Ukulele & Languages

Different countries,
Different cultures
one common language... the ukulele.

Herman Vandecauter in Burgundy

22 2010

If you’ve been following the blog, you will know that I have been learning classical uke with Herman Vandecauter over Skype for the past 8 months.

I was therefore thrilled when Herman told me he and his wife would stop over at my place on his holiday tour.

It was certainly a very enriching weekend and I have learnt a great deal. Besides being a very skilled player of various plucked string instruments, Herman knows many stories about the history of music and has many an anecdote to tell about his 40 years of experience as a classical guitarist.

Herman took it on himself to play Tico Tico, a piece he had just finished arranging for the classical guitar, while at the same time teaching myself and a newly ukulele-converted friend to strum along on our ukes. Tico Tico was composed in 1917 by Brazilian musician and composer de Abreu.

The result is not that bad considering we learnt the piece in one afternoon. Many thanks to Herman’s wifefor filming.

Herman demonstrated his skills on both the guitar and the ukulele and seeing him play here was a truly amazing experience. He played so many complex pieces from memory, switching from Spanish pieces to Baroque or Celtic with insolent ease, demonstrating how music comes to life when you let notes ring and vibrate.

Herman performs a lovely piece by Silvius Leopold Weiss (1687-1750), a German composer and lutenist. Herman is playing his Kala curly mango tenor ukulele in front of a very attentive audience.

Even though it is not played on the ukulele, I had to include this video of Herman playing Zambra, which is flamenco with Arab influences. A really excellent performance. Herman explained that there were no scores for the Zambra and that there are therefore many versions, each musician making its own additions or alterations.

This weekend was a most memorable one for my whole family, Herman is an exceptional teacher whom I am very glad to have met. Seeing him play live in front of us was a unique experience that no video or lesson on Skype can ever match.

If Herman is ever performing in your area, don’t miss the chance to see him. He will be playing in Dresden, Germany on the 28th of August 2010.

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