Monthly Archives: July 2016

Gordi Kramer

We’re paying a birthday tribute to a rather unusual bassist today.

Gorni Kramer was born this day in 1913 in Lombardy as Francesco Kramer Gorni.  Kramer’s father was a musician so it’s not surprising that he learned music from a very young age; starting with the accordion which he played, as a child, in his father’s band.

Kramer came to the double bass later and studied it at the Conservatory in Parma, obtaining his diploma in 1930, after which he started working as a musician for dance bands before forming his own jazz group in 1933 aged a mere 20 years.

You would think this is no more remarkable than many of the musicians we feature were it not for the fact that this new American musical genre was forbidden by the Italian fascist regime.  Kramer risked much by getting to know the music, and playing it; learning if from musicians aboard the liners.

By the mid-30s Gorni Kramer was composing music that became the singers/performers of the days most famous, and most popular, songs but, despite this popularity, his music got no air time on the state run radio station because he played Jazz.

After the war Kramer worked for Garinei and Giovannini, producers of musical comedies.  Writing music for them became his main work for the next decade.  In 1957 he made his television debut composing the theme song for Il Musichiere music show.  From the mid-60s onwards he gradually reduced his public performances, but continued to work as a music publisher and TV author. He died of a heart attack in 1995.

To recreate that old jazz sound why not try our Dragonetti type double bass with its high action – perfect for jazzers

22 - Gordi Kramer

Oud

Today’s #ThrowbackThursday instrument is the Oud. And whilst it’s a bit too niche for us to have in The Old Dairy, one of our directors does have one at home.

It’s thought that the oud dates from the pharaonic era with one writer crediting Lamech, the sixth grandson of Adam himself, with its invention. Naturally, there’s no historical evidence to support that accreditation.

21 - OudThe oud, and the European lute, is thought to have descended from an even more ancient instrument – the barbat (of which more on another occasion). Although related to the lute, the oud is easily differentiated from it by its lack of frets and smaller neck.  Both the lute and oud are thought to be ancestors of the guitar.

In modern terms there are two distinct types of oud; Arabic and Turkish. The former are larger and therefore naturally produce a fuller, deeper, sound. The latter is not only smaller, and therefore higher in tone, but tuned a whole tone higher than its Arabic counterpart. Other differences are that the Turkish Oud is more lightly constructed, has an unfinished soundboard, lower action, and the strings closer together.

The oldest known example of the oud currently resides in the Brussels Museum of Musical Instruments.

Humidity and Instruments

Yesterday was the hottest day of the year so far and even the weather forecasters were referring to it as “scorchio!” 😉  With that in mind, we’re revisiting an old topic for today’s #WednesdayWisdom and discussing humidity.

Unless you’ve got a very swish ultra-modern carbon fibre instrument your guitar or bowed instrument is most likely made from wood.  And whilst wood is a wonderful, organic, flexible material there’s a downside; it breathes.

Although all our instruments are made from traditionally seasoned wood, and therefore less prone to distortion, high levels of humidity will still affect them slightly.  High humidity can cause glued joints to separate and permanent warping.  An early indicator of this is if you notice a rise in your string height as this could be due to the top swelling causing the bridge to rise.

Unless you keep your instruments in a humidity controlled cabinet or room the best place to keep your instruments during humid weather is in the case we provided together with the silica gel sachet included.  Don’t forget to dry the sachet out every so often by either popping it into the oven for a short while after you’ve finished cooking and turned it off or leaving it on top of a warm radiator for a little time.

Please note: we’re happy to say the instrument pictured is not one of ours.

20 - warping