What is partnered social dance but a ritualized embodiment of the battle of the sexes? The inevitable symbolism of women and men moving and touching, from 18th-century cotillions and reels, to 19th-century European style waltzes, to the ragtime dances of the early 20th century, has repeatedly ignited accompanying public discourses rife with vexed questions about sexuality, gender roles, class, race, morality, and modernity.
The dramatic metaphoric possibilities of social dance reached one extreme in the danse apache of the early 20th century, which was a stylized imagining of the violent lifestyle of Parisian pimps and prostitutes. Here a male and female dancer participated in a dummy display of violence and sexual attraction, combining one-step dancing with gymnastics and theater.
This dance was appropriated by professionals, often as a cabaret act, and was interpolated into several films—sometimes mistaken for real violence by other characters that try to intervene to comic effect. Pretense or not, the footage of this dance displays an alarming level of violence that makes us fear for the dancers’ well-being.
This according to “Dancing with a vengeance: Ritualized sexual aggression in social dance of the ragtime era and beyond” by Eden E. Kainer, an essay included in Dance and the social city (Birmingham: Society of Dance History Scholars, 2012, pp. 141–148).
Above, souvenirs of a reconstructed danse apache from the early 1950s; below, a film from 1934.
In his youth Frankie Yankovic moved from nearby South Euclid to Cleveland, Ohio, the capital of one of the two main branches of the American polka tradition, known as Cleveland-Slovenian. There he became proficient in accordion playing, and eventually established his own band, the Slovene Folk Orchestra.
After World War II, with the Yanks, he scored a crossover sensation with Just because, and for a while it seemed that his dream that “polkas should…be as popular as rumbas” could be realized. In spite of several “official” retirements, Yankovic continued to perform into his 80s.
This according to “Frank Yankovic, long reigning polka king, is dead at 83” by Ben Ratliff (The New York times CXLVIII/51,311 [15 October 1998] p. B:12).
Today would have been Yankovic’s 100th birthday! Below, Frankie Yankovic and his Yanks in 1985.
Per Nørgårds skrifter online is an archive of nearly 500 writings, arranged alphabetically by article title. Full text is available for nearly 400 items. A chronological work list, 1949–2012, is included, along with a full biography of the composer.
The site is sponsored by Det Kongelige Bibliotek and edited by Ivan Hansen.
Above, Nørgård in his studio in 2010; below, the finale of his 8th symphony (2011).
Tanzanian zilipendwa is a look-over-the-shoulder metagenre whose musical subject is a moving target dependent on the current time reference.
The term was initially reserved for east and central African dance music chestnuts popular during the 1960s and early 1970s post-Independence period, but it recently encompasses the music of the mid-1970s through late 1980s, a time generally associated with the Socialist policies of Julius Nyerere.
Fans of zilipendwa are most eloquent about its value in their lives when making humorous generational distinctions with Bongo Flava, the region’s hip hop and R&B. Zilipendwa fans are also quick to demonstrate their affinity through physical expression, dancing a style known as serebuka, translated as “blissful expressive dance”.
Recently popularized on the television show Bongo Star Search, serebuka dancers take to the floor and bounce off the walls with a coterie of enthusiastic free moves and styles (mitindo) covering fifty years of popular music history.
Nostalgia for zilipendwa is far from being a melancholic rumination over days long past; it is enacted instead for the sake of health and community well-being. Zilipendwa is a conscious act towards musicking the values of a fading era, creating temporary autonomous zones where the perceived chaos and noise of neoliberal globalization are now waiting to rush in.
This according to “‘Rhumba kiserebuka!’: Evoking embodied temporalities through Tanzanian zilipendwa” by Frank Gunderson (The world of music (new series) III/1  pp. 11–23).
Above, Juwata Jazz Band, a popular zilipendwa group; below, the U.S.-based zilipendwa artist Samba Mapangangala. (Don’t worry—the music and dancing start pretty soon, and they’re worth the wait!)
BONUS! Some schoolboys getting down to zilipendwa in the great outdoors.
Natale Monferrato was maestro di cappella at the Basilica Cattedrale Patriarcale Metropolitana Primaziale di San Marco Evangelista in Venice from 1676 to 1685.
An obscure figure of early Baroque history, Monferrato (who trained under Claudio Monteverdi, Giovanni Rovetta, and Francesco Cavalli, among others) was, in fact, responsible for restoring discipline and musical standards in a chapel that had long succumbed to secular decay.
The type of Mass composition most commonly sung at San Marco was the a cappella form, as distinct from the messa concertata. Musicologists have long relied on a small corpus of music—notably containing two works by Monteverdi—for appraising the a cappella style at the 17th-century chapel.
In 2014 A-R Editions issued Natale Monferrato: Complete Masses, a definitive edition of Monferrato’s Masses. This edition—a total of eight settings from the composer’s opuses 13 and 19—provides a major boost to musical scholarship by presenting the most substantial testimony to the cathedral’s daily ritual during the Baroque era.
Below, Monferrato’s setting of Lauda Jerusalem.
Some commentators have suggested that the films of Walt Disney led to the emergence of the youth counterculture in the 1960s.
The Disney film Dumbo (1941), particularly the sequence in which Dumbo the baby elephant mistakenly drinks alcohol, has a psychedelic dream, and learns to fly, is a case in point. The song Pink elephants on parade can be interpreted as an unleashing of Dumbo’s creative potential.
This according to “Disney psychedelisch: Musik und Rausch im Zeichentrickfilm” by Gregor Herzfeld (Acta musicologica LXXXVI/1  pp. 125–146). Below, Dumbo’s dream.
American choral music, 1870–1922, a new open-access online resource, is a collaboration between the Library of Congress and the Choral Directors Association (ACDA).
In 2007 the ACDA and the Library began a collaborative effort to create a website devoted to choral music that would present music in the public domain, available for users to download. The site serves to highlight the collections of sheet music in the Library of Congress and to advance and promote the performance of choral music.
The 76 works presented are limited to a period beginning shortly after the Civil War and ending in 1922. The music selected reflects the diversity of choral music in the collections written during the later 19th- and early 20th centuries and includes accompanied, a cappella, sacred, and secular works for mixed choirs, women’s and men’s ensembles, and children’s choruses.
Below, Amy Beach’s Through the house give glimmering light, one of the works included on the site.
Oscar Hammerstein’s Americanization of Georges Bizet’s Carmen—68 years after its premiere—altered its form from the operatic genre to that of musical theater and transformed the place and time to a setting more familiar to a Broadway audience.
Instead of playing in Seville, Carmen Jones takes place in a city of the American South, African Americans become the sociological equivalent of Spanish gypsies, and the cigarette factory becomes the more topical World War II army parachute factory.
The change from bullfighting to boxing, a spectator sport that had become increasingly popular in America since the 1890s, demonstrates how Hammerstein distances the Carmen story from the world of Prosper Mérimée’s novella without diminishing its universal constants of human tragedy.
This according to “Carmen am Broadway: Oscar Hammersteins Carmen Jones” by Manfred Siebald, an essay included in Caecilia, Tosca, Carmen: Brüche und Kontinuitäten im Verhältnis von Musik und Welterleben (Tübingen: Francke Verlag, 2006, pp. 225–234).
Today is Hammerstein’s 120th birthday! Above, a portrait by Abbey Altson from 1943, the year of Carmen Jones’s premiere; below, the trailer for Otto Preminger’s 1954 film version.
Classical guitar music in printed collections is an online, continuously updateable index to classical guitar repertoire in published collections and anthologies.
This open-access resource is intended for use in libraries and by aficionados of the instrument, and takes as its model and inspiration various print indexes of repertoire in collections. Entries are indexed by composer, work, and publication, and each entry includes an incipit and a link to the source collection.
Above, a screenshot showing two listings for guitar transcriptions of John Dowland’s The most sacred Queen Elizabeth, her Galliard; below, a performance of the work.
The huge national prominence of popular music and soap operas in Brazil places both entertainment products as fundamental vectors of the social sharing of codes, values, lifestyles, and behavior.
For example, the interconnection between the song Você não vale nada mas eu gosto de você (You are worthless, but I like you) and the character Norminha in the soap opera Caminho das Índias amplified a deep media debate about morality and sexuality, tempered with doses of humor and sympathy.
Through the plot and the soundtrack, a significant segment of Brazilian society interacted with strategies of sexual behavior as juxtaposed in the narrative with the vibrant sounds of electronic forró.
This according to “Sexualidad, moral y humor en la telenovela brasileña actual: Casamiento, traición, seducción y simpatía” by Felipe Trotta (TRANS: Revista transcultural de música/Transcultural music review 15 ).
Above, Dira Paes as Norminha; below, Você não vale nada with stills from the show.