Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Writing about jazz in the post-modern gig era

How should music reference works deal with jazz in the era of multi-genre freelancing? Back in November 1983, when I asked Stanley Sadie, series editor for Grove Dictionaries of Music, if he’d ever thought of having a New Grove Dictionary of Jazz, jazz seemed to be a reasonably coherent genre with a connected succession of styles. Maybe I was just being young, naive, ignorant. Or maybe the notion of jazz as something coherent hadn’t yet started to completely unravel, even though all sorts of challenges were nipping at it, especially as the fusions emerged (jazz-rock, jazz-funk, and so forth).

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At least in Green Book, jazz is high art

I’m anxiously awaiting the release of Bolden, a film about the New Orleans cornettist Buddy Bolden (1888 – 1933) who may actually have invented jazz. But since Bolden will not be released until May, and since April is Jazz Appreciation Month, now is a good time to talk about the cultural capital that jazz has recently acquired, at least in that […]

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What Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel tells us about women’s music

Everyone loves a good plot twist. And what better plot twist than finding out that a work of art, scientific discovery, or other creation was the achievement not of a well-known man, but rather a woman? Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel was a talented composer of the early 19th century who worked mostly in private. As an upper-class woman with […]

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Is there room for creative imagination in science?

Not just once, but repeatedly, I have heard something like “I just didn’t see in science any room for my own imagination or creativity,” from young students clearly able to succeed at any subject they set their minds to. It is a tragedy that so many people do not perceive science as a creative. Yet […]

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Five ways to help musicians think like entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurship for musicians need not be mysterious. It’s really just a different way of looking at your world and capitalizing on opportunities. How do you develop that kind of mindset? Here are five things you can start doing that may help you think like an entrepreneur.

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Music in history: overcoming historians’ reluctance to tackle music as a source

Music histories like these do not offer anything as technical as a musicological analysis, yet they treat music as much more than a soundtrack. They delve deeply into the stylistic attributes, technological production and commercial distribution of music, while situating it within broader contexts shaped by migration, empire, and war, as well as by racial, ethnic, and gender hierarchy.

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Protest songs and the spirit of America [playlist]

In a rare television interview, Jimi Hendrix appeared on a network talk show shortly after his historic performance at the Woodstock Music & Art Fair. When host Dick Cavett asked the guitarist about the “controversy” surrounding his wild, feedback-saturated version of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” Hendrix gently demurred.

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Cervical cancer and the story-telling cloth in Mali

Around the world, the arts are being used within communities to address local needs. For such projects to be most effective, program participants must: ensure that their program goals are locally-defined; research which art forms, content, and events might best feed into their program goals; develop artistic products that address their goals; and evaluate these products to ensure their efficacy.

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Brian Eno’s Music for Airports 40 years later

Forty years ago, Brian Eno released Ambient 1: Music for Airports and Virgin-EMI has just given it a deluxe vinyl re-issue. The first work to formally identify itself as “ambient,” it garnered modest attention and a bit of derision; Rolling Stone referred to it as “aesthetic white noise.”

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A timeline of American music in 1917

The entrance of the United States into World War I on April 6, 1917 inspired a flood of new music from popular songwriters. Simultaneously, the first recording of instrumental jazz was released in April 1917, touching off a fad for the new style and inspiring record companies to promote other artists before year’s end.

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Bob Chilcott shares his memories of Sir David Willcocks

I joined King’s College Choir as a boy treble in 1964. This was a time of real energy in the media, recording and concert world, and this possibly brought a different kind of perspective to David’s work with the choir. There were a number of firsts for the choir around this time.

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Improvising with light: Nova Express psychedelic light show

Paul Brown is best known for his work as an artist creating visual art that uses self-generating computational processes. Yet before Paul started creating art with computers, he worked with Nova Express, one of the main psychedelic light shows performing in Manchester and the North of England during the 1960s and early 1970s.

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Making music American: a playlist from 1917

The entrance of the United States into World War I on April 6, 1917 inspired a flood of new music from popular songwriters. Simultaneously, the first recording of instrumental jazz was released in April 1917, touching off a fad for the new style and inspiring record companies to promote other artists before year’s end.

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