Musical camp

 

mein herr

There are specific musical gestures with which listeners can identify in camp ways, or use to explain the presence of camp. Even if these are not inherently camp, they may invite a camp interpretation of the text by a performer or a camp reading by a listener.

Useful examples of musical camp include Liberace’s performance of Čajkovskij’s Piano Concerto No. 1 and Liza Minnelli’s performance of “Auf wiedersehen mein Herr” in the film Cabaret.

This according to “Notes on musical camp” by Freya Jarman-Ivens, an essay included in The Ashgate research companion to popular musicology (Farnham: Ashgate, 2009) pp. 189–203.

Thanks to Improbable Research for bringing this article to our attention! Above, Ms. Minnelli in action; below, Liberace in 1969.

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Filed under Curiosities, Humor, Popular music, Romantic era

Haydn’s parrot

haydn-parrot

 

The Inventur und Schätzung der Joseph Haydnischen Kunstsachen of 1809 is preserved in the Musiksammlung of the Österreichische Nationalbibliothek.

One of the items listed therein is a living parrot, which used to call Haydn by his name and could sing the beginning of the national anthem. The parrot was sold for 1415 florins.

This according to “Haydn als Sammler” by Otto Erich Deutsch, an article included in Zum Haydn-Jahr 1959 (Österreichische Musikzeitschrift XIV/5–6 [May–June 1959] pp. 188–194).

Below, perhaps a descendant.

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Directory of South African Music Collections

Stellenbosch University Library

The Directory of South African Music Collections collates information on special music collections in South Africa in order to stimulate music research on South African materials in South Africa and internationally. In an effort to cover the widest possible spectrum in music research, the directory provides the location and status of documents and collections.

This directory was initially part of a Masters study, funded by the South African Music Archive Project (SAMAP) and created under the auspices of the Stellenbosch University Library and Information Service.

Although only a number of national, provincial and tertiary institutions are currently represented in the directory, the aim is to expand it by including further institutions in the aforementioned categories and private collections.

Above, Stellenbosch University Library, the host institution of this free online database, viewed from the rooiplein. Below, a work by the South African composer Hubert du Plessis, who taught at Stellenbosch University.

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Rock music studies

bob-dylan-1965

In 2014 Taylor & Francis launched Rock music studies, which publishes articles, book and audio reviews, and opinion pieces on rock music and its numerous subgenres three times a year.

To best focus this international journal, which evolved from Popular music and society, the editors limit the often all-inclusive definition of rock to exclude other genres such as doo-wop, country, jazz, soul, and hip hop, but include roll and roll, rockabilly, blues rock, country rock, jazz rock, folk rock, hard rock, psychedelic rock, prog rock, metal, punk, alternative, and other subgenres of rock.

The editors welcome articles on rock’s interaction with other styles and are receptive to all disciplinary, methodological, and theoretical approaches.

All research articles undergo a rigorous peer review process by at least two anonymous referees, based on an initial screening by the editors. The journal is also open to special issues focusing on an artist, a subgenre, or a topic.

Above and below, Bob Dylan in the 1960s, the subject of an article in the inaugural issue.

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Händel’s clock music

Charles Clay musical clock

On 8 May 1736 London’s Weekly advertiser reported on an exhibition of a musical clock to the Queen, giving “uncommon satisfaction to all the Royal Family present”. Although two descriptions survive, the machine itself is lost.

However, the discovery among Händel’s MSS of two sets of tunes for musical clock suggest that the composer was, at the very least, intrigued by the instrument’s capabilities—it is also possible that this machine, or one like it, played these very works. Clearly Händel was not averse to mechanical reproduction of his works, and he may indeed have heard it happen!

This according to “Handel’s clock music” by William Barclay Squire (The musical quarterly V/4 [October 1919]) pp. 538–552.

Today is Händel’s 330th birthday! Above, a musical clock by Charles Clay, the inventor of the machine reported on in 1736; below, Händel’s works performed on a toy piano.

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Filed under Baroque era, Curiosities

A marching band on skis

Steamboat Springs band

Since 1914 a Winter Carnival has been held in February in the picturesque resort town of Steamboat Springs, Colorado, to promote skiing and celebrate the season. Events include ski races, ski jumping, dogsled pulls, skijoring, and fireworks.

The main attraction, though, is the performance of the Steamboat Springs High School Band in the parade held on the last day of the carnival.

Every year since 1935, members of the band have donned red wool uniforms, fixed plastic mouthpieces to their instruments and lubricated them with no-freeze valve oil, attached shortened skis to their boots, and skied in formation as they played.

This according to “The Steamboat Springs High School Ski Band 1935–2005” by Daniel S. Isbell (Journal of historical research in music education XXVIII/1 [October 2006] pp. 21–37). Above and below, the band in performance.

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The Bizet catalogue

bizet catalog

The Bizet catalogue is a searchable online list of Georges Bizet’s works, providing essential information about the history and content of each one.

This open-access website gives information on manuscript and printed sources and provides documentary materials relating to the composition, performance, and publication of each work. It is intended to provide a full historical documentation of Bizet’s work as composer and transcriber.

The catalogue, which is based at the Washington University Olin Library, is the work of Hugh Macdonald.

Below, a Bizet flashmob in Paris.

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Accidental hooks

prado cherry pink

Popular records often include accidents, indicating something about the flexibility of musical practices and the limits of theories. Musical hooks provide useful test-cases because they are normally considered the least accidental part of a song.

One imagines the hook emerging fully formed in a moment of inspiration—the catchy phrase that comes into a songwriter’s head—or at least of calculation: But hooks sometimes incorporate accidents or happen accidentally. If hooks are less than completely determinate, then every aspect of a popular record must be subject to contingency.

This according to “Accidents, hooks, and theory” by Charles Kronengold (Popular music XXIV/3 [October 2005] pp. 381–397).

Above and below, Pérez Prado’s Cherry pink and apple blossom white, one of the examples cited in the article. The intended hook was the prominent trumpet lip slurs; the accidental hook, which made the record a number one U.S. hit in 1955, was Prado’s occasional interpolated vocalizations.

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Filed under Curiosities, Popular music, Reception

k.d. lang’s “So in love”

k d lang so in love

On this Valentine’s Day let’s look at how two ways of performing Cole Porter’s So in love illustrate how musical language can be used strategically to represent and signify constructs of gender and power.

The customary torch-song presentation, as used in the 1953 Hollywood film version of Kiss me Kate directed by George Sidney, is a traditional patriarchal narrative; k.d. lang’s 1991 video cover, by contrast, clearly defies traditional societal gender values.

This according to “Genre, gender, and convention revisited: k.d. lang’s cover of Cole Porter’s So in love” by Lori Burns (repercussions VII–VIII [spring–fall 1999–2000] pp. 299–325).

Above, a still from lang’s video; below, Kathryn Grayson and Howard Keel in the 1953 film; further below, lang introduces her version.

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Journal of world popular music

Journal of world popular music

Launched by Equinox in 2014, Journal of world popular music is a peer-reviewed academic journal that publishes research and scholarship on recent issues and debates surrounding international popular musics, also known as world music, global pop, world beat, or, more recently, world music 2.0.

The journal provides a forum for exploring the manifestations and impacts of post-globalizing trends, processes, and dynamics surrounding these musics today. It adopts an open-minded perspective, including in its scope any local popularized musics of the world, commercially available music of non-Western origin, musics of ethnic minorities, and contemporary fusions or collaborations with local traditional or roots musics with Western pop and rock musics.

Placing specific emphasis on contemporary, interdisciplinary, and international perspectives, the journal’s special features include empirical research and scholarship on the global creative and music industries, the participants of world music, the musics themselves, and their representations in all media forms today, among other relevant themes and issues, alongside explorations of recent ideas and perspectives from popular music, ethnomusicology, anthropology, musicology, communication, media and cultural studies, sociology, geography, art and museum studies, and other fields with a scholarly focus on world music.

Along with regular articles that focus on the study of world music in all its forms from a variety of academic and other perspectives, the journal also features alternative means of representing research and scholarship through creative and visual means such as photography, poetry, and artwork, and audio and video means through an accompanying website. It also includes reviews of relevant books, special issues, magazines, CDs, websites, DVDs, online music releases, exhibitions, artwork, radio programs, and world music festivals.

Below, a performance by Yothu Yindi, the subject of one of the articles in the inaugural issue.

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Filed under New periodicals, Popular music