. This is the founder of judo. Jigoro Kano:

 

In May 1882, when he was 21 years old, he took the best things about each jujitsu style and created one, new school. Modern judo was born. At first he had just nine students, and his dojo (a practice hall) measured just 12 jo (about 18.37 square meters). Two dojo’s:

In 1889 Kano went to Europe to introduce people to judo outside of Japan. There is a famous story that actually happened when he was traveling to Europe. When a foreigner made fun of Kano on a boat he was travelling on, he threw the man down but put his hand under the man’s head to prevent him from getting hurt.

This perfectly demonstrates how judo combines fighting technique with thoughtfulness for one’s enemy. Kano kept working all his life to spread his martial art.

Eventually, Kano’s dream came true. At the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, men’s judo was recognized as an official Olympic sport. Japanese competitors won gold in all divisions, except for the open division. As Japan lost in one division, this proved that judo had already taken root in other countries than Japan.

Currently 184 countries/regions are member of the International Judo Federation. Judo is particularly popular in Europe. Oddly enough, many more people in France practice judo than in Japan. Japan is continuing to promote up to this day, by sending instructors to continents like Africa.

 

Rules

Judo matches are fought between two people on a square mat measuring between 8 to 10 meters per side. There is one head referee, who stands on the mate and walks around looking if everything is going according to how it should. And two assistant referees who keep track of the score and penalty points. Any one of 67 throwing techniques and 29 grappling techniques in total may be used to win.

 

Scores are awarded for various techniques, the highest being ippon. An ippon is when you  throw your opponent on their back fully. When their back hits the mat, the match is over. A different way a match can end is by your opponent submitting. The opponent lets everyone know he gives up when he taps twice with his hand or feet on either the mat or his opponent. This only happens during chokes and arm locks.

The other way in which you can win is by points or by penalties. If you get a yuko, this means that you have thrown an opponent on their side or have held a hold for 15 seconds. You can also get a wazaari. This gets awarded to a judoka when someone was either almost thrown straight on their back or when a hold is held for 20 seconds. Two wazaari’s is an ippon. A wazaari is worth more points than a yuko.

There used to be a koka. You could get this when you threw an opponent and he/she fell on his/her knees or when you held a hold for 10 seconds. A koka was worth less than a yuko. The koka was removed from the scoreboard.

If no points are made, a judoka can win by penalties committed by the opponent. These penalties can be stalling, moving out of the mat, or not attacking. Illegal or dangerous techniques can lead to disqualification.

If the score at the end of the match is even, the three referees decide the winner by each raising a flag to signal who they think fought better.

One of the appeals of judo is that the martial art emphasises etiquette. This shows that you respect your opponent. Contestants bow before and after a match; bending their upper bodies forward at an angle of about 30 degrees.

They bow when they enter and leave the competition area, before stepping onto and after coming off the mat, when facing the opponent at the start and end of a match, and when the referee announces the result.

 

Judo Uniform

A judogi (“judo uniform”) consists of: a joi (“judo top”), shitabaki (“judo pants”), and an obi (“belt”). One competitor wears a white uniform, the other wears blue. Traditionally both were white, but in 1997, the International Judo Federation officially decided to use blue judo uniforms.

 

This was done to make it easier for spectators to distinguish between the competitors. In this way it is easier to see what is happening when one judoka pins the other to the floor. The judoka’s also didn’t wear their own belt in the tournaments I did. In this way you do not know if you are better than your opponent or the other way around. This makes you worry less and makes it a more neutral and fair match.

 

Judo Techniques

 As I have practiced judo myself from age 4 to age 11, I remember quite a lot of throws and holds. I had a brown belt and I was certainly not bad at the sport. I won multiple local tournaments but I quit a year after I earned my brown belt, as you have to wait until you’re 16 years old then until you can earn the black belt. I would only get to do that this year. Practicing the same things over and over did not seem too attractive to me, so I quit.

3 prizes I won:

As I still remember quite a lot of the techniques, apart from most Japanese names for them, I know that discussing all techniques in detail will take a long time. That is why I chose to discuss some of the most basics ones, and my personal favourites.

Techniques

Throws

 

Hip Techniques

Seoi nage (“shoulder throw”)

The shoulder throw is just what it sounds like. You grab the arm of your opponent, you hook your elbow in their elbow, you turn your back to your opponent, then you squat so that when you throw the opponent over your head, he/she is thrown by your hip. You can also do a shoulder throw on one knee and on two knees.

Harai goshi (sweeping hip throw)

In this throw, you pull your opponent towards you as you turn your body, just like in the shoulder throw. You then throw your opponent with your arm power and hips. The hips are more powerful. In addition, you also sweep both of your opponent’s legs away. If you hold your opponent’s arm at your side when sweeping, it becomes harai makikomi (sweeping wraparound), in which you throw your opponent while wrapped around their body, without sweeping the legs.

 

 

 

Leg Technique

Osoto gari (outer leg sweep)

This is the first throw I learnt. You place your leg past the opponents right leg (form the opponents point of view), then you push your opponent off balance and sweep your leg backwards. supporting their body weight out from under them with your leg.

 

 

Self-sacrificing technique

Tani-Otoshi

The tani-otoshi is a counter to any hip throw ( like the shoulder throw and the harai goshi). When your opponent has turned their back on you, you put your right foot past their left (left from their point of view). Then you fall down to your left side. If this goes wrong it could give your opponent a point, since you are the one that fell on your side. That  is why you do not land slightly on your back, to prevent giving the opponent a wazaari or even an ippon.

 

 

Holds

 

Pinning Technique

Yokoshiho katame (four-direction hold)

This is the most basic pinning technique. In it you hold down your opponent involves holding down your opponent on their back by wrapping one arm around their shoulder and wrapping the other around the opponent’s farthest leg. By moving your own chest against your opponent’s, he has less chance of getting out of it.

 

Joint Lock

Ude hishigi juji gatame (arm-crushing cross hold)

This is the classic armlock and the first one you learn. With your opponent on their back, you sit beside them and hold one of their arms by the wrist with two of your own hands. Both of your legs are over your opponent’s body. You sit as close as you can to your opponents, you put your knees togethers and then your pull the wrist back, or to the side so that you don’t crush your balls 😉.

If the opponent endures being held like this, it could result in a broken arm or damaged ligaments, so this technique forces them to submit. This is also why you can only use this technique in a tournament when you are 16 years or older. You can also apply this technique straight after a throw. See the clip.

 

 

 

 

Sources:

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judo

http://web-japan.org/kidsweb/virtual/judo/judo01.html

https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2084.html

http://judoinfo.com/techjudo/

Japanese music

The largest physical music (or 音楽 (ongaku)) market is Japan. Japan has a wide variety of music styles both now, in modern times, and in history. The Japanese word 音楽(ongaku) comes from 音 (on) which translates into ‘sound’, and from 楽(gaku) which means ‘enjoy’ in English. So put in different words, the Japanese word for music literally translates to enjoyable sounds. The Japanese music industry has a total value of 2.6 billion dollars (as of 2014). 37 out of the top 50 bestselling albums and 49 of the top 50 bestselling singles were created by Japanese artists in 2014.

 

Traditional Japanese music is quite different from Western music as it is often based on the intervals of human breathing rather than mathematical timing. Many musical forms of Japan were imported from China over a thousand years ago. Over the years these forms have been reshaped into their own Japanese styles.

Almost nothing is known about music in Japan’s prehistory, but there is evidence suggesting the early importance of music. The Japanese word 歌(“uta”)  in Japanese can mean “song” or “poem. The forms of verse and the use of poetic images developed at this time, these live through almost all Japanese music up to the present.

A considerable part of Japan’s official culture was in Chinese, even though the Chinese and Japanese languages are differ from each other quite a lot. Chinese is monosyllabic (consisting of one syllable) and has tones (variations in pitch distinguish different words), while Japanese has long polysyllabic (using more than one syllable) words and does not have tones. Pure Japanese literature in the Heian period (794 till 1185) and Japanese poetry in special, tried to avoid words of Chinese origin as much as they could, which of course sped up the ‘Japanese reshaping’ of the imported Chinese culture.

 

The top 100 in Japan right now:

https://www.billboard.com/charts/japan-hot-100

The top 50 on Spotify:

https://open.spotify.com/user/spotifycharts/playlist/37i9dQZEVXbKXQ4mDTEBXq?si=sTmS3Lf4TbafQKCD9_4cbg

 

Some random fun facts:

-People still buy a lot of CD’s in Japan. CD sales make up 85% of all music sales in this Far East country. It is still a mystery as to why this is the case in such a futuristic country. Another unusual thing; it is illegal to sell CD’s below the price of 25$.

-The capital of Japan, Tokyo, has the best sound systems in the world. Music fans take their fandom very seriously.

-Japan also has the largest pop group in the world. The group, called AKB which stands for Akihabara, consists out of 130 members!

 

Traditional Japanese music

There are several types of traditional, Japanese music. This are some of the most popular ones:

Gagaku:
In short, Gagaku is an ancient court music from China and Korea. It is the oldest traditional Japanese music. Gagaku came to Japan from other countries in the Asian continent. It is still preserved in Japan long after it has disappeared in the countries Japan originally got the music style from.

Gagaku consists primarily of music by wind and string instruments accompanied by percussion. The nasal hichiriki and the harmonica-like sho are only used in Gagaku and are a part of its distinctive sound. The pieces of Gagaku are divided into two groups, To-gaku or pieces from Tang China and Rimpa-gaku or pieces from the region that is now the southern part of the Vietnam peninsula are called “pieces of the left”. And pieces from the three ancient countries of Korea and Pohai-gaku are called “pieces of the right”. The instrumentation and forms of these two groups of pieces are also different and originally they were performed by different groups of musicians that also enter the stage from different directions.

This music style is based on ceremonial music introduced from China and South Asia before the tenth century. In China Gagaku was played during ceremonies. However, Togaku music, is said to have been introduced from China and is presently played as Japanese Gagaku. Togaku is believed to be based on the music played in the Tang period (618 till 907). It has a relationship to the Vietnamese Gagaku (nhã nhạc) aswell.

Before the modern age, the Tennoji gakuso Theater in Shitenno-ji Temple ( situated in Osaka City), the Ouchi gakuso Theater in the Imperial Court (situated in Kyoto) and the Nanto gakuso Theater in Kasugataisha Shrine (situated in Nara City) were called “Sanpo gakuso theaters”.

These gakuso theater companies were asked to move to Tokyo during the modern age and became the basis for the current Gakubu section of the Imperial Household Agency. The tradition of each gakuso theater company has continued in each place.

 

Biwagaku:
Biwagaku is music played with the Biwa. A biwa is  an instrument with four strings that looks kind of like a lute:

 

  

Nohgaku or Noh:
Music played during Noh performances. It consists of a chorus, the Hayashi flute, the Tsuzumi drum, and other instruments. In the middle ages, Noh emerged. Noh was a masked drama with poetic texts and a spare percussion and flute ensemble in the middle ages. A noh performance:

 

 

Sokyoku:
Music played with the Koto, a string instrument with 13 strings, somewhat like a small harp. Later in time it was accompanied by Shamisen and Shakuhachi.  A koto:

 

  

Shakuhachi:
Music played with the Shakuhachi. This is a bamboo of about 0.55 m long. The name Shakuhachi refers to an old Japanese unit of length of the flute. A Shakuhachi or shaku (尺) (“Japanese foot” ) is 30.3 centimeters or 11.9 inches.

Shamisenongaku:
Music played with the Shamisen. This is a three-stringed string instrument. Kabuki and Bunraku performances are accompanied by the shamisen, as mentioned before. You can read about the Shamisen right under this paragraph.

The Shamisen

The shamisen is a Japanese music instrreminds you of a guitar. Except that it has three strings instead of six. It still reminds you of a guitar because it has a long, thin neck and a small rectangular body covered in skin. The instrument can be tuned in the same way as a guitar. The strings are not plucked by hand, but with a plectrum, a large triangular one.

The shakuhachi

This instrument is a flute made of bamboo. Just like any flute it played by blowing on one end. The shakuhachi is sometimes called a five-holed bamboo flute because it has five holes. Four in the front, and one in the back. The small number of holes provides the instrument of its distinctive tone.

The koto

The koto is a large, wooden, 13-stringed instrument and it is the most popular traditional instrument. To give an impression of how large the instrument is; the width of this instrument is around 2 meters. The pitch is adjusted by moving bridges that are under every single string. It is played with picks, similar to the picks the Western world uses. The left hand of a player presses down on the strings to bend notes.

Historians argue that this instrument was created around the 300 B.C. in China. It originally had 5 strings but it became 12, then even 13. The 13 string Koto was picked up by the Japanese between 710 and 794. It initially performed with other instruments, in ensembles. But later in time it became an instrument that was played on its own.

Examples of the names of the parts of a koto are: “dragon’s tongue” or “dragon’s horn”. This is because the names derive from looking at the instrument as if it were a dragon laying on the ground. Here are some of the parts of the koto that have names of a dragon’s anatomy:

 

“Ryuko” or dragon’s back. This is the main body of the koto. A musician plucks the strings on the right of the “ji”, what we would call a fret on a guitar. They have notched tops to hold the strings and they help to transmit the sound from the strings to the body of the instrument. It makes the sound fuller and richer. These supports are slid up and down the instrument to adjust the sound of each string.

 

“Ryubi” or dragon’s tail. Back-up strings are ‘collected’ here, in case a string breaks. The string is coiled in two bunches. One coil of six strings and one of seven.

 

“Tsume” or claws. The strings of the koto are not played directly by a players fingers but with three “tsumes”. They are put on the thumb, index finger and middle finger.

 

 

Modern Japanese citizens rarely hear these instruments as they are traditional, but they are ‘kept alive’ by secondary schools going to theatres to listen to these instruments.

 

Sources

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Music_of_Japan

https://theculturetrip.com/asia/japan/articles/8-incredible-facts-about-japans-music-scene/

https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2113.html

http://web-japan.org/kidsweb/virtual/koto/koto01.html

https://doyouknowjapan.com/traditionalmusic/

Persepolis movie review

Persepolis review

 “Persepolis” shows the Islamic revolution in Iran and how everyday people and opponents of the regime the Shah is implementing, have to live.

“Persepolis” is an animated movie, which is portrayed mainly in black and white. It explores the story of Marjane Satrapi, a girl who lives in the capital of Iran, Tehran. The original film is in French, as it is directed by Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud.

Photo: Maphill, 2011

 

Marjane, or Marji, was born and grew up in Iran herself, the book “Persepolis” on which the movie is based, is an autobiography written by her. This means that she experienced the Iranian Revolution first hand. She studied abroad because of the unhealthy living conditions in Iran. Marjane studied in Austria, Vienna, and spent her high-school years there. She returned to Iran after this, and studied visual communication there.

Vincent is a comic book writer and artist. He was born in La Rochelle, France. Vincent has made multiple animated movies under which: Territoire and Raging Blues.

The black, white and grey in “Persepolis” immediately conveys the grimness and seriousness of this film to the viewer. The backgrounds were not very detailed nor stuffed with building or any other object, apart from when Marji is walking around streets, which is necessary to also transition scenes and jump in time. This lets you focus on what is happening closest to the screen. It is also easier to portray more abstract scenes, to show the feelings or living conditions of a character better.

The film is not solely in black, white and grey however. The colour is only used in the present, so not in any of her memories. Because of this you can easily distinct between what is a memory and what is not.

The facial expressions and body language etc. were done in a way that was believable, as you would expect in many animated movies but it is worth pointing out. Because of this, I can come to the conclusion that the film makers used the animation aspect of “Persepolis” well.

Movie summary

The movie start with Marji sitting at an airport. She thinks of back when she was younger. As a child, Marji dreamt of becoming a prophet and wants to be like Bruce Lee.

She gets confronted with the previously mentioned Islamic revolution in Iran. People are rising up against the Shah. Marji’s  family takes a part in this themselves.

As her family opposes the Shah, they have to be very careful. For example, Marji gets confronted by police officers telling her, her clothing is not appropriate. At that time people were imprisoned and even tortured by the government; a totalitarian regime. A different example is her uncle, who gets executed because of his beliefs. The last and only person that was allowed to talk to Marji’s uncle was Marji herself.

God also makes an appearance in Persepolis. He teaches Marji about forgiveness, and how you can not be the judge of people yourself.

One day Marji’s Uncle (Anoush) arrives to have dinner with the family and catch up with them after recently being released from prison. Anoush tells Marji about himself. How he is on the run from the government for rebelling with his Communist ideology. Anoush also speaks of his time spent in prison. He wants to warn Marji of the consequences of standing up to the Shah, but in a subtle way as Marji is a child.

There are elections. The Islamic Fundamentalists win. Marji’s family is disappointed. This will turn Iran into a totalitarian country. The country leaders will make new religious, totalitarian laws, like obligating women to cover themselves up (using a Hijab). Marji stands with her family.

Then a war breaks out between Iran and Iraq. This results into bombing and more horrific occurrences that you can expect in a war. Marji witnesses her dad being threatened by government officials wielding machine guns. These government officials are teenagers. Then she watches her ill uncle die because the hospital didn’t let him seek better treatment outside Iran.

As she grows up, Marji refuses to stay out of trouble, secretly buying Western heavy metal music on the black market, wearing unorthodox clothing and celebrating punk rock and other Western music sensations like Michael.

Then Marji’s parents decide to send her to a school in Vienna, Austria, because they don’t want her to get arrested. She arrives at a Christian boarding school. The nuns in there are discriminatory and judgemental, which reminds the viewer of the situation Iran. After going from place to place seeking residence, she is driven into homelessness where she nearly dies of bronchitis before she is rescued off the streets. Marji eventually recovers and returns to Iran with her family’s permission and hopes that the conclusion of the war would mean an improved life there.

After a while, Marji falls into a clinical depression over the state of affairs in Iran and the misery that has nearly ruined her family. In a dream, God and the spirit of Karl Marx appear before her to remind her of what is important and encourage her to go on with living. She bounces back with renewed determination and begins enjoying life again. She attends university classes, goes to parties and even enters a relationship with a fellow student.

On the other hand, Marji also discovers that Iranian society is more tyrannized than ever with numerous atrocities occurring. Mass executions for political beliefs and petty religious absurdities and hypocrisies have become common in everyday life. Marji keeps her rebellious attitude anyway.

She openly confronts the blatant sexist double standard in her university’s forum on public morality that singles out women and tells off policemen who warn her for running to class because her “behind makes obscene gestures”.

Her grandmother reminds Marji that both her grandfather and her uncle both died supporting freedom and innocent people. She should never forsake them or her family by giving in to the repressive government of Iran.

Eventually her marriage falls apart. And a little later, when a party is raided by the police which results in a friend being killed, Marji’s family decides that she must leave the country again, and permanently this time. In order to avoid being targeted by the authorities. Marji agrees. Her grandmother dies soon after her departure.

Back to present day, at the airport, Marji is unable to return to Iran again, and she takes a taxi from the airport. Her final memory is of her grandmother telling her how she placed jasmine in her brassiere to allow her to smell lovely every day.

Even though this story paints a grim picture, there is also comedy in this movie. Some scenes were not realistic and therefore comical and other scenes were comical because of the setting or script.

I enjoyed the movie, while still getting the ‘heavy’ message. Because of this I think this was a good movie. It is enjoyable while still conveying its message.

Sources:

https://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/25/movies/25pers.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marjane_Satrapi

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vincent_Paronnaud

Middle Eastern music

Middle Eastern music is based on a system called the “maqam system”. A composition can begin in a certain maqam, then shift to others during the course of the song. There are at least 24 distinct maqamat, developed over thousands of years of musical history.

A maqam tells a musician what the correct intervals are between the notes of a scale, and which notes should be emphasised. Often, the notes of a scale lie only a quarter-tone apart, rather than half-steps apart which is what we have in the western world. That is why a note that is played a quarter higher or lower can sound weird or simply like dissonance to people used to the half-steps system.

 

Rhythm

Middle Eastern music often contains multiple rhythms played at the same time. Each instrument can be playing in a different rhythm. However, it does not become a total chaos of rhythms. This is because all of these rhythms are “woven together”. If there is a dancer involved in the performance, this dancer tries to show the different rhythms to the audience while also conveying emotion.

Improvisation

Improvisation is quite common in Middle Eastern music. They call is taqasim, “the art of improvisation”. It can be used in the same way we do, in the middle of a song a guitar player plays an improvised piece. There are also completely improvised pieces, “as an art in themselves, as in the Arabic classical tradition”. This music piece would start with a well-known maqam or melody, then transition into the improvisation.

Ornamentation

In Middle Eastern music, ornamentation is frequently involved. This ornamentation includes but is not limited to: The use of grace notes, trills(rapidly playing between two adjacent notes), runs(a series of notes that ascend or descend), arpeggios (a type of broken chord) and bending a note (like a note being bent on a guitar).

Both the improvisation and the ornamentation allow the listener to hear more of the musician’s personality.

There is also something called “Call and Response” in Middle Eastern music. You can imagine a call and response going like this: The lead instrument plays a phrase (a phrase of music) and a different instrument or musician responds to it by ‘responding’ to it.

 

Instruments

There are multiple instruments typical to Middle Eastern music. Here are most of them.

First, the ‘Tabla’. This is a drum, kind of shaped like a cup and is somewhat alike the ‘bongo’ most of us know. A tabla is also smaller than what probably comes to mind when thinking of a bongo.

 

Like a drum we know, this drum also keeps the tempo of a Middle Eastern music group. This drum is also called ‘Durbakke’ or ‘Doumbek’.

 

Then the ‘Oud’. This is an instrument with a short neck and its shaped like a pear. It is a string instrument that can be beautifully decorated. It looks somewhat like the lute we know.

Originally, an oud was made of wood of a fruit tree and its strings were plucked with the feather of an eagle. In more recent times, a plastic pick is used.

A violin we know here, in the Western world, as well is also a popular Middle Eastern instrument. The violin is often the lead instrument in a “call and response” which I previously explained.

 

Singer

The singer plays a vital role in traditional and classical Middle Eastern music. This is because of the importance of the lyrics. The singers role is to bring the lyrical poetry to life through vocal techniques that evoke emotion.

Sagat

A sagat looks like finger sized cymbals. It is used like a flamingo dancer would use castanets. In a similar way, a Middle Eastern dancer would use a sagat.

Nai

A nai is a hollow flute made of reed. Because these flutes cannot be tuned to the different maqamat (maqam), a nai player carries flutes of many different sizes.

 

Kanun (Qanun)

This is a stringed instrument like the oud and the violin. It is different on the amount of strings the instruments uses though. A kanun has 72 strings, which are plucked by rings which are attached to the musician’s fingers. The kanun plays notes faster than the oud.

 

Tar

The Middle Eastern form of a tambourine, the riq (also called the daff) is played by striking both the head and the cymbals that surround it.

 

Other Traditional Instruments include the tabal beledi, which is a large bass drum,

 

the mizmar, an oboe-like reed instrument,

 

the mijwiz, a double-reed instrument

and the rababa or rebec, a two-stringed fiddle held upright on the knee.

Modern instruments such as electric guitar, accordion, saxophone, clarinet, organ, piano, cello, bass, and even drum machine and synthesizers are common in today’s pop music. Like all great musical traditions, Middle Eastern music is a living art form that is always adapting and changing while staying true to its heritage.

How to listen to Middle Eastern music

Begin by concentrating on how one instrument is playing. Try listening to the drums first, then focus on another instrument. Then hear how the instruments interact with each other, listen to the instrumental whole. If there is a singer, listen to how he or she interacts with the musicians. When in doubt, listen for the deepest drum beat as this is the heart of the music.

 

A video portraying Middle Eastern music examples from different countries:

The history of Middle Eastern music

Middle Eastern music is a living tradition that has roots in the ancient civilizations of the Middle East. It is heard in the court and folk music of Sumeria, ancient Egypt, Arabia, the Islamic Empires, Andalusia, and Persia.

Middle Eastern music styles

Within the two broad categories of folk and classical music, there are hundreds of styles springing from various regions and sub-cultures. For instance, the pearl-divers of Bahrain have their own musical styles. So did the court musicians of the Ottoman Empire, the mystics of Persia, the folk musicians of Andalusian Spain, the villagers of Lebanon, and many others.

What Middle Eastern are songs about

Love is a major theme in Middle Eastern music, in all its aspects (love of family, country, nation, nature). Many songs also focus on religious and national ideals. Whatever style it is in and whatever the theme of the music is, it is always sung with emotion and passion.

What about the composition of Middle Eastern music?

Composed music and folk tunes are often written out in scores using Western notation, although many musicians (particularly folk musicians) still learn pieces by ear.

A typical Middle Eastern orchestra, called takht (seat) in Arabic, that accompanies the singer, can range from three to thirty instruments. It generally gives the singer a breather by playing a refrain after each long vocal. The instruments include the qanun, the nai, percussion instruments such as the daff (tambourine) and Western innovations as the piano, violin, and accordion, which were introduced to the orchestra in recent times along with the inevitable microphone and loudspeaker system to amplify the sound.

Middle Eastern music is music of the Arabic-, Turkish-, and Persian-speaking world. Despite three major languages and cultural differences, the music can be seen as a single great tradition because of they have one they all have one unifying factor; religion (Islam).

The fact that Islam has historically found music problematic, has resulted in relatively little religious ceremonial music. However, it has not held back music that is not related to religion. Only those following certain practices have used music (and dance) for worship within the mosque. Activities resembling music however, have generally been limited to the call to prayer (adhān) and the chanting of the Qur’an. The former and the latter are not considered music per se.

 

The Quran does not indicate that music itself is Haram, but clearly states that using songs to mislead and distract people from Islam is wrong. Therefore, if music (mainstream or instrumental) distracts people from Allah, they should not continue to listen. This includes:

Songs Promoting Alcohol, songs that encourage looking at women and songs with swear words.

Other common forbidden themes in modern day music include:

  • Promotion of drugs – stated in: Quran 5:90
  • Putting money first – stated in: Quran 18:46 & 3:14
  • Encouraging Homosexuality – stated in: Quran 7:81

This would cover the majority of mainstream music that people listen to these days.

Let’s now look at music that is permitted, with a focus on music that actively promotes Islam.

There are a growing number of artists who produce Islamic music – encouraging people to obey Allah, read Quran and do lots of dhikr(prayers).

There is a key hadith (reportings of Muhammad) that suggests musical instruments are forbidden.

The issue of musical instruments is still a debated issue.

“The danger is that we end up dividing the religion, and there is a clear verse in the Quran against that:

“As for those who divide their religion and break up into sects, thou hast no part in them in the least: their affair is with Allah: He will in the end tell them the truth of all that they did” (Quran 6:159)” -Faisal (2017)

 

Sources:

http://www.jawaahir.org/AboutTheDance,AboutTheMusic.htm

http://archive.aramcoworld.com/issue/196601/music.in.the.middle.east.htm

https://www.britannica.com/art/Middle-Eastern-music

https://islamicmusichub.com/blogs/is-music-haram-or-halal-in-islam

Paper topic

Pizza

Have You Ever Wondered…
• Who invented pizza?
• How long has pizza been around?
• How it became the world’s favourite food?
• What goes into making a single pizza, or eating pizza once a week for a lifetime?
• How varieties of pizza got their name?
• How pizza influenced our culture and the other way around?

Then you are in luck.

First of all, who invented the very first pizza. This is where we run into our first problem. How do we define a pizza. The first flat pieces of bread where baked in ovens in Egyptians times. There is a good chance that somebody there once put something on that bread but there we encounter our second problem. Pizza is very old and structured documentations isn’t. The first real records of breads with toppings of local spices were in ancient Greek and Roman times , those dishes are now called focaccia bread.

The pizza we’re all familiar with — the kind with tomato sauce, cheese, and toppings —originated in Italy. The baker Raffaele Esposito from Naples is often given credit for creating the first pizza. On the break between the 17th and 18th century.

There are also preserved breads from the ancient Romans. This one was found in Pompeii, it even looks like there a triangled (pizza) slices. In Pompeii there were real bakeries. The bread from the photo even has a stamp from the baker on it.

After the pizza as we know it today became popular, it spread to Spain, France, England, and the United States via Italian immigrants. But it was not until the second World War when soldier started praising food they ate overseas that pizza became the western world’s favourite dish. The very first pizzeria in the United States opened its doors in 1905 by Gennaro Lombardi in New York City, and they are still open to this day and use the same oven!!! Gennaro sold his pizza to the city’s factory workers. Back then it costed five cents per pie, it made pizza easily accessible. Thanks to people like Gennaro, pizza spread spread the world — first to Chicago later across the rest of the country. Then something funny happened. The Americans changed the Italian pizza slowly overtime. A ameican style pizza was born. The American pizza then spread back the Italy and the rest of the world like blue jeans and rock&roll.
Fun fact: Pizza is enjoy by one in eight US citizens every day. Together Americans consume 350 slices op pizza each second.

Sources:

https://wonderopolis.org/wonder/who-invented-pizza
http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/42934/artisan-pompeii-miche
http://www.refinery29.com/pizza-obsession-reason

I used three different main sources, miniscule other bits from the internet and common sense and knowledge to write this piece. I think that they are fairly trust worthy because I compared differences between sources. When the source isn’t sure it uses words like, probably and most likely. Also there is no apparent motive to lie about the origins of pizza. There is no possible political agenda here and not a lot of money to be made from alter this data from the truth.

What goes into making a single pizza, or eating pizza once a week for a lifetime?

One pizza with a 250 grams dough ball contains 57% water. It also contains 156.1 grams of flour, 89 ml of water, 4.7 grams of salt and 0.3 grams fresh yeast on average. We consume around 251,770,000 pounds of pepperonis every year, in fact 36% of all pizza orders get pepperoni on their pizza.

One single pizza will provide someone with 25% of their total daily energy. That is roughly 2175 Kilojoule. And in a typical pizza-eating session, 744 calories is consumed. Each slice of an average pizza is 123 calories. If you would eat one pizza once a week for 80 years, that’s 4.174 pizzas, you would have consumed 9.078.877 Kilojoule and 3.105.456 calories! 4.174 pizzas of average size would take 651.561 grams (651 kilogram) of flour, 19.618 grams of salt and 371.486 ml (371 L) of water.

That amount of flour doesn’t even come close to the amount the largest pizza ever made needed, which needed 4500 kg. The pizza was 37.4 meters in diameter, needed 4500 kg of flour, 90 kg of salt, 1800 kg of cheese, and 900 kg of tomato puree. Patrick Bertoletti holds a word record for eating 47 slices of 16 inch pizza in 10 minutes. That means if he could keep this pace up he could eat the world’s largest pizza in 7.2 hours. It was eaten by over 30000 people. The pizza was 44457lb and supplied 90000 slices.

Most of these calories are consumed on Saturday night, as that is the most popular time to eat pizza. And the peaking point will probably be a couple of minutes after the weather in the TV news, that is the most popular time to order pizza. Americans eat about 404690 m² of pizza every day, that’s 350 slices per second!

Extra :

As you would expect, the pizza industry is vast: over 5 billion pizzas are sold worldwide each year. And pizzerias represent 17% of all restaurants in the world. The easiest example to find, the US, has a Pizza industry of 30 billion dollars. Over 3 billion pizzas are sold every year in the US.

The most expensive pizza ever created was made by Domenico Crolla who created a
$2,745 (2327.25 euros) priced pizza which included toppings such as sun blush-tomato sauce, Scottish smoked salmon, medallions of venison, edible gold, lobster marinated in the finest cognac and champagne-soaked caviar.

Facts:

-Women are twice as likely as men to order vegetables on their pizza

-In Italy there is a bill before Parliament to safeguard the traditional Italian pizza, specifying permissible ingredients and methods of processing (e.g., excluding frozen pizzas). Only pizzas which followed these guidelines could be called “traditional Italian pizzas”, at least in Italy.

-Italians eat on average half a pound of bread daily!

-Mozzarella is picked rather than other cheese because it has the best baking properties. Mozzarella is found on 60% of pizza menus, and there’s a reason for its supremacy. According to a group of scientists in New Zealand who analyzed the baking properties of cheeses normally found on pizza, mozzarella has the highest moisture, the lowest quantity of free oil, good elasticity, and “a unique stretch ability.”

-Pizza Deliverers claim women are better tippers

-Men wearing muscle shirts order pepperoni 3 times more than any other kind of pizza.

Global toppings:

-Amsterdam, hotdogs


-Japan, squid, Mayo Jaga (mayonnaise, potato and bacon)

-Costa Rica, coconut


-Australia, shrimp, pineapple, BBQ sauce pizza


-India, pickled ginger, minced mutton, tofu

-Brazil, green peas

-France, bacon, onion, fresh crème


-Saudi Arabia, beef

-Russia, sardines, tuna, mackerel, salmon, red onions

-China, eel

-Germany, egg

Sources:

Pizza Dough Proportions, Automatic Calculator


http://pizza.com/fun-facts
http://www.italyfoodculture.com/10-fun-italian-food-facts-kids/

These sources seemed reliable as one of them, ( http://www.italyfoodculture.com/10-fun-italian-food-facts-kids/ ) was also published in a magazine: “popular food in Italy”. A magazine makes it more reliable because I believe an article writer would do his/her research before publishing their article.

The second site also seemed reliable as its domain is pizza.com and it has a trade mark from 2017. This would indicate that the site was updated and someone bought the pizza.com domain so wouldn’t waste their money and thus do good research before posting.

The other seemed reliable because it was well organised, well put together.

How varieties of pizza got their name

Pizza and pizza-like creations originate, of course, from Italy. Multiple different regions claim the honor of having invented this popular dish. But, a lot of people probably came up with the idea of putting a topping on a flat piece of dough themselves already. It is not very unusual to bake a bread and flavour it with something for a meal because it is very easy to do.

Overall, many people claim the pizza was invented in Naples. Flatbreads already existed before the 1700s, but they were not topped with tomatoes yet. Those tomatoes are now one of the most defining characteristics of a pizza, they cannot be missed. When tomatoes were introduced in Europe in the 16th century, people assumed they were poisonous. For this reason they were not eaten. Only some poor peasant in Naples used them as a topping on their dough in the late 18th century. From then on the dish became very popular among Italians. People came all the way to Naples to try this specialty. The name of Pizza Alla Napoletana originates from this story.
Pizza Marinara’s name also derives from Naples. The pizza without cheese, was originally prepared by ‘’la marinara’’ for her husband when, after some time, he came back from one of his fishing trips.
Furthermore, some pizza names are very logical. For example, Pizza Quattro Stagioni, which is Italian for ‘four seasons’, is a pizza that represents.. the four seasons! Likewise, the name of Pizza Quattro Formagi originates form the use of a four different cheese combination.
On the other hand, the all so famous Pizza Margherita, has a somehow more special story. It was created by the baker Raffaele Esposito who worked at a pizzeria in Naples. In 1889, King Umberto I and Queen Margherita visited Naples and the Queen wanted to eat something local. So, Raffaele cooked for them. He created this pizza for them which he then named after Queen Margherita. She was very charmed by the appearance of the pizza and thought it looked wonderful because the colours of the pizza, red, white and green, reminded her of the Italian flag.
Whatever the real origins of the pizza recipe are and wherever their names come from, after Raffaele, pizza has grown into the most recognisable symbol of Italian food culture in the world. And besides the fact that the royal house in Italy is long gone. The Margherita is still the most popular pizza today.

Sources:

The Origin of Margherita Pizza
https://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pizza_margherita
http://www.history.com/news/hungry-history/a-slice-of-history-pizza-through-the-ages
https://www.thespruce.com/what-is-neapolitan-pizza-2708762

I have looked up plenty of different sources. If you look at one individual one, you can perhaps question its reliability. But the stories told in each one of them matched with each other. So, in my opinion, the sources were reliable enough to use them for my piece of writing.

Cultural trip to Rome

After the 21 hour bus ride we finally arrived in Rome. The first difference I could already notice whilst being in the bus was of course the landscape. Some small hills and more and larger pieces of nature.

Another difference that you could easily notice was that Rome is crowded, busy city. The most obvious was the traffic. You hear a car honk here and there and the car stream never seems to stop.

The first square:

As you can partly see in the last photograph, architecture is more important in Italy than it is to us. They have different standards when it comes to architecture, higher standards. What was also noticeable was that the people in Rome are still quite religious. There were a lot of churches and chapels. We visited some of them because of the history behind them but also the architecture. The most obvious example is the Sistine chapel, which I found one of the most impressive buildings we visited.

The dome in the Sistine chapel:

The inside of the Sistine chapel:

The view from the top of the dome:

What I also found impressive was the 3d ceiling painting in a different church. The pillars around the ceiling had some parts of the art piece in actual 3d statues then it transitioned into a 2d painting. They did that intelligently and it looks beautiful.

Some more subtle differences:

The clothing is more formal. You won’t see an Italian man walking around with shorts on the streets. We also experienced this ourselves as we had to wear formal clothing for one day.

Then the traffic lights. In Rome it went green for about 3 seconds and then it went to orange instantly. Sometimes the times would say you had 30 seconds left to cross the street and sometimes you just had to hope for the best. After the orange light, without blinking it instantly switches to red again. I am used to traffic lights that flicker just before switching to red, so that you know how much time you still have left.

What I found the most interesting was Pompeii. I enjoy history and I know some things about the ancient Romans so a city that has basically been standing there for about 2000 years is awesome to visit.

Another thing was that there were Service costs in restaurants. The price you saw on the menu could be quite different from what it actually costs. This could be because Rome is a touristic city but I found that quite weird.

Then the Italian cuisine. The Italians are well-known cooks and you can surely notice this. The pizzas were not that special but  the pasta and other dishes tasted extraordinarily good. Their eating habits are also different from ours. I noticed they had dinner quite late and took their time for it. We started having dinner between 8pm and 9pm every day.

The trip went quite smoothly the only thing I found unclear sometimes, especially in the beginning, was when you had to get up in the morning. I remember there was posted in the WhatsApp group when we had to get up but the message was quite late so no one in our room read it in time. The rest of the organisation went well. The meeting points and times were clear and we visited what we wanted ( with some improvisation but that’s a given on a trip like this).
Overall, the Rome trip is another voyage I will never forget. The interesting stories, the impressive buildings and the nice group.

 

Third activity (museum)

The British Museum, Tomb of nebamun

As mentioned before in this blog, I have been to The British Museum whilst being on a London trip with school. I found the museum very pretty and impressive. Not only the building but also the art collection. I liked almost all pieces of art I saw there, maybe it was the was they were presented. The art piece I was presenting is a tomb painting from the tomb of Nebamun, a scribe and grain accountant in the Egyptian times. This is what it looks like:

The specific artist/ artists are unknown, it was painted by workers / painters from the region he lived in. The tomb painting is called “The Fowling Scene” (the hunting scene). The painting was made in the 18th dynasty ( around 1350 BC). The whole tomb has never been discovered but the British Museum has made an online interactive recreation of the tomb.

http://www.britishmuseum.org/visiting/galleries/ancient_egypt/room_61_tomb-chapel_nebamun/nebamun_animation.aspx

The painting is located in the british museum on the second floor, obviously, in the egyptian part of the exhibition. This piece sparked my interest because i have Always been interested in romans/egyptians.

This piece is figurative: the spearing of the fish means new life, tilapia fish is a symbol of rebirth. The duck, as well as the heavy wig his wife, Hatsheput is wearing, is an erotic symbol. The cat could represent the Sun-God hunting the enemies of light and order and the gilded eyes of the cat hint at the religous meanings.

For its time the piece was very colourful and really detailed. That is what jumps out of this piece for me. Lighting isnt really involved. The size of the painting is as it should be, I can imagine it being a piece of a tomb wall.

Nebamuns upper body is where my attention focuses most at, at a first look. If this was the intention, which it very well could be since it is the tomb of Nebamun, they did a good job. This could however also be the piece of the painting that was least damaged over time.

The surroundings in which the piece is exhibited are quite important. Around this piece are the rest of the tomb paintings, giving you more of a direction how the tomb looked like and what kind of man Nebamun was.

The painter(s) of this piece used several techniques. For that time this is remarkable. They made textures of the wings of butterflies and the earlier described gilded eyes of the cat. They also maked the fish look shiny. It is painted on a piece of plaster.

The piece is meant to show how great Nebamun was and to honor him, to tell his story.

 

Wicked reflection

I thought the musical Wicked was quite good, but a bit elaborate for my taste, as well as the amount of songs. I thought the effects and the acting was great. I found the story mediocre. The fact that the seats were placed in a way that we sat very far away from the stage didn’t help. We couldnt see the faces of the actors in this way. The bass was that loud at times, that I was dizzy and a bit nauseous afterwards. Overall, I think it was a great experience.