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Sospiri’s Jenny Forsyth on voice and song

Throughout the month, we’ve examining the myriad aspects of the human voice. But who better to discuss it than a singer herself? We asked Jenny Forsyth, member of the Sospiri choir in Oxford, what it takes to be part of a successful choir.

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The inspiration of Alice in Wonderland: 150 years on

This Christmas, London’s Royal Opera House played host to Christopher Wheeldon’s critically acclaimed Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, performed by the Royal Ballet and with a score by Joby Talbot. Indeed, Lewis Carroll’s seminal work Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865) has long inspired classical compositions, in forms as diverse as ballet, opera, chamber music, song, as well as, of course, film scores.

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The myth-eaten corpse of Robert Burns

‘Oh, that this too, too solid flesh would melt,’ so wrote the other bard, Shakespeare. Scotland’s bard, Robert Burns, has had a surfeit of biographical attention: upwards of three hundred biographical treatments, and as if many of these were not fanciful enough hundreds of novels, short stories, theatrical, television, and film treatments that often strain well beyond credulity.

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The quintessential human instrument

The neat thing about the voice is that, while we don’t usually change the material, the shape is very flexible, and we can manipulate it to change our timbre. Overtone singing like Hefele’s takes an element of vocal sound and turns it into a new sort of instrument, inverting the typical relationship between instrument and timbre.

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Salamone Rossi as a Jew among Gentiles

As a Jewish musician working for the Mantuan court, and competing for the favors that its Christian musicians and composers hoped to gain, it was only inevitable for Rossi to have been considered an intruder.

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A Motown music playlist

More than half a century after its founding, Motown is still remembered by fans, musicians, and historians as the mover and shaker of its generation. From The Temptations’ “My Girl” to Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard It Through The Grapevine,” its reverberating influence is recognized even today, echoed in modern hits like Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars’ wildly popular “Uptown Funk.”

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Women’s contributions to the making of Motown: Solo artists

Starting in the early 1960s, female artists embarked upon solo careers with the Motown label. The first to be signed to the label was Mable John, a blues vocalist born in Bastrop, Louisiana. Slow melodic songs like “No Love” and “Who Wouldn’t Love a Man Like That” stood firmly in the blues genre yet only appealed to a limited, mature audience and did not translate into commercial success.

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Women’s contributions to the making of Motown: Girl Groups

The Marvelettes, a girl group consisting of Gladys Horton, Katherine Anderson, Georgeanna Tillman, Juanita Cowart and Wanda Young, recorded Motown’s first number one pop hit, “Please Mr. Postman.” The upbeat song topped both the pop and R&B charts, making the Marvelettes one of the first all-girl groups in the industry to achieve such a feat.

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In memoriam: Lawrence Gushee

Oxford University Press is saddened to report the passing of noted jazz scholar Lawrence Gushee on 6 January 2015. A Professor of Music at the University of Illinois for over 20 years, he held the title of Emeritus Professor of Music at Illinois since 1997.

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Women’s contributions to the making of Motown: The Duets

Perhaps no other record label in America’s music history performed a more significant role in fashioning Rhythm and Blues’ assimilation into the country’s popular culture than Motown Records. Founded by Detroit songwriter Berry Gordy, Jr. in 1959, Motown (originally named Tamla Records) began producing hit records almost from its inception and continued to do so throughout the sixties.

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Elvis: a life in pictures

Today 8 January, would have been Elvis Presley’s 80th birthday. In remembrance of his fascinating life we’re sharing a slideshow from the beautiful images in Elvis Presley: A Southern Life by Joel Williamson.

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Vernon and Gladys

Today, 8 January, is the 80th birthday of Elvis Presley. Born to Vernon Elvis Presley and Gladys Love Presley (née Smith) in 1935, the ‘King of Rock and Roll’ left an indelible mark on American popular culture. In celebration, we present a brief extract from Elvis Presley: A Southern Life by Joel Williamson.

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Seven facts about American Christmas Music

With that familiar chill in the air signaling winter’s imminent arrival, it’s time again to indulge our craving for Christmas music by singers ranging from Frank Sinatra to Mariah Carey. But first, let’s take a step back and explore the history of Christmas music with the following facts.

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A festive Festivus music playlist

As the holiday season is upon us, we thought we would recognize a tradition often lost in the hustle and bustle: Festivus. We’ve compiled our favorite, slightly more obscure seasonal tunes to wish you all a very merry Festivus season.

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