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Bob Dylan – A first listen

By Meghann Wilhoite
Somehow, I’ve made it into my 30s without ever having listened to Bob Dylan‘s first album. That is, not that I can remember; my mother informed me over the weekend that I indeed heard it many times as a young one, but truth be told I don’t remember much from my diaper-wearing days (but we’ve already gone over how terrible my memory is).

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Follow-up: Is it music? A closer look

By Meg Wilhoite
In December I blogged about composers whose works challenge listeners to reconsider which combinations of sounds qualify as music and which do not. Interestingly, The Atlantic recently ran an article relating the details of a study that tested how much of our perception of what is “music” – in this case, pleasant, consonant music – is learned (and thus not innate).

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To memorize or not to memorize

By Meghann Wilhoite
I have a confession to make: I have a terrible memory. Well, for some things, anyway. I can name at least three movies and TV shows that Mary McDonnell has been in off the top of my head (Evidence of Blood, Donnie Darko, Battlestar Galactica), and rattle off the names of the seven Harry Potter books, but you take away that Beethoven piano score that I’ve been playing from since I was 14, and my fingers freeze on the keyboard.

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The changing face of opera

Meghann Wilhoite
Outreach and innovation are two buzzwords that pop up again and again in relation to established “classical” music institutions such as symphony orchestras and opera companies. In an effort to build younger audiences, many of these institutions have introduced new programs that attempt to do away with the of the concert-going experience, such as expensive tickets or the need for a certain type of attire, that might discourage younger or less experienced listeners from attending.

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Is it music? A listener’s journey

By Meghann Wilhoite
2012 has been a poignant year for avant-garde music. German composer Hans Werner Henze passed away in October at age 86; a little over a week later American composer Elliott Carter passed away at the age of 103. The late John Cage was, as Musical America put it, “feted beyond his own wildest dreams” this year in celebration of his birth centenary. All three of these composers wrote music that challenged listeners to reconsider the boundaries of what qualifies as music.

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Music we’re thankful for

By Alyssa Bender
Thanksgiving is upon us in the US. Before the OUP Music team headed home for some turkey and stuffing, we compiled a list of what we are most thankful for, musically speaking. Read on for our thoughts, and leave your own in the comments. Happy Thanksgiving!

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What’s so impressive about drumming?

By Meghann Wilhoite
November is International Drum Month, so declared by the Percussion Marketing Council. Percussionists are often the most underrated performers in the world of music, perhaps because specialized instruments aren’t strictly necessary: anyone with an upturned bucket or even just two hands to clap can engage in percussion pretty much anywhere. But drumming is harder than it looks.

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Lofty musing: Has it only been 467 years?

By Meghann Wilhoite
Imagine yourself in a lofty cathedral, silver voices echoing off of vaulted stone, with a slight chill in the close air. Are you there? Ok, now you’re ready for the music of English composer John Taverner. Touted as the most influential composer of his time, Taverner (c.1490-1545) was and continues to be admired for his skill in the creation of polyphonic (‘many-voiced’) music — that is, independent musical lines that layer on top of each other in a way that sounds harmonious; the lines fit together without losing any of their individuality.

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West Side Story, 55 years later

By Meghann Wilhoite
Today marks the 55th anniversary of the Broadway premiere of Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story. A racially charged retelling of Romeo and Juliet, West Side Story is set in the “blighted” West Side of 1950s Manhattan, the potent themes of star-crossed love and gang rivalry successfully translated from 16th century Italy to 20th century New York by book-writer Arthur Laurents and lyricist Steven Sondheim.

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John Zorn at 59

By Meghann Wilhoite

It’s difficult to pin a label onto John Zorn. Active since the early 70s, Zorn has effectively woven his peculiar style of musical experimentation into the fabric of New York City’s downtown scene. His work—in the general sense of the word—has varied from philanthropic to shocking, with a curatorial bent that has often held quite a bit of sway.

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The king of instruments: Scary or sleepy?

By Meghann Wilhoite
Whenever I tell people I’m an organist, I usually get one of two reactions. The person I’m talking to hunches over and sings the formidable opening notes of J.S. Bach’s D minor prelude; or, the person relates the organ’s slumberous effect during seemingly interminable church services.

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Saving Sibelius: Software in peril

By Meghann Wilhoite
You may not have known it, but July was a pretty stressful month for the composers of this world. Or at least several thousand of them. The life of Sibelius, one of the leading music notation software programs, has seemingly come under threat of dissipation as Avid (who owns the software) has recently shut down Sibelius’ UK office, simultaneously laying off the software’s core development team.

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Reflecting on 50 years of the Rolling Stones

By Alyssa Bender
This Thursday marks the 50th anniversary of the debut performance of the Rolling Stones at London’s Marquee club on Thursday, 12 July 1962. After putting out their first single two years later, the Rolling Stones would go on to release over two dozen studio albums, over 100 singles, and numerous compilation and live albums. We asked some staff at Oxford for their favorite Rolling Stones songs and why they think they’re so great; read on for their answers.

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