Any American can recognize the opening notes of “Stars and Stripes Forever” and that most essential instrument of the American marching band — the sousaphone. How did this 30 pound beauty come to be? Despite its relative youth, the sousaphone has an extensive (and sometimes controversial) history.
On every Saturday or Sunday of the year, if you know where to go, you will find people in the United States, Canada, even Europe singing from an oblong red-brown book called The Sacred Harp.
Prince died Thursday, and I am sad. I’ve been asked to write about his death, but staring at the empty expanse beyond the flashing cursor, all I really know how to say is in the line above. Plenty of writers, more ably than I could, have written and spoken movingly about Prince since his death.
The organ is a complex, powerful instrument. Its history is involved and wide-ranging, and throughout the years it has commanded respect as it leaves its listeners in awe. To celebrate the organ, we compiled a list of 10 facts you may or may not know about this magnificent instrument.
I am recently returned home (Australia) from six months on a music research project in Cambodia. There were, of course, the practical challenges of the type I quite expected. In the monsoonal downpours, getting around in central Phnom Penh meant wading through knee-deep, dead-rat kind of drain-water. In the thatched huts of the provinces, malarial critters droned their way under my net by night. Gastro and heat exhaustion laid me flat.
The story of four teenagers on a quest to locate their ailing musical idol requires a mix of nostalgia, myth, apathy and disillusionment. Played out across the vast urban expanse that is the City of Mexico, Güeros is conceived in the alternative deadpan style of Jim Jarmusch’s early films or, perhaps, Wim Wenders’ mid-1970s road movie triology.
Most entries to the Eurovision song contest are frothy pop tunes, but this year’s contribution from Ukraine addresses Stalin’s deportation of the entire Tatar population of Crimea in May 1944. It may seem an odd choice, but is actually very timely if we dig a little into the history of mass repression and inter-ethnic tensions in the region. Almost a quarter of a million Tatars, an ethnically Turkic people indigenous to the Crimea, were moved en masse to Soviet Central Asia as a collective punishment for perceived collaboration with the Nazis.
Richard Causton’s studies took him from the University of York via the Royal College of Music and the Scuola Civica in Milan, to King’s College, Cambridge where he is Lecturer in Composition. In addition to composition, Causton writes and lectures on Italian contemporary music and regularly broadcasts for Italian radio. In our occasional series, in which we ask Oxford composers questions based around their musical likes and dislikes, influences, and challenges, we spoke with Richard Causton about his writing, new music, and his desert island playlist.
In a brief scene in the 1931 Warner Bros. horror film, Svengali, an aging heiress takes voice lessons, falls in love with her teacher, and upon finding her love unrequited and her voice uninspired, throws herself in the river. That the film hastily banishes her for these infractions isn’t much of a surprise, for we don’t tend to remember bad voices, nor do we dwell on older women who would dare possess them. In fact, were it up to Hollywood, we’d hardly dwell on older women at all.
In honor of April Fools’ Day, we are pleased to announce the winners of the 2016 Grove Music Spoof Article Contest.
The 2016 Society for American Music (SAM) conference was held in Boston, where scholars and institutions from around the globe gathered together in a supportive and uplifting five-day meeting that consisted of panels, presentations, discussions, field trips, musical performances, receptions, and the celebration of books and authors.
Songs leave unique imprints on people and places. In India, especially, songs from films offer a multitude of trajectories for anyone who is more than deferentially familiar with them, contained in or limited by larger prospective areas of film study material. Film songs form a major portion of its popular culture hence, are etched into individual and collective memories weaving unique tapestries of such imprints.
Music is a human construct. What is acknowledged as ‘music’ varies between cultures, groups, and individuals. The Igbo of Nigeria have no specific term for music: the term nkwa denotes ‘singing, playing instruments and dancing’.
At the beginning of May 2015, I spent some time at the Cornwall International Male Voice Choral Festival, a massive affair with 70 choirs at 60 events in 50 venues all over Cornwall, packed into a long Bank Holiday Weekend. The mastermind behind this well-organised event was Festival Director Peter Davies, director of the Huntingdon Male Voice Choir.
Nineteenth and twentieth Century opera houses are finding new lives today. Opera houses were once the center of art, culture, and entertainment for rural American towns–when there was much less competition for our collective attention.
This March, we’ve been focusing on the flute and its history and importance in the music scene. Resident OUP history editor Nancy Toff is also active in the flute world, as a performer, researcher and instructor. In order to delve into Nancy’s wealth of knowledge about the flute, we asked Meera Gudipati, currently attending the Yale School of Music as a Master of Music, to interview her about flute performance, music history, and other favorite flutists.