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Broken Harmony

Shakespeare and the Politics of Music

by Joseph M. Ortiz

Music was a subject of considerable debate during the Renaissance. The notion that music could be interpreted in a meaningful way clashed regularly with evidence that music was in fact profoundly promiscuous in its application and effects. Subsequently, much writing in the period reflects a desire to ward off music's illegibility rather than come to terms with its actual effects. In Broken Harmony, Joseph M. Ortiz revises our understanding of music's relationship to language in Renaissance England. In the process he shows the degree to which discussions of music were ideologically and politically charged.

Offering a historically nuanced account of the early modern debate over music, along with close readings of several of Shakespeare's plays (including Titus Andronicus, The Merchant of Venice, The Tempest, and The Winter's Tale) and Milton's A Maske, Ortiz challenges the consensus that music's affinity with poetry was widely accepted, or even desired, by Renaissance poets. Shakespeare more than any other early modern poet exposed the fault lines in the debate about music's function in art, repeatedly staging disruptive scenes of music that expose an underlying struggle between textual and sensuous authorities. Such musical interventions in textual experiences highlight the significance of sound as an aesthetic and sensory experience independent of any narrative function.

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The Broken Spoke

Austin's Legendary Honky-Tonk

Donna Marie Miller

When James and Annetta White opened the Broken Spoke in 1964, their location was a mile south of the Austin city limits, under a massive live oak beside what would eventually become South Lamar Boulevard. White built the place himself, beginning construction on the day he received his honorable discharge from the US Army. And for more than fifty years, the Broken Spoke has served up, in the words of White’s well-worn opening speech, “ . . . cold beer, good whiskey, the best chicken fried steak in town . . . and good country music.”
 
White paid $32 to his first opening act, D. G. Burrows and the Western Melodies, back in 1964. Since then, the stage at the Spoke has hosted the likes of Bob Wills, Ernest Tubb, Ray Price, Roy Acuff, Kris Kristoffersen, George Strait, Willie Nelson, Jerry Jeff Walker, and Asleep at the Wheel. But it hasn’t always been easy; through the years, the Whites and the Spoke have withstood their share of hardship, including a breast cancer diagnosis, a chronically leaky roof, heart trouble, and a tour bus driven through the back wall.
 
Today, however, the original rustic, barn-style building, surrounded by sleek, high-rise apartment buildings, still sits on South Lamar, a tribute and remembrance to an Austin that has almost vanished. Housing fifty years of country music memorabilia and about a thousand lifetimes of memories, the Broken Spoke is still doing what Ernest Tubb, years ago, urged James White to do: “keeping it country.”

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Brothers, Sing On!

My Half-Century Around the World with the Penn Glee Club

By Bruce Montgomery

In 1862, a group of undergraduates at the University of Pennsylvania put the University's colors of red and blue in their buttonholes and gave the first performance of the University of Pennsylvania Glee Club. Ninety-four years later, in 1956, Bruce Montgomery became the Glee Club's director and brought the Club to new heights of musicianship and international acclaim. In his forty-four-year tenure, "Monty" made the Glee Club the premier musical voice of the University and brought Penn and the spirit of Philadelphia to audiences around the world.

The Glee Club has performed on five continents in thirty countries and countless times in Philadelphia. In Brothers, Sing On! Monty shares his stories and experiences. From an impromptu photo op on a Wisconsin highway during a blizzard in 1977 to singing for U.S. presidents, this exhilarating memoir is filled with the Glee Club's farflung adventures. Backstage anecdotes let the reader step behind the scenes of such performances at home, abroad, and on worldwide television.

A reflection of Monty's boundless energy and flair for showmanship, this volume also includes stories of the students with whom the Glee Club director worked in other clubs—the Penn Singers, the Marching Band, the Penn Players, and the Mask & Wig Club, to name a few. Throughout his memoir, Montgomery reflects fondly on the development of the Glee Club. It is a testament to his immeasurable contribution to its success and renown.

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Brutality Garden

Tropicália and the Emergence of a Brazilian Counterculture

Christopher Dunn

In the late 1960s, Brazilian artists forged a watershed cultural movement known as Tropicalia. Music inspired by that movement is today enjoying considerable attention at home and abroad. Few new listeners, however, make the connection between this music and the circumstances surrounding its creation, the most violent and repressive days of the military regime that governed Brazil from 1964 to 1985. With key manifestations in theater, cinema, visual arts, literature, and especially popular music, Tropicalia dynamically articulated the conflicts and aspirations of a generation of young, urban Brazilians.

Focusing on a group of musicians from Bahia, an impoverished state in northeastern Brazil noted for its vibrant Afro-Brazilian culture, Christopher Dunn reveals how artists including Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, Gal Costa, and Tom Ze created this movement together with the musical and poetic vanguards of Sao Paulo, Brazil's most modern and industrialized city. He shows how the tropicalists selectively appropriated and parodied cultural practices from Brazil and abroad in order to expose the fissure between their nation's idealized image as a peaceful tropical "garden" and the daily brutality visited upon its citizens.

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Building New Banjos for an Old-Time World

Richard Jones-Bamman

Banjo music possesses a unique power to evoke a bucolic, simpler past. The artisans who build banjos for old-time music stand at an unusual crossroads ”asked to meet the modern musician's needs while retaining the nostalgic qualities so fundamental to the banjo's sound and mystique. Richard Jones-Bamman ventures into workshops and old-time music communities to explore how banjo builders practice their art. His interviews and long-time personal immersion in the musical culture shed light on long-overlooked aspects of banjo making. What is the banjo builder's role in the creation of a specific musical community? What techniques go into the styles of instruments they create? Jones-Bamman explores these questions and many others while sharing the ways an inescapable sense of the past undergirds the performance and enjoyment of old-time music. Along the way he reveals how antimodernism remains integral to the music's appeal and its making.

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Burst of Breath

Indigenous Ritual Wind Instruments in Lowland South America

Jonathan David Hill

The first in-depth, comparative, and interdisciplinary study of indigenous Amazonian musical cultures, Burst of Breath showcases new research on the dynamic range of ritual power and social significance of various wind instruments—including flutes, trumpets, clarinets, and whistles—played in sacred rituals and ceremonies in Lowland South America.

The editors provide a detailed overview of the historical significance, scientific classification, shamanic and cosmological associations, and changing social meanings of ritual wind instruments within Amazonian cultures. These essays present a wide perspective that goes beyond better-documented areas such as the Upper Xingu and northwest Amazon. Some of the authors explore the ways ritual wind instruments are used to introduce natural sounds into social contexts and to cross boundaries between verbal and nonverbal communication. Others look at how ritual wind instruments and their music enter into local definitions and negotiations of relations between men, women, kin, insiders, and outsiders.

Closely considering these instruments in their many roles and contexts—in curing and purification, negotiating relations, connecting mythic ancestors and humans today—this volume reveals the power and complexity of the music at the heart of collective rituals across lowland South America.

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Bytes and Backbeats

Repurposing Music in the Digital Age

Steve Savage

From Attali’s “cold social silence” to Baudrillard’s hallucinatory reality, reproduced music has long been the target of critical attack. Steve Savage, however, deploys an innovative combination of designed recording projects, ethnographic studies of contemporary music practice, and critical analysis to challenge many of these traditional attitudes about the creation and reception of music. Savage adopts the notion of “repurposing” as central to understanding how every aspect of musical activity, from creation to reception, has been transformed, arguing that the tension within production between a naturalizing “art” and a self-conscious “artifice” reflects and feeds into our evolving notions of creativity, authenticity, and community. Three original audio projects form an integral part of the work, drawing from rock & roll, jazz, and traditional African music. Through these projects, Savage is able to target areas of contemporary practice that are particularly significant in the cultural evolution of the musical experience from the perspective of composers, musicians, and listeners. This work stems from Savage’s experience as a professional recording engineer and record producer. “Instead of focusing solely on legal aspects, as many authors have done, Savage takes the time to study not only how technologies have altered the way we make and consume music, but also how technology relates to culture. This balance between ‘empirical’ and ‘critical’ approaches is powerful.” — Serge Lacasse, Université Laval

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Cafe Society

The wrong place for the Right people

Barney Josephson with Terry Trilling-Josephson. Foreword by Dan Morgenstern.

Set against the drama of the Great Depression, the conflict of American race relations, and the inquisitions of the House Un-American Activities Committee, Cafe Society tells the personal history of Barney Josephson, proprietor of the legendary interracial New York City night clubs Cafe Society Downtown and Cafe Society Uptown and their successor, The Cookery. Famously known as "the wrong place for the Right people," Cafe Society featured the cream of jazz and blues performers--among whom were Billie Holiday, Big Joe Turner, Lester Young, Buck Clayton, Big Sid Catlett, and Mary Lou Williams--as well as comedy stars Imogene Coca, Zero Mostel, and Jack Gilford, the boogie-woogie pianists, and legendary gospel and folk artists. A trailblazer in many ways, Josephson welcomed black and white artists alike to perform for mixed audiences in a venue whose walls were festooned with artistic and satiric murals lampooning what was then called "high society." Featuring scores of photographs that illustrate the vibrant cast of characters in Josephson's life, this exceptional book speaks richly about Cafe Society's revolutionary innovations and creativity, inspired by the vision of one remarkable man.

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Cairo Pop

Youth Music in Contemporary Egypt

Daniel J. Gilman

Cairo Pop is the first book to examine the dominant popular music of Egypt, shababiyya. Scorned or ignored by scholars and older Egyptians alike, shababiyya plays incessantly in Cairo, even while Egyptian youth joined in mass protests against their government, which eventually helped oust longtime Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak in early 2011. Living in Cairo at the time of the revolution, Daniel Gilman saw, and more importantly heard, the impact that popular music can have on culture and politics. Here he contributes a richly ethnographic analysis of the relationship between mass-mediated popular music, modernity, and nationalism in the Arab world.

Before Cairo Pop, most scholarship on the popular music of Egypt focused on musiqa al-ṭarab. Immensely popular in the 1950s and ’60s and even into the ’70s, musiqa al-ṭarab adheres to Arabic musical theory, with non-Western scales based on tunings of the strings of the ‘ud—the lute that features prominently, nearly ubiquitously, in Arabic music. However, today one in five Egyptians is between the ages of 15 and 24; half the population is under the age of 25. And shababiyya is their music of choice. By speaking informally with dozens of everyday young people in Cairo, Gilman comes to understand shababiyya as more than just a musical genre: sometimes it is for dancing or seduction, other times it propels social activism, at others it is simply sonic junk food.

In addition to providing a clear Egyptian musical history as well as a succinct modern political history of the nation, Cairo Pop elevates the aural and visual aesthetic of shababiyya—and its role in the lives of a nation’s youth.

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