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Posts Tagged ‘music

“See Me, Feel Me”*…

 

Billboard for the London Symphony Orchestra’s recording of Tommy

In the late 60s, record companies took to the streets, using billboards to promote record releases. Photographer Robert Landau was there to document the blitz.

“When I went out to explore the world,” says Landau. “I felt the Strip was like a gallery; there were these hand-painted works of art on the street. … They looked like giant art pieces that kind of represented my generation and the music I listened to.”

“At one time, L.A. just felt a lot funkier. It felt more Western, and … people could come here and do whatever they want. To a degree, that created a lot of chaos, but there was something about that freedom that allowed people to do fun things,” he says. “Things were a little quirkier back then. There was a bit more of a personal feel to the environment.”

Read more at Dangerous Minds and at NPR; browse the full collection in his book, Rock ‘n’ Roll Billboards of the Sunset Strip; and see the ful range of his work at his site.

* single from The Who’s 1969 album Tommy.

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As we celebrate synesthesia, we might send birthday hooks to Charles Hardin “Buddy” Holley**; he was born on this date in 1936.  A rock pioneer, Holley saw Elvis perform in 1955, and was inspired to create his own sound– a blend of Rockabilly and R&B– that exploded onto the music scene.  He was among the first to write, produce, and perform his own songs, and established the “two guitar, bass, and drums” template that became standard for rock.

His career lasted only a year and a half, before he was killed in a plane crash.  Still, he was profoundly influential on the future of popular music: an avowed influence on hundreds of acts, including the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and Bob Dylan; and one of the most covered artists of all time.

** Decca Records misspelled his name “Holly” on his first release, and Holley adopted the “stage spelling” for the rest of his career.

Hear Buddy Holley/Holly on Spotify.

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Written by LW

September 7, 2014 at 1:01 am

“The future of the nations will depend on the manner of how they feed themselves”*…

 

 click here (and again) for larger (and legible) version

This map, compiled and published by meat-packing company Armour in 1922, illustrates the extraordinary range of agricultural activities in America at the time.  The broad message of the map is that America’s strength as a nation was substantially based on its strength as an agricultural power.  The huge expanse of American land and the vast number of climates across the country allowed the U.S. to grow a more diverse set of crops and raise more kinds of animals than other nations.  As Armour concludes, “the United States [was] the most self-sustaining nation in the world”…  but lots has changed in the near-century since then.

How nations feed themselves has gotten a lot more complicated. That’s particularly true in the US, where food insecurity coexists with an obesity crisis, where fast food is everywhere and farmer’s markets are spreading, where foodies have never had more power and McDonald’s has never had more locations, and where the possibility of a barbecue-based civil war is always near…

From Vox40 maps, charts, and graphs that show where our food comes from and how we eat it, with some drinking thrown in for good measure.

* French epicurean Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, 1826

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As we pick a peck, we might send tuneful birthday wishes to Woodrow Wilson “Woody” Guthrie; he was born on this date in 1912.  Guthrie traveled with migrant workers from Oklahoma to California and learned their traditional folk and blues songs. Many of his own songs are about his experiences in the Dust Bowl era of the Great Depression– and earned him the nickname, “Dust Bowl Troubadour.”

‘This Land is Your Land (in D)’By Woody Guthrie

CHORUS: This land is your land, this land is my land
From California to the New York island
From the Redwood forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and me

CANADIAN CHORUS:

This land is your land, this land is my land
From Bonavista to Vancouver Island
From the Arctic Circle to the Great Lake Waters
This land was made for you and me

SANIBEL CHORUS:

This land is your land, this land is my land
From California to Sanibel Island
From the Redwood forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and me

As I was walking that ribbon of highway
I saw above me that endless skyway
I saw below me that golden valley
This land was made for you and me

I roamed and rambled and followed my footsteps
O’er the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts
While all around me, a voice was saying
This land was made for you and me

When the sun came shining and I was strolling
And the wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling
As the fog was lifting, a voice was chanting
This land was made for you and me

As I went walking, I saw a sign there
On the sign it said NO TRESPASSING
But on the other side it didn’t say nothing
That side was made for you and me!

In the squares of the city, in the shadow of the steeple
In the relief office, I seen my people;
As they stood there hungry I stood there asking,
Is this land made for you and me?

Nobody living can ever stop me
As I go walking that freedom highway
Nobody living can make me turn back
This land was made for you and me

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Written by LW

July 14, 2014 at 1:01 am

“Country music has always sort of been country music”*…

The DeZurik Sisters, Mary Jane and Carolyn, began performing on St. Paul’s KSTP in 1935, when they entered and won a talent contest.  The next year they moved to Chicago to appear weekly on National Barn Dance, and later, also Purina’s Checkerboard Time, at WLS-AM.  The girls called their act The Cackle Sisters…

Read more about the singing siblings– and their place in the annals of yodeling– here and here.  And find an remarkable collection of acetate transfers of their work at the ever-extraordinary WFMU. * Miranda Lambert

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As we marvel at Minnesota throat-singing, we might send dramatic birthday greetings to Sir Tom Stoppard OM CBE FRSL; he was born on this date in 1937.  A journalist and drama critic, he turned to playwriting in 1960– and has since written such prominent works for the stage as Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, The Real Thing, Jumpers, Travesties, Arcadia, and The Coast of Utopia.  Sir Tom is also an accomplished screenwriter, whose many films include BrazilThe Russia House, and Shakespeare in Love. He’s won four Tony Awards and one Oscar.

How the hell do I know what I find incredible? Credibility is an expanding field… Sheer disbelief hardly registers on the face before the head is nodding with all the wisdom of instant hindsight.

- George, Jumpers, Act I

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Written by LW

July 3, 2014 at 1:01 am

“A desert is a place without expectation”*…

 

Ed Freeman is a refuge from rock (a road manager on the last Beatle’s tour, a session guitarist, arranger, and producer, perhaps most prominently, of Don MacLean’s “American Pie”) who gave it up for a camera.  Among his many continuing photographic projects is a series of pictures captured as he wandered through the small inland towns and deserts of Southern California.

See more of this series (many of which are collected into Freeman’s book, Desert Reality) here.

[TotH to This Isn't Happiness]

* Nadine Gordimer

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As we keep an eye out for Ozimandias, we might recall that it was on this date in 1987 that a 16 year-old singer named Tiffany Darwish, who had a major label debut album languishing in record store bins across the nation, ignited her career by playing a concert at the Paramus Park Mall in Paramus, NJ.  In a time well before Britney and Hannah, Tiffany’s aim was to supplant Debbie Gibson at the top of the pop heap; but conventional promotion just wasn’t doing it.  With Tiffany’s debut album going nowhere on radio or in stores, MCA Records and Tiffany’s personal manager signed on to a radical proposal: having Tiffany join the “Beautiful You: Celebrating the Good Life Shopping Mall Tour ’87″—the kind of promotional tour of American shopping malls then associated only with consumer products like canned soup and hair coloring…  The Paramus gig was so successful that Tiffany went on to play malls all across America– and her album went quadruple-platinum.

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Written by LW

June 23, 2014 at 1:01 am

“You are the music while the music lasts”*…

 

A beloved album can turn into a sonic home of sorts, and provide a measure of comfort that trumps an actual living space. Now we have a mash-up of both: In his new illustration series, “Archimusic,” Barcelona-based designer Federico Babina has designed homes that embody the sensibility and tone of 27 musicians and their biggest hits. Among these sonic fortresses–which range from sleekly designed small-scale homes to colorful and funkier buildings that could be apartments, institutional homes, or symphony halls–are Miles Davis’s So What, Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, and David Bowie’s Space Oddity

Babina appears to be no slacker when it comes to hard thinking about the ways in which design and music mesh. “Both music and architecture are generated by an underlying code, an order revealed by mathematics and geometry,” Babina says in his artist statement. He describes the series as an exercise in “listening to architecture,” interpreting its musicality and rhythm, and representing the structural, visual qualities of music. He explored whether “the music is horizontal, vertical or oblique,” whether “sound leans firmly on the ground or if it touches on tiptoe,” and whether “it’s made of contrasting colors or tones that change gradually.”…

See more of his work at his site and here (where one can also buy prints); read more at “27 Musicians And Their Hits Reimagined As Buildings.”

* T.S. Eliot

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As we’re grateful that music can Gimme Shelter, we might recall that it was on this date in 1868, at the Königliches Hof-und National-Theater in Munich, that Richard Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg premiered.  At four and a half hours, it’s one of the longest operas performed in modern times; and it is unusual in Wagner’s oeuvre both because it is a comedy (the only one among his mature works) and because it isn’t driven by mythological or supernatural themes.  The premiere was sponsored by Ludwig II of Bavaria and conducted Hans von Bülow.  Franz Strauss, the father of composer Richard Strauss played the French horn at the premiere– despite his often-expressed dislike of Wagner, who was present at many of the rehearsals.

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Written by LW

June 21, 2014 at 1:01 am

“I was obliged to be industrious”*…

 

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Johann Sebastian Bach was a very, very  busy Baroque musician.  A career player who worked his way up from church organist to Kapellmeister (director of music) for Prince Leopold and Cantor (Musical Head) of the Thomasschule at the Thomaskirche in Leipzig, Bach was, throughout, steadily composing the music for which we know him now.  Indeed, his catalogue, the Bach-Werke-Verzeichnis (or BWV) has 1126 entries– not including those deemed to be incomplete (captured in an appendix to the BWV) and those that have been lost (including almost 100 cantatas).

The Netherlands Bach Society has been performing the Master’s music since 1921.  As they looked ahead to their looming centennial, they decided to mark it in the only way that seemed appropriate, with what they call “All of Bach“:

In September 2013 we started performing and recording all of Bach’s works. The first recordings were made available on this site on 2 May 2014, followed by a new Bach recording every Friday. Each piece of music by Bach has its own page where site visitors can choose: the recording, interviews, background information or audience reactions. You can watch and listen to every single piece in its entirety. Musicians will talk about what the music does for them. Background information is provided for each work and all the facts about the recording are compactly summarized. The public section of the site has space for reactions from listeners…

They’re pacing themselves to complete the catalogue just in time for the 2021-22 season, in which they’ll celebrate the Society’s first 100 years.

Listen, learn– and luxuriate– at All of Bach.

* Johann Sebastian Bach

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As we wonder at the well-tempered, we might recall that it was on this date in 1913 that Le Sacre du printemps (Rite of Spring) premiered in Paris.  Composed for Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes by Igor Stravinsky (who’d already had success with Diaghilev on The Firebird  and Petrushka), it was choreographed by Nijinsky and designed and costumed by Nicholas Roerich.

The performance famously elicited a strong reaction from its audience– an over-packed house– which reacted to the “celebration of pagan rituals” with jeers and whistles so loud that Nijinsky had to climb a chair in the wings to shout instructions to his dancers.

But even by the second performance the reaction had died down (though Puccini, who was there, averred that it was “the work of a madman. The public hissed, laughed – and applauded”).  Of course today, Le Sacre du printemps sounds altogether familiar to ears raised on film scores; and Stravinsky’s ballet is widely agreed to have paved the way for “modern” (twentieth-century) music.

Dancers in the original production of The Rite of Spring

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“I am sure my music has a taste of codfish in it”*…

 

High-frequency sounds enhance the sweetness in food, while low frequencies bring out the bitterness.  So, could sound replace sugar? And what kind of music should restaurants play?  The Guardian digs in…

Sound is the final frontier in food presentation. Restaurants agonise over menus, crockery, furniture and lighting, yet often any old CD will be stuck on for background music with nary a thought. However, now that we’re starting to understand that everyone has synaesthetic tendencies when it comes to taste, sound is set to play a bigger part in our eating experience. Ben & Jerry’s, for example, is considering a sonic range of ice-cream flavours, with QR codes on the tubs that will allow eaters to access complementary sounds via their phones…

Confirming the hunches of so many ravenous aeroplane passengers, a study published in 2011 found that loud background noise suppresses saltiness, sweetness and overall enjoyment of food. (For flyers, this is compounded by the high altitude blocking nasal passages, and therefore access to aromas.) Incidentally, for those among you who curse that you can’t hear yourself think, or indeed taste, in some restaurants, it isn’t unheard of for the background din to register 90db, which is a tad louder than commercial flights.

However, Charles Spence, director of Oxford’s Crossmodal Laboratory, points out: “Have you ever noticed how many people ask for a bloody mary or tomato juice from the drinks trolley on aeroplanes? The air stewards have, and when you ask the people who order, they tell you that they rarely order such a drink at any other time.” Spence reckons this is because umami may be immune to noise suppression. If he proves his hypothesis, perhaps concentrating on umami-rich ingredients such as tomatoes, parmesan, mushrooms and cured meats in the sky could help obliterate plane-food hell…

Much, much more at “How sound affects the taste of our food.”

* Edvard Grieg

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As we slip on our headphones, we might spare a thought for Ernst Florens Friedrich Chladni; he died on this date in 1827.  Widely regarded as “the father of acoustics,” he built on the work of Robert Hooke to create “Chladni figures,” demonstrations of complex patterns of vibration; variations of this technique are still commonly used in the design and construction of acoustic instruments like violins, guitars, and cellos.

Creating Chladni figures

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Chladni measured the speed of sound in various gases by determining the pitch of the note of an organ pipe filled with each gas, and determined the speed of sound in solids using analysis of the nodal pattern in standing-wave vibrations in long rods.

Chladni was an accomplished musician (and inventor of he musical instrument called “Euphon“), and fathered another science–  meteoritics– when, in 1794, he published Über den Ursprung der von Pallas gefundenen und anderer ihr ähnlicher Eisenmassen und über einige damit in Verbindung stehende Naturerscheinungen (“On the Origin of the Pallas Iron and Others Similar to it, and on Some Associated Natural Phenomena”) in which he proposed that meteorites have an extraterrestrial origin.

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Written by LW

April 3, 2014 at 1:01 am

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