Music Links

If you have read our book, Venice Escape, you will know that a variety of different instruments are discovered during the story.  Likewise, if you have the new Golden Golden Picture book you will have joined "Maria" on her first three musical discoveries (shown below).

On this page you will find music clips where you will be able to see and hear the music featured in this book(s).  We recommend you start with the opening track, to set the scene, and then select the instrument you wish to listen and learn more about.

This site includes classroom kits and lesson suggestions, for those schools using this book to supplement their English, History, or Music classes.  You can also find recipes, fun stuff, helpful links and much more.  If you don't have the book and want to obtain a copy of Venice Escape visit LULU or your Amazon site to order.

Commence your musical adventure

Venice Escape 

This online resource has been developed to offer readers of Venice Escape with an improved reading experience, and at the same time provide teachers with the opportunity to use this material to trigger cross-curricular discussions in their classes.    Our hope is that the book can be read in class, chapter by chapter resulting in further class debate on the content.  Then, as appropriate, each section of the book can be used to open discussion on, for example, a given explorer (history), review the country being visited (geography), determine the next phase of the story (English) and finally commence exploration of a given musical instrument or style of music (music class).  Check out our classroom kit and suggested activities.

Venice Escape Theme Song
To start your musical adventure start here.  Sit back and enjoy linking to the music sounds below, commencing with this theme song.   Consider and reflect back on how Maria would have enjoyed hearing this music for the first time.

The first music discovery is an intriguing and atmospheric song inspired by Venice Escape.  Watch author, Sandra Arthur's interview on this link and enjoy the movie and music featured at the close. 

The music features an electric guitar, 12 string acoustic guitar, violin, string section, drums, timpani, Chinese gong, percussion, bass guitar, vocals.

Listen to the music and figure out which instrument is being played as you enjoy the song.

Venice Escape played by band: Zylin.  Composed by Richard E Arthur, featuring Rich "Woody" Woodruff on percussion, Rich Arthur "strings".

To download a FREE MP3 file of this song please visit SoundCloud.


Shamisen (Track 2)
An ancient instrument (circa 1390) whose origins were based on a snake-skin covered body with three strings that were found in China, Egypt and Persia.  In 1562 the “sanshin” was introduced into two different geographical areas in Japan.  As snakeskin was difficult to find in Japan, the instrument was covered in either dog or cat skin.  After 30 years of subtle improvements the basic shape of the modern Shamisen was established.

The most prized wood for the shamisen is koki, a very hard imported kind of rosewood, but rosewood, walnut and mulberry are also used.   Also today, plastic skins are also sometimes used.  The strings are made of silk and are numbered from top to bottom. "Ichi no ito" or the "first string," is on the left or top side of the sao and is the thickest and lowest in pitch. "Ni no ito" or the "second string," is thinner and higher in pitch. "San no ito" or the "third string," is the thinnest and highest in pitch and is also the string that is used the most.


PIPA - (
Track 3)

Pipa (pronounced “pee-Paa”) is one of the oldest Chinese musical instruments with a 2000 year history.  During this period the pipa has been modified in shape, number of strings and style and position of play.    There was a huge repertoire of pipa music in Chinese history, particularly during the Tang dynasty. Sadly most of this music has been lost.  Fortunately, there are precious pipa pieces that have been handed down from one generation to another by individual artists and scholars. Some pieces have been preserved in Japan and other musical scores were discovered along the Silk Road in Gansu Province, China, around 1900.

The ancient pipa was developed during the last century to include steel strings (in place of silk) and chromatic tuning (by increasing fret numbers). 


Kamancheh (Track 4)


Known as a Persian Violin, this ancient instrument, from the Byzantine Empire period (circa 300), is made from coconut and covered with either fish skin and sheep or goat hide. 

At the bottom of the instrument there is a spike to support the kamancheh while it is being played.  It is for this reason why the instrument is sometimes called the spiked fiddle.  It is played sitting down as you can see on the attached video clip.

Celtic Fiddle (Track 5)

Celtic Fiddle

The instrument used in “fiddle” playing is a violin.   The key difference is the style of playing.  The Celtic Fiddle traces its’ origin back two hundred years as music was played away from the formal courts of the aristocracy, church service or classical musical concerts.  The music evolved from rural folk tradition linked to dance tunes that were used at weddings and special occasions.  Each region developed theown unique range of music for the Fiddle.  The Irish fiddle music was also influenced by Scottish Pipe music, that led to the development of Donegal fiddle styles.  

In the 19thCentury many people from Scotland and Ireland emigrated to Canada and USA and it was here that the music styles gathered and development further.  Other settlers from France and even local First Nation groups shared their Fiddle music. This formed the beginning of the Metis Fiddle style that is similar to Celtic Fiddle music.

Celtic Dueling violins - Smith & Nesbit

Jazz (Track 6)


The trumpet is one of the oldest instruments, dating back to 1500BC.  Generally made from brass and played by blowing air through the mouth piece.  Modern trumpets have 3 piston valves that help change the note being played.  The trumpet is a popular instrument in jazz music, although the it can be played in classical and other styles of music. 

 Jazz music evolved at the end of the 19th century and the first recording of this new style of music emerged around 1917.  New Orleans has received the accolade as being the birthplace of Jazz, although influence was incorporated from many locations in the USA including Chicago.  As communities from the New Indies, Africa and Europe settled in the USA they combined their musical talent and influences to develop this style of music.  By combining the dance rhythms from Europe and the strong beat present in African music the fusion of these two music styles developed the rhythm of jazz music.

Classical Guitar (Track 7)

Classical Guitar

The classical guitar comprises of six nylon strings (that are plucked or strummed) with a core soundboard body made from carefully crafted wood (normally mahogany, spruce or red cedar). The guitar is part of the family of instruments called 'chordophones'.  The classical guitar is a wonderful instrument that allows the musician to play a variety of melodies, in a similar way to piano.  The guitar (as shown in the video here) is based on the designs of the 19th century Spanish luthier Antonio Torres Jurado.  This is why this instrument is sometimes called a 'Spanish Guitar'

Classical Music - Violin - featuring the music of Vivaldi (Track 8)

Classical music

The violin in its present form emerged in early 16th-Century Northern Italy (Venice and Genoa).   This was due to extensive ties to Asia (where the earliest bowed instruments were found) through the trade routes of the  'silk road'.   The oldest documented four string violin has been dated around 1555.  Since the Baroque era, the violin has been one of the most important of all instruments in classical music, for several reasons. The tone of the violin stands out above other instruments, making it appropriate for playing a melody line. In the hands of a good player, the violin is extremely agile, and can execute rapid and difficult sequences of notes. Violins made by the Venetian Stradivari and Guarneri del Gesù, are still the most sought-after instruments by both collectors and performers.  

The lead violin player in this video is the international soloist, chamber musician, teacher and adjudicator: Federico Agostini. He studied at the conservatories of Trieste and Venice and completed studies at the Accademia Musicale Chigiana in Siena.  Find more of his music on YouTube.

Nigel Kennedy - Vivaldi Summer - 3rd Movements

Nigel Kennedy, an English violinist is responsible for bringing "rock star" status and wide-spread popularity to this style of music.  In 1989 he recorded Vivaldi's Four Seasons' and sold over two million copies.  It has remained as one of the top UK classical albums.

Recorder (Track 9)


Watch the mini documentary to the left to learn about the recorder family and their different sounds.  There are five members in the recorder family: sopranino, descant, treble, tenor and bass.  The lowest pitch is called a bass and the smallest recorder with the highest pitch is called a sopranino. 

The earliest recorders were designed to be played either right or left handed. The holes were all in a line except for the lowest hole, for the lower hand little finger. This last hole was offset from the center line, and drilled twice, once on each side. The player would fill in the hole they didn't want to use with wax. It is this doubled hole which accounts for the early French name flute à neuf trous.   In later years, the right-hand style of playing was settled on as standard and the second hole disappeared.  Early 'duct flutes" have been recorded from the Iron Age period, however, it is the 14th century where the recorder really evolved.  

The recorder was popular from the 15th century through the baroque era.   Instructional books on the recorder were also first published during the 15th century, written by Sebastian Virdung (1511) and Silvestro Ganassi (1535).  Antonio Vivaldi, the famous Venetian composer,(as well as Handel and Bach) included the recorder in their music to suggest the sound of birds. Sadly the use of recorders in orchestras declined in the 18th century in favour of woodwind instruments and the flute.    

The recorder was revived in the 20th century, by those musicians seeking to present historically correct performance of certain music, and because of its suitability as a simple instrument for teaching music.  

A Frenchman, called Arnold Dolmetsch, was also largely responsible for the revival of the recorder, both as a serious concert instrument, and as an instrument which made early music accessible to amateur performers. He not only promoted this instrument, but produced them and taught in English music schools.   Recently this instrument has gained popularity being played by classically trained musicians who mix styles of music to create a fusion of jazz, classics and rock.

If you don't have a copy of The Golden Gondola - a perfect read aloud book for young readers - please link here to order your copy - available as an ebook, paperbook and in English or French.  Sales support The Children's Home, Nepal.