Posts Tagged ‘music’
When Bebe and Louis Barron got married in 1947 they received a wedding gift from the future. Louis’s cousin was an executive at 3M and his present was one of the first tape recorders in the United States, plus a steady supply of reels of newly created magnetic tape. Bohemians, musicians, and tinkerers, the Barrons took their gear with them to Manhattan, where they set up a legendary electronic studio for the avant-garde at 9 West 8th Street…
Pressing [Anaïs] Nin readings to red vinyl and collecting “small sounds” for John Cage didn’t really pay the bills, so they jumped at the chance to make sounds for Hollywood… Rather than compose, though, they built…
Norbert Wiener was fixated on the possibility that delegation of weapons control to machines running game theory models would likewise wipe out the human race. But in their studio, Bebe and Louis were inventing a different and more interesting kind of future, a greenhouse of messy, perverse electronics that coexist with us, a population of cybernetic familiars and kinds of minds all singing together…
* Walt Whitman
As we tweak the gain, we might recall that it was on this date in 1972 that the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was passed by the Senate and then sent to the states for ratification. The ERA, as it became known, prohibited discrimination on the basis of gender, stating, “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex,” and that “the Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.” Although 22 of the required 38 states quickly ratified the Amendment, opposition arose, ostensibly over concerns that women would be subject to the draft and combat duty, along with other legal concerns. Despite an extension of the deadline to June 1982, the ERA eventually failed (by 3 states) to achieve ratification.
Dutch piano restorer Frank Bernouw has painstakingly restored a stunning Hupfeld Phonoliszt-Violina, a self-playing, multi-violin orchestrion that plays a variety of concertos quite beautifully, if not a bit mechanically. This unusual instrument was invented in 1907 by Ludwig Hupfeld AG and “dubbed the “8th wonder of the world”…
Three violins (each with only one active string) mounted vertically were played by a round rotating bow made of 1300 threads of horse hair, according to the program on the roll of perforated paper. The small bellows replaced the violin player’s fingers, pressing on the strings to obtain the necessary notes. The piano can be driven either unaccompanied or together with the violins. It controls 38 accompaniment keys with 12 high notes (one octave) in extension. The whole pneumatic systems are controlled by an electric engine of uninterrupted current.
* Victor Borge
As we reach for the rosin, we might send intricately-melodic birthday greetings to Baroque composer and multi-instrumentalist Georg Philipp Telemann; he was born on this date in 1681. Telemann was and still is one of the most prolific composers in history (at least in terms of surviving oeuvre) and was considered by his contemporaries to be one of the leading German composers of the time—he was compared favorably both to his friend Johann Sebastian Bach, who made Telemann the godfather and namesake of his son Carl Philipp Emanuel, and to George Frideric Handel, whom Telemann also knew personally. He remained at the forefront of all new musical tendencies and his music is an important link between the late Baroque and early Classical styles.
The Beatles were big enough that even the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics had to deal with it, somehow. In 1976 Soviet-controlled TV—the only available televised media in the entire country—played a peculiar Russian version of Paul McCartney’s deathless song “Let It Be” as an oddly baroque and defiantly un-glitzy bit of variety TV. Odd to say about television in the worker’s paradise, but the trappings of the proceedings seem to me somewhat … bourgeois?…
The totalitarian tale in toto: “Bizarre video of the Beatles’ ‘Let It Be’ from Soviet TV of the 1970s.”
* Lenny Bruce
As we wonder if imitation is, in fact, the sincerest form of flattery, we might recall that it was on this date in 1961 that the Beatles, fresh back from Hamburg, played their first date at the Cavern Club in Liverpool. The band swiftly became a regular fixture at the Cavern, attracting a loyal audience to over 290 performances until their final appearance on August 3, 1963. For this first show, lasting from 1-2pm, they earned a £5 fee to share among them.
More– oh, so much more– at LiarTownUSA.
* Dr. Seuss
As we revel in the ridiculous, we might pour a cup of birthday tea for English mathematician, logician, photographer, and Anglican cleric, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson– better known as the author Lewis Carroll– born on this date in 1832.
“There is no use in trying,” said Alice; “one can’t believe impossible things.”
“I dare say you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
– Alice in Wonderland (nee “Alice’s Adventures Underground,” then “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”)
And we might might spare a sympathetic thought for Dante Alighieri, who was exiled from Florence on this date in 1302… sympathetic– and grateful– as it was on his subsequent wanderings that he wrote The Divine Comedy…
Happy Mozart’s Birthday!
“Disco is the best floor show in town. It’s very democratic, boys with boys, girls with girls, girls with boys, blacks and whites, capitalists and Marxists, Chinese and everything else, all in one big mix.”*…
Yolanda Baker has been making disco balls every week of her life for nearly 50 years and shows no signs of slowing down.
Baker, known as Yo Yo to her colleagues, works for Louisville’s Omega National Products – America’s leading disco ball manufacturer – and has over the years filed orders for Beyoncé, Madonna, Studio 54 and even the Saturday Night Fever film set.
During the height of disco fever, Omega had 25 workers crafting 25 balls a day – more than 160,000 disco balls annually – with Baker steering the ship. But as China began flooding the market with cheaper options, the team at Omega began to shrink – Baker has been the company’s only disco ball maker since 2008…
All that glitters at: “Meet Yolanda ‘Yo Yo’ Baker, America’s last disco ball maker.”
* Truman Capote
As we boogey on down, we might recall that it was on this date in 1934 that the famous Apollo theatre in New York City’s Harlem district (re-)opened as a showcase for black artists. Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1983, it had been built in 1913-14 as Hurtig & Seamon’s New Burlesque Theater, and designed by George Keister in the neo-Classical style. The Apollo fell on hard times in the 20s and limped along until, under new management, it became (starting on this date in 1934) a mecca of the Swing Era. It featured musical acts including Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Chick Webb, and Count Basie, dance acts such as Bill Robinson and the Nicholas Brothers. And though the theater concentrated on showcasing African-American acts, it also presented such white performers as Harry James, Woody Herman and Charlie Barnet during the swing era, and, later, Dave Brubeck, Stan Getz and Buddy Rich, who was a particular favorite of the Apollo crowd.
The Apollo’s “Amateur Night,” a Monday-night talent contest launched many storied careers, from Ella Fitzgerald and Thelma Carpenter to Jimi Hendrix (who won in 1964). Others whose careers were hatched or given an early boost at the Apollo include Billie Holiday, Pearl Bailey, Sammy Davis Jr., James Brown & The Famous Flames, King Curtis, Diana Ross & The Supremes, Parliament-Funkadelic, Wilson Pickett, The Miracles, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Rush Brown, Stephanie Mills, Dionne Warwick, Bobby Short, The Jackson 5, Patti LaBelle, Marvin Gaye, Luther Vandross, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Ben E. King, Mariah Carey, The Isley Brothers, Lauryn Hill, Sarah Vaughan, Jazmine Sullivan, Ne-Yo, and Machine Gun Kelly.
Restored 11 years ago, the venue draws an estimated 1.3 million visitors a year.
… and so it becomes the subject of art.
A year ago, local artist Elle Luna challenged artists from around the world with her “100-Day Project,” an idea with a simple premise: do the same thing every day for a hundred days — draw a doodle, write a poem, whatever — and document the results.
San Francisco–based designer Katrina McHugh responded by making infographics based on popular song lyrics that reference the natural world, mirroring the style of vintage encyclopedias she inherited from her grandfather. The project, titled “100 Days of Lyrical Natural Sciences,” is a gorgeous and hilarious exercise in taking metaphor too literally…
Try your hand at identifying the songs in question at “Classic Pop Songs, Reimagined as Infographics.”
* Brian Wilson
As we tap our toes, we might spare a thought for Cabell “Cab” Calloway III; he died on this date in 1994. A master of scat singing and led one of the United States’ most popular big bands from the start of the 1930s to the late 1940s, regularly performing at the Cotton Club in Harlem. His band featured performers including trumpeters Dizzy Gillespie and Adolphus “Doc” Cheatham, saxophonists Ben Webster and Leon “Chu” Berry, New Orleans guitar ace Danny Barker, and bassist Milt Hinton. His “Minnie the Moocher” was the first jazz record to sell 1 million copies.
As a city that represents endless possibilities, New York has long been the setting for the dawning of new movements, styles, and musical genres. And perhaps no music origin story has inspired as much appreciation, celebration, and imitation as the birth of punk rock in New York City in the 1970s.
In [an] excerpt from his new book New York Rock, Steven Blush gathers interviews with many of the artists, critics and original scenesters who witnessed first-hand the formation of punk’s distinctive subculture—a unique prism of influences, crosscurrents, and psychoactive distractions that coalesced around groundbreaking artists like The Ramones, Television, Richard Hell, Talking Heads, and Blondie…
As we make our way to the mosh pit, we might recall that it was on this date in 1975 that the Sex Pistols made their live debut at St Martin’s School Of Art in central London, supporting a band called Bazooka Joe, which included Stuart Goddard (the future Adam Ant). The Pistols’ performance lasted 10 minutes.