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(Dis)embodying Myths in Ancien Régime Opera Cover

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(Dis)embodying Myths in Ancien Régime Opera

Multidisciplinary Perspectives

Bruno Forment (ed.)

Throughout the Ancien Régime, mythology played a vital role in opera, defining such epoch-making works as Claudio Monteverdi's La favola d'Orfeo (1607) and Christoph Gluck's Iphigénie en Tauride (1779). The operatic presence of the Greco-Roman gods and heroes was anything but unambiguous or unproblematic, however. (Dis)embodying Myths in Ancien Régime Opera highlights myth's chameleonic life in the Italian dramma per musica and French tragédie en musique of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Written by eminent scholars in the fields of music, literature, theatre, and cultural studies, the six essays in this book address important questions. Through what ideological lenses did the Ancien Régime perceive an ancient legacy that was fundamentally pagan and fictitious, as opposed to Christian and rationalistic? What dramaturgies did librettists and composers devise to adapt mythical topics to altering philosophical and esthetic doctrines? Were the ancients' precepts obeyed or precisely overridden by the age of ‘classicism'? And how could myths be made to fit changing modes of spectatorship? Enlightening and wide-ranging on an essentially multidisciplinary development in European culture, (Dis)embodying Myths in Ancien Régime Opera will appeal to all music, literature, and art lovers seeking to deepen their knowledge of an increasingly popular repertoire.

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Dissonant Identities

The Rock'n'Roll Scene in Austin, Texas

Barry Shank

Music of the bars and clubs of Austin, Texas has long been recognized as defining one of a dozen or more musical "scenes" across the country. In Dissonant Identities, Barry Shank, himself a musician who played and lived in the Texas capital, studies the history of its popular music, its cultural and economic context, and also the broader ramifications of that music as a signifying practice capable of transforming identities.

While his focus is primarily on progressive country and rock, Shank also writes about traditional country, blues, rock, disco, ethnic, and folk musics. Using empirical detail and an expansive theoretical framework, he shows how Austin became the site for "a productive contestation between two forces: the fierce desire to remake oneself through musical practice, and the equally powerful struggle to affirm the value of that practice in the complexly structured late-capitalist marketplace."

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Doc

The Story of a Birmingham Jazz Man

Frank Adams

Doc is the autobiography of jazz elder statesman Frank “Doc” Adams, highlighting his role in Birmingham, Alabama’s, historic jazz scene and tracing his personal adventure that parallels, in many ways, the story and spirit of jazz itself.
 
Doc tells the story of an accomplished jazz master, from his musical apprenticeship under John T. “Fess” Whatley and his time touring with Sun Ra and Duke Ellington to his own inspiring work as an educator and bandleader.
Central to this narrative is the often-overlooked story of Birmingham’s unique jazz tradition and community. From the very beginnings of jazz, Birmingham was home to an active network of jazz practitioners and a remarkable system of jazz apprenticeship rooted in the city’s segregated schools. Birmingham musicians spread across the country to populate the sidelines of the nation’s bestknown bands. Local musicians, like Erskine Hawkins and members of his celebrated orchestra, returned home heroes. Frank “Doc” Adams explores, through first-hand experience, the history of this community, introducing readers to a large and colorful cast of characters— including “Fess” Whatley, the legendary “maker of musicians” who trained legions of Birmingham players and made a significant mark on the larger history of jazz. Adams’s interactions with the young Sun Ra, meanwhile, reveal life-changing lessons from one of American music’s most innovative personalities.

Along the way, Adams reflects on his notable family, including his father, Oscar, editor of the Birmingham Reporter and an outspoken civic leader in the African American community, and Adams’s brother, Oscar Jr., who would become Alabama’s first black supreme court justice. Adams’s story offers a valuable window into the world of Birmingham’s black middle class in the days before the civil rights movement and integration. Throughout, Adams demonstrates the ways in which jazz professionalism became a source of pride within this community, and he offers his thoughts on the continued relevance of jazz education in the twenty-first century.


 

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A Double Bassist’s Guide to Refining Performance Practices

Murray Grodner

Murray Grodner draws on his distinguished career as a double bass musician and teacher in this compendium of performance philosophy, bowing and phrasing recommendations, tutorials on fingerings and scales, and exercises for bowing and string crossing. Grodner addresses technical obstacles in musical performance, offers advice on instrument and bow purchase, and provides a detailed approach to the fundamentals of bass playing. This guide is an invaluable resource for any bassist seeking a professional career.

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Drama Kings

Players and Publics in the Re-creation of Peking Opera, 1870-1937

Joshua Goldstein

In this colorful and detailed history, Joshua Goldstein describes the formation of the Peking opera in late Qing and its subsequent rise and re-creation as the epitome of the Chinese national culture in Republican era China. Providing a fascinating look into the lives of some of the opera’s key actors, he explores their methods for earning a living; their status in an ever-changing society; the methods by which theaters functioned; the nature and content of performances; audience make-up; and the larger relationship between Peking opera and Chinese nationalism.

Propelled by a synergy of the commercial and the political patronage from the Qing court in Beijing to modern theaters in Shanghai and Tianjin, Peking opera rose to national prominence. The genre’s star actors, particularly male cross-dressing performers led by the exquisite Mei Lanfang and the "Four Great Female Impersonators" became media celebrities, models of modern fashion and world travel. Ironically, as it became increasingly entrenched in modern commercial networks, Peking opera was increasingly framed in post-May fourth discourses as profoundly traditional. Drama Kings demonstrates that the process of reforming and marketing Peking opera as a national genre was integrally involved with process of colonial modernity, shifting gender roles, the rise of capitalist visual culture, and new technologies of public discipline that became increasingly prevalent in urban China in the Republican era.

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Dramma Giocoso

Four Contemporary Perspectives on the Mozart/Da Ponte Operas

Sergio Durante, Stefan Rohringer, Julian Rushton, James Webster. Edited by Darla Crispin

The three Mozart/Da Ponte operas offer an inexhaustible wellspring for critical reflection, possessing a complexity and equivocation common to all great humane works. They have the potential to reflect and refract whatever locus of contemporaneity may be the starting point for enquiry. Thus, even postmodern and postmillennial concerns, far from seeming irrelevant to these operas, are instead given new perspectives by them, whilst the music and the dramatic situations have the multivalency to accept each refreshed pallet of interpretation without loss of their essential character. These operas seem perennially ‘new'. In exploring the evergreen qualities of Don Giovanni and Le Nozze di Figaro, this collection of studies does not shun approaches that have foundations in established theory, but refracts them through such problems as the tension between operatic tradition and psychological realism, the co-existence of multiple yet equal plots, and the antagonism between the tenets of tradition and the need for self-actualization. In exploring such themes, the authors not only illuminate new aspects of Mozart's operatic compositions, but also probe the nature of musical analysis itself.

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Eagle Minds

Selected Correspondence of Istvan Anhalt and George Rochberg (1961-2005)

Eagle Minds—a selection from the correspondence between the Canadian composer and scholar Istvan Anhalt and his American counterpart George Rochberg—is a splendid chronicle and a penetrating analysis of the swerving socio-cultural movements of a volatile half-century as observed by two highly gifted individuals.

Beginning in 1961 and spanning forty-four years, their conversation embraces not only music but other forms of contemporary art, as well as politics, philosophy, religion, and mysticism. The letters chronicle the deepening of their friendship over the years, and the openness, honesty, and genuine warmth between them provide the reader with an intimate look at their personalities. A fascinating intellectual tension emerges between the two men as they record their individual responses to musical modernism, to changing political and social realities, and to their Jewish heritage and sense of place, one as a son of Ukrainian immigrants to the United States, the other as a refugee from war-torn Hungary.

Allowing us a privileged glimpse into the private lives and thoughts of these fascinating men, Eagle Minds is a valuable tool for scholars interested in North American composers in the late twentieth century and essential reading for anyone interested in the cultural and social history of that era.

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Earl Hooker, Blues Master

Sebastian Danchin

<p class="red">The life and early death of a South Side guitar genius, the greatest unheralded Chicago blues-maker

Jimi Hendrix called Earl Hooker "the master of the wah-wah pedal." Buddy Guy slept with one of Hooker's slides beneath his pillow hoping to tap some of the elder bluesman's power. And B. B. King has said repeatedly that, for his money, Hooker was the best guitar player he ever met.

Tragically, Earl Hooker died of tuberculosis in 1970 when he was on the verge of international success just as the Blues Revival of the late sixties and early seventies was reaching full volume.

Second cousin to now-famous bluesman John Lee Hooker, Earl Hooker was born in Mississippi in 1929, and reared in black South Side Chicago where his parents settled in 1930. From the late 1940s on, he was recognized as the most creative electric blues guitarist of his generation. He was a "musician's musician," defining the art of blues slide guitar and playing in sessions and shows with blues greats Muddy Waters, Junior Wells, and B. B. King.

A favorite of black club and neighborhood bar audiences in the Midwest, and a seasoned entertainer in the rural states of the Deep South, Hooker spent over twenty-five years of his short existence burning up U.S. highways, making brilliant appearances wherever he played.

Until the last year of his life, Hooker had only a few singles on obscure labels to show for all the hard work. The situation changed in his last few months when his following expanded dramatically. Droves of young whites were seeking American blues tunes and causing a blues album boom. When he died, his star's rise was extinguished. Known primarily as a guitarist rather than a vocalist, Hooker did not leave a songbook for his biographer to mine. Only his peers remained to praise his talent and pass on his legend.

"Earl Hooker's life may tell us a lot about the blues," biographer Sebastian Danchin says, "but it also tells us a great deal about his milieu. This book documents the culture of the ghetto through the example of a central character, someone who is to be regarded as a catalyst of the characteristic traits of his community."

Like the tales of so many other unheralded talents among bluesmen, Earl Hooker, Blues Master, Hooker's life story, has all the elements of a great blues song -- late nights, long roads, poverty, trouble, and a soul-felt pining for what could have been.

Sebastian Danchin is a freelance writer and record producer. He also creates programs for France's leading radio network, Radio-France, and is the blues editor for France's leading jazz magazine, Jazzman. His previous books, among others, include Les Dieux du Blues (Paris: Editions Atlas, 1995) and Blues Boy: The Life and Music of B. B. King (University Press of Mississippi, 1998).

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Early Music

Vol. 32 (2004) - Vol. 35 (2007)

Early Music is a stimulating and richly illustrated journal, and is unrivalled in its field. Founded in 1973, it remains the journal for anyone interested in early music and how it is being interpreted today. Contributions from scholars and performers on international standing explore every aspect of earlier musical repertoires, present vital new evidence for our understanding of the music of the past, and tackle controversial issues of performance practice.

Each issue is beautifully illustrated and contains a wide range of articles on performance practice, iconography, sources, instruments and many other aspects of the historical context for a given work or repertory. Some issues are dedicated to a particular theme to mark the anniversary of a composer or to explore an otherwise uncharted territory, such as the music of the New World or the early musical traditions of non-Western cultures.

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Echoes from Dharamsala

Music in the Life of a Tibetan Refugee Community

Keila Diehl

In Echoes from Dharamsala, Keila Diehl uses music to understand the experiences of Tibetans living in Dharamsala, a town in the Indian Himalayas that for more than forty years has been home to Tibet's government-in-exile. The Dalai Lama's presence lends Dharamsala's Tibetans a feeling of being "in place," but at the same time they have physically and psychologically constructed Dharamsala as "not Tibet," as a temporary resting place to which many are unable or unwilling to become attached. Not surprisingly, this community struggles with notions of home, displacement, ethnic identity, and assimilation. Diehl's ethnography explores the contradictory realities of cultural homogenization, hybridity, and concern about ethnic purity as they are negotiated in the everyday lives of individuals. In this way, she complicates explanations of culture change provided by the popular idea of "global flow."

Diehl's accessible, absorbing narrative argues that the exiles' focus on cultural preservation, while crucial, has contributed to the development of essentialist ideas of what is truly "Tibetan." As a result, "foreign" or "modern" practices that have gained deep relevance for Tibetan refugees have been devalued. Diehl scrutinizes this tension in her discussion of the refugees' enthusiasm for songs from blockbuster Hindi films, the popularity of Western rock and roll among Tibetan youth, and the emergence of a new genre of modern Tibetan music. Diehl's insight into the soundscape of Dharamsala is enriched by her own experiences as the keyboard player for a Tibetan refugee rock group called the Yak Band. Her groundbreaking study reveals the importance of music as a site where official and personal, old and new representations of Tibetan culture meet and where different notions of "Tibetan-ness" are being imagined, performed, and debated.

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