Urban Myth is a seven member ensemble of versatile and innovative performers from New England whose repertoire mixes African/Middle Eastern rhythms, Early Music, Celtic folk traditions, jazz, and other World music influences in a unique blend. Urban Myth's arrangements feature woodwinds ancient and modern, fiddles, harps, guitars, keyboards, accordion, vocals, and a full array of percussion instruments. With a distinctive earthy sensibility and a dash of hedonism, Urban Myth takes its audience on a spiritual journey that uplifts and opens the heart.
- Recorders The recorder is a simple, carved wooden
instrument which dates back to Medieval and Renaissance times. Like
voices, or strings, members of the recorder family
are often played in quartets or quintets, and includes sopranino,
soprano, alto, tenor, and bass instruments.
- Flute The flute -- a modern keyed instrument -- is a
more sophisticated descendant of the recorder family. This instrument
ranges from a low rich throaty sound to soaring highs, incorporating about
- Quena The quena is a traditional Peruvian/Andean instrument; it is fashioned from a hollow tube of wood, and held more like a recorder than a transverse flute whilst being played.
- Pennywhistle A traditional Celtic folk instrument, the
pennywhistle is a simple instrument inexpensively made of wood, tin, or
plastic in a range of keys. It is easily portable, so that it could be
pulled out of one's jacket pocket when the mood strikes.
- Shawms The shawm family, a collection of double
reed Medieval and Renaissance instruments of conical bore which inspired
the oboe family, includes the soprano, alto, tenor, bass, and contrabass;
members generally have a range of about two octaves. The soprano of this
family has been affectionately nicknamed by its players "The Paintpeeler."
Boisterous and heraldic instruments, Urban
Myth regularly utilizes the soprano and alto members of this
- Oboe The oboe is a modern double reed orchestral
instrument made of seasoned ebony with many silver keys. The player of
the oboe perhaps spends more time making reeds than actually practising,
as each reed must be hand-made. Reeds are extremely temperamental,
responding cataclysmically to atmospheric conditions.
- Curtal The curtal is the Medieval and Renaissance
English musicians' answer to the French bassoon. A double reed instrument
with a cylindrical bore, it is used in Urban
Myth as the bass of recorder ensembles.
- Harps The harps which are played in Urban Myth are Medieval style instruments;
smaller than orchestral pedal harps, they are often associated with Celtic
music. One of the harps was created by the Westovers, a New Hampshire
couple who based it on an instrument featured in Gothic Flemish paintings. The
other harp is a Pakistani instrument which is loosely based on extant
Gaelic harps. Modally tuned, they have ranges of about two and one-half
- Violin, Viola These instruments are both members of the violin
family, which also includes the violoncello. Although both instruments
have four strings and are tuned in fifths, the viola's range starts
one-fifth of an octave below that of the violin, known in the folk world
as the fiddle.
- Guitars Urban Myth
uses six-string guitars of the classical (a Spanish instrument with nylon
strings) and folk (a steel-stringed Yamaha) varieties, as well as electric bass.
- Djembe The djembe is a "lead" drum; it is
hand-struck, and was traditionally used to signal changes in West African
dance, in addition to shorter distance communication. The djembe appears in popular music, thanks to the contributions of master drummer Babatunde Olatunji.
- Ashiko The ashiko, which has appeared in Urban Myth in alto and baritone sizes, is an
hand-struck West African "middle voice" drum.
- Bomba The Bomba is a mallet-struck, double headed bass drum of
- Dumbek The dumbek is a hand-struck Middle Eastern
drum, usually made of metal or clay.
- Kanjire The kanjire is a Middle Eastern frame drum with one set
of tambourine-like rattles of the side.
- Bodhran This frame drum of Celtic origin is played with a double-headed mallet, generally referred to as "the tipper."
- TarThe tar is a finger-struck frame drum of reputed Middle Eastern origin.
- Hand Percussion Urban Myth
also employs various small percussion instruments, including anklet bells,
egg shakers, finger cymbals, bones, tingshas, bells, and tambourines.
- PianoThe 88-key pianoforte is a distant descendant of the clavichord family. While it does have strings, many consider it a percussive instrument, due to its sound resulting from the hammer-striking action.
- AccordionThe accordion, popularized in Klezmer and polka traditions, is "a portable keyboard wind instrument in which the wind is forced past free reeds by means of a hand-operated bellows."
- Kurzweill This electronic instrument has a
full-sized piano keyboard and touch-sensitive keys.
- Roland D-20 This multi-linear digital synthesizer can be
used for effects and for orchestration.
This page was last updated: 15 May 1999
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