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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Filed under New periodicals, Popular music

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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Filed under Resources, Romantic era

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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Filed under Curiosities, Popular music

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

The Deák–Szentes manuscript

A Deák-Szentes kézirat

The Deák–Szentes manuscript includes the most important melodies of the second part of the hymn text collection Cantionale catholicum, compiled by the Franciscan János Kájoni (Ioan Căianu) in 1676, and revised by Balás Ágoston for a new edition in 1719.

These tunes preserve the Székely hymn tradition of Csík, Transylvania, in the customary notation of the 18th century. Along with the songs from Kájoni’s Cantionale, the manuscript contains Masses, Kyries, Baroque hymns, and traditional hymn texts.

Although today the manuscript is incomplete, it has been reconstructed with the help of earlier copies for a new edition: A Deák-Szentes kézirat/The Deák–Szentes manuscript, edited by Réka Kővári (Budapest: Magyarok Nagyasszonya Ferences Rendtartomány, 2013).

Below, a selection from the Cantionale catholicum.

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Filed under Baroque era, New editions

Bob Marley’s œuvre

bob-marley-1980

Throughout Bob Marley’s life, and perhaps even more since his death at the age of 36, his music has demonstrated a unique ability to combine with almost any cultural setting, no matter how different the elements might at first appear. Through his adaptable yet enduring musical messages, he represents an especially articulate type of singer-songwriter.

Marley released a large quantity of introspective, autobiographical material at the height of his success, providing a deep understanding of who he was and what he hoped to achieve through his life and music. Salient themes include protest, revolution, love, hate, biblical concepts, and Rastafari culture.

This according to The words and music of Bob Marley by David Vlado Moskowitz (Westport: Praeger, 2007).

Today would have been Marley’s 70th birthday! Above and below, performing with The Wailers in 1980, the year before his death.

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Filed under Performers, Popular music

Hermit thrush pitch preferences

HermitThrush

The song of the hermit thrush, a common North American songbird, is renowned for its apparent musicality and has attracted the attention of musicians and ornithologists for more than a century.

Recent research has shown that hermit thrush songs, like much human music, use pitches that are mathematically related by simple integer ratios and follow the harmonic series. These findings add to a small but growing body of research showing that a preference for small-integer ratio intervals is not unique to humans; such findings are particularly relevant to the ongoing nature/nurture debate about whether musical predispositions such as the preference for consonant intervals are biologically or culturally driven.

This according to “Overtone-based pitch selection in hermit thrush song: Unexpected convergence with scale construction in human music” by Emily Doolittle, et al. (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America CXI/46 [18 November 2014] pp. 16616–16621).

Below, a hermit thrush video that will fascinate your cats; more recordings, including slowed-down ones, are here.

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Filed under Animals, Curiosities, Science, Theory