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A history of electronic music

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]
posted by coleboptera on Aug 10, 2014 - 27 comments

who hoard the air & hunt the hare with the ox & swim against the torrent

Troubadors! [more inside]
posted by Iridic on Jul 16, 2014 - 9 comments

Heavy metal...with a traditional touch!

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]
posted by gueneverey on Jul 10, 2014 - 16 comments

"Can you deal with the fact that I'm not in love with you?"

Without You I'm Nothing: The Believer looks at the memoirs of the wives and girlfriends of rock stars.
posted by The Whelk on Jul 4, 2014 - 20 comments

"There are specific instructions when Isaac Hayes comes on."

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]
posted by Room 641-A on Jul 3, 2014 - 23 comments

From New York to Mars with the Chairman of the Board

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]
posted by KernalM on Jun 26, 2014 - 13 comments

The Songs of Summer

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.
posted by Curious Artificer on May 24, 2014 - 60 comments

You scream, I scream, we all scream...

The song "Turkey In The Straw" is one known to millions of Americans as well as many, many others around the world. Here's a National Public Radio article that shines some light on the virulently racist lyrics that attended that familiar old melody in its earlier incarnation. WARNING: Do not go to the link if you wish to avoid racist imagery and slurs.
posted by flapjax at midnite on May 14, 2014 - 117 comments

Long Player

Long Player is a fortnightly show presented by [British music journalist] Pete Paphides. Conducted in a relaxed setting, these interviews see some of Petes favourite artists revisiting the highs and lows of their careers. Interviewees include Allen Toussaint, Linda Thompson, Neil Finn and Jimmy Webb. [more inside]
posted by jack_mo on May 11, 2014 - 7 comments

The devourer and the devoured

"Nobody would believe how difficult it is to be the mother of a Wunderkind. Everything I do is wrong; everything the child does is “for effect”; everything we say is utterly untrue. If Vivien runs up to me and kisses me, I hear it murmured that she is trained to do so. (“Whipped to be affectionate in public!”) So I tell her never to do it again. Immediately people remark how cold I am to the child; how the poor little creature evidently fears me and prefers Fräulein Muller. We take her with her hoop and skipping-rope to play in the park? It is said we make her pretend to be infantine, force her to act the “happy child” when people are looking on! So we take her toys from her and conduct her for prim walks between us. “Poor little unnatural creature!” say our friends: “she has no child-life at all.” The Devourer and the Devoured is a long essay by Emily Hogstad about the intertwined lives of the novelist Annie Vivanti and her daughter Vivien Chartres, a world-famous violin prodigy, at the beginning of the twentieth century.
posted by escabeche on Apr 29, 2014 - 16 comments

Anyone can see the road that they walk on is paved in gold

The 1998 hit "The Way" by Fastball was based on the real-life disappearance of an elderly couple in Texas: The song’s lyrics -- about an elderly couple who disappears from their home, finding immortality on the road -- seem sweet. That is, until "shadows" on the highway are referenced. The promises that the unnamed couple will never go home, grow old, or be hungry again seem a great deal less reassuring. Perhaps, the listener thinks, the "immortality" they found on the open road is purely allegorical.
posted by Cash4Lead on Apr 24, 2014 - 33 comments

How Hip-Hop Failed Black America

The Root's ?uestlove on the invisibilizing of Black culture... "...you can point to this as proof of hip-hop’s success. The concept travels. But where has it traveled? The danger is that it has drifted into oblivion. The music originally evolved to paint portraits of real people and handle real problems at close range — social contract, anyone? — but these days, hip-hop mainly rearranges symbolic freight on the black starliner. Containers on the container ship are taken from here to there — and never mind the fact that they may be empty containers. Keep on pushin’ and all that, but what are you pushing against?" [more inside]
posted by artof.mulata on Apr 23, 2014 - 32 comments

If I get killed, please don't bury my soul.

The Ballad of Geeshie and Elvie. No grave site, no photograph. Forget that — no anecdotes. This is what set Geeshie and Elvie apart even from the rest of an innermost group of phantom geniuses of the ’20s and ’30s. Their myth was they didn’t have anything you could so much as hang a myth on.
posted by oinopaponton on Apr 12, 2014 - 42 comments

Pictures of Coltrane

Coltrane in "A love supreme" sessions. "Whenever photographer Chuck Stewart was hired by a record company to document a recording session, he would shoot during the rehearsal takes. Recently, his son David was browsing through his archives when he found six undeveloped rolls of film from December 1964, 50 years ago.. They portrayed saxophonist John Coltrane . . . with his quartet, making a work that would soon be hailed as a masterpiece and a landmark of 20th-century music: A Love Supreme." [more inside]
posted by goofyfoot on Mar 30, 2014 - 9 comments

Wormhole Radio

Scratchy Grooves For almost twenty years, starting in 1984, Bill Chambless on WVUD-FM at the University of Delaware, explored the pop music of 1900 to 1940 on vintage recordings, "scratches and all." Stream the shows at this website, migrated from the original cassette tapes and maintained by his son.
posted by Miko on Jan 24, 2014 - 9 comments

Giving You Oral

Don't fight it. It's the year of the oral history. If there hasn't yet been an oral history on your favorite pop culture phenomenon, it won't be long. In the meantime, for your reading pleasure, how about starting with an oral history of Captain Marvel: The Series? Or perhaps you'd rather read about The Telluride Bluegrass Festival? If your taste runs more toward technology, check out an oral history of Apple design. More reading inside! [more inside]
posted by MoonOrb on Jan 13, 2014 - 24 comments

Matana Roberts - Coin Coin

Coin Coin Chapter Two: Mississippi Moonchile (full album stream) is the second instalment in Matana Roberts's projected 12 part Coin Coin series of albums, "using the language of acoustic jazz to look at ideas of race, class and gender politics in American society". Coin Coin was the nickname of a totemic figure from African-American history, Marie Thérèse Metoyer – a freed slave who founded a community along the Cane River in Louisiana in the late 18th century where people of colour enjoyed greater freedoms and opportunities than they could in most other places in the South. [more inside]
posted by dng on Oct 2, 2013 - 2 comments

If I Could Just Teach This to You

"Women in hip hop are more important than men in hip hop". KRS-1 recently gave a lecture at Fresno State detailing the very beginnings of hip hop in the early 1970's. Even if you've been following hip hop your whole life, you will likely still learn something incredible about the history of this art form.
posted by cashman on Aug 12, 2013 - 12 comments

No kangaroos were tied down in the making of this post

From Australia Day 2011 to Australia Day 2012 (26 January, natch) John Thompson posted a different Australian folk song on his blog each day, starting with Mortom Bay and ending of course with Waltzing Matilda. For those who'd like the full audio visual Aussie folk experience, there's also Raymond Crooke's Youtube playlist.
posted by MartinWisse on Jul 1, 2013 - 7 comments

Velocissimo, Affrettando, Prestissimo!!

50,000 years of Western music in under 500 seconds: A video of artist Pablo Morales de los Rios creating one of those whiteboard-n'-marker style accelerated drawings spanning ~500 centuries of the stuff that soothes a savage breast. (Spanish, with English subtitles. Warning: may not contain all the things.)
posted by taz on Jun 30, 2013 - 12 comments

Pop History

The People's Songs: The Story of Modern Britain in 50 Records is a radio series on BBC written and narrated by Stuart Maconie. Each episode focuses on one particular pop song and tells the story of the song as well as what social trends it mirrored, for instance the episode on Telstar by The Tornadoes focuses on the technological progress, especially in space travel and music, and the story of songwriter and record producer Joe Meek. 25 episodes have been broadcast, including ones on Dizzee Rascal's Bonkers and 21st Century Britain, Cornershop's Brimful of Asha and the British-Asian experience , and Serge Gainsbourg's Je T'aime and sex. There are 25 more to come. There is also a blog and profiles of the songs already discussed. [Previously on MeFi]
posted by Kattullus on Jun 25, 2013 - 14 comments

Crankies

“We did our first show in a bar...all of a sudden, the whole room was quiet. And then we got everyone to sit on the floor cross-legged to watch our crankies.” [more inside]
posted by Miko on May 24, 2013 - 10 comments

Beethoven's Hair

On March 26th, 1827 Ludwig Van Beethoven died in Vienna. The day after, a twelve year old boy took a lock of his hair as a souvenir. 167 years later the hair was sold at an auction in London. Its new owners were two Americans, Ira Brilliant and Che Guevera. Between those dates the lock of hair undertook an extraordinary historical odyssey. From hand to hand, from country to country, and from century to century. This is the story of that journey. [more inside]
posted by 23 on May 18, 2013 - 15 comments

From Ritual to Performance

Great artists rise early, stay up late, float themselves in coffee, flirt with amphetamines, drink carefully, eat if necessary, take morning walks followed by afternoon naps, procrastinate, amuse themselves, avoid their friends, hold down jobs, indulge their oddities, and workwork like draft horses. [more inside]
posted by Iridic on May 6, 2013 - 35 comments

The 100 Most Influential Singles of the 1960s

The 100 Most Influential Singles of the 1960s. [via mefi projects] [more inside]
posted by item on Mar 18, 2013 - 66 comments

A Long Walk

John Cline writes book reviews for The Los Angeles Review of Books, and has co-edited two anthologies on grindhouse cinema. Last May he was awarded his PhD in American Studies and like so many others in the humanities was unable to find a job in his field. So he decided to go for a walk. Inspired by his hometown poet and drawing on his longtime interest in American music and history, John decided to follow the path of The Great Migration up the Mississippi, recording and blogging his experience. This would not be a test of endurance, but an sociological/anthropological immersion, a document about the land, history and people of the Mississippi River valley. With some help from Kickstarter John arranged to walk from New Orleans to Memphis, to work river boats from Memphis to St Louis and finally to travel by train the last leg to Chicago. Having started on Ash Wednesday, he has already visited Angola Prison, encountered a down on his luck former Rodeo Star and discovered the joys of walking fifteen plus miles with a fifty pound pack on his back. Most importantly he is sharing what he has learned of our modern lifestyle and the nature of human kindness.
posted by bozeman's simplex on Mar 18, 2013 - 6 comments

35000 BC: Earliest three holed flutes appear. And we go from there...

Music Timeline: A chronology of music from prehistory to the present day
posted by flapjax at midnite on Mar 4, 2013 - 11 comments

Kitchen Junkets and Contra Dance

Kitchen Junkets in New England homes were a wintertime venue for live music and contra dance - a social dance form that's never really faded from the region's popular culture. Often credited with keeping the form alive, scholar/musician Ralph Page celebrated the kitchen junket and other contra traditions from 1949-1984 in his hand-printed magazine Northern Junket, available indexed and fully digitized via the University of New Hampshire. [more inside]
posted by Miko on Mar 3, 2013 - 15 comments

Our Day (Marion County 1938)

Our Day (Marion County 1938) is a 1938 silent film by Wallace Kelly of Lebanon, Kentucky, with a soundtrack by Rachel Grimes (previously of Rachel's)
posted by dng on Feb 22, 2013 - 4 comments

And it's my plan if some great man, Dies with a broken head, Sirs, With much bewail I does detail, His death before he's dead, Sirs!

You wouldn't think so from its trendy shops and restaurants today, but Seven Dials was once one of the worst slums in London. Intended as a smart residential area when its construction was completed in 1710, this cartwheel of streets between Charing Cross Road and Covent Garden quickly declined to become an over-crowded refuge for the city's thieves. It was here that London's thriving trade in gallows ballads made its home.
A collaboration across more than 100 years, from the jobbing hacks writing ballads and selling them at the foot of the gallows to the historical investigation of the British Library's broadsheet collection by MeFi's own Paul Slade, to modern rock, folk, and blues musicians, and then to your ears. [via mefi projects] [more inside]
posted by carsonb on Jan 6, 2013 - 9 comments

EPIC RAP BATTLES OF HISTORY! ...RHAOMI! ...VERSUS... RHYTHM! ...BEGIN!!!

Since it debuted on the blue in '11 // Epic Rap Battles of History preppin' // to score itself more than a billion views // and become TopDog of the pack YouTube
Made by NicePeter and EpicLloyd // (two improv comics by Maker employed) // The series pits icons of legend renowned // in a slick-wit freestyle rap throwdown
With snappier writing, and better FX // online celebs (and Google Ad checks) // The Epic Rap crew's halfway done with the brew // that is Epic Rap Battles of History Part Deux
The midseason's close? It comes out today. // In one corner: Santa Claus, fresh from his sleigh
And his prophet o' doom? "He ain't Mayan," ERBoH sez.
It's Snoop Dogg -- Snoop Lion -- as mothafuckin' Moses
[WHO WON?][WHO'S NEXT?][more inside]
posted by Rhaomi on Dec 10, 2012 - 27 comments

The Violence

The Violence is a new album by Darren Hayman about the Essex Witch Trials conducted by Matthew Hopkins, where over 300 women were put to death between 1644 and 1646. [more inside]
posted by dng on Nov 28, 2012 - 7 comments

Meet the Cheatles

In February 1964, when the Beatles played the Ed Sullivan Show, record executives in America were faced with the question of how to get a piece of the Beatlemania action. The result was an explosion of knockoff Beatles records, promising things like “The Beetle Beat”, “Beat-A-Mania” and “The Original Liverpool Sound”, credited (often in type far smaller than the famous song titles) to bands with names like The Bearcuts, The Manchesters, The Moptops and the Liverpool Kids, and featuring cover models with varyingly plausible approximations of the Beatles' haircuts, as detailed by WFMU's Gaylord Fields (SLVimeo).
posted by acb on Nov 22, 2012 - 34 comments

Brasil profundo

A treasure trove of Brazil from the conflict between Natives and farmers to Music inspired by the bandit Lampião.
Discover writers (with a metafilter hat tip); Scary Lullabies e muito mais.
posted by adamvasco on Nov 10, 2012 - 5 comments

Ephemeral New York

Ephemeral New York 'chronicles an ever-changing, constantly reinvented city through photos, newspaper archives, and other scraps and artifacts that have been edged into New York’s collective remainder bin.' [more inside]
posted by zarq on Oct 11, 2012 - 5 comments

THE resource on the net for the history of GLBT music

Queer Music Heritage is a sprawling website about the history of queer music. You can listen to twelve years' worth of monthly radio shows (link goes to the first year, 2000); take a look at the Queer Music History 101 overview; check out the extensive photo galleries in the female impersonators section; or read through the blog, which features interesting tidbits from gay musical history, like this overview of the Sissy Man Blues. [more inside]
posted by showbiz_liz on Sep 24, 2012 - 3 comments

Playin' in a Travelin' Band

Springsteen in the USA: 40 years of Touring as a Study in Spatial Diffusion "As a geographer, 1500+ shows over 40 years is an opportunity to map...how phenomenons such as innovation, fashion, or disease spread geographically. Except in this case the contagion is rock ‘n roll."
posted by Miko on Sep 13, 2012 - 21 comments

the soul of American music, laid out, explained, delineated and personalized, brilliantly

Goddammit it, I wish I'd written this deliciously nail-on-the-head, brilliantly insightful and sweeping overview of American musico-cultural history, seasoned with heavy dollops of personal remembrances and observations that I identify with so much that it's almost scary. But alas, I didn't. Still, I'm really, really grateful that William Hogeland did: Coons! Freaks! Hillwilliams! : 200 Years of Roots-Rock Revival (a Memoir).
posted by flapjax at midnite on Jul 28, 2012 - 22 comments

He Said, She Said, Starring Bob Dylan and a $1 Million Guitar.

Bob Dylan famously "went electric" at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965. 47 years later, experts believe a woman in New Jersey has the guitar the Dylan played on stage that day. [more inside]
posted by COD on Jul 13, 2012 - 46 comments

"Maybe Monk Time is here at last."

You're a Monk, I'm a Monk, We're All Monks is a short video introduction to The Monks, a band founded in 1964 by five American soldiers in Germany. They put out only one album, the abrasive, noisy, minimalistic Black Monk Time in 1965, that sounded like nothing else at the time. They also dressed in all-black, shaved monkish tonsures in their hair and wore bits of rope as neckties. In 1966 they appeared on German TV shows Beat-Club and Beat, Beat, Beat, and played three songs on each, Boys Are Boys and Girls Are Choice, Monk Chant, Oh, How to Do Now, Complication, I Can't Get Over You and Cuckoo. Aaron Poehler interviewed The Monks and wrote about their history back in 1999. That same year they got back together to play at the Cavestomp festival. And here The Monks are being interviewed by a hand-puppet on public access television in Chicago. [The Monks previously on MetaFilter]
posted by Kattullus on Jul 12, 2012 - 49 comments

The Lomax Collection -- a 'renewal of the forgotten springs of human creativity.'

NPR: "Folklorist Alan Lomax spent his career documenting folk music traditions from around the world." Now, nearly ten years after his death, thousands of the songs and interviews he recorded are available for free online, many for the first time. "It's part of what Lomax envisioned for [his] collection — long before the age of the Internet." (Mr. Lomax, Previously on MeFi) [more inside]
posted by zarq on Mar 28, 2012 - 27 comments

San Patricios: the Irish Mexican connection

Hailed as heroes in Mexico for fighting with and defending the country against American invasion and reviled as traitors in the US for desertion, about 50 Irish immigrants were hung en masse after defeat in the Mexican-American War. A musical collaboration by The Chieftains, Ry Cooder and Latino musicians tell the history of the 'San Patricios'. (Related NPR story) For more background on the San Patricios, the fascinating documentary Saol John Riley, part 1 and part 2 follows Kerry singer songwriter Charlie O'Brien as he revisits sites associated with Patricio leader John Riley to discover the revolutionary hero's fate. [more inside]
posted by madamjujujive on Mar 17, 2012 - 25 comments

Jewish-Freemasonic Yowl

"But maybe the single most remarkable example of 20th-century totalitarian invective against jazz that Skvorecky ever relayed was here in the intro to The Bass Saxophone, where he recalls -- faithfully, he assures us ("they had engraved themselves deeply on my mind") -- a set of regulations, issued by a Gauleiter -- a regional official for the Reich -- as binding on all local dance orchestras during the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia." (via)
posted by SpiffyRob on Mar 12, 2012 - 34 comments

I shall possess within the veil, a life of joy and peace.

The legendary Dick Dale covers Amazing Grace, 12/09 in a Studio Session on NPR's KEXP. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Feb 24, 2012 - 22 comments

Enrico Caruso, the first global superstar of the gramophone era

Although many fine divas stamped their mark on early recording, it was the tenor voice of Caruso which was the defining voice of the early twentieth century. His reputation was due to the fact that people could not only hear him in their own homes, but that his success could actually be measured in record sales; he was the first global superstar of the gramophone era. Enrico Caruso was the first recording artist with a million-selling record ("Vesti la Giubba," from Pagliacci), and his recordings of 10 songs 'made the gramophone' in 1902. He went on to make about commercial 490 recordings, and there is even more unreleased material. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Feb 16, 2012 - 14 comments

The Misunderstood Power of Michael Jackson's Music

The Atlantic explores whether Michael Jackson's contributions, like those of other black artists, are minimized because of his skin color.
posted by reenum on Feb 13, 2012 - 216 comments

Alan Lomax's Global Jukebox

A decade after the death of renowned folklorist Alan Lomax, his vision of a "global jukebox" is being realized: his vast archive — some 5,000 hours of sound recordings, 400,000 feet of film, 3,000 videotapes, 5,000 photographs and piles of manuscripts, much of it tucked away in forgotten or inaccessible corners — is being digitized so that the collection can be accessed online. About 17,000 music tracks will be available for free streaming by the end of February. NYT article here.
posted by flapjax at midnite on Jan 30, 2012 - 39 comments

Kist o Riches Indeed

Tobar an Dualchais will keep you busy for awhile. It's a collection of over 26,000 oral recordings made in Scotland, from the 1930s onward. Folklore, songs, music, history, poetry, oh my. Includes some fascinating material from Belle Stewart, the McPake Sisters of Peebles and John the Bard.
posted by RedEmma on Jan 14, 2012 - 5 comments

British History, Sung at Christmas

The Truth about Christmas Carols -- Howard Goodall uncovers the surprising and often secret history of the Christmas carol in this hour-long BBC documentary.
posted by crunchland on Dec 25, 2011 - 9 comments

You shall Hear things, Wonderful to tell

A decade on, the Coen brothers' woefully underrated O Brother, Where Art Thou? [alt] is remembered for a lot of things: its sun-drenched, sepia-rich cinematography (a pioneer of digital color grading), its whimsical humor, fluid vernacular, and many subtle references to Homer's Odyssey. But one part of its legacy truly stands out: the music. Assembled by T-Bone Burnett, the soundtrack is a cornucopia of American folk music, exhibiting everything from cheery ballads and angelic hymns to wistful blues and chain-gang anthems. Woven into the plot of the film through radio and live performances, the songs lent the story a heartfelt, homespun feel that echoed its cultural heritage, a paean and uchronia of the Old South. Though the multiplatinum album was recently reissued, the movie's medley is best heard via famed documentarian D. A. Pennebaker's Down from the Mountain, an extraordinary yet intimate concert film focused on a night of live music by the soundtrack's stars (among them Gillian Welch, Emmylou Harris, Chris Thomas King, bluegrass legend Dr. Ralph Stanley) and wryly hosted by John Hartford, an accomplished fiddler, riverboat captain, and raconteur whose struggle with terminal cancer made this his last major performance. The film is free in its entirety on Hulu and YouTube -- click inside for individual clips, song links, and breakdowns of the set list's fascinating history. [more inside]
posted by Rhaomi on Dec 22, 2011 - 107 comments

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