Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Music History Roundup

Marc Myers, "The First Wordsmith of Rock 'n' Roll," Wall Street Journal, August 24, 2011

Jerry Leiber wasn't the most artful lyricist in U.S. music history, but he certainly was among the most visionary and authentic. Leiber, who died on Monday in Los Angeles at age 78, was rock 'n' roll's first major wordsmith. With an ear for R&B and urban youth culture of the early and mid-1950s, Leiber had the good sense to keep his stories simple and quirky. He wasn't either of those two things, of course, but he was shrewd enough to know that R&B and rock 'n' roll were about singles, and that singles were about the beat and the passion and charisma of the artists who recorded them.>>>

Anthony Tommasini, "For Liszt, Experimentation Was a Form of Greatness," New York Times, August 23, 2011

. . . First and foremost, Liszt was a colossal pianist, the most awesome virtuoso of his era, who in his playing and his compositions for piano pushed the boundaries of technique, texture and sound. As a composer, beyond his works for piano, Liszt was the inventor of the orchestral tone poem and an inspired songwriter, and he produced a body of sublime sacred choral works. As a conductor, he introduced seminal scores, including Wagner’s “Lohengrin,” in Weimar.>>>

Nidhi Subbaraman, "How music hijacked our brains," MSNBC, August 9, 2011

If you think about, there's no escape, really. Music holds humanity in a vise grip. Every culture you can think of has it, hears it and taps their feet to it. So how did music first take hold? A new analysis proposes that music hijacked our ancestors' ability to hear and interpret the movements of fellow human beings. That claim is at the heart of “Harnessed: How Language and Music Mimicked Nature and Transformed Ape to Man,” a new book by neurobiologist Mark Changizi. Changizi analyzed the rises and falls in the rhythm and intonation of more than 10,000 samples of folk music from Finland and found that they bear a stamp — an auditory fossil of sorts — that can be traced back to the rises and falls and rhythms associated with the movement of people. >>>

Greg Allen, "The Banjo's Roots, Reconsidered," NPR, August 23, 2011

"My father was born with this instrument," Laemouahuma Daniel Jatta says. "This is part of our history." Jatta, 55, is from Gambia, a member of the Jola people. He's holding an akonting: a three-stringed instrument with a long neck and a body made from a calabash gourd with a goat skin stretched over it. Jatta's father and cousins played the instrument, but he didn't think much about it himself until 1974, when he was visiting the U.S. from Gambia, attending a junior college in South Carolina. He recalls watching a football game on TV with some of the other students. >>>

Jennifer Shelton, "Classical highlights," Cambridge-News, August 22, 2011

. . . Sounds from the 16th and 17th century will come alive in the beautiful setting of Sidney Sussex Chapel for a concert by early music experts, Passamezzo. In Peascod Time will be performed on period instruments and include ballads, lutesongs, consort music and more. September 5, 7.30pm, Sidney Sussex Chapel. Tickets are £12 (£8 concessions). Contact 07980 516054 / www.passamezzo.co.uk.>>>

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