Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

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What makes a love song? OUP staff have their say

The “love song” is undoubtedly timeless, pervading over the centuries–the themes of beauty, time, passion and heartache can be seen very early on in William Shakespeare’s sonnets, (among some of the first expressions of the love song), and with these universal ideas of love remaining ever-significant subject matter of popular music today.

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Music Therapy Perspectives

Challenging assumptions about how music helps

When people asked me what I did for a living, some were curious and wanted to know more, while others looked at me as if I were selling snake oil. Nowadays, these conversations are slightly different. Although it is still not always well understood as a profession, more people are familiar with the term “music therapy” and open to the idea that music and other creative mediums may be used to promote health and well-being.

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Image copyright Oxford University Press / J Butson

Uncovering the story of Percy Grainger’s wine glasses

It is a curious fact that hidden away in the sheet music archive here in Oxford, we have a set of three wine glasses dating back to the 1930s stored in a dusty old suitcase with luggage tags attached, that rarely sees the light of day. We did some research to uncover the history behind the glasses.

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Melua Chilcott Nunc Dimittis

The music and traditions of Candlemas

Many of us argue about whether Twelfth Night is the evening of 5 or 6 January, anxious that it is considered unlucky to leave Christmas decorations hanging after this. In fact, a more ancient feast of the Church counts the forty days after Christmas as the whole season of Christmastide, ending with the celebration of Candlemas.

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9780199313471

The year Bob Dylan was born again: a timeline

On November 17, 1978, while playing a gig in San Diego, an audience member apparently threw a small silver cross onto the stage, and [Bob] Dylan felt impelled to pick it up and put it into his pocket. The following night, in Tucson, Arizona, he was feeling even worse and reached into his pocket, pulled out the cross, and put it on.

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The centennial of mambo king Pérez Prado

In the late 1940s and early 1950s a new, fast, and instantly appealing music and dance style swept across the globe: the mambo. The man behind the new sensation was the Cuban pianist, composer, bandleader, and showman Dámaso Pérez Prado.

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9780190252946

The legacy of Wilson “Wicked” Pickett [excerpt]

Today marks eleven years since the death of Wilson “Wicked” Pickett. Known for such hits as “In the Midnight Hour,” “Land of 1,000 Dances,” and “Mustang Sally,” Pickett claimed his place as one of history’s most influential R&B figures when he was

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9780190212605

Labeling right in the age of Trump

Steve Bannon is a white nationalist. That was the first media characterization I heard of the former Breitbart executive after his appointment as chief strategist and senior counselor to President-elect Donald Trump on November 13, 2016. During the month that followed, center-left commentators also described Bannon as a “racist,” a “white supremacist,” a “white separatist,” a “neo-Nazi,” a “fascist.”

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Community Voiceworks

Do you have what it takes to lead a community choir?

Singing is one of the quickest routes to social bonding and a feeling of shared endeavour, which is why community groups are immensely popular. Leading such a group is exciting and rewarding says Peter Hunt, an experienced choral trainer and conductor. Why not try it yourself?

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From Miss Havisham to Ebenezer Scrooge: playlists for Dickens’ characters

Charles Dickens is one of the most famous novelists of all time. The energy which surges through his writing brings the Victorian world to life, and his lively ensemble of characters has seeped from his pages, deep into popular culture. There are roughly two thousand named characters in his novels, and many more unnamed. In the playlists below, we imagine what some of his most famous characters would listen to if they had access to our modern musical offerings.

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9780199396641

Get to the point with “The Viennese Sigh”

Whether speaking in simple conversation, acting dramatically on stage, singing in the shower, or performing on a musical instrument in a recital hall, the common goal is to “get to the point” in some way or another. In Classical Era music, a tool that facilitates getting to the point is the use of small gestures that are designated with a slur.

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9780190499006

The language of Christmas [quiz]

Christmas carols–a celebratory tradition spanning language and culture–were originally derived from the songs sung during the Winter Solstice. Christian lyrics were set to the tune of popular pagan carols, giving way to the festive music still played today.

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Fostering friendly relations between Hitler’s Germany and Franco’s Spain through music

As the Wehrmacht launched its offensive on the USSR in summer 1941, a contingent of Spanish musicians and critics travelled to Bad Elster, on the border between Bavaria and Bohemia. In the spa town, they took part in the first of three Hispanic-German music festivals held during the Second World War aimed at fostering cultural and political understanding between both countries.

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Introducing Elanor from the sheet music marketing team

We are delighted to introduce Elanor Caunt who joined OUP’s sheet music marketing department in September 2016 and is based in the Oxford offices. We sat down to talk to her about what a typical day marketing sheet music looks like, what life on a desert island should involve, and the ‘interesting’ wildlife of Oxford.

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