Category Archives: UArts Music Library

Staff Recommendation: We Want Miles: Miles Davis vs. Jazz

miles davis vs jazz cover

A new arrival at the Music Library, We Want Miles: Miles Davis vs. Jazz is a comprehensive and engrossing look at the life and times of Davis and the enormous contributions he made to the world of jazz. Further, it’s a fascinating look into the era that Davis’ music sprang from, telling an important story not only in musical history but in social history as well.

The books spans the story of Davis’ career, telling the tale of his early life in St. Louis, his nights in New York clubs, and his long recording career, in which he played with many greats of his era, always exploring new styles and pushing boundaries. We’re given a tour of how Davis helped define bebop, and went on to pioneer cool jazz, hard bop and modal jazz. Later he embraced new styles like rock and jazz fusion.  Interesting, unsavory, sweet, and often gritty, Davis’ story is a window on the experience and trials of life as both a black man and a jazz musician in this period.

We Want Miles is a beautiful book in and of itself, using numerous devices to capture the reader. Large vibrant photos accompany the text on almost every page, immersing the reader in the visual and historical context of the story (the book was originally published in French to accompany an exhibition by the Musée de la Musique, Paris, and The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in 2009-2010). Anecdotes by people who worked with or knew Davis often supplement the central narrative, which refresh the reader and give the story personal depth. The narrative is a chronology of Davis’ life told as an almost intimate story, written with all of its deserving ingredients, heat, and spice.  This style whets the reader’s palate for more rather than drying it with an overly clinical style of academic writing.

In short, We Want Miles feels part biography and part ethnomusicology, a book for studying but also one for storytelling, a look at an important life in music history – jazzed up.

We Want Miles: Miles Davis vs. Jazz

Music Library Open Stacks ML141 .P2C57 2010

 

 

Exploring the Hammered Dulcimer

Hammered dulcimer
Hammered dulcimer — photo from Wikimedia Commons – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hammered_dulcimer

 The hammered dulcimer is a musical instrument which is an object of fascination here at UArts Libraries, as we now have two new staff members who are players, myself being one of them! This instrument has been used for centuries in various forms and has ancient roots, and yet its enchanting sound can still hold modern audiences in awe. Questions often abound when people come within earshot of the dulcimer. Many feel beguiled by its sounds but are unfamiliar with the outlandish contraption producing them. Here, then, is a quick history and guide to this remarkable instrument, written in hopes that the UArts community will be just as fascinated by the dulcimer as we are!

 So what is this thing, and where is the hammer? The instrument itself is a trapezoidal box with two main bridges (though some contain several smaller bridges), with strings strung lengthways over one of the bridges while diving under the other. The highest pitches are located on the narrower upper part of the instrument, and the lower pitches toward the wider bottom. Dulcimers come in many sizes and ranges, with some being diatonic and others fully chromatic.  No matter the size, they all have a plethora of strings, with each note being double-stringed. My own personal dulcimer has 64 strings. Knowing that, you can probably imagine that tuning can take a while, as each string terminates at a tunable peg. These instruments are played with mallets, referred to as hammers. This feature gives this instrument its distinction in nomenclature from another dulcimer – the Appalachian dulcimer, which, though beautiful in of itself, is unrelated to the hammered dulcimer in terms of development.

The North American hammered dulcimer’s roots are a subject of debate.  Some claim that the instrument derives from an older European native, while others contend that the instrument’s ancient origins stem from the Middle-East. Most agree, however, that the dulcimer began as a plucked instrument and gradually transformed into one which is now hit by mallets.  The English word for the instrument, “dulcimer”, comes from “dulce melos”, Latin for “sweet sounds” (the same word “dulce” as in the drink “dulce de leche”). As previously mentioned, the “hammered” in dulcimer comes from calling the mallets it’s played with “hammers”, and is not, as some suspect, a reference to the player’s state of intoxication. The dulcimer crossed the Atlantic with the very first English colonizers of North America. Here, it became a common instrument in dance and string band music, acting as primarily a chording instrument. As its development continued, it became the basis for the harpsichord and later, the piano. When affordable pianos came into the mainstream during the late 19th century, both Europe and the US  saw a decline of interest in dulcimers. However, since the folk revival of the 1960s, dulcimers are now back on the scene… albeit in an abbreviated niche role.

Today, many dulcimerists specialize in traditional British and Celtic music, fairly similar to what early Euro-Americans would play. Many players can be seen at events such as Renaissance faires, historical reenactments, folk festivals, and even an Irish music session or two. Some of today’s dulcimer players have also expanded from the realm of tradition to experiment with limits of this powerful and evocative instrument, engaging more modern genres like jazz, blues, new age, and even rock and roll. I have done this in my own dulcimer playing, as many of my original pieces contain elements of Celtic stylings mixed with more modern chord progressions. I even amp up the hammered dulcimer for use in a rock band! This beautiful and compelling instrument is certainly full of possibility, and is waiting to be rediscovered by ears hungry for something different.

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Mike Romano playing hammered dulcimer in downtown Philadelphia — photo from his website – http://dulcimermike.wix.com/dulcimermike

If you are compelled to give this instrument a listen or learn more about it, the UArts Music Library offers a smattering of resources on the subject. These include several books and CDs. Here are some good starters.

Books:

1.  Gifford, Paul M. The Hammered Dulcimer: A History. ML1041 .G54H3 2001

2.   Ashbrook, Karen. Playing the Hammered Dulcimer in the Irish Tradition.  MT717.8 .A75 1984

CDs:

1.    McCutcheon, John. The Wind that Shakes the Barley.  CD3690

2.    Munrow, David, and The Early Music Consort of London.  Instruments of the Middle Ages and Renaissance. – CD5737

For more music, check out the Music and Performing Arts section of Alexander Street Press.  Search for “hammered dulcimer”.

And, from Grove Music Online, two reference articles (with bibliographies) I used in writing this entry:

1.   Groce, Nancy“Hammered dulcimer.” Grove Music OnlineOxford Music Online. Oxford University Press. Web. 15 Oct. 2014. <http://0-www.oxfordmusiconline.com.catalog.library.uarts.edu/subscriber/article/grove/music/A2241395>

2.    Kettlewell, David“Dulcimer.” Grove Music OnlineOxford Music Online. Oxford University Press. Web. 15 Oct. 2014. <http://0-www.oxfordmusiconline.com.catalog.library.uarts.edu/subscriber/article/grove/music/08294>

–Mike Romano mromano@uarts.edu

New Music Education Resources

Some Great Music Education Resources

Every so often, some visitor or another to the Music Library holds something up and says to us: “Well, people really ought to know about this” or “I wish I’d known earlier that you had something like this.” New and old resources alike await their advocates, so in that spirit, what you have here is an attempt to hold a few things up ourselves.

The Music Library is home to a wide-ranging array of materials on the history, philosophy, and practice of music education. But the first item on the agenda should probably be an announcement that the Libraries now provide access to the online version of RILM Abstracts of Musical Literature. A veritable powerhouse of support for research into all aspects of music, RILM is a comprehensive annotated bibliography, which includes indexing from 3,700 journals, documents monographs, catalogues, conference proceedings, and other publications. Current UArts faculty and students with up-to-date accounts will find not only materials surveyed since RILM began indexing contributed abstracts in 1967, but also a growing body of full-text options, owing to RILM’s recent integration into the family of EBSCOhost databases (scroll down the list here http://library.uarts.edu/eresources/articledb.html). (The Music Library also has the full run of hard copy volumes of RILM Abstractsfrom 1967-1999, should anyone prefer to browse print.) It is the most comprehensive attempt to organize the entire published record of literature about human music-making.

Of particular interest to music educators will be several Oxford “handbook” entries, including The Oxford Handbook of Music EducationThe Oxford Handbook of Philosophy in Music EducationThe Oxford Handbook of Children’s Musical Cultures and The Oxford Handbook of Sound Studies. A generation’s thought and experience are summarized from fields investigating musical creativity, community music-making, technologies of music teaching and learning, listening and playing in special needs contexts, music therapy, to say nothing of the moving target that is school music in our time.

Saint-Saëns started composing at the age of three, Chopin at the age of seven, Beethoven at the age of 12. Bach and Stravinsky were late bloomers, first writing music in their teens. Mary Lou Williams improvised at age five, Bix Beiderbecke at age seven, and Buddy Rich led his first band from the drumset at eleven. There have been many child composers and improvisers. For a long time now a successful pedagogical philosophy has developed based on the premise that the bric-a-brac of theory serves as an obstacle, not an avenue, to musical understanding. Learning by doing—creating sound sources, devising notation, playing ex tempore—was advocated as a classroom strategy as long ago as Brian Dennis’s Experimental Music in Schools of 1970  and Murray Schafer’s “Composer in the Classroom” (reprinted in The Thinking Ear).  Another Canadian, Rena Upitis, got enthusiastic results teaching composition to students in inner-city schools, and documented some of them in Can I Play You My Song?. MENC has gotten into the act with Why and How to Teach Music Composition, but perhaps the most in-depth analysis of methods for introducing such creativity into pre-K-8 classrooms is Joanna Glover’s Children Composing, 4-14.

There’s no shortage of ideas for lesson plans, and it’s certainly not up to those of us on the sidelines to recommend the best route to take. But it does seem like everyone can sometimes use a reminder of where the peg is to hang your hat: creativity happens because it’s rewarding (also known as fun). Just something appealing about these: Michiko Yurko’s Music Mind Games, addressed to all ages and skill levels ; and Mary Mazzacane’s Music Education Through Puppetry, which relates music lesson planning to the history of musical instruments, basic music concepts, and events in American history. Oh, and how to get your hands into puppetry—(it had to be said)—too.

The Oxford Handbook of Music Education Music Open Stacks MT 1 .O93 2012

The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy in Music Education Music Open Stacks MT 1 .O94 2012

The Oxford Handbook of Children’s Musical Cultures Music Open Stacks ML 83 .O94 2013

The Oxford Handbook of Sound Studies Music Open Stacks QC 225 .o94 2012

Experimental Music in Schools Music Open Stacks MT 1 .D445E9 1970

The Thinking Ear: Complete Writings on Music Education Music REF MT 1 .S3T4 1986

Can I Play You My Song? Music REF MT 155 .U65C2 1992

Why and How to Teach Music Composition. Music Open Stacks MT155 .W59 2003

Children Composing, 4-14. Music REF MT155 .G56 2000

Music Mind Games Music MERA MT948 .Y87 1992

Music Education through Puppetry Music Open Stacks MT10 .M39M8 1984

Questions? Comments? Recommendations? We’d love to hear from you! Please contact Mark Germer, UArts Music Librarian, at 215-717-6293 or mgermer@uarts.edu.

Bob Moog Inducted into the Inventors Hall of Fame

At the end of March 2013 Bob Moog was honored with an invitation to become a 2013 National Inventors Hall of Fame inductee by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The honor is given to individuals who have “conceived, patented, and advanced” technologies affecting change in the modern world. The invention holds the Patent No. 3475623 and is usually referred to as the Moog Ladder Filter, the first voltage-controlled filter. It is this basic version of dynamic filter controlled at the keyboard—and pioneered in the Minimoog Synthesizer—that enables the electric pulse beating through nearly all modern mass-commercial popular music, from Kraftwerk and Michael Jackson to Brian Eno and Dr. Dre. For the announcement and more information, go to <http://moogmusic.com/news/bob-moog-inducted-inventors-hall-fame>. Also, see the Music Library’s holdings relating to Bob Moog and his synthesizers.

Music and … — A Note on Our Underrecognized Journals

by Geoff Belforti, UArts Music Library

Collaborative and interdisciplinary by nature, music is a socially powerful and adaptable art form. The ubiquity of Anglo-American popular music testifies to its functionality as a reinforcement mechanism for communal belonging and individual identity. Music is readily co-opted by religious and political movements, as aural landscape for personal reflection, and as continuity stream for dance and cinema. That music tends to “show up” in the mix became the inevitable observation when we tried to find a peg upon which to hang a discussion about some of our best—but too little appreciated—scholarly journals. Far more current, and often more provocative than what we find in droller books, the journal literature provided by the University Libraries can lean toward the genuinely juicy and be as unpredictable as the wandering scholars who pause to polish and parade their pearls therein. Because the UArts Music Library subscribes to the print version, some of these journals are also available online.

By way of undisguised self-promotion, herewith is a random sampling of articles from the Music Library’s periodicals on music and … —

— dance anthropology

Yearbook for Traditional MusicGiurchescu, Anca and Speranţa Rădulescu. “Music, dance, and behaviour in a new form of expressive culture: the Romanian manea,” Yearbook for Traditional Music 43 (2011), 2-36. (ML26 .I63 v. 43 2011 – the call number is for the bound issues in the Music Library.)

This article from the venerable Yearbook for Traditional Music traces the roots, influences, and transformations of a highly popular form of Roma protest music in Romania known as manea. Originating in Ottoman aristocratic music of the early 19th century, in the 1960’s the manea first became a genre of protest music, with gypsy musicians (mostly from poor communities and neighborhoods around the southeastern Danube) lamenting their plight as a marginalized people in Romania. By incorporating musical elements from genres as diverse and disparate as hip-hop, disco, pop, techno, and house music, as well as pan-Balkan and Arabic-Turkish music, manea has somewhat paradoxically come to appeal to everyone from lower class Romanian audiences to the nouveaux riches of the country.  Read the full article to find out how manea has adapted so well to modern society and remained a powerful form of protest.

— landscape design

Leonardo Music JournalFowler, Michael. “Transmediating a Japanese garden through spatial sound design,” Leonardo Music Journal 21 (2012), 43-49. (ML1 .L46 v. 21 2012)

Inspired in part by John Cage’s composition Ryoanji (a recording is available on CD6786 in the UArts Music Library), the artist Michael Fowler, writing for the Leonardo Music Journal, has developed schemata for “transmediating” landscape and sound at the ancient Sesshutei garden-temple complex at Joei-ji, Yamaguchi, Japan. The garden was originally designed and planted by a 15th-century Zen Buddhist painter and priest, who modeled it after one of his most famous paintings—one that playfully distorts viewers’ senses of scale and perception. Taking cues from Sesshu’s design, Fowler employs methods developed by the mathematicians Georgy Voronoy and Boris Delaunay to map the layout of the garden. He then transforms recordings from nature (of bird song, running water) combined with those of traditional instruments (rin, or singing bowl; mokugyo, or woodblock; and daiko drums) into a sound installation that complements—diagrammatically emulates—Sesshu’s original garden design.

 

 

–evolutionary psychology

Music PerceptionVuoskoski,  Jonna, et al. “Who enjoys listening to sad music and why?” Music Perception 29 (2012), 311-315. (ML3830 .M765 v. 29 2012) Thoroughly superficial assumptions pervade whatever understanding most of us have regarding so-called “happy” and “sad” music. Most discussions founder on the shores of cultural indoctrination. Here, in the journal Music Perception, several researchers from Finland and Australia attempt a more deeply analytical approach to this deceptively puzzling issue. Contrary to feelings of increased sadness elicited by certain life events, the psychologists found that those participants who self-identify as appreciators of “sad” music were more like to report feelings of “peacefulness”, “wonder”, and “nostalgia” after hearing selected musical compositions. They further discovered that certain personality traits typically associated with “positive” emotions correlate with the enjoyment of sad music. As is the case with much of the burgeoning field of music psychology, the proposals concluding this article are worth the effort it takes to monitor journal literature such as this, where extraordinary developments in a host of disciplines are often first presented.