Arachnophonia: “The Ballad of Bob Dylan: A Portrait”

Editor’s note: Arachnophonia is a regular feature on our blog where members of the UR community can share their thoughts about items in the Parsons Music Library‘s collection. All links included in these posts will take you to either the library catalog record for the item in question or to additional relevant information from around the web.

Today’s installment of Arachnophonia is by Music Library student library worker, Eve (class of 2020) and features a 2012 Bob Dylan biography. Thanks, Eve!

The Ballad of Bob Dylan: A Portrait by Daniel Mark Epstein

The Ballad of Bob Dylan

I associate Bob Dylan with family; I grew up hearing my Dad play Dylan recordings and listening to my older brother singing classics such as “Blowin’ in the Wind“. This summer, my love of Bob Dylan was rekindled when I lived in Utah, as songs such as “Tangled up in Blue” and “Shelter from the Storm” were the perfect soundtrack for road trips with friends. In addition to loving Dylan’s music, I am interested in him as a counterculture icon, political figure and individual, and particularly want to learn more about his role in the Civil Rights movement and Vietnam War.

Bob Dylan goes electric at the Newport Folk Festival 1965

Bob Dylan “goes electric” and inspires controversy at the Newport Folk Festival 1965

As such, I am excited to explore The Ballad of Bob Dylan, a biography written by Daniel Mark Epstein. The book uses four formative concerts to examine Dylan’s rise to fame, his shift from folk to rock music, and more personal aspects of his life and character. It includes interviews with those close to the singer-songwriter such as Nora Guthrie and Ramblin’ Jack Elliot, as well as lyrics from Dylan songs and poems. While there are many biographies about this “voice of a generation”, The Ballad of Bob Dylan is accessible and comprehensive, allowing it to be the perfect read for a budding Dylan fan.

Arachnophonia : The Life Aquatic soundtrack

Editor’s note: Arachnophonia is a regular feature on our blog where members of the UR community can share their thoughts about items in the Parsons Music Library‘s collection. All links included in these posts will take you to either the library catalog record for the item in question or to additional relevant information from around the web.

Today’s installment of Arachnophonia is by Music Library student library worker, Gabi (class of 2020) and features the soundtrack album for the 2004 film The Life Aquatic. Thanks, Gabi!

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou soundtrack
Mark Mothersbaugh, Seu Jorge, et al

Life Aquatic soundtrack

What makes a film great? Some may say an Oscar-worthy performance by a lead actor, or the presentation of aesthetically pleasing cinematography. For me, although both of these are important, what really makes a movie stand out is music. Whether it’s the soundtrack, the score, or both, the ability to perfectly match a song to a scene is impressive. It can bring the emotions I’m feeling while watching up to another level.

Life Aquatic still

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, directed by Wes Anderson, is a comedy-drama about an oceanographer played by Bill Murray. This film is an excellent example of one that uses a unique background of music to enhance its tone, which is whimsical and quirky.

Let me tell you about my boat

Mark Mothersbaugh, a former member of the pop group DEVO and a frequent Anderson collaborator, is the composer of the film’s score. Five of Mothersbaugh’s instrumental tracks appear on the official soundtrack, including “Let Me Tell You About my Boat”, which accompanies one of the most famous scenes in the film: Steve Zissou breaking the fourth wall by directly introducing himself to the audience.

Mark Mothersbaugh

Mark Mothersbaugh

The coolest part about this soundtrack is that it features five covers of some of David Bowie’s best songs… in Portuguese. The movie itself showcases Seu Jorge performing a variety of Bowie covers including “Rebel Rebel”, “Starman” and “Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide”. Jorge plays one of Steve Zissou’s crew members in the movie, and sings the songs with a red beanie on his head and an acoustic guitar in his hands. These covers do not only provide a fresh take on several well-known classic rock songs, but also give the film unforgettable character.

Seu Jorge

Seu Jorge in the film

Seu Jorge’s work in The Life Aquatic was so memorable that, 13 years after the film’s initial release, he is currently on tour performing the covers as an homage to the late David Bowie.

Arachnophonia: Macklemore “The Heist”

Editor’s note: Arachnophonia is a regular feature on our blog where members of the UR community can share their thoughts about items in the Parsons Music Library‘s collection. All links included in these posts will take you to either the library catalog record for the item in question or to additional relevant information from around the web.

Today’s installment of Arachnophonia is by Music Library student library worker Claire (class of 2020), and features hip hop artist Macklemore’s debut album The Heist. Thanks, Claire!

Macklemore
The Heist (2012)

Macklemore - The Heist

Few other hip-hop albums besides The Heist touch on such a variety of political and social issues. While most people will remember songs such as the catchy and silly “Thrift Shop,” I argue that most other songs on the album have had a much greater impact on Macklemore’s listeners and the country as a whole.

Macklemore - Thrift Shop

I can remember sitting at my dining room table in middle school, listening to this album while doing homework. At the time, I don’t think I was aware of many of the controversial and powerful statements Macklemore was making.

Macklemore - "Same Love"

In “Same Love,” Macklemore sends a clear message that he believes in equal rights for all, and specifically, gay rights. In the song, Macklemore raps: “Whatever god you believe in, we come from the same one/ Strip away the fear, underneath it’s all the same love/ about time that we raised up.” In this line, Macklemore not only expresses personal support for gay marriage, but also calls upon his fans to join him in supporting gay rights.

Macklemore - "Wings"

In “Wings,” Macklemore addresses his concerns regarding capitalism and the sacrifices which Americans will make for name brands. When explaining his obsession with Nike and Adidas shoes throughout his youth, he explains how one of his friend’s brothers was shot while he was being robbed of his name brand apparel. Macklemore raps: “Yo, I stick out my tongue so everyone could see that logo/Nike Air Flight, book bag was so dope/ And then my friend Carlos’ brother got murdered for his fours/ Whoa.” Macklemore explains a culture of obsessing over trends and conforming to social pressures in order to fit in, even from an early age. In the song, he grapples between wanting to conform to this culture in order to be “cool,” but also criticizes how he allowed these name brands to define his identity for so long.

Macklemore

Finally, Macklemore addresses the issue of addiction most clearly in his song “Starting Over.” Macklemore recounts his experiences with alcoholism in particular, and his fluctuations between sobriety and use. However, the message of this song is not one of shame or blame, but instead paints a picture of hope; hope that recovery is possible and that sobriety is attainable. Since the release of The Heist, Macklemore has launched multiple national campaigns (even producing a documentary on addiction which features President Obama) which attempt to destigmatize addiction and stop the cycle of addiction in American society.

Macklemore - Heist tour 2012

Macklemore performing in Toronto during The Heist Tour on 28 November, 2012. By Drew of The Come Up Show (Flickr) – http://www.flickr.com/photos/thecomeupshow/8228257996, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24401827

You would be hard-pressed to find a hip-hop artist that addressed such a wide variety of relatable issues in one album. While listening to it from start to finish, The Heist encourages us reflect about tough and controversial issues while also giving listeners an opportunity to smile and enjoy themselves in some of his fast-paced, feel-good songs.

Arachnophonia: Simon & Garfunkel “The Columbia Studio Recordings, 1964-1970”

Editor’s note: Arachnophonia is a regular feature on our blog where members of the UR community can share their thoughts about items in the Parsons Music Library‘s collection. All links included in these posts will take you to either the library catalog record for the item in question or to additional relevant information from around the web.

Today’s installment of Arachnophonia is by Music Library student library worker Emma (class of 2021). Her selection is part of a multi-disc CD set of works by American folk rock duo Simon & Garfunkel. Thanks, Emma!

Simon and Garfunkel

The Columbia Studio Recordings, 1964-1970

My CD of choice (from this set): Simon and Garfunkel – Sounds of Silence

I love modern music and radio pop just as much as the next person, but sometimes its nice to listen to things that don’t have auto tuning or heavy bass constantly blaring in the background. Simon and Garfunkel have special place in my heart because I can remember as a little girl hearing my dad play their songs in the car, and my sister singing along. Of course, I wanted to be “cool” like my older sister, so I would dance and act as if I knew exactly what the lyrics were saying. However, as I grew up and develop a better appreciation for good music, I realized just how good these songs are.

Some of my favorite songs off the set are “Cecilia” (I’m a little biased considering Cecilia is my middle name), “Mrs. Robinson,” and “The Boxer.” They are each so different, but so powerful. Their music has a way of making you want to dance around your room and sing like no one is listening, but a lot of songs also evoke a certain poetry and emotion that show just how talented these men were/are at writing and producing music. Although some of the songs deal with serious topics, the way they are written is beautiful, but they’re easy to listen to and they’re very catchy.

I don’t think I’ll ever stop listening to this album, because it’s timeless. Songs on the radio today come and go, but the music of past generations will never get old.

Arachnophonia: Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band – “Sing Sang Sung”

Editor’s note: Arachnophonia is a regular feature on our blog where members of the UR community can share their thoughts about items in the Parsons Music Library‘s collection. All links included in these posts will take you to either the library catalog record for the item in question or to additional relevant information from around the web.

Today’s installment of Arachnophonia is by Music Library student library worker AJ (class of 2018). Thanks, AJ!

Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band

“Sing Sang Sung”
Swingin’ For The Fences

Gordon Goodwin -  Swingin for the Fences

One of my favorite jazz groups is Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band.

Goodwin Big Phat Band live

In high school, my director loved to challenge us, and I still remember one of the hardest songs I’ve ever had to play was “Sing Sang Sung” by the Phat Band off of their album Swinging for the Fences. It’s a newer take on “Sing Sing Sing“, but I believe it to be infinitely harder and more intricate. The piece makes every player have to really know their stuff; there is hardly any unison to hide behind. In high school, we had to learn the second half of the piece by heart, because when the breakdown happens, we walked out into the crowd, off the stage, and played in the audience. Everyone loved it. How could they not? The upbeat tempo of a strikingly familiar melody moves everyone.

Goodwin Big Phat Band

New CDs added in September!

New CDs for September 2017

Orchestral Music

George Crumb – George Crumb
William Schuman – Symphonies and Selected Orchestral Works
Roger Sessions – Symphonies 6, 7 & 9
Ralph Vaughan Williams – Complete Symphonies
Isang Yun – Complete Symphonies; My Land, My People; Exemplum

Isang Yun - Complete Symphonies

Concertos and Chamber Music

Alberto Ginastera – The Three Piano Concertos (Nissman Plays Ginastera)
Bohuslav Martinu – Chamber Music with Flute
Jean-Pierre Rampal – Les triomphes de Jean-Pierre Rampal
Ransom Wilson – Flute Music By French Composers

Les Triomphes de Jean-Pierre Rampal

Jazz

Tri-Ocity – The Art of the Jazz Organ Trio

Tri-Ocity - Art of Jazz Organ Trio

Film Music

Dimitri Shostakovich – Hamlet: Music for the Film, op. 116/116a

Shostakovich - Hamlet

Arachnophonia: Black Noise

Editor’s note: Arachnophonia is a regular feature on our blog where members of the UR community can share their thoughts about items in the Parsons Music Library‘s collection. All links included in these posts will take you to either the library catalog record for the item in question or to additional relevant information from around the web.

Today’s installment of Arachnophonia is by Joanna Love, PhD, Assistant Professor of Music in the UR Music Department. Thanks, Joanna!

Black Noise: Rap Music and Black Culture in Contemporary America by Tricia Rose

Black Noise

Tricia Rose’s Black Noise: Rap Music and Black Culture in Contemporary America is a foundational piece of scholarship on hip hop culture. Written in the mid-1990s, it explores the complex economic, social, and cultural origins of hip hop. It also discusses the social and cultural implications of its many facets and prominent features, including rapping, DJing, B Boying/breaking, signifying, scratching, and sampling. Anyone interested in learning more about this genre should definitely read this book.

Arachnophonia: Gustav Holst – “Beni Mora”

Editor’s note: Welcome to the first “Arachnophonia” column of the 2017-2018 academic year. Arachnophonia is a regular feature on our blog where members of the UR community can share their thoughts about items in the Parsons Music Library‘s collection. All links included in these posts will take you to either the library catalog record for the item in question or to additional relevant information from around the web.

As your friendly neighborhood blog editor/Music Library Associate, I thought I would kick things off for this academic year with a post in honor of British composer Gustav Holst‘s 143rd birthday.

Gustav Holst

“Beni Mora” (Op. 29, No. 1 1909-1910)

Today (September 21st) marks the 143rd birthday of British composer Gustav Holst. Holst was born in Cheltenham, England on this day in 1874. Today he is probably best known for his orchestral suite The Planets but he wrote many other works for orchestra as well as works for concert band, choral works, chamber music, operas and stage works. So, I thought I’d focus on one of my favorite pieces of his that is not quite as well known, “Beni Mora“. This piece is available as streaming audio in the library collections and is available for UR students, faculty and staff to access on campus.

Gustav Holst (1874-1934)

Beni Mora” was inspired by a vacation trip Holst made to Algeria in 1908. In letters home to his wife, he called Algeria a mix of East and West where mosques and hijab wearing women were juxtaposed with advertisements for American cinematography (source: GustavHolst.info). He even went so far as to go bicycling in the Algerian portion of the Sahara desert — quite a vacation!

Photo (postcard?) Algeria circa 1908

A photo of an Algerian street scene circa 1908

There was a fascination with “the orient” as a broad concept (literally broad stretching from North Africa to India to Japan) in Europe and America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries which led to a bit of an artistic fad for “Orientalsm” across various artistic media with varying success.

Orientalism in Action

I’m not sure how someone actually from Algeria would feel about this “cigar box” type portrayal from the early 20th century

The work premiered in 1912 and definitely reflects a mixture of East and West there is definitely a westernized sense of the “Oriental” evident, but not in a way that feels disrespectful of the culture that inspired it.

Working manuscript in Holst's handwriting from "Beni Mora"

A snippet of a working manuscript in Holst’s handwriting.

Beni Mora” consists of three movements – two dances and a finale subtitled “In the Street of Ouled Nails”.
The first dance starts off with a languid, almost cinematic feel — winds blowing across lonesome sand dunes are definitely evoked to my Western ear and builds to a louder, bigger feeling section that sounds to me like a lost outtake from the soundtrack to Lawrence Of Arabia (which of course was written much later!).
The second movement starts with an interesting syncopated percussion motif and makes use of orchestral tone color, having various melodic lines thread through different sections of the orchestra and groupings of instruments.
The third movement was directly inspired by a repetitive flute tune that Holst overhead during his Algerian travels. This 8 note flute melody becomes the hypnotic basis for this movement and is repeated many times while other harmonies, instruments and musical themes swirl in and amongst and around the repeating flute motif in a manner that suggests the changing scene as people come and go on their daily business on an Algerian street and also help keep the motif interesting. Some music critics have even referred to this movement as “proto” minimalist because of the 163 plus repetitions of that flute motif.

Frederick Arthur Bridgman - "A Street Scene In Algeria"

Frederick Arthur Bridgman (American, 1847-1928), “A Street Scene in Algeria”, oil on canvas

I first discovered “Beni Mora” in 2003 when I was living in Cheltenham while working at the Holst Birthplace Museum and fell in love with its blend of exoticism and romanticism that causes it to sound like a miniature film score. This feels like something that really would fit right in on a film soundtrack from a 1930s or 40s serial (or an Indiana Jones movie), which also appeals to me. I admire Holst’s curiosity about other cultures as evidenced in his incorporation of his Algerian vacation experience and musical style (as he perceived it) into this musical travelogue.

(Fun fact: Holst was also fascinated by the culture of the Indian subcontinent and wrote choral works and chamber operas exploring myths and legends of India, even going so far as to teach himself Sanskrit so he could read Hindu texts in their original language! Yay cultural curiosity!)

CD streaming

Of course, one should also listen to “The Planets” (it’s very famous and beloved for a reason), but I think “Beni Mora” provides a great way to delve further into the output of an early 20th century composer whose total output is well worth exploring! (Especially since the Music Library has a version that can be streamed — access is a wonderful thing!)

Holst Statue

Statue honoring Gustav Holst in his hometown of Cheltenham, England

New CDs added in August!

New CDs for August 2017

Chamber Music, Concertos and Orchestral Music

Frederic Chopin – Paul Badura-Skoda plays the Chopin Piano Concertos
Aaron Copland and Benjamin Britten – Piano Concertos
Howard Hanson – Symphonies Nos. 3 & 6 and Fantasy Variations on a Theme of Youth

Jascha Heifetz – Beethoven & Brahms Concertos
Sergiu Luca & Malcom Bilson – Mozart Sonatas for Fortepiano and Violin: Late Viennese Sonatas

Gwendolyn Mok – The Composer’s Piano: Brhams Late Piano Works Op. 116-119
Jean-Philippe Rameau – Piece de Clavecin en Concert
Ralph Vaughan Williams – Concerto in C for Two Pianos; Job: A Masque For Dancing
Manuela Wiesler & Julian Jacobson – Schubert*Reinecke*Boehm

Band Music

Frederick Fennell – Screamers (Circus Marches)
Johan Willem Friso Military Band – Alliance of the Free
Jack Stamp – Cloudsplitter
U.S. Marine Band – Picture Studies

Popular Music

Betty – Carnival
Betty – Limboland
Betty – Snowbiz
The Human League – Dare!

Humor/Parody

The Capitol Steps – Obama Mia!
The Capitol Steps – Take The Money and Run for President

Musicals & Film Soundtracks

Irving Berlin – Irving Berlin’s Annie Get Your Gun: The New Broadway Cast Recording
Laurence O’Keefe – Bat Boy : The Musical
Jule Styne – Bells Are Ringing
Betty – Betty Rules
Galt MacDermot & Bill Dumaresq – The Human Comedy: A Modern Opera

Frank Wildhorn – Jekyll & Hyde : The Musical
Various Artists – Repo Man: Music from the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Marvin Hamlisch – Sweet Smell of Success
Boy George – Taboo: Original London Cast
Boy George – Taboo: Original Broadway Cast
Jeanine Tesori – Thoroughly Modern Millie
Michael John LaChiusa – The Wild Party

Folk / World Music

Natalie MacMaster & Donnell Leahy – One

New CDs added in July!

New CDs for July 2017

Orchestral Music

Ernest Bloch – America (An Epic Rhapsody)
Margaret Brouwer – Orchestral and Percussion Music

Bloch - America

Diana Cotoman – Symphonie No. 1
Diana Cotoman – Symphonie No. 2
Diana Cotoman – Tableaux & Poemes
Frederick Delius – Appalachia / The Song of the High Hills
Henri Dutilleux – Metaboles / The Shadows of Time
Henri Dutilleux – Symphony No. 2

Delius - Appalachia

G.F. Handel – Water Music / Music for the Royal Fireworks
Hans Werner Henze – Drei sinfonische eduden / Quattro poemi / Nachstucke und arien / La selva incantata
Hans Wener Henze – Ode to the West Wind / Five Neapolitan Songs / Three Dithyrambs
Vincent D’Indy – Jour d’ete a la montagne, Op. 61 & Symphonie sur un chant montagnard “Chevenole”, Op. 25
King’s Consort – The Coronation of King George II
Olivier Messiaen – Turangali^la symphony
Christopher Rouse – Odna Zhizn / Symphonies Nos. 3 & 4 / Prospero’s Rooms
Bright Sheng – The Phoenix

Bright Sheng - The Phoenix

Chamber Music and Concertos

Martha Argerich – Debut Recital: Chopin, Brahms, Liszt, Ravel, Prokofiev
Ludwig van Beethoven – Bearbeitungen Fur Blaser
Ludwig van Beethoven – Legacy: The Spirit of Beethoven – Gwendolyn Mok
Ludwig van Beethoven – Sonatas for Violin and Piano
Ebb & Flow Arts – Explorations

Martha Argerich

Soovin Kim; Jeremy Denk; Jupiter String Quartet – Concert in D Major; Chausson / Sonata No. 1 in A Major; Faure
Steven Mackey – Banana Dump Truck: Music of Steven Mackey
Sphinx Virtuosi – Live in Concert
Richard Strauss – Violin Concerto / Sonata in Eb
Charles Wuorinen – Ashberyana / Fenton Songs
Ellen Taaffe Zwilich – Violin Concerto / Rituals

Banana Dump Truck

Popular Music

The Chainsmokers – Bouquet
Kaia Kater – Nine Pin
Josh Ritter – Sermon on the Rocks

Chainsmokers - Bouquet

Duncan Sheik – Legerdemain
Various artists – Tamla Motwon : Connoisseurs
Suzanne Vega – Tales from the Realm of the Queen of Pentacles

Tamla Motown

Band Music

Thomas Coates – Thomas Coates : The Father of Band Music in America

Thomas Coates

Cantatas, Choruses, Operas and Oratorios

J.S. Bach – St. Mark Passion
Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy – Psalmen un Moetetten / Oratorium Christus Op. 97
Ludwig van Beethoven – Fidelio
Ludwig van Beethoven – Missa Solemnis
George Frideric Handel – Amor e gelosia : Operatic Arias
George Frideric Handel – Delirio : Italian Cantatas
George Frideric Handel – Rinaldo

Handel - Rinaldo

Witold Lutoslawski – Twenty Polish Christmas Carols
Musica Ficta – Danske julesalmer og sange
Ariel Ramirez – Missa Criolla / Navidad Nuestra
Paul Schoenfield – Concerto for Violin & Orchestra / Four Motets / The Merchant and the Pauper (excerpts)
John Tavener – Lament for Jerusalem
Kurt Weill – The Seven Deadly Sins

Musica Ficta

Jazz

Seamus Blake & Chris Cheek with Reeds Ramble – Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off
Jane Ira Bloom – Early Americans
Avishai Cohen – Into The Silence
The Cookers – The Call of the Wild and Peaceful Heart

Cookers - Call of the Wild

Fred Hersch Trio – Alive at the Vanguard
Harold Lopez-Nussa – El Viaje
Joe Mulholland Trio – Runaway Train

Harold Lopez-Nussa El Viaje-1

Musicals & Film Music

City of Prague Philharmonic – Psycho : The Essential Alfred Hitchcock
Osvaldo Golijov – Youth Without Youth : Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Maury Yeston – Titanic : A New Musical

Psycho: The Essential Alfred Hitchcock

World / Folk Music

Sheila Chandra – Monsoon
Maarja Nuut – Une meeles = In the hold of a dream
Various Artists – Why The Mountains Are Black : Primeval Greek Village Music : 1907-1960
Various Artists – Women of Africa

Women of Africa