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History of hip hop music

Hip Hop music has an amazing history that deserves recognition as an art form. Learn about the roots of rap to from past to present.

Afro American people have always used verbal or the oral tradition to convey history. As Afro Americans used these traditions they started to use more and more entertaining words and making the story more animated. Did you know that this is the first time that Hip Hop came to be? Back in the days of slavery when slaves were on the plantation singing spirtual songs they were using a form of rap music. How, you may ask? These slaves had no instruments: they used beats from any object that they got their hands on. Whatever was on the slaves` minds they sung about. Sometimes they would sing about being free like the bird. They would also sing about going back home. While they were on the porch or in the back yard other slaves would join in and add their two cents. Much like the hip hop-rap music of today. After some raps other person starts to take over.

Hip Hop music is also in the black church. How so, you may ask? The call and response of the preacher. The preacher calls out and says `church can I get an Amen,` and the church response with the amen. Like today when a rap artist yells out `give me a ho ho,` and the audinces shouts back with a `ho ho.`

But you may be saying that what does this has to do with the hip hop music that I know of today? Well, there is a DJ from Kingston, Jamaica who moved to New York City and started reciting rhymes over the instrumental versions of records. So being that most instrument versions were very short this early DJ started using a mixer to make the insturmental versions longer. The mixer would allow for the instrumental part to be played over and over again. At some parties in the early 70`s many people thought that an actual song did last for 15 minutes. But all the while it was the DJ mixing it to make it last that long.

The reason why this type of music is so popular today is because it offer urban youth a chance to freely express how they feel. There are very limited rules in hip hop: just be orginal. You can rap about anything: the moon, how you feel, how your girl feels, anything. Most rhymes are prewritten, but it is a sin to recite the rhymes off of paper. This is where the orginal concept comes in. Many times what was written on paper is forgetten at concerts and the rapper just starts rapping off the top of his or her head.

Hip hop takes on many forms, cutting and scratching a record, break dancing, graffiti art, double dutch dancing.

During the late 90`s hip hop took on a new level. Hip Hop went mainstream in term of fashions. Many hip hop artists now own clothing lines and the clothes have been shown on many international fashion shows, thus bringing hip hop into a new level.

During this same period many magazines on the Hip Hop life have been added. There are magazines that tell of the different clothes that are out and there are many articles written in these magazines about upcoming concerts.

So from this little history of hip hop we have seen that hip hop is a form of music that has been around a while.

Hip hop is a lifestyle that many people like because it is very orginal and is an outlet for free expression. Hip hop is now urban, and can be found in almost every city, town and village in the United States. Hip hop, due to the Internet, is also going global. So what started out as kids having fun is now an international statement.

Short Takes: Kafi

Rajan P. Parrikar

Rajan P. Parrikar is a recognized expert on Indian Classical music and shares his knowledge freely with those interested in the subject.

He has written a series of articles on Classical Indian Music some of which have been archived on Sawf. Click here to read Rajan's earlier articles.

Rajan P. Parrikar (Click on the picture to enlarge it)


The distinguished ragas, Bhimpalasi and Bageshree , associated with the Kafi thAT have been the subjects of an earlier inquiry. In this paper we train our sights on Raga Kafi and its tributaries, namely, Sindhura, Barwa, Neelambari and Piloo. Besides sharing genetic material these ragas have another common attribute: they have arisen from dhuns, with their fons et origo in the province of folk music. Although these tunes have, over time, come to be formalized into ragas, they remain consigned to the bucket of kshudra ragas. That is to say, their conveyance is largely via auxiliary genres such as Hori, Dadra, Thumri, Bhajan and suchlike instead of the weighty classical forms like Dhrupad and Khayal.

Throughout this essay M represents the shuddha madhyam.

The Kafi thAT is among the ten proposed by Pandit Vishnu Narayan Bhatkhande in his taxonomic scheme. It corresponds to the 22nd Carnatic melakartA Kharaharapriya, known in early Carnatic literature as Shree-raga mela, and wields the following swara-set: S R g M P D n. Large swaths of the Hindustani ragaspace remain beholden to this thAT for it is the mother lode of not only major ragas but also of several key Ragangas (Kanada, Malhar, Bhimpalasi, Dhanashree, Bageshree and so on).

For several centuries this saptaka - and not Bilawal - was the "shuddha" scale of the Hindustani system. Ancient Indians were deeply familiar with its forerunner, the Shadja-grama of the treatises of antiquity. Kafi the raga, however, is not as ancient. Bhatkhande writes that the name first appears in Raga Tarangini of Lochana Pandit who lived in the Mithila district around 15th C (vide Bhatkhande's Hindustani Sangeet Paddhati and his concise commentary, A Comparative Study of Some of the Leading Music Systems of the 15th, 16, 17th, & 18th Centuries). Furthermore, Bhatkhande expresses surprise that post-Lochana, occurrences of Raga Kafi and its lakshaNAs are found more in the works of Carnatic shAstrakArAs, including Venkatamakhi's Chaturdandi Prakashika (17th C) and Tulaja's Sangeeta Saramrta (18th C), than in their northern counterparts.

Raga Kafi

As mentioned in the prefatory remarks, Raga Kafi has come to us from folk music. In India, ragas such as Kafi, Bhairavi, Pahadi and Piloo scarcely require formal i nstruction. One grows up with them, their spirit seeping into the dermis through osmosis. By the time a student embarks on a systematic study, these musical memes are expected to be part of his or her mental furniture.

Let us flesh out the central lakshaNAs. Raga Kafi's signature is ensconced in the following tonal phrase:

S, RgMP, M P D (M)g R

This recurring phrase and the avarohi termination on R are characteristic of Kafi.

Let us develop that motif.

S R R g g M M P, P M P (M)g R, n D n P D M P (M)g R

M P D n D P, n P (M)g R, g R S n' D' n' S

The pancham and avarohi rishab are nyAsa swaras.

A sample uttarAnga flight path:

M P D n S", D n D P D n S", R" n S" n D P

The shuddha nishAd is often deployed:

M P D N S" N S"

As is the shuddha gandhAr, in a vivAdi role. For instance:

P M P G M n D n P D M P (M)g R

A couple of final observations: it is not uncommon for the gandhAr to be skippe d (langhan) in Arohi prayogas - S R M P D M P g R. An uttarAnga foray bearing the shuddha nishAd, of the form M P N S", may also be observed. These ploys betray an influence of Sindhura (to be treated shortly).

Kafi is accorded a great deal of latitude in the interest of ranjakatva. In all kshudra ragas, 'contamination' on account of swaras not part of their intrinsic makeup is par for the course. A 'pure' version of Kafi is seldom heard in performance; almost all instances fall to the Mishra Kafi lot. With this understanding, here and in the ragas to follow, the explicit Mishra qualifier shall be dispensed with altogether. Bear in mind that strict conformity to etiquette is not expected of kshudra ragas.

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