Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

9780190275105

The Devil’s best tunes

It’s been said that the Devil has all the best tunes. If this is true, he likes to keep a conspicuously low profile. While songs of praise for Jesus, God, Krishna, Buddha, the Virgin Mary, and a host of other deities, saints, and semi-deities abound, Satan is seldom properly hymned.

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10 facts about the trombone

Tuba, trumpet, trombone…which one should you pick up this fall? Read below to learn what makes the trombone the right choice, and to find out a little more about this bass instrument’s long history.

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Illuminating Shakespeare

Musical literacy in Shakespeare’s England

It is a commonplace to say that, in Renaissance England, music was everywhere. Yet, however true the statement is, it obscures the fact that music existed in many different forms, with very different functions and very different meanings.

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Japanese elections: constitutional revision and the anxiety of free speech

While the high drama of the Brexit vote and the US presidential election has grabbed international headlines, Japan has also completed an election that may have far-reaching implications. In the elections for the Upper House of the Diet (Japan’s parliament) on July 10, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and its coalition partners won 162 seats.

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Music for adolescent voices and the nightmare problem of ‘cool’

Oxford University Press has taken the risk of providing for the UK what the Cambiata Press has for many years been providing in the US – “quality music for adolescent choirs containing changing voices.” I use the word “risk” because cambiata music is a small market and the music teachers and choir conductors who understand what it is and why it’s needed are a small proportion of the minority who might even consider that choral work with adolescent boys is important. A minority they may be, but they are a growing minority and through this growth comes growth in the market.

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Was Anton LaVey serenading Satan in his cover of “Answer Me”?

Anton Szandor LaVey was the most outspoken and most notorious apostle of Satan in the twentieth century. On his life before founding the Church of Satan in 1966, LaVey liked to spun wild tales, but he did actually work as a professional and semi-professional musician in the carnival circuit. The High Priest of Satan was fond of bombastic classic music in the Wagnerian mould and popular tunes from the thirties, forties, and fifties, the period in which he himself had been young.

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Top 10 tips to tackling and transforming piano technique

We have all attended concerts where a performer dazzled us with technique that seemed hardly humanly possible – a phenomenon that has been a part of musical performances throughout history. In a 1783 anecdotal memory by Johann Matthias Gesner, the ability of J. S. Bach’s playing was described to “effect what not many Orpheuses, nor […]

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Preparing for ISME Glasgow

This weekend, the 32nd International Society for Music Education World Conference will be hosted in Glasgow, Scotland. Researchers, practitioners, and performers will gather to present concerts, talks and discussions. We asked a few attendees for their pre-ISME thoughts and plans. What are you looking forward to at the conference?

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Illuminating Shakespeare

What music would Shakespeare’s characters listen to?

Shakespeare’s characters can often appear far-removed from our modern day world of YouTube, Beyoncé and grime. Yet they were certainly no less interested in music than we are now, with music considered to be at the heart of Shakespeare’s artistic vision. Of course our offerings have come a long way since Shakespeare’s day, but we think it is a shame that they never had a chance to hear the musical delights of Katy Perry or Slipknot.

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Ten facts about the bass guitar

The bass guitar is often thought to be a poor musician’s double bass or a poor musician’s guitar. Nonetheless, luthiers and performers have explored its expressive possibilities within a wide range of musical styles and performance traditions, some of which we chart below.

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Musical Prodigies

Is musical success written in the stars?

When we look at the so-called “miraculous gifts” of musical prodigies, it is easy to get caught up in the nature vs. nurture debate: are these prodigies born or made? But we won’t be entering here into the discussion as to whether genetics or education plays the greater role. Instead, there may be a secondary element to this debate that is often overlooked, an element that intrinsically ties together these two conflicting sides.

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Illuminating Shakespeare

When Shakespeare’s plays call for music, what kind of sound should we imagine?

Music at that time was special— magical even— and its effect would have been diminished by constant presence even if that were possible for the musicians, which it was not. David Lindley, indeed, points out that, in contrast to the modern use of filmic underscoring, music in Shakespearean theatre was ‘always part of the world of the play itself, heard and responded to by the characters on- stage’.

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9780199347667

The new jazz films (and their old models)

Recent months have seen the release of two movies about great jazz trumpeters from the 1950s and 60s: Miles Ahead (Don Cheadle, 2015) focusing on Miles Davis, and Born to Be Blue (Robert Budreau, 2015) focusing on Chet Baker (although Miles plays an important role in the latter too: his second cinematic revival in one year). The similarities don’t end there: both films are semi-fictional, homing in on a moment of crisis in their respective protagonists’ real lives and spinning a mostly fictional story around it.

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Illuminating Shakespeare

Shakespearian opera in the shadow of war

Over the past few years, Britain has commemorated Shakespeare’s life, works, and death in parallel with an extensive remembrance of the First World War and those who served in it. The elision of Shakespeare’s work with this particular conflict is not a new trend: 100 years ago, similar celebrations of Shakespeare were occurring in the midst of wartime, and both Britain and Germany were employing his image and plays for propaganda and recruitment purposes.

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