Incorporating the idea of sweetness in songs is nothing new to the music industry. Ubiquitous terms like “sugar” and “honey” are used in ways of both endearment and condescension, love and disdain. Among the (probably) hundreds of songs about sweets, Aaron Gilbreath, essayist and journalist from Portland, Oregon, curated a list of 50 songs, which is included in The Oxford Companion of Sugar and Sweets.
Singing like a winner is what every emerging professional aspires to do. Yet there are so many hardships and obstacles; so much competition and heartache; so many bills to pay that more people sing like whiners than winners.
You can’t understand jazz without its continual, creative religiosities. But to investigate this association is to encounter the scrambling of format and expectation in terms both musicological and religious. For while it is certainly true that jazz has strong roots in African-American Protestantism, not only do these roots twist in unexpected directions but there are other branches reaching into farther soils as well.
Since 1873, Grove Music has expanded from one piece of hardbound reference detailing the work and lives of musicians to becoming a powerful online encyclopedic database that serves to educate the world about music. George Grove, founder of the Grove dictionaries, was motivated by the lack of music reference works available to scholars and music professionals.
The infrequency of two high-profile songsters or their representatives going all the way to trial over claims of copyright infringement means that such a case usually receives heightened public scrutiny. This is especially so when mere sampling of the plaintiff’s song is not at issue. In recent years, few cases have drawn more public attention than the dispute between the Marvin Gaye estate and singer/songwriter Robin Thicke and song producer Pharrell Williams, over whether the song “Blurred Lines” infringed Marvin Gaye’s 1977 hit, “Got to Give It Up.”
The release of Brett Morgen’s documentary Montage of Heck has inspired new discussions of the legacy of Kurt Cobain, the Nirvana frontman who upended popular music before committing suicide in 1994. Few artists have straddled the line between nonconformity and commercialism like Cobain. Consider the three-album arc of his band’s life: though Nirvana boasted of producing its debut album Bleach for $600, Cobain became a Generation X icon by releasing its follow-up, Nevermind, on a major label, and by having a hit single, “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” that dominated MTV.
First of all, gratitude. Gratitude to Opera Parallèle for its consistently high quality productions of contemporary works, and for their extensive educational outreach program; more specifically, for its new production of Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking, featuring revised scoring for smaller orchestral ensembles—a revision that loses nothing and makes the piece more accessible for smaller companies.
A peppy beat and bassline. Cowbell. An ecstatic whoop in the background. Make a note, because all these elements now belong to family of Marvin Gaye. Or do they? The recent verdict against Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams in the ‘Blurred Lines’ case has perplexed followers of the music industry. One might think the ruling was a vindication of the rights of artists, but composers like Bonnie McKee see it differently.
Music as a school subject, it so often seems, retains its apparently perilous position in the school largely as a result of the unstinting pressure of advocacy groups. The 2004 Music Manifesto that underpins much of the current drive to keep school music alive was unashamedly “a voluntary, apolitical 13-strong Partnership and Advocacy Group”.
Whether they be songs about angels or demons, Heaven or Hell, the theme of the afterlife has inspired countless musicians of varying genres and has embedded itself into the lyrics of many popular hits. Though their styles may be different, artists show that our collective questions and musings about the afterlife provide us with a common thread across humanity. Here are some of the songs that best represent this wide range of emotions that many people have about what lies beyond.
Hip hop has increasingly influenced a new generation of American poets. For instance, the current issue of Poetry excerpts poems and essays from the recently published anthology, The BreakBeat Poets, edited by Kevin Coval, Quraysh Ali Lansana, and Nate Marshall. In the anthology’s introduction, Marshall asserts: “This is the story of how generations of young people reared on hip-hop culture and aesthetics took to the page and poem and microphone to create a movement in American letters in the tradition of the Black Arts, Nuyorican, and Beat generations and add to it and innovate on top.”
Recently reading through the Notes and Discographies section of Greil Marcus’s book Mystery Train (first published in 1975), I was struck by Marcus’s meticulousness when it came to recommending records.
Established in 2001, Jazz Appreciation Month celebrates the rich history, present accolades, and future growth of jazz music. Spanning the blues, ragtime, dixieland, bebop, swing, soul, and instrumentals, there’s no surprise that jazz music has endured the test of time from its early origins amongst African-American slaves in the late 19th century to its growth today.
The country music tradition in the United States might be characterized as a nostalgic one. To varying degrees since the emergence of recorded country music in the early 1920s, country songs and songwriters have expressed longing for the seemingly simpler times of their childhoods—or even their parents’ and grandparents’ childhoods. In many ways, one might read country music’s occasional obsession with all things past and gone as an extension of the nineteenth-century plantation song, popularized by Pittsburgh native Stephen Collins Foster, whose “Old Folks at Home” (1851) and “My Old Kentucky Home” (1853) depicted freed slaves longing for the simpler times of their plantation youths.
Rock’n’Roll music has defied its critics. When it debuted in the 1950s, many adults ridiculed the phenomenon. Elvis, Chuck Berry, and their peers would soon be forgotten, another passing fancy in the cavalcade of youth-induced fads. The brash conceit, “Rock’n’roll is here to stay,” however, proved astute. Why were American adults and, for that matter, their Soviet counterparts frightened of rock’n’roll?
Since emerging at the beginning of the 20th century, jazz music has been a staple in American culture. Historians are not clear on when exactly jazz was born or who first started playing it, but it can be agreed upon that New Orleans, Louisiana is the First City of Jazz.