Chasing Knowledge #3

The Marimba

The expression of human thoughts, feelings, ideas or emotions through sounds. Music has been a part of humanity for a very, very long time. Music is a transport of ideas and aspects from one person to another, similar to books. What defines music varies from person to person. It could be a bird chirping whilst water falling, a saxophone solo, a rock band, or conga beats.

But what I’m focusing going to focus on today is a specific instrument in the percussion section, the marimba.

Below each key there are tubes called resonators that resonate the sound and makes the instrument sound purer. Marimbas can sound different depend on the resonators, the type of wood, and the type of mallets used. To play the instrument, you use mallets designed for the instrument, called marimba mallets. The mallets are quite long and have a yarn wrapped core at the end.

The marimba is an instrument you put on a stand, and play standing up. You hold the mallets like you would hold drum sticks, with slightly more ease. Since you only have two mallets, there is a limitation to the amount of notes you can hit at once and sounds you can play, but if you practice enough, then you can play anything you find sounds nice. Also, there is a more advanced technique where you hold two mallets in each hand. The difficulty of this is higher, and it’ll hurt your hands when you first start, but you can play so much more advanced pieces.

Fun Facts

– Marimbas were first known as diatonic xylophones, and were first made and used in west and central Africa.

– The diatonic xylophones were introduced somewhere in the 16th-17th century.

– The gourd resonators were later replaced by harmonic wooden boxes for some of the instruments. Variants with slats made of steel, glass or bamboo instead of wood appeared during the 19th century.

-The marimba is an instrument consisting of wooden bars set up like a piano. You have the lower keys, going note C, D, E, F, G, A, B, and repeats. And the higher keys are the sharps and flats.

– One legend regarding the origins of the marimba comes from South Africa. A Zulu myth contends that a goddess with the name of “Marimba” created the instrument.

– There have been many great marimba players over the years. Some have gotten famous due to their skills or music. Some who have gained international recognition as marimba players include, Nancy Zeltsman, Robert van Sice, Robert Patterson and Evelyn Glennie.

– Marimbas can be used in many types of music and bands, depending on what the musician wants the song to sound like.

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Marimba Mallets


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Chasing Knowledge Presents: Flowers

by Chase Mitchelson

Flowers: the colorful part of nature. Flowers can be found in all corners of the world, adapted to the environment. Flowers vary tremendously, in size, shape, color, scent, plant they grow from, where they are, and what they mean.

Since the beginning of time, flowers have been a voice for human emotions and feelings. Certain flowers have been given certain ideas. The red rose is a symbol of love, while the coral rose symbolizes of friendship, sympathy, and modesty. Almost every common flower has been given a meaning.

Flowers gives us more than just meanings though. I know for me, I love going around looking at and smelling the flowers. Doing this gives me time to think, about the flowers, about life, about anything or nothing. It keeps me in touch with nature. I usually take pictures of most of the flowers I see, but some of them, some of the moments are too precious to capture, that’s the thing about photography.

 Flowers have been the base for many literature pieces. Poems, shorts stories, plays, etc. William Shakespeare mentions a flower in a lot of his plays, to emphasize an emotion/idea for a certain moment.

There is a language, little known,

Lovers claim it as their own.

Its symbols smile upon the land,

Wrought by nature’s wondrous hand;

And in their silent beauty speak,

Of life and joy, to those who seek

For Love Divine and sunny hours

In the language of the flowers.

–The Language of Flowers, London, 1875


Fun Facts

– From life to death, friendship to hate, purity to passion, flowers have had many meanings in myths and legends. And from legends, there are grains of truth, so people have correlated these meanings into their own lives.

– In the Chinese Taoist tradition, the highest state of enlightenment was pictured as a golden flower growing from the top of the head.

Many cultures connect flowers with birth, with the return of spring after winter, with life after death, and with joyful youth, beauty, and merriment. Yet because they fade quickly, flowers are also linked with death, especially the death of the young. Together the two sets of associations suggest death followed by heavenly rebirth, which may be one reason for the tradition of placing or planting flowers on graves.

– Flowers did not always exist; before that, ferns and trees were all over the earth.

-Several centuries ago in Holland, tulips were more valuable than gold.

-Broccoli is actually a flower.

-Some plants such as orchids don’t need soil to grow, they get all their nutrients out of the air.

-Like with most things, each month has been given a certain flower to represent it. However the flowers vary depending on the region. Also each state has been given a State Flower.

-The Middlemist Red flower is the rarest flower in the world, as there are only two examples left in the world.

-Estimates say there are just over 400,000 flowering plants.

-The corpse flower only blooms every 7-10 years, and blooms for up to 24 hours. The flower smells of rotten flesh, hence its name.


I encourage you all to go exploring. On the web, in a forest, on a hilltop. Flowers are everywhere and there’s so much to learn and get from them. Just don’t pick them, they’re much more beautiful where they belong, in the wild. Good luck!

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      Fire Lily                                           Forget Me Not                             Thistle

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Bird of paradise                              Egyptian Lotus                         Green Day Lily

Chasing Knowledge Presents: A Closer Look at Oragami


by Chase Mitchelson

Origami: the art of folding paper. Origami is an art that requires you to fold paper in different ways to create something completely different.

One of the most famous origami designs is the crane. The crane is a symbol of peace in Japanese culture. Legend says anyone who folds 1000 cranes will have their heart’s desire come true. The crane has become a symbol of peace because of this, and because of the young Japanese girl Sadako Sasaki.

Sadako was exposed to radiation from the Hiroshima bombing, and was suffering from leukemia when she was twelve in 1955. Her classmates told her of the legend and so she decided to make 1000 cranes so she could live. When she finished, and saw all the other the other children in her ward, she realized she wouldn’t survive, and wished for world peace and an end to the suffering.

Fun Facts

  • The word “origami” comes from the two Japanese words “ori” which means folded, and “kami” which means paper.
  • The Samurai of Japan gave each other gifts known as “noshi” paper folded with a strip of fish and were considered good luck.
  • An ancient Japanese legend says that if you were to fold one thousand cranes you were granted a wish.
  • Traditional origami uses a piece of paper 75 × 75mm (about 3 × 3 inches), 6-inch squares and 10-inch squares, and does not permit the use of cutting.
  • The largest number of origami cranes was created as part of the 50th anniversary of the dropping of the atom bomb on Hiroshima. A total of 250,000 paper cranes were folded and displayed in a large memorial in the city. Each had a person’s name on it and a short, peaceful message.
  • A paper crane is a symbol for world peace.
  • Modern origami is quite different than what it once was. Instead of the single square sheet, making animals or things of the natural world, and no cutting or wet-folding, nowadays people are coming up with intricate designs and 3D shapes.
  • Wet-folding is dampening the paper somewhat so the product holds its shape better
  • Until recently, not all forms of paper folding was considered origami. Before that, paper folding was known by lots of different names, including “orikata”, “orisue”, “tatamigami” and others.
  • Japanese origami began sometime after the Buddhist monks brought over paper in the 6th century.
  • In 1797 the first known origami book was published: Senbazuru orikata.


Here is an instructional video on how to make a paper crane.


Paper crane:                                                        Paper crane instructions: image00                image03


Paper dragon:                                    Flower patterned origami paper:

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Very small paper crane:                                         Paper rose:

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Article written by Chase Mitchelson, posted on January 31st, 2016.