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Posts Tagged ‘music

“Time takes it all, whether you want it to or not”*…

 

From the moment Elvis Presley landed, we wanted every piece of him. This turned his old records into vinyl and shellac gold. While the value of discs by other popular mid-century artists such as Cliff Richard and Frank Sinatra dropped as time passed, Elvis’s didn’t. As an omnipresent figure, the prices of the King’s records rose to astronomical levels.

Unearthing an original “That’s All Right” record became a £4,000 lucky strike; a set of five original Sun singles at one time fetched £25,000. This made them a sort of pension for many collectors. They packed items away, hoping one day to exchange them for a caravan in the Dordogne. However, this has all begun to change…

As the King’s fans die of old age, and their collections hit the second-hand market, vintage Elvis records have never been cheaper: “Can’t help falling in price: why Elvis memorabilia is plummeting in value.”

* Stephen King

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As we feel our age, we might recall that it was on this date in 1957 that Chuck Berry recorded “Rock & Roll Music” at the Chess Studios in Chicago.  (Some websites report a recording date of either May 6 or May 21, but Steve Sullivan’s Encyclopedia of Great Popular Song Recordings affirms May 15 as the date of record.)

The tune reached number 6 on Billboard‘s R&B Singles chart and number 8 on its Hot 100.  But its impact continued to grow: it was covered by dozens of artists including Bill Haley & His Comets, the Beatles, the Beach Boys (who had a top ten hit with the song in 1976), Dickie Rock and the Miami Showband, REO Speedwagon, Mental As Anything, Humble Pie, Manic Street Preachers and Bryan Adams.  In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine ranked Berry’s version number 128 on its list of the “500 Greatest Songs of All Time”; and the song is included in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll.

 

Written by LW

May 15, 2017 at 1:01 am

“All musicians are subconsciously mathematicians”*…

 

Physicist and saxophonist Stephon Alexander has argued in his many public lectures and his book The Jazz of Physics that Albert Einstein and John Coltrane had quite a lot in common. Alexander in particular draws our attention to the so-called “Coltrane circle,” which resembles what any musician will recognize as the “Circle of Fifths,” but incorporates Coltrane’s own innovations. Coltrane gave the drawing to saxophonist and professor Yusef Lateef in 1967, who included it in his seminal text, Repository of Scales and Melodic Patterns. Where Lateef, as he writes in his autobiography, sees Coltrane’s music as a “spiritual journey” that “embraced the concerns of a rich tradition of autophysiopsychic music,” Alexander sees “the same geometric principle that motivated Einstein’s” quantum theory…

Explore the connection at “John Coltrane Draws a Picture Illustrating the Mathematics of Music.”

* Thelonious Monk

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As we square the circle, we might recall that it was on this date in 1786, at the Burgtheater in Vienna, that Mozart’s glorious Le nozze di Figaro The Marriage of Figaro— premiered.  Based on a stage comedy by Pierre Beaumarchais, La folle journée, ou le Mariage de Figaro (“The Mad Day, or The Marriage of Figaro”), which was first performed two years early, Mozart’s comedic masterpiece has become a staple of opera repertoire, appearing consistently among the top ten in the Operabase list of most frequently performed operas.

Early 19th-century engraving depicting Count Almaviva and Susanna in act 3

source

 

“If a book is new, it smells great. If a book is old, it smells even better”*…

 

It’s official. Science has decided that old books smell “smoky,” “earthy,” and more than anything, “woody.”

That’s based on findings released today by Cecilia Bembibre and Matija Strlič, researchers at the UCL Institute for Sustainable Heritage, who have been working to capture, analyze, and catalog historic and culturally important scents. The scientists collected the responses of visitors to St Paul’s Cathedral’s Dean and Chapter library in London, asking them to describe the smell and later compiling the results in a document they’re calling the Historic Book Odour Wheel…

 Take a whiff at “The Odor ‘Wheel’ Decoding the Smell of Old Books.”

* Ray Bradbury

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As we breathe it in, we might recall that it was on this date in 1749 that George Frideric Handel’s Music for the Royal Fireworks— or Fireworks Music, as it’s commonly known — premiered in a specially-constructed theater in St. James park in London.

The display was not as successful as the music itself: the weather was rainy, and in the middle of the show the pavilion caught fire.

The ill-fated site of the premiere

source (and larger version)

Written by LW

April 27, 2017 at 1:01 am

“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper”*…

 

Before the 18th century, most successful magicians were European, and white.  Richard Potter– the son of a slave–changed all that.  A magician, ventriloquist, and fire eater, he is credited with being both the first American-born and the first Black professional stage magician in the (then young) United States.

His extraordinary story at “Gravesite of Richard Potter.”

* W.B. Yeats

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As we say “Abracadabra,” we might recall that it was on this date in 1967, just days after the completion of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, that the Beatles returned to Studio Three, at EMI Studios in London to begin their next project, a film to be called Magical Mystery Tour.  The group laid down the basic rhythm track and assembled the title track’s coach and traffic noises into a tape loop.

While the film was widely panned, the soundtrack album (a double EP in the U.K; an LP in the U.S.) went to #1 on the British and American album charts, and was nominated for a Grammy.

 source

 

Written by LW

April 25, 2017 at 1:01 am

“I try to conjure, to raise my own spirits, from wherever they are. I need to remember what they look like.”*…

 

In Margaret Atwood’s The ­Handmaid’s Tale, a Christian sect call the Sons of Jacob creates a male-dominated theocratic state

Margaret Atwood’s evergreen dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale is about to become a television drama. Published in 1985, it couldn’t feel more fresh or more timely, dealing as it does with reproductive rights, with the sudden accession to power of a theocracy in the United States, with the demonisation of imagined, pantomime villain “Islamic fanatics”. But then, feminist science fiction does tend to feel fresh – its authors have a habit of looking beyond their particular historical moment, analysing the root causes, suggesting how they might be, if not solved, then at least changed.

Where does the story of feminist science fiction begin? There are so many possible starting points: Margaret Cavendish’s 1666 book The Blazing World, about an empress of a utopian kingdom; one could point convincingly to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein as an exploration of how men could “give birth” and what might happen if they did; one could recall the 1905 story “Sultana’s Dream” by Begum Rokeya, about a gender-reversed India in which it’s the men who are kept in purdah.

And perhaps one of the starting points was here: on 29 August 1911, a 50-year-old man, a member of the Yahi group of the Native American Yana people, walked out of the forest near Oroville, California, and was captured by the local sheriff. He was known at the time and popularised in the press as “the last wild Indian”.

He called himself “Ishi” – a word in the Yahi language that means simply “man”. He was the very last of his people, and had been living in the wilderness alone, travelling to places he remembered from the time when his tribe had flourished, in the hope of finding some remnant of those he’d grown up with. When he realised they were truly all gone, when a series of forest fires meant he was close to starvation, he allowed himself to be found and taken in…

And the link with feminist science fiction? Theodora and Alfred Kroeber’s daughter was Ursula Le Guin, the science fiction author. Her novel The Left Hand of Darkness was published in 1969, at the start of the revolutionary women’s movement, and was one of the earliest pieces of feminist SF. It is about a man from Earth who travels to the planet Gethen, where the people have no fixed gender. He is by turns fascinated, appalled and deeply, sickeningly lonely. Everyone’s “normality” is someone else’s wilderness…

From Mary Shelley to Margaret Atwood, feminist science fiction writers have imagined other ways of living that prompt us to ask, could we do things differently?  More of their history at “Dystopian dreams: how feminist science fiction predicted the future.”

* Margaret Atwood, The Handmaiden’s Tale

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As we listen and learn, we might send hauntingly-beautiful birthday greetings to Eleanora Fagan; she was born on this date in 1915.  Better known by her stage name, Billie Holiday (and her nickname, Lady Day), she was a jazz musician and singer-songwriter– a legendary performer who enjoyed both huge popular success and great acclaim from her fellow artists.

 

Written by LW

April 7, 2017 at 1:01 am

“Cold, cold, cold”*…

 

Around the millennium, [David] Lynch and sound engineer John Neff worked on a number of projects together, one of which was their band BlueBOB (whose “Thank You, Judge” was an example of high-quality streaming video at the time). Another was a “restored” CD of the Eraserhead soundtrack released on Lynch’s Absurda label in 2001. “Eraserhead Soundtrack cleaned with Waves Restoration-X Plugins for ProTools treated with the Aphex 204 Aural Exciter,” the liner notes explained.

Original Soundtrack Plus was so named because it dangled a bonus track: Lynch and Neff’s ten-minute, 16-second “Eraserhead Dance Mix.” It may not transport you to the exact same place as the original album, but it will take you to a nearby, very cold region of that territory…

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More of the backstory at “In heaven everything is funky fresh: David Lynch’s dance mix of the Eraserhead soundtrack.”

* Lowell George, Little Feat

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As we tap our toes, we might recall that on this date in 1964, The Beatles had the #1, #2, #3, #4, and #5 spots on Billboard‘s U.S. Singles chart: #1, “Can’t Buy Me Love”; #2, “Love Me Do”; #3, “She Loves You”; #4, “I Want To Hold Your Hand”; and #5 ,”Please Please Me.”   It was the first and only time any recording act has ever achieved that feat.  At the same time the Fab Four also had nine other singles on the Hot 100 for a total of 14 at the same time– also still a record.

 source

 

Written by LW

April 4, 2017 at 1:01 am

“For every prohibition you create you also create an underground”*…

 

In November 2016, this former public toilet, once known as “ground zero” to locals, was reopened in downtown Reykjavik to do what it was maybe always meant to do: tell the story of Icelandic punk…

A tiny museum with a sizable collection– visit the “Icelandic Punk Museum.”

* Jello Biafra

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As we muse on moshing, we might recall that today is April Fools’ Day.  A popular occasion for pranks and hoaxes since the 19th century, it is considered by some to date from the calendar change of 1750-52— though references to high jinx on the 1st of April date back to Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales (1392).

“The first of April is the day we remember what we are the other 364 days of the year.”

– Mark Twain

An April Fools’ Day hoax marking the construction of the Copenhagen Metro in 2001

source

 

Written by LW

April 1, 2017 at 1:01 am

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