It's summer time!  Here in the South, we have a vast array of summer sounds and sights:  a continuous hum and buzz of insects, the flicker of fireflies, the early morning chorus of birds, lawnmowers growling their way through the high grass.  And in a few days, the epitome of summer sights and sounds:  fireworks for celebrating the 4th of July!

The story of the origin of fireworks crackles with mystery and excitement:  In ancient China, a cook accidentally mixed together three common kitchen ingredients: salt petre, sulphur and charcoal, then lit the mixture.  Poof!  Colorful flames!  The cook also noticed that if the mixture was enclosed in the hollow of a bamboo shoot, a tremendous explosion resulted.  Thus the first fireworks were born.

At first, fireworks were used for entertainment.  Slowly the belief grew that this loud sound could chase away evil spirits and was used to celebrate weddings, victories in battle, eclipses of the moon, and religious ceremonies.

Fireworks are used today all over the world - in France for Bastille Day, in Sweden for the Festival of Lights, in Thailand for Lights of Loy Krathong.  Fireworks opened the 2008 Olympics in Beijing; in Abu Dhabi, the
Emirates Palace presented a stupendous record-breaking display of fireworks for the 38th UAE National Day in December of 2009.  Fireworks are a part of every culture, and enhance all sorts of special events.

Musicians have also been fascinated by fireworks.   Listen to these two wonderful fireworks pieces by Debussy and Stravinsky:

Enjoy, and happy celebrating!!


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