Tag Archives: Mass media

Music in media

twilight zone 2

Pendragon Press launched the series Music in media in 2013 with A dimension of sound: Music in “The twilight zone” by Reba Wissner.

Wissner explores the Twilight zone series and offers multiple readings of the ways in which it used music, offering an understanding of the ways in which music—both original and stock—can be used in an anthology television show.

The book focuses both on the ways in which newly composed scores and stock music were used in the series and on how the music enhances and interacts with what we see and hear onscreen.

Below, an abridged version of The invaders (1961), one of Rod Serling’s favorite episodes; no words are spoken until the final scene.

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Filed under 20th- and 21st-century music, New series

The Leonard Bernstein Collection

bernstein tanglewood august 1946

The Leonard Bernstein Collection is a free online resource comprising selections from The Library of Congress’s holdings related to the composer and conductor.

The collection’s more than 400,000 items—including music and literary manuscripts, correspondence, photographs, audio and video recordings, fan mail, and other types of materials—extensively document Bernstein’s extraordinary life and career, making available 85 photographs, 177 scripts from the Young People’s Concerts, 74 scripts from the Thursday Evening Previews, and over 1,100 pieces of correspondence, all browseable or accessible through the collection’s Finding Aid.

Above, Bernstein at the piano at a party at Tanglewood in August 1946 (photographer unknown); below, the opening of the first televised Young People’s Concert.

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Lawrence Welk’s chiffon paradise

 

Lawrence Welk’s hour-long world as presented on The Lawrence Welk show—with its smiling singers, brightly colored sets, color-coordinated male and female outfits, and flawless band performances—were stress-free and wholly detached from the outside world.

His was a sealed-off, accident-free utopia soundtracked by an endless supply of what the maestro called “champagne music”. Once a week, Welk presented viewers with one of the most otherworldly—and most underappreciated—psychedelic chiffon musical paradises ever seen on television.

This according to “The maestro from another planet: In praise of Lawrence Welk’s otherwordly chiffon paradise” by Ken Parille (The believer XII/6 [July-August 2009; online only]).

Today is Welk’s 110th birthday! Below, the maestro celebrates on the dance floor.

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Filed under Popular music

9/11 music

9-11

The music used in the coverage of the aftermath of the events of 11 September 2001 by two leading 24-hour news networks—CNN in the U.S. and CBC Newsworld in Canada—illuminates the politics of news music and puts the subject in a transnational (if specifically North American) perspective.

Distinct musical responses to 9/11 branded each network’s coverage. While CNN’s music communicated a message of fear and anger to American news consumers, Canadians received sounds and images that invoked the horror and tragedy of the event.

Foregrounding the role of music in this comparison adds a revealing dimension to the story of how networks attempt to tap into the personal narratives of viewers, whether to reflect the mood of the country (and thus ensure market share) or to convince the audience of their particular take on the news.

This according to “The sounds of American and Canadian television news after 9/11: Entoning horror and grief, fear and anger” by James A. Deaville, an article included in Music in the post-9/11 world (New York: Routledge, 2007, pp. 43–70).

Below, an excerpt from CNN’s coverage the day after the attacks.

Related article: Music in political ads

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Radio for cows

cows at sunset

The cowboy practice of “singing the cattle down”—the night herder’s soft crooning to quiet the cows for sleep—received a new twist in 1926.

A fan letter sent to WGES in Chicago by Tom Blevins, a Utah cowman, reported that he had set up a portable radio on the range and was treating the cows to urban dance music in the evening.

“It sure is a big saving on the voice” Blevins wrote. “The herd don’t seem to tell the difference. Don’t put on any speeches, though. That’ll stampede ’em sure as shootin’.”

This according to “’Sing down the cattle’ by radio” (Popular radio October 1926, p. 615), which is reprinted in Music, sound, and technology in America: A documentary history of early phonograph, cinema, and radio (Durham: Duke University Press, 2012) p. 279.

Below, evidence suggesting that cows continue to enjoy that era’s dance music.

Related articles:

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An early portable radio

poussette-radio1

On 10 May 1921 student members of the Radio Club at Union College, Schenectady, rigged up a wireless receiving station on a baby carriage with a small megaphone mounted under the hood. A sympathetic mother loaded in her baby, and a student wheeled the carriage into the city’s business district.

At the same time, a young woman at the club’s sending station on the college grounds began singing a lullaby. Her singing was reproduced by the receiver on the carriage as it moved all through the city, for over a mile. Those present reported that the baby was “as good as could be” from start to finish.

This according to “Very latest in wireless: Union College students find a universal lullaby for babies” (New York times, 11 May 1921, p.12), which was reprinted in Music, sound, and technology in America: A documentary history of early phonograph, cinema, and radio (Durham: Duke University Press, 2012).

A digitized reproduction of the original article is here. Below, a modern version of the carriage.

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Women and gramophones

 

A letter published in the June 1925 issue of Gramophone noted the magazine’s general absence of women correspondents: “are the sweet little things too shy, or what?” A response published in August of that year dismissed the idea of women enjoying the gramophone: “ladies…want to be seen and also to see. They don’t want to listen. That will never interest them.”

The October issue included a letter from a woman reader who noted that women have less money at their disposal for entertainment than men, and that when she attends concerts she sees many women, including poor ones, listening attentively. “I can only conclude,” she wrote, “that certain of your correspondents have been singularly unfortunate in the circle of women they have drawn about them.”

The letters are reprinted in Music, sound, and technology in America: A documentary history of early phonograph, cinema, and radio (Durham: Duke University Press, 2012). Below, on a record from the year in which the letters were first published, Margaret Young sings Red hot Henry Brown.

Related article: Gramophone ethics

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Gramophone ethics

With outward horror, but with secret envy, let us contemplate a man who is wealthy, unambitious, and unencumbered. After breakfast he lights a cigar, sinks into an armchair, and rings for the butler to set the gramophone going.

While one’s imagination may boggle at the thought, let us free ourselves from such trammels of convention that would confine the gramophone to the first half hour of after-dinner plethora. There is music to be had for all times and seasons.

Further, a convincing argument cannot be made against listening to the gramophone alone: If one may read a book without company, how can enjoying music in solitude be indecent?

This according to “Times and seasons” by Orlo Williams (Gramophone June 1923, pp. 38–39), an article reprinted in Music, sound, and technology in America: A documentary history of early phonograph, cinema, and radio (Durham: Duke University Press, 2012). Below, a gramophone record issued a few months after the article appeared.

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Act: Zeitschrift für Musik & Performance

The Forschungsinstitut für Musiktheater in Thurnau launched the peer-reviewed, open-access electronic journal Act: Zeitschrift für Musik & Performance (ISSN 2191-253X) in 2010. This international interdisciplinary publication provides a platform for essays, reviews, and columns at the intersections of musicology, theater studies, dance studies, and media studies. Act places particular value on methodological plurality and on supporting young academics.

Appearing twice a year, each issue will comprise two to five essays and an editorial, along with a review section (in the form of review essays) and a section for columns and announcements. The inaugural issue was edited by Anno Mungen and Knut Holtsträter.

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Filed under Dramatic arts, New periodicals, Opera

Social media, celebrity, and popular music

Popular music has played, and continues to play, a central role in bringing aspects of celebrity culture into the mainstream world.

Fame has been most consistently, deliberately, and insightfully thematized by popular music, which has also been at the center of every major development in social media— both in terms of new technologies and in terms of people’s engagement with and understanding of them.

This according to “Listen to me now: Social media, celebrity, and popular music” by Jason Lee Oakes (IASPM-US 19 and 20 September 2011). Above, Kanye West tweets about the travails of celebrity culture; below, the singer-songwriter Madelaine Zammit uses one social medium (YouTube) to sing about another.

Related post: Lady Gaga’s social network

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