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Cuba, Diaspora, and the Drum
Batá identifies both the two-headed, hourglass-shaped drum of the Yoruba people and the culture and style of drumming, singing, and dancing associated with it. This book recounts the life story of Carlos Aldama, one of the masters of the batá drum, and through that story traces the history of batá culture as it traveled from Africa to Cuba and then to the United States. For the enslaved Yoruba, batá rhythms helped sustain the religious and cultural practices of a people that had been torn from its roots. Aldama, as guardian of Afro-Cuban music and as a Santería priest, maintains the link with this tradition forged through his mentor Jesus Pérez (Oba Ilu), who was himself the connection to the preserved oral heritage of the older generation. By sharing his stories, Aldama and his student Umi Vaughan bring to light the techniques and principles of batá in all its aspects and document the tensions of maintaining a tradition between generations and worlds, old and new. The book includes rare photographs and access to downloadable audio tracks.
Reflections on Natures and Kinds
The Castrato is a nuanced exploration of why innumerable boys were castrated for singing between the mid-sixteenth and late-nineteenth centuries. It shows that the entire foundation of Western classical singing, culminating in bel canto, was birthed from an unlikely and historically unique set of desires, public and private, aesthetic, economic, and political. In Italy, castration for singing was understood through the lens of Catholic blood sacrifice as expressed in idioms of offering and renunciation and, paradoxically, in satire, verbal abuse, and even the symbolism of the castrato’s comic cousin Pulcinella. Sacrifice in turn was inseparable from the system of patriarchy—involving teachers, patrons, colleagues, and relatives—whereby castrated males were produced not as nonmen, as often thought nowadays, but as idealized males. Yet what captivated audiences and composers—from Cavalli and Pergolesi to Handel, Mozart, and Rossini—were the extraordinary capacities of castrato voices, a phenomenon ultimately unsettled by Enlightenment morality. Although the castrati failed to survive, their musicality and vocality have persisted long past their literal demise.
The Triumph of Charlie Parker
Within days of Charlie “Bird” Parker’s death at the age of thirty-four, a scrawled legend began appearing on walls around New York City: Bird Lives. Gone was one of the most outstanding jazz musicians of any era, the troubled genius who brought modernism to jazz and became a defining cultural force for musicians, writers, and artists of every stripe. Arguably the most significant musician in the country at the time of his death, Parker set the standard many musicians strove to reach—though he never enjoyed the same popular success that greeted many of his imitators. Today, the power of Parker’s inventions resonates undiminished; and his influence continues to expand.
Celebrating Bird is the groundbreaking and award-winning account of the life and legend of Charlie Parker from renowned biographer and critic Gary Giddins, whom Esquire called “the best jazz writer in America today.” Richly illustrated and drawing primarily from original sources, Giddins overturns many of the myths that have grown up around Parker. He cuts a fascinating portrait of the period, from Parker’s apprentice days in the 1930s in his hometown of Kansas City to the often difficult years playing clubs in New York and Los Angeles, and reveals how Parker came to embody not only musical innovation and brilliance but the rage and exhilaration of an entire generation.
Fully revised and with a new introduction by the author, Celebrating Bird is a classic of jazz writing that the Village Voice heralded as “a celebration of the highest order”—a portrayal of a jazz virtuoso whose gargantuan talent was haunted by his excesses and a view into the ravishing art of one of jazz’s most commanding and remarkable figures.
Interpreting the Music of István Anhalt, György Kurtág, and Sándor Veress
This book examines the impact place and displacement can have on the composition and interpretation of Western art music, using as its primary objects of study the work of István Anhalt (1919–2012) György Kurtág (1926–) and Sándor Veress (1907–92). Although all three composers are of Hungarian origin, their careers followed radically different paths. Whereas, Kurtág remained in Budapest for most of his career, Anhalt and Veress left: the former in 1946 and immigrated to Canada and the latter in 1948 and settled in Switzerland. All three composers have had an extraordinary impact in the cultural environments within which their work took place.
In the first section, “Place and Displacement,” contributors examine what happens when composers and their music migrate in the culturally complex world of the late twentieth century. The past one hundred years produced record numbers of refugees, and this fact is now beginning to resonate in the study of music. As Anhalt himself forcefully asserts, however, not all composers who emigrate should be understood as exiles. The first chapters of this book explore some of the problems and questions surrounding this issue.
Essays in the second section, “Perspectives on Reception, Analysis, and Interpretation,” look at how performing acts of interpretation on music implies bringing the time, place, and identity of the musician, the analyst, and the teacher to bear on the object of study. Like Kodály, Kurtág considers his work to be “naturally” embedded in Hungarian culture, but he is also a quintessentially European artist. Much of his production—he is one of the twentieth century’s most prolific composers of vocal music—involves the setting of Hungarian texts, but in the late 1970s his cultural horizons expanded to include texts in Russian, German, French, English, and ancient Greek. The book explores how musicologists’ divergent cultural perspectives impinge on the interpretation of this work.
The final section, “The Presence of the Past and Memory in Contemporary Music,” examines the impact time and memory can have on notions of place and identity in music. All living art taps into the personal and collective past in one way or another. The final four chapters look at various aspects of this relationship.
An Essential History
Intended for the music student, the professional musician, and the music lover, Chamber Music: An Essential History covers repertoire from the Renaissance to the present, crossing genres to include string quartets, piano trios, clarinet quintets, and other groupings. Mark A. Radice gives a thorough overview and history of this long-established and beloved genre, typically performed by groups of a size to fit into spaces such as homes or churches and tending originally toward the string and wind instruments rather than percussion. Radice begins with chamber music's earliest expressions in the seventeenth century, discusses its most common elements in terms of instruments and compositional style, and then investigates how those elements play out across several centuries of composers- among them Mozart, Bach, Haydn, and Brahms- and national interpretations of chamber music. While Chamber Music: An Essential History is intended largely as a textbook, it will also find an audience as a companion volume for musicologists and fans of classical music, who may be interested in the background to a familiar and important genre.
Scores by Alvin Lucier
Chambers is a virtually complete collection of composer Alvin Lucier's major works from 1965 to 1977, interspersed with twelve interviews with the composer by Douglas Simon. Each score is written in prose and may be read by musicians as instructions for performance or by general readers as descriptions of imaginary musical activities. In response to Simon's searching questions, Lucier expands on each composition, not only explaining its genesis and development but also revealing its importance to the vigorously experimental American tradition to which Alvin Lucier belongs.
Many of his compositions jolt conventional notions of the role of composer, performer, and listener, and the spaces in which they play and listen. His works are scored for an astonishing range of instruments: seashells, subway stations, toy crickets, sonar guns, violins, synthesizers, bird calls, and Bunsen burners. All are unique explorations of acoustic phenomena - echoes, brain waves, room resonances - and radically transform the idea of music as metaphor into that of music as physical fact.
American Histories of an Iconic Composer
American composer Charles Ives (1874 - 1954) has gone from being a virtual unknown to become one of the most respected and lauded composers in American music. In this sweeping survey of intellectual and musical history, David C. Paul tells the new story of how Ives's music was shaped by shifting conceptions of American identity within and outside of musical culture, charting the changes in the reception of Ives across the twentieth century and into the twenty-first century. Paul focuses on the critics, composers, performers, and scholars whose contributions were most influential in shaping the critical discourse on Ives, many of them marquee names of American musical culture themselves, including Henry Cowell, Aaron Copland, Elliott Carter, and Leonard Bernstein. Paul explores both how Ives strategically positioned his music amid changing philosophical and aesthetic currents and how others interpreted his contributions to the idea, character, and functions of American music. Although Ives's initial efforts at making his music known to the public in the early twenties were unsuccessful, the resurgence of interest in the American literary past during the thirties helped secure an important place in American concert culture for his "Concord" Sonata, a work dedicated to nineteenth-century transcendentalist writers. Paul also charts the deployment of Ives as an icon of self-made independence and American freedom during the early Cold War period and the more recent instigation of Ives at the head of a line of so-called "American maverick" composers. By embedding Ives' reception within the changing developments of a wide range of fields including intellectual history, American studies, literature, musicology, and American politics and society in general, Charles Ives in the Mirror: American Histories of an Iconic Composer greatly advances our understanding of Ives and his influence on nearly a century of American culture.
Technology, Culture, and the Art of Studio Recording from Edison to the LP
In Chasing Sound, Susan Schmidt Horning traces the cultural and technological evolution of recording studios in the United States from the first practical devices to the modern multi-track studios of the analog era. Charting the technical development of studio equipment, the professionalization of recording engineers, and the growing collaboration between artists and technicians, she shows how the earliest efforts to capture the sound of live performances eventually resulted in a trend toward studio creations that extended beyond live shows, ultimately reversing the historic relationship between live and recorded sound. A former performer herself, Schmidt Horning draws from a wealth of original oral interviews with major labels and independent recording engineers, producers, arrangers, and musicians, as well as memoirs, technical journals, popular accounts, and sound recordings. Recording engineers and producers, she finds, influenced technological and musical change as they sought to improve the sound of records. By investigating the complex relationship between sound engineering and popular music, she reveals the increasing reliance on technological intervention in the creation as well as in the reception of music. The recording studio, she argues, is at the center of musical culture in the twentieth century.
The Cloud Cult Story
“Cloud Cult’s grand, unkempt indie rock is at once jam band, emo, and avant-garde. Their songs, born out of personal tragedy, are otherworldly lessons in being human.” —Pitchfork During the past decade, Minnesota-grown band Cloud Cult has become one of the most inspirational indie bands, with a deeply devoted fan base and an approach to music and the environment that is hard not to admire. Beyond a musical biography, Chasing the Light tells the story of the heartbreaking yet affirming journey of lead singer and songwriter Craig Minowa and delves into the career of the band known by music lovers as the least cynical and most idealistic band in the country.
Tracing Cloud Cult’s rise to critical acclaim, author Mark Allister details the band’s defining moments, beginning with the death of Craig and Connie Minowa’s two-year-old son and the hundreds of songs that grew out of the tragic loss. Allister describes the band’s unique philosophy and principles, including how Minowa created a zero carbon footprint for the band’s recording and touring, adopting DIY and green-sustainable practices well before the ideas became mainstream. Allister also presents a first-person account of a day in the life of a quintessential indie band and conveys the immense emotional impact of Cloud Cult’s albums and live shows. Described by a fan in the book as “the anthem for the soul searcher in us all,” Cloud Cult’s music and message are both stirring and sincere.
Featuring rarely seen photos from Cloud Cult’s history and passionate testimonials by fans, Chasing the Light is a testament to the profound influence one band’s personal evolution can have on its followers and on indie rock aficionados in search of beauty, meaning, and redemption.
Politics of a New Millennial Mestizaje