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10 facts about the “king of instruments”

The organ is a complex, powerful instrument. Its history is involved and wide-ranging, and throughout the years it has commanded respect as it leaves its listeners in awe. To celebrate the organ, we compiled a list of 10 facts you may or may not know about this magnificent instrument.

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Revitalising Cambodian traditional performing arts for social change

I am recently returned home (Australia) from six months on a music research project in Cambodia. There were, of course, the practical challenges of the type I quite expected. In the monsoonal downpours, getting around in central Phnom Penh meant wading through knee-deep, dead-rat kind of drain-water. In the thatched huts of the provinces, malarial critters droned their way under my net by night. Gastro and heat exhaustion laid me flat.

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Bittersweet melodies of Agustín Lara in Güeros

The story of four teenagers on a quest to locate their ailing musical idol requires a mix of nostalgia, myth, apathy and disillusionment. Played out across the vast urban expanse that is the City of Mexico, Güeros is conceived in the alternative deadpan style of Jim Jarmusch’s early films or, perhaps, Wim Wenders’ mid-1970s road movie triology.

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The history behind Ukraine’s 2016 Eurovision song

Most entries to the Eurovision song contest are frothy pop tunes, but this year’s contribution from Ukraine addresses Stalin’s deportation of the entire Tatar population of Crimea in May 1944. It may seem an odd choice, but is actually very timely if we dig a little into the history of mass repression and inter-ethnic tensions in the region. Almost a quarter of a million Tatars, an ethnically Turkic people indigenous to the Crimea, were moved en masse to Soviet Central Asia as a collective punishment for perceived collaboration with the Nazis.

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Composer Richard Causton in 10 questions

Richard Causton’s studies took him from the University of York via the Royal College of Music and the Scuola Civica in Milan, to King’s College, Cambridge where he is Lecturer in Composition. In addition to composition, Causton writes and lectures on Italian contemporary music and regularly broadcasts for Italian radio. In our occasional series, in which we ask Oxford composers questions based around their musical likes and dislikes, influences, and challenges, we spoke with Richard Causton about his writing, new music, and his desert island playlist.

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Florence Foster Jenkins: a user’s guide to aging the female voice

In a brief scene in the 1931 Warner Bros. horror film, Svengali, an aging heiress takes voice lessons, falls in love with her teacher, and upon finding her love unrequited and her voice uninspired, throws herself in the river. That the film hastily banishes her for these infractions isn’t much of a surprise, for we don’t tend to remember bad voices, nor do we dwell on older women who would dare possess them. In fact, were it up to Hollywood, we’d hardly dwell on older women at all.

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oupmusic

An eventful weekend at the 2016 Society for American Music conference

The 2016 Society for American Music (SAM) conference was held in Boston, where scholars and institutions from around the globe gathered together in a supportive and uplifting five-day meeting that consisted of panels, presentations, discussions, field trips, musical performances, receptions, and the celebration of books and authors.

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Three Cuts

Songs leave unique imprints on people and places. In India, especially, songs from films offer a multitude of trajectories for anyone who is more than deferentially familiar with them, contained in or limited by larger prospective areas of film study material. Film songs form a major portion of its popular culture hence, are etched into individual and collective memories weaving unique tapestries of such imprints.

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The Oxford Handbook of Music Psychology

Music and what it means to be human

Music is a human construct. What is acknowledged as ‘music’ varies between cultures, groups, and individuals. The Igbo of Nigeria have no specific term for music: the term nkwa denotes ‘singing, playing instruments and dancing’.

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Cambiata choirs explained

At the beginning of May 2015, I spent some time at the Cornwall International Male Voice Choral Festival, a massive affair with 70 choirs at 60 events in 50 venues all over Cornwall, packed into a long Bank Holiday Weekend. The mastermind behind this well-organised event was Festival Director Peter Davies, director of the Huntingdon Male Voice Choir.

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Local opera houses through the ages

Nineteenth and twentieth Century opera houses are finding new lives today. Opera houses were once the center of art, culture, and entertainment for rural American towns–when there was much less competition for our collective attention.

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The evolution of flute sound and style

This March, we’ve been focusing on the flute and its history and importance in the music scene. Resident OUP history editor Nancy Toff is also active in the flute world, as a performer, researcher and instructor. In order to delve into Nancy’s wealth of knowledge about the flute, we asked Meera Gudipati, currently attending the Yale School of Music as a Master of Music, to interview her about flute performance, music history, and other favorite flutists.

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Passion season / Bach season

The arrival of Lent and the anticipation of Holy Week on the Christian liturgical calendar bring with them what professional musicians call “passion season.” In a close parallel to “Messiah season” in December, singers and players hope to find work performing musical settings of the crucifixion narrative, to help audiences and congregations listen and worship and to help get themselves through the next few months’ rent.

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Sound

The trick of the lock: Dorothy L. Sayers and the invention of the voice print

Pre-eminent among writers of mystery stories is, in my opinion, Dorothy L. Sayers. She is ingenious, witty, original – and scientific too, including themes like the fourth dimension, electroplating, and the acoustics of bells in some of her best stories. She is also the inventor of the voice-activated lock, which her hero Lord Wimsey deploys in the 1928 short story ‘The Adventurous Exploit of the Cave of Ali Baba’.

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Affekt: the foundational pillar in eighteenth-century music

How does one capture the Classical style sound aesthetic when approaching performance of eighteenth-century repertoire on the modern piano? Although it is important to know of the period instruments and their associated physical sound qualities, knowing how period musicians approached their art emotionally and intellectually will provide even deeper insight into discovering how to recreate the sound aesthetic.

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