Category Archives: RILM

Preparing for concerts and competitions using RILM Abstracts of Music Literature with Full Text: A performer’s perspective

The Schoenfeld International String Competition is a prestigious event that challenges musicians to deliver exceptional performances, often requiring deep cultural and historical understanding of the pieces they play. One such piece, “陕北民歌-山丹丹开花红艳艳(编曲:薛澄潜;配器:朱彬 (Shǎn běi míngē-shān dān dān kāihuā hóngyànyàn biān qǔ: Xuēchéngqián; pèiq: Zhū bīn [Shanbei folk song–Red and bright lilies])”, arranged by Xue Chengqian and orchestrated by Zhu Bin for the 2023 violin competition, demands a nuanced interpretation rooted in the rich traditions of Chinese folk music. The song, as indicated by the competition, features a strong Chinese folk style, with sound effects imitating the morin huur (horse-head fiddle) and a timeless, beautiful melody. Using RILM Abstracts of Music Literature with Full Text can provide invaluable resources for better understanding and preparing this piece. 

Researching Shanbei folk music

To begin, it is crucial to understand the cultural and historical context of Shanbei folk music. Shanbei, or northern Shaanxi province, is known for its distinctive folk songs, characterized by unique melodic structures and singing techniques. Articles like “陕北民歌演唱技巧探究 (Shanbei min’ge yanchang jiqiao tanjiu [Singing technique in northern Shaanxi traditional song])” by Wang Xinhui (Yuefu xin sheng: Shenyang Yinyue Xueyuan xuebao/The new voice of yue-fu: The academic periodical of Shenyang Conservatory of Music 1:75 [spring 2002] 54-59; RILM Abstracts of Music Literature 2002-23054) provide an excellent starting point. The abstract indicates that the article delves into the vocal techniques specific to Shanbei folk songs, such as the use of pingqiang (平腔, “flat singing”) and gaoqiang (高腔, high-pitched singing), as well as the balance between true and falsetto voices. Accessing the full text allows for a deeper understanding of these techniques, which are essential for delivering an authentic performance.

Additionally,“从合唱<陕北民歌五首>看陕北民歌合唱队的历史影响 (Cong hechang “Shanbei min’ge wu shou” kan Shanbei Min’ge Hechangdui de lishi yingxiang [History and influences of Shanbei Min’ge Hechangdui: Shanbei min’ge wu shou as an example])” by Liao Jianbing Jiaoxiang: Xi’an Yinyue Xueyuan xuebao/Jiaoxiang: Journal of Xi’an Conservatory of Music 2:140 [summer 2013] 85-90; RILM Abstracts of Music Literature 2013-8124) offers insights into the historical significance and adaptation of Shanbei folk songs. The abstract and full text discuss how these songs were arranged for choral performances, providing context that can inform the interpretation of Shanbei folk song–Red and bright lilies.

Analyzing the composition and arrangement

Understanding the specific arrangement and orchestration by Xue and Zhu requires examining the compositional techniques they employed. Articles that discuss the arrangement and orchestration of similar pieces can offer valuable parallels. For example, examining how traditional elements are maintained or transformed in contemporary settings is crucial. 

The article “从陕北民歌同源变体关系看苦音宫调的构成 (Cong Shanbei min’ge tongyuan bianti guanxi kan kuyin gongdiao de goucheng [An exploration of the form of the kuyin mode in terms of the homologous variant relationship in northern Shaanxi folk songs])” by Yang Shanwu Jiaoxiang: Xi’an Yinyue Xueyuan xuebao/Jiaoxiang: Journal of Xi’an Conservatory of Music 3:137 [autumn 2012] 17-24; RILM Abstracts of Music Literature 2012-18701) is particularly relevant. It discusses the kuyin mode, a modal system characterized by slightly sharped fourth and flatted seventh degrees, which is prevalent in Shanbei folk music. This modal understanding can be directly applied to the analysis of Shanbei folk song–Red and bright lilies, aiding in grasping its melodic and harmonic structure.

Synthesizing information for performance

Having gathered detailed information on the cultural context, vocal techniques, and compositional structure, the next step is to synthesize this knowledge into a cohesive performance strategy. This involves integrating the historical and theoretical insights into practical applications during practice sessions.

For instance, incorporating the singing techniques discussed in“从合唱<陕北民歌五首>看陕北民歌合唱队的历史影响 (Shanbei min’ge yanchang jiqiao tanjiu)” can enhance the authenticity of the performance. Practicing the transitions between pingqiang and gaoqiang will help in achieving the characteristic sound of Shanbei folk music. Additionally, understanding the kuyin mode from the article by Yang Shanwu can guide the interpretation of the melodic lines, ensuring they resonate with the traditional Shanbei sound.

In a similar way, instrumental musicians and performers can leverage the extensive resources available through RILM Abstracts of Music Literature with Full Text to deepen their understanding of the pieces they play. By accessing scholarly articles that provide historical context, technical analysis, and cultural insights, musicians can enrich their interpretations and performances. This scholarly approach not only enhances their technical proficiency but also allows them to connect more deeply with the music’s heritage and artistic intentions, ultimately leading to more informed and compelling performances.

–Written by Laurentia Woo, a RILM intern and currently a junior at Columbia Preparatory School. Laurentia also studies violin with Professor Li Lin at the Pre-College division of the Juilliard School.

Below is a performance of Xue Chengqian’s Song of praise by South Korean violinist Bomsori Kim at the 2016 Schoenfeld International String Competition.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Asia, Performers, Resources, RILM, World music

A landmark resource in ethnomusicology

The Garland encyclopedia of world music was first issued between 1988 and 1994 by Garland Publishing as a ten-volume series of encyclopedias of world music, organized geographically by continent. An updated second edition appeared between 1998 and 2002. Widely regarded as an authoritative academic source for ethnomusicology, the series features contributions from top researchers in the field globally.

RILM Music Encyclopedias includes volumes from the series on Africa (edited by Ruth M. Stone), The United States and Canada (edited by Ellen Koskoff), Southeast Asia (edited by Terry E. Miller and Sean Williams), South Asia: The Indian Subcontinent (edited by Alison Arnold), The Middle East (edited by Virginia Danielson), East Asia: China, Japan, and Korea (edited by Robert Provine), and Australia and the Pacific Islands (edited by Adrienne L. Kaeppler). Each volume consists of three sections that cover the major topics of a region from broad general issues to specific music practices, introductions to each region, its culture, and its music as well as a survey of previous music scholarship and research; major issues and processes that link the regions musically, and detailed accounts of individual music cultures. The special tenth volume compiles reference tools, criteria for inclusion into the series, and information about the encyclopedia’s structure and organization.

The entries synthesize in-depth fieldwork conducted since the 1960s, as well as recordings, analysis, and documentation. The publication is generally considered a landmark achievement in ethnomusicology. While ethnomusicologists may appreciate The Garland for its critically designed components, non-ethnomusicologists can embrace the encyclopedia for its capacity to serve as a primer on world music.

Find the Garland encyclopedia of world music in RILM Music Encyclopedias.

Comments Off on A landmark resource in ethnomusicology

Filed under Ethnomusicology, Resources, RILM, World music

Sly Stone, funk, and Black church aesthetics

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Sly and the Family Stone were pioneers of funk music. Different from other funk acts of that era, Sly and the Family Stone’s funk variant fused psychedelic rock stylings with classic soul, and in that sense, their style differed considerably from the bass-heavy grooves of mainstream funk. The band’s success on the pop charts as well as with urban Black youth made the group especially influential, especially evident in the music of crossover giants such as George Clinton, Rick James, and Prince.

As the band’s creative force, Texas-native Sylvester Stewart (better known as Sly Stone) developed an impressive music business resumé in San Francisco in the mid-1960s, excelling as a radio disc jockey, songwriter, and record producer for the likes of he Beau Brummels, Bobby Freeman, and the Mojo Men. His first attempt at heading a group, the Stoners, failed in 1966; however, Sly and the Family Stone, which included his brother, guitarist Freddie Stone and sister Rosie Stone, who sang and played keyboards and harmonica, and a cousin, bassist Larry Graham drew sufficient attention locally in 1967 to garner a contract from Epic Records.

Sly and the Family Stone played a crucial role in introducing Black church aesthetics to mainstream popular music audiences in the late 1960s. Sly introduced secular audiences to what James Cleveland called “the Sanctified Church” through his personal experiences in the Black Pentecostal church. In the foreground of Sly’s work was the recording Stand! (1969), particularly the single I want to take you higher. Furthermore, the band’s integrated gender and racial demographic along with an overall message that all people need to work together in harmony represent the epitome of post-Civil Rights culture. In a 2023 interview, Sly spoke about his work and the transformative power of music. According to him, “I know music can always make a difference. I knew it back when I was [a radio DJ]. People would call into the station and say that they wanted me to play this song or that song and I could tell how much it meant to them. That was what we wanted to do with the music that we made. That’s what we did.”

Sly Stone turns 81 on 15 March 2024.

Read the full entry on Sly and the Family Stone in the Encyclopedia of recorded sound (2005; find it in RILM Music Encyclopedias), and in “Sly Stone and the sanctified church” by Mark Anthony Neal, an essay included in The funk era and beyond: New perspectives on Black popular culture (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008; find it in RILM Abstracts of Music Literature).

Below, Sly and the Family Stone perform If you want me to stay on the television show Soul train circa 1970.

Comments Off on Sly Stone, funk, and Black church aesthetics

Filed under From the archives, Performers, Popular music

Towards global knowledge, decolonization, and preservation

On 9 February 2024, RILM presents a panel titled “Towards Global Knowledge, Decolonization, and Preservation—Challenges and Opportunities Through Culture and Arts Education” as part of the UNESCO World Conference on Culture and Arts Education 2024. The four presentations in this side event are all rooted in the understanding that information literacy is a fundamental pillar in education—each presentation pivots on the notion of global knowledge as a foundation of culture and arts education. After RILM Director Tina Frühauf opens the panel with discussion of a broader theoretical framework, the second presentation by Executive Editor Zdravko Blažeković examines RILM as a model that underlines the importance of a global approach to information literacy. The following presentation by RILM Associate Editor Farah Zahra presents a local perspective, using the case of Iraqi literature and knowledge as an example. The final presentation by RILM Editor MU Qian highlights decolonization (understood here as an ongoing process) as an additional objective for the UNESCO Framework for Culture and Arts Education, taking the treatment of Uygur culture as a case in point.

For further information on RILM’s panel and information on joining the presentation, please visit https://www.rilm.org/wccae2024/

For more information on UNESCO World Conference on Culture and Arts Education 2024, visit https://www.unesco.org/en/wccae2024?hub=86510

Also, be sure to check out RILM’s resources for learning including materials for teachers, students, performers, and music researchers interested in RILM’s rich music databases, research tools, and full-text publications. Learn more at https://www.rilm.org/classrooms/

Comments Off on Towards global knowledge, decolonization, and preservation

Filed under Music education, RILM, RILM news

Max Roach, jazz drummer and Civil Rights activist

Referred to as the “dean of modern jazz drumming,” Max Roach spent his formative years in Brooklyn and received a degree in composition from the Manhattan School. While still in his teens, Roach became one of the innovators of the bop drumming style at jazz fountainheads such as Minton’s Playhouse and Clark Monroe’s Uptown House in Harlem. Among his collaborators have been Coleman Hawkins (with whom he made his first recording in 1944), Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, and many others. Known for his melodic, formally structured solos, and compositional experimentation, Roach moved from bop to cool and free jazz styles, and his creative talents were recognized with commissions and awards from various sources, including the MacArthur Foundation and Down Beat magazine.

Roach’s We insist! Freedom now suite, recorded in 1960, moves from depictions of slavery to Emancipation to the Civil Rights struggle and African independence. The work draws on both long-standing symbols of African American cultural identity and a more immediate historical context. It is a modernist work as well, as Roach and his musicians used African and African American legacies in new and novel ways. In a 1987 interview, Roach commented on whether by the time he recorded the Freedom now suite, he had become a Civil Rights activist:

“Well, I guess [Black jazz musicians] always have been [activists], you know? I go back to Bessie Smith with Black mountain blues and then to Duke Ellington’s Black, brown and beige. It’s always been there. Leadbelly always spoke about the issues and the times that existed. And many of the old Black folk singers from the South to street musicians dealt with it. I’ve always been an activist. At that time [in the 1960s], my children were young. But you’re always thinking about their future as well. And if they’re going to come up and be responsible human beings, they have to have education, and the things like everyone else has. And society has to accommodate that. So, I guess I’ve always been activist because of them.”

Listen to the entire We insist! Freedom now suite recording below.

Decades after its initial release, the Freedom now suite remains fresh and significant, foregrounding the ways that jazz has been in consistent dialogue with social and cultural movements, and has been at its most inspired when engaged in social commentary.

Celebrate the beginning of Black History Month by reading the entry on Max Roach in Percussionists: A biographical dictionary (2000, RILM Music Encyclopedias) and “Revisited! The Freedom now suite” by Ingrid Monson (JazzTimes XXXI/7 [September 2001], 54–59.

Below is a performance of We insist! by Abbey Lincoln and the Max Roach group in 1964.

Comments Off on Max Roach, jazz drummer and Civil Rights activist

Filed under Black studies, From the archives, Jazz and blues, North America, Politics, Popular music

New resources for RILM Music Encyclopedias

New for 2024! RILM Music Encyclopedias has just added four new titles to its continuously growing collection of historic and current reference works. Embrace a global scope in your research with new, multilingual, full-text content for a new year. Here is a list of the new resources.

Felipe Pedrell, gen. ed. Diccionario técnico de la música (1st ed.; Barcelona: Isidro Torres Oriol, 1894) xix, 529 p. In Spanish.

Felipe Pedrell, gen. ed. Diccionario biográfico y bibliográfico de músicos y escritores de música españoles, portugueses e hispano-americanos antiguos y modernos: Acopio de datos y documentos para servir a la historia del arte musical en nuestra nación (1st ed.; Barcelona: Tipografía de Víctor Berdós y Feliú, 1897) 2 vols., xix, 715 p., 88 p. In Spanish.

Nancy Groce. Musical Instrument Makers of New York: A Directory of the Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Urban Craftsmen (Stuyvesant, NY: Pendragon Press, 1991) xxi, 200 p. In English.

Warren Bebbington, ed. A Dictionary of Australian Music (Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1998) xiv, 361 p. In English.

Start your search in RILM Music Encyclopedias.

Comments Off on New resources for RILM Music Encyclopedias

Filed under Ethnomusicology, Literature, Musicology, RILM

Lionel Hampton brings the beat

Lionel Hampton is known to be responsible for popularizing the vibraphone in the jazz genre. Hampton grew up in Birmingham, Alabama and moved to the Chicago area in 1916, where learned snare drum from a nun at the Holy Rosary Academy in Kenosha, Wisconsin. He first performed as a member of the Chicago Defender Newsboys Band and later studied xylophone with Jimmy Bertrand and drums with Clifford Jones.

After making his debut on drums in 1923 with Louis Armstrong’s backup band (Les Hite) in Culver City, California, Hampton moved to Los Angeles in 1927 and worked with the Spikes Brothers, Paul Howard’s Quality Serenaders, and the Louis Armstrong/Les Hite Band (1930-34), making what is regarded as the first recorded vibraphone solo, on Memories of you, with Armstrong in 1930. Legend has it that Armstrong saw a set of vibes in a room and asked Hampton if he knew how to play them; Hampton immediately responded by playing Armstrong’s entire trumpet solo from Big butter and egg man as an audition!

Jazz critics and fans who admired other aspects of Hampton’s musicianship also criticized him for his raw blues riffing, hard backbeat, screaming and honking saxophones, and stunts like marching into the audience with his horn players while getting the audience to clap along. As Hampton explained in a 1987 interview, “I learned all that in the Sanctified Church: the beat, the handclapping, marching down the aisles and into the audience. When I was six or seven and temporarily living with my grandmother in Birmingham, Alabama, she’d take me to the Holiness Church services, not just on Sundays but all the time. They’d have a whole band in the church–guitars, trombones, saxophones, drums–and they’d be rocking. I’d be sitting by the sister who was playing the big bass drum, and when she’d get happy and start dancing in the aisle, I’d grab that bass drum and start in on that beat. After that, I always had that beat in me.”

Hampton formed his first big band in 1940, toured throughout the world in the 1950s, and introduced new talent to U.S. audiences including Betty Carter, Dinah Washington, and Joe Williams. It is also believed that he was the first to incorporate the electric organ and electric bass in a jazz group. Due to financial issues, he dissolved the big band in the 1960s and established a touring sextet in 1965. His long career also included several film appearances, including  A song is born (1948), The Benny Goodman story (1955), and Rooftops of New York (1960).

Read on in an entry on Lionel Hampton in Percussionists: A biographical dictionary (2000, RILM Music Encyclopedias) and  “Lionel Hampton, who put swing in the vibraphone, is dead at 94” by Peter Watrous (The New York times CLI/52,228 [1 September 2002]).

Listen to Hampton on vibraphone on a recording of Buzzin’ around with the bee below.

Comments Off on Lionel Hampton brings the beat

Filed under From the archives, Jazz and blues, Performers, Popular music

Comic farce and the operatic satire of Borodin

Italian opera has played an important role in Russian musical life since the early 17th century, but by the 19th century it was being promoted there more than Russian opera. In retaliation, Russian composers used their operas to make fun of Italian opera’s stock situations and styles, and brought Russian opera back into prominence.

For example, in his early comic farce Богатыри (Bogatyri, Heroic warriors), Alexander Borodin used familiar music and arias from Italian and French operas (by Rossini, Verdi, Offenbach, Meyerbeer, and others) to set up situations where the original intention of the music and its new setting were at humorous extremes.

Read more in “Italians in a Russian manner: One step from serious to funny” by Svetlana Sergeevna Martynova (Fontes artis musicae LVI/1 [January–March 2009] pp. 1–6). This post originally appeared in Bibliolore 10 years ago this week.

Below is the opening of his B-minor symphony, which Massine used for his ballet Bogatyri, illustrated with images of the heroic warriors of Russian folklore.

Comments Off on Comic farce and the operatic satire of Borodin

Filed under From the archives, Humor, Opera

Bach or the Devil (revisited)

During his life, Bach was primarily known as a dazzling organist with virtuoso improvising abilities. Not surprisingly, his prowess gave rise to a number of urban legends.

One such legend had him traveling incognito, dressed as a village schoolmaster, going from church to church to try out the organs—prompting one local organist to cry out, “I don’t know who’s playing, but it’s either Bach or the Devil!”

Read on in “Tod und Teufel” by Frieder Reininghaus, an essay included in Bach-ABC (Sinzig: Studio-Verlag, 2007, pp. 91–93). This post originally appeared in Bibliolore on March 21, 2015 but it seems appropriate for Halloween 2023.

Below is the tocatta and fugue in D minor, BWV 565, which is also always appropriate for Halloween!

Comments Off on Bach or the Devil (revisited)

Filed under Baroque era, Europe, From the archives

RILM releases 3rd edition of How to Write About Music

On 10 March 2023 Répertoire International de Littérature Musicale (RILM) released the third edition of How to Write About Music: The RILM Manual of Style, edited by James R. Cowdery, as an ebook.

The manual addresses a multitude of special problems faced by writers on music—problems rarely solved by general writing guides. It applies an international perspective to matters often handled piecemeal and in ethnocentric fashion: work titles, manuscript sources, transliteration, non-Western theoretical systems, opus and catalogue numbers, and pitch and chord names, to name just a few. Detailed guidelines are provided for the bibliographic handling of standard print, audiovisual, and electronic sources, as well as specialized ones such as program notes, liner notes, and music videos. A chapter on indexing is also included. Throughout, abundant examples illustrate each point.

The first edition (2005) reflected many years of experience and thought, working with a wide variety of terms and concepts from around the world; the second edition (2006), roughly one-third larger than the first, included both revisions and new material. This third edition incorporates numerous updates, many of them reflecting developments in writing and publishing over the past 17 years—not least, those involving the online environment. Unlike the earlier printed editions, it is an electronic edition that will be continuously updated.

“Students, scholars, librarians, critics, and performers will find this third edition of the manual indispensable. It takes into account a bibliodiversity hardly found in similar such ventures and is reflective of RILM’s global mission,” writes RILM Executive Director Dr. Tina Frühauf.

How to Write About Music is available through EBSCO’s eBook Collection, on EBSCOhost. For questions and purchase, please contact information@ebsco.com or your EBSCO sales representative.

Comments Off on RILM releases 3rd edition of How to Write About Music

Filed under Resources, RILM, RILM news