Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

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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On the Town and the long march for civil rights in performance

As we celebrate the golden anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a significant aspect of the struggle for racial equality often gets ignored: racial activism in performance. Actors, singers, and dancers mobilized over the decades, pushing back against racial restrictions that shifted over time, and On the Town of 1944 marked an auspicious but little-recognized moment in that history.

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the psychology of music

What can psychology tell us about music?

Music can intensify moments of elation and moments of despair. It can connect people and it can divide them. The prospect of psychologists turning their lens on music might give a person the heebie-jeebies, however, conjuring up an image of humorless people in white lab coats manipulating sequences of beeps and boops to make grand pronouncements about human musicality.

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Reflections on anthologising

The year was 1968 and I was a young postgraduate music student walking down King’s Parade in Cambridge when I saw the revered figure of David Willcocks, director of King’s College Choir, striding towards me. He had rock-star status in Cambridge and beyond, and although I knew him from his weekly harmony and counterpoint classes which I had attended, I wasn’t quite sure whether to nod politely, say ‘good afternoon, Mr Willcocks’, or hurry past hoping he hadn’t noticed me. Fortunately he spoke first.

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Detroit music [quiz]

Detroit is known as the birthplace of Motown Records, but there’s more to the musical history of the city than just that, due to the key role of the public schools in music training, the impact on music of the auto companies and the media, and the huge variety of ethnic music-making across Detroit’s 139 square miles.

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George Balanchine: mythology and reality

There are few choreographers with more influence in the world of ballet than George Balanchine. Over three decades after his death, his ballets are performed somewhere on the planet virtually every day. Two prominent dance institutions continue his legacy—the School of American Ballet and the New York City Ballet—and dancers who worked alongside him lead important companies and schools across America from Miami to Seattle.

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The fiddle and the city

The violin holds special importance to me as part of my upbringing in Detroit, both as part of the musical world of my Jewish community and as an example of the citywide belief in music education. The Detroit that I grew up in had a pulsating inner musical life from the many populations that Detroit attracted to and housed in its vast industrial landscape. For the Jews, the violin literally had a special resonance.

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How digital artists are questioning artificial intelligence

Steve Goodman is best known for his work DJing as Kode9 and running the Hyperdub record label, one of the pioneering forces of UK bass culture and dubstep since 2004. Through releases by Kode9 & The Spaceape, and Burial, Hyperdub captured a sound that embodied the high-pressure claustrophobia and hyper-surveillance of urban environments in the 21st Century.

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The embracement of student-created visuals in the music room

When students walk into a music room, there is an opportunity to inspire them with a visually stimulating learning environment. This doesn’t mean filling every wall and space with dozens of posters, papers, and colors. This means creating a visual environment which acknowledges your students’ participation and input into the class.

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Coming together side by side: avocational musicians performing with professionals

“It’s such a big deal for non-pros to come in and play with the orchestra, throwing themselves into the ‘deep end.’ Our orchestra musicians are respectful and supportive of them,” says Larissa Agosti, who coordinates the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra’s Rusty Musicians and B-Sides programs, which let avocational musicians perform side-by-side with this Canadian orchestra’s pros.

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Spotify Playlist: Broadway tunes in pop culture

Popular singers have been covering Broadway for years, introducing show tunes into the mainstream of music. These covers have popularized iconic Broadway tunes and broadcasted show tunes to a larger audience beyond Broadway.

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Do you know your Broadway show tune covers? [quiz]

Broadway musicals have enchanted America for decades, so much so that show tunes have made their way into popular culture via recordings by famous artists. These Broadway covers have launched these show tunes into legendary pop culture fame.

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