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Old 21st September 2008 , 03:22 PM
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Default Introduction to World Musics

You may be a rock, pop, alternative or dance producer but have you ever thought about getting into soundtrack composing or even adding more exotic flavours to your music?

There are as many different types of music in the world as cultures yet we are most comfortable with that which we have grown up with, for obvious reasons. How would our music develop if we began incorporating musical elements from other music cultures?

This thread aims to provide members with a taste of different music cultures or styles from around the world.

I believe there is no crash course in a music which can substitute for living it or making the effort to get to know it well. So the latter is what I did with flamenco music. However, I think we can open the door a little here and I propose we do that by looking at different musics under basic categories which can later be expanded on:
• Background to the music
• Musical Instruments
• Musical Features
• Important Performers
• Further Resources.

These introductions are only the starting point and hopefully people will hear or see something that might encourage them to look further and develop a deeper understanding of these musics. Ultimately, that enriches us as musicians, I believe.

So, I’ll get the ball rolling as they say with an introduction to flamenco, which is what led me into the area of exploring world musics. Later, I will add more. I encourage people to add to the thread as much as possible by adding further musics or by suggesting additions to those presented.
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Old 21st September 2008 , 03:23 PM
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Default Introduction to Flamenco

Introduction to Flamenco



If all you know about Spain is paella, sangria and the Costa del Sol, they you are missing out on one of the world’s most important musical cultures. If you remember that Bryan Adams tune which featured the flamenco guitarist Paco de Lucia then you might have had a little taste of flamenco. But there is a whole world to explore. As always, this is just a taster but it might encourage you to add some flamenco flavours to your tunes or to soundtrack compositions.




Some Background

Spain occupies approximately 5/6 of Iberian Peninsula and is divided into the following Autonomous regions: Andalusia, Argon, Asturias, the Balearic Islands, the Basque Provinces, the Canary Islands, Cantabria, Catalonia, Extremadura, Galicia, Leon, Murcia, Navarra, New Castile, Old Castile, Valencia. Each region further divided into provinces. Each area has its own geographical, social, cultural and musical variations.

Andalusia is the southern-most region with 8 provinces: Huelva, Sevilla, Cádiz, Córdoba, Málaga, Jaén, Granada, Almería. Granada was a former centre of the Arabic cultural world: Moors (arabs) expelled in 1492. The region of Andalusia, while once prosperous, became neglected and poorer under the Franco regime. It is famous now for its tourist resorts.

Flamenco is more strictly Andalusian than “Spanish” although to attract tourists and create a sense of cultural unity it was pushed as the representative music during the Franco regime. It is a unique cultural expression of Andalusia and is more than mere tourist spectacle. It is a unique mode of musical expression together with a unique philosophy and way of life. It is the gypsy or gitano “cry of pain”. There are various theories on their origins of the gypsies in Spain but they had been arriving through Barcelona since 1447 probably coming from Northwest India, to Iran, Turkey, Greece, and Hungary. They brought with them own musical ideas and those from the cultures they encountered. All these influences fused together in Andalusia to from what is know as flamenco. It is a music is practiced initially by gitanos but now also payos (non-gypsies) play. It has a tripartite structure: cante (song), baile (dance), toque (guitar music). The foundation is cante with baile and toque accompaniment. A cuadro is a group of performers which includes singers, dancers, and guitarists.




Important Instruments

The flamenco guitar is the most obviously recognizable instrument and gives flamenco it’s immediately identify sound. The guitar used has a lighter construction compared with the classical or Spanish guitar as it is made of cypress wood which is lighter than rosewoods and other materials. The strings are closer to fretboard which produces a more percussive sound. The flamenco guitar is used to accompany the singer traditionally but later took on a solo function.





Other instruments used include the cajon (box) which was originally a tea chest. The player sits on the box and plays on the sides of the cajon. Modern developments have seen the introduction of the bass guitar, , flute, sax, bongos.



It should be noted that castanets are not flamenco instruments traditionally but come from other Spanish musics.


Important Musical Features

Flamenco is music and dance performance which is passed on orally and is charged with tension. It could be described as a coarse and vulgar sound with rough and strained voices above stamping feet and beating palms. The emphasis is on the expression of emotion. The dance is connected with Arabic and Indian dancing as can be seen in the hand and arm movements. The guitarist normally assumes subordinate role and maintains the compas (pulse) but also plays interludes or falsetas. There is audience participation: jaleo (shouts of encouragement); palmas (clapping), pitos (finger-clicking,) nodillos (tapping the knuckles). Performances aim to provoke a state of trance where the duende or deamon leading is evoked. Performers have been known to rip their shirts off etc.



Flamenco traditionally uses the Medieval Phrygian mode (scale): EFGABCDE with added F# or G# to give a major/minor feel. It also uses Arabic scales.

Melodies are sung or played in a high tessitura or pitch which produces a strained vocal sound and sees the guitar patterns played high on fingerboard. The melodic range is usually a 6th. There are chromatic patterns and the melodies are often melismatic (many notes on the one syllable) with microtonal notes (half-sharps, half-flats). It can be dissonance where the singer is not always in line with underlying harmony.

The harmony is traditionally simple (two or three chords which are major or minor) and a typical progression is the Andalusian cadence which uses the chords Am G F E. More complex chords were later borrowed from jazz. Songs can also be unaccompanied or “a palo seco” (dry).

The compas is the inbuilt sense of rhythm or cyclic pattern of pulses (3, 4, or 12 beats) where there are accents on specific beats, not necessarily the first of the bar. The compas must be maintained through a performance without deviation. There is a long list of palos or song/instrumental types which each have a specific compass and key.

A 12 beat compas has three divisions, e.g. tune types such as soleá, bulerías


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

There are also free form pieces: tarantas, malagueñas, granadiñas.

Syncopation is prominent and contra-tiempo or counter time is the weaving of rhythmic patterns between pulses. This can be heard in the clapping or palmas patterns that accompany a song, dance or guitar piece. Genres can be classed as Jondo (very serious), Intermedio (intermediate), or Chico (light). The texts often come from poets amd the cantaor/cantaora (male/female singer) improvises on the text to express the sufferings of the gitanos.

Since the 1980s Nuevo Flamenco (new flamenco) has been mixing in jazz, pop, rock salsa, and other influences so the flamenco sound has taken on more universal appeal.






Important Performers

Singers
Camaron de la Isla Camaron de la Isla en Camarondelaisla.org
Duquende Official website of Duquende
Diego el Cigala Web Oficial de Diego El Cigala


Guitar
Paco de Lucia PACODELUCIA.ORG | Web oficial del Artista
Manolo Sanlucar Manolo Sanlucar - Web Oficial - Guitarrista Flamenco - El Arte de la Guitarra Flamenca
Tomatito Guitarrista Flamenco :: TOMATITO :: Spanish Guitar
Vicente Amigo Web Oficial de VICENTE AMIGO

Other instruments
Carles Benavent – bass MySpace.com - CARLES BENAVENT - ES - Flamenco / Jazz / Latin - www.myspace.com/carlesbenavent
Rubem Dantas MySpace.com - Rubem Dantas - Brazil &, ES - Flamenco / Jazz / Fusion - www.myspace.com/rubemdantas


Groups (Nuevo Flamenco)
Pata Negra Pata Negra
Ketama ::Ketamaonline.com::Web Oficial de Ketama - Noticias, Discografía. Audio/Video, Concursos -


Artists Who Have Incorporated Flamenco Music Elements

Bryan Adams Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman featuring Paco de Lucía




Some Further Resources

Flamenco - World.com / La web del flamenco: Tienda de flamenco. Revista de flamenco
El Flamenco Vive .:. Flamenco Store | Tienda de Flamenco
Flamenco - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
MySpace.com - Camarón de la Isla - San Fernando, Cádiz, ES - Folk / Folk Rock / Other - www.myspace.com/camarondecadiz
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Old 21st September 2008 , 03:49 PM
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Great thread idea Shane, and excellent starter post.. I feel a sticky coming on.....
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Old 21st September 2008 , 05:59 PM
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Thanks modz1...This is something I'd been meaning to do for a while. I hope people like it and will contribute.
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Old 21st September 2008 , 06:02 PM
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Default Introduction to Aboriginal Music

Introduction to Aboriginal Music

If you have bought a didjeridu or a boomerang because it looked cool in that hippy shop or market stall but haven’t learned how to play it or throw it, maybe it’s time you took a tour into the intoxicating and rhythmic music of the aborigines. There are lots of rhythmic sounds that you can incorporate into your tunes to add a totally different flavour.






Some Background

The aborigines are world’s oldest intact culture on earth with 50,000 years of indigenous history. There are around 250,000 Aborigines (1.3% of population) and 200 surviving languages. From 1788 Australia was developed as a penal colony and the indigenous peoples were driven off their lands, hunted & killed. In addition, missionaries contributed to the destruction of Aboriginal culture by burning of “heathen” ceremonial houses and musical instruments and by teaching the hymns of Europe. This has led to the influence of gospel singing and choirs. Recognition of Aboriginal rights is a relatively recent phenomenon and modern Aboriginal music has been a conscious-raising accompaniment to political movements. This has also seen the fusion of European secular and religious music with Australian indigenous elements.



Music is a highly valued property in aboriginal culture and is rooted in Dreamtime which is a mythological period when the world was formed where beings wandered the continent & sang the world into existence. These then returned as lizards, kangaroos, outcrops of rock etc. Thus the music is strongly connected to nature. The performers draw on supernatural powers from the Dreaming and songlines or paths can be traced across the continent. The melodic contour then describes the nature of the land.


Important Instruments

There are thirty or more different instruments used in by the aborigines and they vary between the different tribes. Materials used include: wood, bark, bamboo, seed pods, skin of fish or reptiles and the only processing of materials for instruments is smoothing or carving. Instruments used are mostly percussive such as rasps, boomerangs, clubs, sticks, hollow logs, drums, seed rattles and hand clapping and lap/thigh slapping is also common. Decorated drums are made from hollow logs and come covered with reptile skins and in the northern coastal areas large conch shells are used. Group singing accompanied by different kinds of percussion.

The didjeridu or didjeridoo is probably the most easily identifiable. It is interesting that there are over forty different names for this instrument. It is not found in the south of Australia. It has a characteristic droning sound and it’s used for accompaniment and also as solo instrument. It made from a four or five feet long Eucalyptus branch or bamboo which has been hollowed by termites or artificially by man. The instrument is decorated with ochre and clay designs, totemic symbols and bark painting techniques and beeswax or hardened gum is used to make the mouthpiece. The didjeridu is both blown and sung into and the player uses circular breathing (breathing in and out at the same time) to produce a continuous drone interrupted by overtones (harmonics). Clapping sticks may be played on it while blowing. It is curious that students of didjeridu listen to the sounds and spirit of the bush (Australian countryside) in order to imitate the sounds of nature. It has a wide expressive range from slow and impressive moods, to high-spirited gaiety.




Important Musical Features

Traditional music is primarily vocal with non-verbal sounds and chanting, grunting, high-pitched falsettos, growling and wailing. The melodies generally consist of a series of descents from a loud, high note to a soft, sustained or repeated lower note which can then be followed by energetic leaps to the highest or to a higher or intermittent pitch for subsequent descents. The vocal music is accompanied by natural sounds such as rhythm sticks, drum, boomerangs, body percussion: hand-clapping, slapping etc. The solo voices range from low husky voice to high dynamically-contrasting falsetto and vocal styles varies from soft “inward” singing to loud throaty and energetic vocalising. The singing is continuous in that the vocal chords vibrate during breathing and there can be croaking of two or more pitches where the vocal chords divided into more than one section. This should be labelled as “not to try at home”! Intricate ornamentation such as glides and trills are used and melodies use features such as gapped scales, syncopation and polyrhythm where various rhythms are combined together. The tempo may be changed during a tune and there are no wide variations in dynamic levels. There are repetitions of sections of melody and the key or tonic may be shifted up or down.


Important Performers

Didjeridu

Charlie McMahon MySpace.com - Charlie McMahon - AU - Electroacoustic / Club - www.myspace.com/charliemcmahongondwana
Mark Atkins MySpace.com - MARK ATKINS - AU - Other / Experimental - www.myspace.com/markyidakiatkins
Djalu Gurruwiwi


Artists Who Have Incorporated Aborigine Musical Elements



Some Further Resources

Indigenous Australian music - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Indigenous Australian music - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Old 21st September 2008 , 06:45 PM
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yeah +1 Shane great idea, not familiar with world music so don't feel im in the position to contribute but looking forward to learning from it
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Old 21st September 2008 , 07:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sureno View Post
yeah +1 Shane great idea, not familiar with world music so don't feel im in the position to contribute but looking forward to learning from it
Well, anything you wanna ask, you know where to find me.
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Old 22nd September 2008 , 09:29 AM
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My plan is to present info on the following musics (in no particular order):
  • African
  • Chinese
  • Japanese
  • Cuban
  • Native American Indian
  • Indonesian
  • North Indian
  • Tango
  • Salsa
I'll post them as soon as I have written them up.

If anyone has a specific style we could look at, do post back.
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Old 22nd September 2008 , 07:21 PM
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Default Introduction to Chinese Music

Introduction to Chinese Music

Now that the Olympic Games are over you can settle back and ponder over some of the sounds you might have heard during the games. There’s a lot more to Chinese music than can be captured by the old piano trick of playing a melody using only the black keys! So if you want to give your music that oriental touch, read on and explore the music of the Far East.



Some Background

China is a vast area with many distinct cultural races. In traditional China music was imbedded in social and ideological contexts and was mostly programmatic or symbolic in that it expressed philosophical ideas, rituals, and social behaviour. There has traditionally been a strong integration of music with the social and cultural life of the people and China has produced a lot of writings on music, instrumental construction, and the philosophy of music. The theory and practice of music is derived from Confucian philosophy and the view that music should be used for education - official music was used to promote social harmony rather than to woo women. Folk music had its uses too in that understanding the mood of the people's music led to understand the mood of the people.

China has a long history of music and music theory. By middle of 3rd century BC there were 8 categories of instruments based on materials: metal, stone, silk, bamboo, gourd, pottery, leather, and wood. Music is associated with the seasons, months, cardinal points, metaphysical substances and cosmology.

All traditional Chinese theatre is musical and central to this is the lyric song; which is a short form sung to established melodies and repeated many times during drama. There are more than 300 styles of regional Chinese theatre but there are few characteristics similar to all styles. The operas are known by region rather than composer and each had own dialects and instrumental combinations.

China has had much cultural contact with outside world and the contemporary music reflects this in the incorporation of Western instruments, the use of Western compositional techniques, the harmonisation of Chinese melodies, the use of counterpoint and changes in instrumentation. Also a Western style of singing is now seen in Chinese opera. Ritual music is now less common.

Important Instruments



Throughout the history of Chinese music there has been a wide variety of instruments. Some of these instruments have counterparts in Japan. They can be divided into stringed, wind and percussion instruments. It would be arduous to comment on all of them so a selection is presented here. Further information on instruments is available in the Further Resources section below.


Stringed instruments

The Cheng or Zheng or Guzheng is the most dynamic solo instrument in China and was traditionally used for personal and popular entertainment. It is plucked and is a half-tube zither with moveable bridges. It has 16 silk or metal strings and 3 complete octave of pentatonic scale. It was formerly an important chamber instrument but is now a solo instrument. Northern styles are simple and unornamented with frequent octaves and double stops while southern styles are fast with single note melodic lines, vibrato and ornamental embellishment.



The Ch’in or Qin or guqin was associated with refinement and purity and considered the most honoured of Chinese instruments. It is a seven-string zither and is fretless and bridgeless. Embedded studs mark the positions of notes and harmonics. It has a rich timbre and the player uses subtle articulation.




The Erhu is a two stringed wooden bowed lute with snakeskin covering the resonator which is open at one end. The top of the neck is carved as the head of dragon or bat. It is used as an ensemble and a solo instrument and it has historically been associated with the lower classes.




The Gaohu is similar but has 4 metal strings. The resonator is mounted with a membrane of snake skin and it is the Chinese equivalent to the Western cello and double bass. The bowing technique is different from the other Chinese bowed silk strings as the bow rubs the outside of the four strings, instead of between them.



The Pipa is pear-shaped and has a short neck and a wooden bell with the head slightly slanted away. It has 4 silk strings and between 19 to 26 bamboo frets. The strings are either steel-wire or silk and the most common tuning is A, D, E, A. It has a range of three octaves and a fourth and is held vertically in the lap. It is an important orchestral and accompaniment instrument but is also played solo. It has complicated playing techniques which include fretted pitch-bends, tremolos and finger strumming.



The Shamisen is a three stringed long-necked lute with an egg-shaped snakeskin covered. It is fretless and has a range of three octaves. It is often used to play chords and sounds something like a banjo.




The Qinqin resembles a banjo. It has a wooden neck with several frets and three strings. The resonator is round and made of stretched skin.

The Yueqin has a short neck and a round body typically. Its 3 or 4 strings can be either silk or wound metal.



The Ruan comes in several different sizes and is has a round soundbox and the neck has frets up to about the 12th semitone but it can have several frets on the soundboard. Its four strings are typically tuned in fifths




Wind Instruments

The Dizi is a reedless transverse bamboo flute and has one hole covered by a tissue membrane that gives it its characteristic tone which is rich in upper harmonics.




The Sheng is a free-reed mouth organ and is one of the oldest Chinese instruments. Each pipe sounds when its finger hole is covered and it can produce more than one note at a time. It has two main parts – the base and the circle of pipes.




Percussion Instruments







Four of the eight traditional Chinese classifications of musical instruments were mainly percussion - metal, stone, earth, skin, silk, wood, gourd, bamboo – and there is an enormous variety of percussion instruments. The main categories now are drums, gongs, cymbals, and clappers and there is great variety from large barrel drums to smaller portable drums to castanet-like clappers. The yn-lo has ten small gongs of different pitches suspended on a wooden frame.







Important Musical Features

Chinese music has a very complex music system. In the North-west there is an emphasis on minor triads in melody. In the North-east melodies are heptatonic (7 notes), angular and use wide intervals. In the East-central pentatonic and stepwise melodies are more common.

The basic scale has five notes (pentatonic) and these are called gong, shang, jue, zhi and yu and would be equivalent to doh, re, mi, sol and la, e.g. C, D, E, G; A. The octave has 12 divisions which are equivalent to our semitones and any one of the twelve standard pitches may be used as the tonic or gong: Thus there are twelve possible pentatonic scales.

There are also three types of seven tone scales (heptatonic) each of which can begin on any one of the twelve standard pitches giving a total of 36 possible scales. The two extra notes in the heptatonic scales not as important as the core pentatonic notes and are used as grace notes or to modulate or change from one pentatonic mode to another.

The rhythm tends to be duple or two-time and there is very little triple metre and almost no compound (6/8, 9/8, 12/8). Rhythm patterns tend to be complex, syncopated and often there are several rhythms played at the same time. There are also rhapsodic pieces with irregular rhythm for instruments such as solo ch’in.

There is virtually no harmony in traditional music except for parallel octaves, fifths or, occasionally, fourths. Ensemble music includes heterophonic elements where many melodic lines play at the same time. Solo instrumental performance is the most serious musical genre and performances should bring out harmony with one's surroundings. Intonation is very subtle and is similar to poetic recitation.

There is a variety of genres to suit varied social contexts and functional demands generated by the diverse musical styles and to explore this here would complicate matters more.

If you want to incorporate Chinese touches into your music, I would suggest listening to as much of the music as you can to get a handle on the sounds and the way they are put together. The characteristics that most stand out for me are the delicate string sounds and the thundering drums and I think these can me mimicked quite easily with good samples.


Some Important Performers

Li Xiangting Offical Li Xiangting Guqin Gu Qin Page
Wu Man Wu Man Official Site | Home Page
Wu Wei MySpace.com - Wu Wei - BROOKLYN, New York - Experimental / Punk / Other - www.myspace.com/wuweiwuwei
Wu Fei MySpace.com - Wu Fei - NYC / Beijing - Experimental / Classical / Acoustic - www.myspace.com/feiwu
Ensemble Dragon MySpace.com - Ensemble Dragon - DE - Chinese traditional / Classical / Experimental - www.myspace.com/ensembledragon


Artists Who Have Incorporated Chinese Musical Elements
David Bowie China Girl



Some Further Resources
The Internet Chinese Music Archive
Music of China - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Homepage of Chinese Music in the UK - Home page of Chinese Music in the UK
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Old 22nd September 2008 , 07:30 PM
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If you're gonna do "introduction to Japanese music", you might as well link people to go and listen to Air's Pocket Symphony for inspiration.
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Old 22nd September 2008 , 07:39 PM
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+1 krykos.
Maybe we should add info on examples of the styles used in western music. I tend to focus on the traditional stuff in general when I present material on these musics. But if any one has got more ideas we can include them. I don't want this thread to be only about what I put into it.
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Old 22nd September 2008 , 07:51 PM
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I know a little bit about Greek music seeing as my family listens to it a lot, but not theory. There's far too many different styles, and I've just about got my head around the time signature involved in Karsilama.

I could do a post about the instruments sometime.
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Old 22nd September 2008 , 07:57 PM
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Originally Posted by krykos View Post
I know a little bit about Greek music seeing as my family listens to it a lot, but not theory. There's far too many different styles, and I've just about got my head around the time signature involved in Karsilama.

I could do a post about the instruments sometime.
krykos I look forward to that.

I have just added a new section to Flamenco and will add it to others later in which we can add artists who have dabbled in world musics. I won't comment as to whether the marriage is successful or not but will leave that up to the listener.
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Old 22nd September 2008 , 08:10 PM
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can i add fado? it has a somewhat characteristic sound worth knowing
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Old 22nd September 2008 , 08:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by e-vinyl View Post
can i add fado? it has a somewhat characteristic sound worth knowing
That would be great e-vinyl!

You've seen the categories I have used to discuss the musics so far. If you want to follow that or use something similar, it's up to you.
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