During the turbulent decades of the 1970s and 1980s, Papua New Guinea gained political independence from a colonial hold that had lasted almost a century. It was an exciting time for a diverse group of pioneering musicians who formed a band they named Sanguma.
These Melanesian artists heard an imagined future and performed it during a socially and politically critical time for the region. They were united under one goal: to create a sound that represented the birth of a new, sovereign, and distinctly Melanesian nation; and to express their values, identities, and cosmology through their music and performance.
Sanguma’s experimental music sounded the complex expectations and pressures of their modern nation and helped to steer its postcolonial journey through music. Drawing from rock, jazz, and nascent world music influences, Sanguma reached audiences far from their home nation, introducing the world to modern music, Melanesia-style, with its fusion of old and new, local and global.
Their performances ranged from ensembles of Melanesian log drums (garamuts) to extended songs and improvisations involving electric guitars, synthesizers, saxophone, trumpet, bamboo percussion, panpipes, and kuakumba flutes. The band sang in a variety of local vernacular languages, as well as in Tok Pisin and English. To further emphasize their ancestral style, the musicians wore decorative headdresses and body decorations from all around the nation.
This according to Hearing the future: The music and magic of the Sanguma band by Denis Crowdy (Honolulu: University of Hawaiʻi Press, 2016).
Below, excerpts from live performances.
Writing in 1945, Willis Laurence James recalled giving a lecture demonstration attended by Eubie Blake:
I sang a florid Negro cry. Eubie Blake leaped halfway from his seat and yelled “Oh, professor, professor, you hit me, you hit me!”
He placed both hands over his heart and continued with great emotion: “You make me think of my dear mother. She always sang like that. I can hear her now. Thaťs the stuff I was raised on.” He sat down quietly, except for a deep sigh that had no audible competition from anyone.
Blake was a living testimony to the influences that had made him musically unique even without formal training (which he did not acquire until he was old and famous and did not really need it). He knew all along that it was the cry that had guided him.
Quoted from “Cries in speech and song” by Willis Laurence James (Black sacred music IX/1–2  pp. 16–34).
Above, an undated photograph of Blake from the Maryland Historical Society; below, James demonstrates two florid cries.
Audio recordings of Balinese kecak performances are de- and re-contextualized in two landmark films: Federico Fellini’s Satyricon (1969) and Joel and Ethan Coen’s Blood simple (1984).
Kecak’s use in these soundtracks is a case of schizophonic transmogrification: the rematerialization and thorough reinvention of people and places whose voices and sounds, as inscribed on sound recordings, have been separated from their original sources of identity and meaning and resituated in entirely alien contexts—real or imaginary or somewhere in between.
This according to “The abduction of the signifying monkey chant: Schizophonic transmogrifications of Balinese kecak in Fellini’s Satyricon and the Coen Brothers’ Blood simple” by Michael Bakan (Ethnomusicology forum XVIII/1 [June 2009] pp. 83–106).
Above, a performance of kecak in Bali. Below, the Minotaur scene from Satyricon; further below, the failed abduction scene from Blood simple.
Every year from Christmas to Epiphany, the communities descended from the African slaves who mined gold for the Spaniards celebrate the Adoraciones al Niño-Diós in the Andean valleys of Cauca in southwestern Colombia.
The celebrants sing and dance until dawn in front of a creche set up in one of the village houses. A group of six musicians, unusual because it includes violins, accompanies the women who are the singers and the leaders of the ritual.
The tradition is documented on the CD Colombie: Adoration à l’enfant-Dieu (Département du Cauca) (VDE-Gallo 1349 ). Below, a brief documentary on Auroras al Amanecer, the group featured in the recordings.
The Board of Directors of the Répertoire International de Littérature Musicale (RILM) joins other music organizations and societies in their condemnation of the Trump administration’s Executive Order of 27 January 2017 suspending entry of all refugees to the United States for 120 days, barring Syrian refugees indefinitely, and blocking entry into the United States for 90 days for citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen).
For fifty years, RILM’s mission has been to facilitate and disseminate music research produced and published in any country of the world. This goal has been fulfilled through a close collaboration between RILM’s International Center in New York City, RILM’s national committees, and scholars doing musicological research anywhere in the world. RILM’s Board of Directors and the staff at the International Center greatly value such international collaboration and consider it essential for an accurate representation of global music scholarship.
RILM’s goal is to represent music scholarship in its bibliographic databases as inclusively as possible. We value diversity and support free inquiry in music of all cultures and religions. The ban directly jeopardizes our collaboration with scholars from Muslim countries and might impact RILM’s collaboration with scholars anywhere in the world. As free thinking cannot be suppressed by imposing arbitrary limitations on movement, we are inviting members of the scholarly community around the world to contribute to RILM’s bibliographic database with additional entries for articles concerning music and Islam. Although this effort cannot relieve the hardship experienced by the good people affected by the ban, it can demonstrate the achievements of their communities and represent their music culture through writings by scholars worldwide. The bibliographic records can be submitted at http://rilm.org/submissions/.
Тhe Board of Directors
Répertoire International de Littérature Musicale
February 8th, 2017
Émile Waldteufel (1837–1915) served as pianist to Empress Eugénie and was renowned as a composer of elegant polkas, waltzes, and other occasional pieces. His Pluie d’or valse (Golden shower waltz, op. 160) is one of several of his works that won acclaim beyond the court of Napoleon III.
Further information on Waldteufel and his family can be found in Skaters’ waltz: The story of the Waldteufels by Andrew Lamb (Croydon: Fullers Wood Press, 1995).
Below, a vintage recording.
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 77,000 times in 2015. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 3 days for that many people to see it.
Click here to see the complete report.
The specification of instruments in vocal-instrumental compositions began in the final decades of the 16th century in Italy and gained momentum in the early decades of the 17th, including in church music. Trombones, in particular, were increasingly specified and often used interchangeably with voices.
Seventeenth-century Italian motets with trombones, edited by D. Linda Pearse, (Middleton: A-R Editions, 2014) is a new edition of concerted motets composed between 1600 and 1640 with explicitly labelled parts for trombones; the works are small scale, containing fewer than eight parts (excluding basso continuo). Unlike other editions of similar repertoire, the works selected here provide a representative sample of a significant repertoire and present music of high quality by lesser-known composers whose output is largely unavailable.
Below, Carlo Fillago’s Confitemini Domino, one of the motets included in this edition, performed by ¡Sacabuche!
It is no longer accurate to call Elvis Costello a rock star. Rather, he is a professional omnivore—a master, for better and worse, of eclecticism.
Costello presents himself as much as a fan as a participant, and his participation is relentless. He has evolved into one of the most spirited accomplices in tribute gigs, variety evenings, and extracurricular combinations.
This according to “Brilliant mistakes: Elvis Costello’s boundless career” by Nick Paumgarten (The New Yorker LXXXVI/35 [8 November 2010] pp. 48–59.
Today is Costello’s 60th birthday! Above, receiving an honorary doctorate and some Red Sox memorabilia at New England Conservatory in 2013; below, at the Montreal Jazz Festival in 2006.
BONUS: Back in the day.
In 2013 Diaphanes launched the series Thinking resistances: Current perspectives on politics and communities in the arts with Dance, politics & co-immunity.
The volume explores the multiple connections between politics, community, dance, and globalization from the perspectives of dance, theater studies, history, philosophy, and sociology. Edited by Gerald Siegmund and Stefan Hölscher, the collection comprises papers presented at an international symposium with the same title that was held in 2010 at Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen.
Below, an excerpt from Xavier Le Roy’s Le sacre du printemps, one of the works discussed in the book.