Workshop: The Great Highland Bagpipe

September 26th, 2011  by MidEast Music

A set of Scottish Great Highland Bagpipes consists of an air supply, a bag, a chanter, and several drones. Air is blown into the bag by blowing into the blowpipe. The inflated bag holds the air while the player applies pressure to pump the air through the pipes.

The chanter is the melody pipe, and is played by two hands. It is open ended so there is no easy way for the player to stop the pipe from sounding. Because of this, grace notes and embellishments are used when playing. The Great Highland Bagpipe has three drones, a bass drone and two tenor drones. A drone has a single reed, and is designed in two or more parts, with a sliding joint so that the pitch of the drone can be adjusted.


Learning to play the bagpipe is a process that takes several steps. It is best to begin with a practice chanter to learn the finger positions. After becoming proficient on the practice chanter, transition to the bagpipe can begin. At first, the drones are corked to allow for less airflow (called “Playing the Goose”) so the student can find it easier to learn arm, breath, and finger control. The drones should be uncorked one at a time as skills improve.

New Bodhrán Comparison

August 27th, 2011  by MidEast Music

The Bodhrán, properly pronounced bow-rawn, like “Cow Brawn”, with a slight emphasis on the first syllable, is an Irish frame drum. It is most often played with a tipper, also called a Cipín (pronounced ki-PEEN). A goatskin head is attached to one side, and the other side is open ended for one hand to be placed against the inside of the drum head to control the pitch and timbre. The most popular playing styles are the Kerry style, and the West Limerick style.


Mid-East has many different types of bodhrán. We now have a new page that will help you find the perfect one for you. You can now sort and compare them all side by side. Sort by size, tuning method, type of crossbar, color, or model number. Explore!

Artist Spotlight: John Bilezikjian

July 23rd, 2011  by MidEast Music

John Bilezikjian has long been a friend of Mid-East, and recently at the Winter NAMM visited our booth. He thrilled us with some music on the oud, and at times was joined by impromptu musicians on various drums. It even prompted some dancing by visitors who stopped to enjoy the music.

John Bilezikjian has given command performances for the King and Queen of Spain and for Mrs. Anwar Sadat of Egypt to name only a few. He has filmed and recorded background music for over 80 TV and Motion Picture Film Soundtracks in Hollywood, California. He has appeared with The Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Zubin Mehta as well as The Los Angeles Mandolin Orchestra and The Pacific Palisades Symphony with Maestro Joel Lish conducting. He debuted in June of 2005 at Symphony Hall in Boston with the venerable Boston Pops Orchestra as featured soloist, marking the first time the Oud was heard in a solo capacity with the Boston Pops Orchestra on it’s stage. John Bilezikjian has also appeared as a Bouzouki soloist with The Pasadena Pops Orchestra, Rachael Worby conducting. His music can be heard on countless documentaries and HBO trailers as well and in the Warner Bros. movie “Must Love Dogs” and “Mirror Wars”, a film about Russian espionage and America.

Workshop: Basic Ukulele Chords

June 21st, 2011  by MidEast Music

You just received your new ukulele, you have never played a uke before, and you cannot wait to play something! Strumming along to some of your favorite songs is easy if you know where to put your fingers. To get started, here is a fingering chart of a few very basic chords. The dot is where your finger goes and the number suggests which finger to use. You will also find a guide for standard ukulele tuning. For a version you can save to your computer or print click here.

Ukulele Fingering Chart

Introducing the Descant Lute

May 15th, 2011  by MidEast Music

The European lute is featured in instrumental music from the early Renaissance to the late Baroque periods. It’s early origins are vague, but it’s common ancestor is the Egyptian oud. There is evidence of the lute in Europe as early as the 12th century, but it really became popular in the 15th century, falling out of use around 1800. The lute enjoyed a revival with the early music movement of the twentieth century, and has grown in popularity.

Descant Lute

Our Descant Lute is a beautiful short necked lute that has a bowl back of lacewood staves. There are eight tied nylon frets on a lacewood neck that features a rosewood fret board. The peg box is lacewood with tuners of rosewood. The soundboard is made of European spruce with a rosewood bridge and rosewood end pin. It has 13 nylon strings in 7 courses with a scale length of 19.75″ (500mm). Explore!

Workshop: Learn about the Ocarina

April 17th, 2011  by MidEast Music

Here is how an ocarina works. Air enters as you blow through the windway. Once inside, the air strikes the labium, or rectangular hole, and produces a sound. The sound reverberates throughout the inside of the ocarina. By covering and uncovering the round soundholes, you lower or raise the pitch.

The ocarina is different from other flutes because it does not rely on pipe length to produce a particular tone. Instead, tone variation depends on the total surface area of opened holes to the interior volume of the ocarina. This means that, unlike a flute or recorder, sound is created by resonance of the interior chamber, and hole placement is not important. It is the number of open holes that makes the difference.

Knowing this, learning to play the ocarina is fun and not overly difficult. The first step is to learn where to place your fingers to play the notes you want. To make this a little easier, here is a handy fingering chart for our 6 hole ocarina. For a printable version click here.

Ocarina Fingering Chart

Artist Spotlight: HuDost

March 24th, 2011  by MidEast Music

HuDost is experimental world rock. They explore everything from “Alternative World Rock” to their own experimental “Country and Eastern” fusion and an atmospheric, experimental sound. HuDost plays both a Mid-East Harmonium, a reed organ whose air is supplied by a hand operated bellows, and also a Shahi Baaja which is a type of zither from India. Find out more about HuDost at

HuDost was initially formed as an acoustic duo between singer/songwriters Moksha Sommer from Montreal and Jemal Wade Hines from New York, but developed into a fully produced ensemble. HuDost functions as a duo or a band, incorporating musicians of varying sensibilities and backgrounds, and often including performance art, video and dance in their shows. Their latest releases are ‘Live at North Avenue EP’ and ‘Waking the Skeleton Key’.

Introducing the Wildwood Dulcimer

February 24th, 2011  by MidEast Music

Fun, lightweight, and easy to play, our Wildwood Dulcimer has the rich sound of a mountain dulcimer with just a little bit of banjo twang. The body style of the Wildwood allows it to be played like a guitar instead of the traditional “flat in the lap” position of the mountain dulcimer. The teardrop spruce soundboard with three rosettes stands out in contrast to the long, thin rosewood fingerboard. Choose between a dark rosewood or a creamy lacewood back.

Wildwood Dulcimer

The Wildwood has three string courses: a wound string at the top, an unwound center string, and two unwound strings tuned in unison, at the bottom. Many tunings will work, but we recommend the traditional DAD to make it easy to pick up and play. The frets are arranged in a diatonic scale, just like an Appalachian mountain dulcimer, but added is the infamous “6 ½” fret just below the octave position allowing play in Ionian mode. The possibilities are many, playing the Wildwood Dulcimer can as easy or as complicated as you care to make it. Explore!

Jammin’ at Winter NAMM 2011

January 18th, 2011  by MidEast Music

The Mid-East booth at winter NAMM 2011 in Los Angeles was a mixture of a little business and a lot of fun. A number of fabulous musicians stopped by and invariably music broke out. This improvisational percussion group quickly formed to join Oud virtuoso John Bilezikjian who gave an amazing performance. This video is courtesy of Ted Mabbatt from Global Musical Instruments, a Mid-East reseller who was visiting our booth.

Mid-East introduced several new instruments to the 90,000+ show visitors. Among the new instruments presented to favorable reviews was the new Wildwood Dulcimer, our new dulcimer that is strung upside down and played like a guitar. Also generating a great deal of excitement was our new Bouzouki, which features authentic inlays and has the most incredible sound. Lastly, our Dana Ross Signature line of Native American Flutes garnered a wow from everyone who played one.

Recreational Music Making

October 11th, 2010  by Ed Eliason

Are you in? If so, then you already know the joy of making music with friends, family or total strangers, regardless of whether or not any of them have any prior musical experience. If you haven’t yet had this pleasant experience, then you need to give it a try. Find a community drum circle or a hand drumming class you can join, and discover the many benefits of “Recreational Music Making” (RMM). The learning curve is extremely short, and before you know it you’ll be jamming along like a pro.

Recreational Music

Most people who have never learned to play an instrument wish they had, or wish they could, but it takes time, money and a fairly high level of commitment. That’s why 90% or more of all the people who have ever started music lessons, have ended up quitting before they attained any reasonable level of success. There are some very good reasons for this. First, it’s an often lonely experience to leave your weekly lesson and then practice for hours all by yourself. Human beings are by nature social creatures, who prefer interaction with others to being alone. Group drumming affords the group setting that makes music a lot more fun.

There are documented health and wellness benefits which come from making music with a group, and anyone can discover them. Millions of people all over the world have been drawn to community-based events where people with drumming experience welcome beginners to come and drum with them. Many of these events are free and provide loaner instruments, along with some level of instruction. There are numerous articles on this subject, along with reports on clinical research regarding the health benefits, which can easily be found on the internet. The “Drum Circle” and “Health Rhythms” tabs at the Remo website have a lot of enlightening information.

A growing number of professional Drum Circle Facilitators are busily presenting many varied forms of RMM throughout the United States, as well as the rest of the world. In Japan, where Karaoke was created, community drumming events are hugely popular. There’s a genuine connection between the lure of Karaoke and the natural attraction to community drumming. But there’s also one major difference – not everyone can sing, and certainly not every singer is comfortable on stage in a room full of strangers (aka critics). But everyone has a certain degree of natural rhythm, and there is absolutely no intimidation involved with sitting in a group of people and playing a drum, or shaking a shaker, tapping on a wood block or expressing your personal rhythm in the safety (and obscurity) of a group setting.

You can easily locate community drumming events wherever you live, by searching the internet for the many drum circle listings and groups (lots of Yahoo groups, for example). Give it a try, and don’t be concerned about your inexperience. The majority of these groups are always welcoming beginners to their community. So go out and enjoy some fun with the family, your friends or whomever you wish. We’re waiting for you!