We invite you to listen in on a musical gathering that took place in Jamaica in 1688. These three songs, 'Angola', 'Papa' and 'Koromanti', performed at a festival by enslaved African musicians and copied in musical notation by a Mr Baptiste, are the first transcription of African music in the Caribbean, and, indeed, probably in the Americas. Thanks to this remarkable artifact, we can listen to traces of music performed long ago and begin to imagine what it meant for the people who created it.
The premise of Jack Hamilton’s deep new study Just Around Midnight: Rock and Roll and the Racial Imagination seems like something that’s been on rock history’s tongue for a long time without ever quite leaving it. Chuck Berry, a black man with a guitar, had been a rock and roll archetype in 1960, but by the end of the decade Jimi Hendrix would be seen as rock’s odd man out for being... a black man with a guitar. How did that occur? "Tracing the Rock and Roll Race Problem" an interview in Pitchfork.
[This post includes links to names, images and audio of Aboriginal Australians who have died.] It is fifty years this week since the start of the Wave Hill Walkoff of 1966-1975, which led to the first victory of the land-rights movement in Australia. Indigenous workers went on strike at the Vestey mega-station in Australia's Northern Territory. Walking off the job and sitting down in Daruragu country, the Gurindji people began a nine-year campaign to regain control of their land. To mark the occasion, I give you Gurindji Blues, recorded during that struggle in 1971 by Galarrwuy Yunupingu and Vincent Lingiari and written by Ted Egan. I have long lost my copy of this single and wanted to hear it again tonight. Thanks internet! [more inside]
This past May on Metafilter, we looked at “Thirty Minutes Behind the Walls”, a wildly popular variety show that was broadcast every Wednesday night in the 1930's and 1940's from the state prison in Huntsville, TX. It featured performances by male and female prisoners. No recordings of the show have ever been found. In the early forties, eight inmates of the Goree State Farm prison unit formed one of the first all-female country and western acts in the country and their performances were broadcast on Thirty Minutes. The Goree All Girl String Band captured the hearts of millions of radio listeners but never cut a record or went on tour and have thus been ignored by music historians. When they were paroled, they nearly all vanished forever. [more inside]
If you whistle a tune often enough to a starling, the bird will not only sing it back to you, it will improvise its response and create something new. On May 27, 1784, Mozart whistled a 17 note phrase to a starling in a Viennese shop and to his delight it spat the tune right back — but not without taking some liberties first. So he bought it and brought it home. That bird lived with him for the three most productive years of his life, during which he completed more than 60 compositions, including Eine Kleine Nachtmusik. The piano concerto as we still understand it was built in those rooms. The “Jupiter” Symphony began and Figaro ended. Melodies that two centuries of humans have since whistled could have first been volleyed between a genius and his pet bird.
Which Rock Star Will Historians of the Future Remember? by Chuck Klosterman [The New York Times] The most important musical form of the 20th century will be nearly forgotten one day. People will probably learn about the genre through one figure — so who might that be? [more inside]
...the ghost of electricity howls in the bones of her faceBlonde on Blonde turned 50 on Monday... [more inside]
"Polish jazz, which was celebrating its triumphs in the 1950s and 60s, gradually became bogged down under the power of omnipresent and omnipotent institutions" ... "The 1990s saw the birth of a musical trend that wanted nothing less than to turn the established order of things to ash by the most drastic of means. This new trend was called yass." Though the headiest and most experimental days are behind them, "yass" is still used to indicate Polish jazz that's more than traditional jazz, and has been used to describe Skalpel, Jazzpospolita, and Pink Freud, who have performed Autechre live for Boiler Room and RBMA.
The Kentucky Derby, "America's Greatest Race," will take place at Churchill Downs this weekend. CNN international has answers to 11 general questions to get you started in the festivities, and NBC New York has a short history of the spectacle around the race, which is largely about fashion through the decades. And then there's the opening ceremony and song - My Old Kentucky Home (official "sing along" video). It sounds pretty somber, and it is, especially if you sing all of the original 1831 lyrics. The Forgotten Racial History Of Kentucky's State Song (NPR Codeswitch). [more inside]
Shoes - ten years ago Liam Kyle Sullivan created "Shoes", one of the first viral hits of the YouTube era featuring his Midwestern teen girl character Kelly. Now he sits down with Vice to talk about YouTube fame, touring, how it came about, and what came after.
Enjoy this animated webcomic about Mozart's early exploits... up to age nine, along with those of his sister Nannerl.
Robbie Judkins visits Tanzania to witness first hand the attempt to save a quarter of a century of musical history from oblivion. Listen to an exclusive mix of tracks newly digitized by the Tanzania Heritage Project
The Secret History of the Mongols is the oldest surviving Mongolian-language literary work, and is regarded as the single most significant native Mongolian account of Genghis Khan. Linguistically, it provides the richest source of pre-classical Mongolian and Middle Mongolian, and while you can read it in various translations, it can be quite a slog. That's why Mongolian rappers Gee of/with Click Click Boom team up with Jonon to present a musical version of Mongolian History, in Mongolian. Luckily, there are English subtitles to this video, but there's still a gap between knowing the words and knowing what they mean. With that, you can find a collections of links as annotations below. [more inside]
"The Memphis Grizzlies will be honoring the old Memphis Sounds for their Hardwood Classic games this NBA season by wearing the Sounds’ red-and-white jerseys. Given that the Sounds were around in the early 1970s and were of the ABA, the jerseys are pretty slick and sweet. ...To understand the Sounds you need to understand the music. And to understand the music you need to understand race and cotton." - Curtis Harris on Stax Records and the context of the Memphis Sounds.
A Beginner's Guide to the Synth is a nice long write-up to the history of the synthesizers, from their origins up to the present, with embedded sound samples. For a deeper dive into the history of the hardware, learn the secrets of the synths from Sound on Sound.
lyre-of-ur.com is a somewhat rustic website dedicated to a playable reproduction of the world's oldest string instrument. You can hear it accompanying a set of silver pipes and a short recitation from the Epic of Gilgamesh. Don't miss the fan poetry on the informative history page. [more inside]
SLYTP: two hundred and twenty three pre-1925 'music hall records' YT user Robert Godridge has made a long playlist of digital captures taken from 'some of the british music hall records in my collection, 78rpm gramophone records and cylinders.' This is one of a number of playlists centered on very old popular music recordings by various users. Most of the recordings are quite innocuous by today's standards, but it is far from uncommon to encounter double entendres, racism and stereotypes, and well, I'm not sure what to call this genre.
California has long been home to immigrants from around the world (and from within the U.S.). What is less known, however, is that such longstanding histories of immigration and internal domestic migration have made California a fertile ground for extremely diverse and vibrant accordion musical cultures. With that, here is background on four immigrant populations —Italians, Creoles, Lebanese/Middle Eastern, and Mixtec/Mexican — to give more background the Squeezebox Stories, about an hour of history and tales of the accordion, filtered through customs and cultures found in California. [more inside]
Banbarra’s entire discography can be summed up in exactly one 7-inch, 1975’s two-parter “Shack Up,” released on United Artists under the auspices of one “Coyote Productions Inc.” But no matter what trail you follow, any further info on this group gets cold pretty fast.Nate Patrin explains why despite its inauspicious beginnings, "shack Up" became one of the most influential breaks in sampling history.
Createdigitalmusic collects together 11+ documentaries on the history of electronic music. Ranging from 2 on Delia Derbyshire of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop (1 previously), to EMS (previously), to detroit, acid house, rave (previously), tresor, and more. Plus one news report an the early days of Chicago house that's a documentary in and of itself.
- 100 Years of Fashion in 2 Minutes
- 100 Years of Men's Fashion in 3 Minutes
- 100 Years of Men's Swimwear in 3 Minutes (women's)
- 100 Years of Fitness in 100 Seconds
- 100 Years of Female Dance
- 100 Years of Music
- AFI's 100 Years ... (youtube playlist from American Film Institute)
- 100 Years of Black Beauty
- 100 Years of History in 2 Minutes
First reported in this article by Alison Kinney, writing about the legacy of African-Americans in Opera, and later picked up by the NYT. SLYT: Otello's monologue sung by James McCracken in 1983, and by Placido Domingo in 1991. Perhaps someday soon we can hear the rising star Issachah Savage sing this role at the Met.
"At Pyramid, die-hard leather clones inhaled amyl nitrate with nuclear goths and industrial transvestites."
Something about this country – the divisions, the class system, the general sense of distrust and dissatisfaction – seems to breed youth subcultures like no other place on Earth. The strange, stylish clans that this island incubates have been exported across the world, influencing everything from high street fashion to high art. From teddy boys to 2 Tone rudeboys, soulboys to Slipknot fans, grunge bands to grime crews, mods to mod revivalists, the history of these groups shows us a version of modern Britain that goes way beyond Diana and Blair.[more inside]
The Stonehill Jewish Song Collection is a website by the Center for Traditional Music and Dance containing songs sung by Jewish refugees in Hotel Marseilles in New York in 1948. All songs include the original lyrics and translations into English. Not all the songs have been digitized and translated already, but there is a variety of themes already, with more on the way soon. The songs were collected and recorded by Ben Stonehill who went to the refugees and asked them to sing anything they like.
There have been only two known photos of legendary blues guitarist Robert Johnson. Now there's a third. [more inside]
Paul Slade tackles the story behind the American blues/folk song Frankie and Johnny, tracing the lyrics back to an 1899 St. Louis murder, and exploring the history of the song, its subjects, and its variations. [more inside]
Studying and making an early instrument called a citole. Until recently, this style of instrument was not recognized as separate from a gittern.
If you climb into a taxi in Doha, capital of Qatar, and Arab music is on the driver’s radio, the station may well be 99.0, Sawt al-Khaleej, one of the most popular and powerful radio and digital streaming broadcast networks in the region. Based in Doha, its name translates to “Voice of the Gulf”—a fitting name for a network that seeks to appeal to a broad, Arabic-speaking audience with pan-Arab popular music up and down the eastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula, from Kuwait to Oman. [more inside]
Wild Ones Live is an arresting reading accompanied by music, a collaboration performed as part of a live magazine by author Jon Mooallem, a science and nature writer whose book Wild Ones ruminates on the strange, ignorant, hopeful and poignant ways humans imagine other animals, and the musical project Black Prairie. Listen at your desk if you must, but if you can, pop in your earbuds and go outside for a long walk while you take it all in. [more inside]
Best Ever Albums aggregates 17,000 "greatest album" charts to establish a statistical consensus on popular music rankings. [more inside]
Electronic Beats interviews five Detroit residents (Michael Stone-Richards, a professor in the Department of Liberal Arts at CCS in Detroit; Mike Huckaby, an internationally successful DJ and longtime producer of Detroit techno; Cornelius Harris, aka "The Unknown Writer", the label manager and occasional MC for Underground Resistance Records; Walter Wasacz; a journalist and writer based in Hamtramck, an enclave in the center of Detroit; Mark Ernestus, the Berlin-based producer, DJ and co-owner of Hard Wax record store; Mike Banks of Underground Resistance [UR]; George Clinton, the founder and leader of Parliament Funkadelic; and Samantha Corbit, who has over a decade of involvement with multiple Detroit record labels) on the past and future of Detroit, and it's (electronic) (musical) history. 72 Hours in Detroit
Vince Guaraldi's A Charlie Brown Christmas gets a whole lot of love, but for sheer musical enjoyment it shouldn't overshadow his work on A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. Here for your cooking-soundtrack pleasure are Thanksgiving Theme, Play it Again Charlie Brown (aka Charlie Brown Blues), Peppermint Patty, and Little Birdie (incidentally, Guaraldi's own vocal, and the first time any adult voice appeared on a Charlie Brown show). [more inside]
A decade after Halo 2 (and a day before the MCC), enjoy this loose timeline of essential Halo fandom: Halo.Bungie.Org / Halo at Macworld '99 / Red vs. Blue / The Halo Trilogy in 5 minutes / The Cortana Letters / HBO's cutscene library and dialog databank / Main Menus / Kitty Cat / Warthog Jump (and BOLL's Warthog Launch game) / How Not To Be Seen / Fan Art / Panoramas / The Music of Marty O'Donnell (prev.) / Video Games Live: Halo / Analysis by Stephen Loftus / Who was Brian Morden? / I Love Bees and the ARG radio drama / Halo 2 Trailer / Halo 2 E3 '04 Demo / Full Halo 2 making-of documentary / Voice acting / Conversations from the Universe / The Beastiarum / Surround Sound Test! / Geography of New Mombasa / This Spartan Life / The Solid Gold Elite Dancers / Creepy Guy at Work / Gameplay May Change / Master Chief Sucks at Halo / Another Day at the Beach / '06 Bungie Studios Tour / Halo 3 Trailer / Starry Night / Believe / HALOID / No Scope Was Involved / 100 Ways to Die / "Bungie Favorites" gallery / Mister Chief / OONSK / OneOneSe7en / 2553 Civilian 'Hog Review / Griffball / ForgeHub / 405th Cosplay / Neill Blomkamp's Landfall / Weta's Real-life Warthog / Halo Legends anime anthology / List of Halo novels / Halopedia / Halo 3 Terminal Archive / DDR Dance / Animatronic Elite project / HBO's "Guilt-O-Lantern" contest / Keep It Clean / We Are ODST / Sadie's Story / Halocraft / "A Fistful of Arrows" fan comic / RvB Animated (and CGI) / Project Contingency / Halo Zero / Halo 2600 (prev.) / Reach Datapad Transcripts / The last Halo 2 player on Xbox LIVE / Bungie's Final Halo Stats Infographic / Key & Peele: Obama on Halo 4 / Top 10 Halo Easter Eggs / Behind the scenes of Halo 2 Anniversary
"HH [Henry Hauser]: Ryan and Nina are right on target. The Ray-Dave sibling rivalry sparked many of The Kinks' most spontaneous (and brilliant) musical moments. The Storyteller, Ray's riveting account of early life in the Davies household and his band’s rise to prominence, has him describing how he and Dave exchanged scornful looks while recording "You Really Got Me". The elder Davies swears that if you listen closely, you can actually hear Dave yelling "Fuckkkoffff" right before his guitar solo. Ray salvaged the track by covering up Dave's profane exclamation with his own unscripted outburst ("Owwwww noooooo!"), and the impromptu rock scream turned into one of the most memorable quirks in Kinks history. It perfectly captures the animalistic agony that accompanies hopeless infatuation. Without the Ray-Dave rivalry, it would never have happened."
Henry Hauser, Ryan Bray, Nina Corcoran, and Stevie Dunbar at Consequence of Sound hold a round-table discussion in "Dusting 'Em Off: The Kinks – The Kinks". [more inside]
Henry Hauser, Ryan Bray, Nina Corcoran, and Stevie Dunbar at Consequence of Sound hold a round-table discussion in "Dusting 'Em Off: The Kinks – The Kinks". [more inside]
In honour of Labour day, enjoy a documentary on Jewish anarchism at the turn of the 20th century, and the story of The Free Voice of Labour, their Yiddish newspaper that ran from 1890-1977. [more inside]
How did something as loud as a bell—something which is experienced so much more often, and more powerfully, by hearing than by sight—become dumb?[more inside]
In These Hopeful Machines "James Gardner traces a personal path through the evolving world of electronic music – and meets some of the people who made it happen. In six content-rich episodes he looks at over 100 years of recording techniques, electronic instruments and gizmos, and their use in popular music, art music and their position in Western culture." [more inside]
Fans of history, mythology, language, and music: allow Metsatöll's Lauri Õunapuu to present his arsenal of traditional Estonian instruments. Then continue below the fold for an introduction to the world of folk metal. [more inside]
Without You I'm Nothing: The Believer looks at the memoirs of the wives and girlfriends of rock stars.
Wattstax [SLYT] is a 1973 documentary film about the 1972 Wattstax music festival, held at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum to commemorate the seventh anniversary of the Watts riots. Featuring performances by Isaac Hayes, Albert King, Rufus and Carla Thomas, The Staple Singers, The Emotions, The Bar-Kays, and other greats of soul, R&B, and gospel, Wattstax also incorporates relatively unknown comic Richard Pryor's musings on life for black Americans in 1972, "man-and-woman-on-the-street" interviews, and audience footage. [NSFW] [more inside]
The Grammy nominated, golden record album from Frank Sinatra that nobody has heard of. Despite featuring one of Frank Sinatra's more iconic songs, this little known three part concept album known as the Trilogy: Past, Present, and Future was meant to be a reflection of Frank Sinatra's career, starting with the Past which included many of his classic numbers, and then going into the Present, which mostly consisted of covers like those of The Beatles and Elvis, but where it gets really interesting is in the Future. [more inside]
To kick off (in the U.S.) the long Memorial Day weekend (traditionally the unofficial start of summer!) the Boston Globe presents an interactive chart of iconic songs of summer from each of the last 100 years! No word yet on the 2014 earworm to be.