New CD’s added this week!



Berio – Chamber Music
Peter Serkin – Beethoven Sonatas


Michael Daugherty – American Icons


John Coltrane – Africa/Brass
Donald Byrd – Early Byrd


Foy Vance – Joy of Nothing
Bruce Springsteen – Human Torch
Bruce Springsteen – Darkness on the Edge of Town

Soul Music

Allen Toussaint – What is Success: The Scepter and Bell Recordings
Charles Wright – Express yourself the best of Charles Wright and the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band
Gladys Knight – The very best of Gladys Knight & the Pips : the early years

Soundtracks/Film Music

Various – BaadAsssss Cinema (The Sounds of Blaxploitation)
Various – The Best of Blaxploitation

New CD’s added this week!



Ben Powell – New Street
Don Pullen – New Beginnings
Eberhard Weber – Silent Feet
Eberhard Weber – Colours
Ken Peplowski – Maybe September
Pat Metheny Group – Kin(<- ->)
Steve Turre – In the Spur of the Moment
Steve Turre – Keep Searchin’
Steve Turre – Rhythm Within
Terri Lyne Carrington – Money Jungle: Provocative in Blue

Funk, Soul, R&B

Betty Wright – The Platinum Collection
Impressions – Definitive Impressions
King Curtis – Instant Soul: The Legendary King Curtis
Tyrone Davis – The Ultimate Tyrone Davis


Hezekiah Walker & LFC – Souled Out



Steep Canyon Rangers – Tell the Ones I Love


Beethoven – Four Sonatas for Fortepiano
Berio – Sequenzas
Berio – Rendering | Stanze
Messiaen – La Transfiguration de Notre Seigneur Jésus-Christ


Hillsong – The Very Best of Hillsong Live

Funk, Soul, R&B

Candi Staton – Candi Staton
Eddie Floyd – Rare Stamps
Fatback Band – Fatbackin’
Harlem River Drive – Harlem River Drive
Howard Tate – Get It While You Can
The J.B.’s – Funky Good Time: The Anthology
Various – I’m a Good Woman 2: Funk Classics From Sassy Soul Sisters
Various – Move to Groove: The Best of 1970’s Jazz Funk


Dianne Reeves – Beautiful Life
Duke Ellington – Such Sweet Thunder
John Abercrombie Quartet – Within a Song
Miles Davis – Four & More


R&B, Soul, Funk, African JAZZ, and more…

Abdullah Ibrahim – African Marketplace
Abdullah Ibrahim – African Sun
Abdullah Ibrahim – Blues for a Hip King
Abdullah Ibrahim – Voice of Africa
Aretha Franklin – Rare & Unreleased Recordings from the Golden Reign of the Queen of Soul
Betty Harris – The Lost Soul Queen
Don Covay – The Platinum Collection
Ike and Tina Turner – Proud Mary: The Best of Ike and Tina Turner
James Brown – The Payback
Otis Clay – Testify!
Undisputed Truth – The Collection
Various – For Connoisseurs Only, Vol. 2
Various – For Connoisseurs Only, Vol. 3
Various – Heart of Southern Soul, Vol. 2
Various – Heart of Southern Soul, Vol. 3
Various – Heart of Southern Soul, Nashville/Memphis/Muscle Shoals
Various – Land of 1000 Dances
Various – Land of 1000 Dances 1956-1966, Vol. 2
Various – Rare and Unreissued New York Funk, 1969-1976
Various – Rough Guide to South African Jazz
Wilson Pickett – Very Best of Wilson Pickett


Esperanza Spalding – Radio Music Society
Gregory Porter – Liquid Spirit
Miles Davis – My Funny Valentine
Mike Jones Trio – Plays Well with Others
Paul Motion – On Broadway, Vol. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5


Paquito D’Rivera – Song for Maura


Matt Flinner Trio – Music du Jour


Trevor Jackson Presents Metal Dance


Justin Timberlake – The 20/20 Experience


Mandisa – Overcomer

How to Start Your Own Studio (For Free)

Editor’s Note: This guest post by one of our student managers, Matthew Gizzi, relates the fun he’s had experimenting and working with audio recording. He uses the Zoom H2, which is available for checkout at the Music Library, to record demos for later use in his studio projects. Read on to learn more about the ways to use the Zoom H2.

For the better part of a year, the music library has had a small collection of H2 Zoom recorders, which are available for purposes ranging from recording private lessons to large concerts to more studio oriented recording and demoing.  Personally I’ve used them and relied on them heavily to aid my songwriting process.  They are incredibly versatile and I’d definitely recommend taking them out for a little while just to experiment with.

Originally, adding them to the library collection was a move to bring the music library into modern times.  Before the H2, we had a collection of boom boxes and tape recorders that add some recording capacity, though the quality and practicality left much to be desired.  Now though, the recorders come in a carrying case that is less than half the size of the tape recorders and still carry enough tools to help out with most jobs you’ll encounter.

H2 in use for singer-songwriter with guitar

The H2 is handy for recording your singer-songwriter demos! The stand is included with accessories for the H2.

As a musician and songwriter, I’ve noticed a number of ways the recorders have helped me.  First, I’ve learned a lot more about the instruments I play and how it is they produce sound.  Using the H2 as a 3rd ear of sorts that I can place anywhere in the room, I’ve learned how my acoustic guitar, for example, sounds from different angles.  I’ve learned how to focus the microphone to get the fullest range from Booker’s pianos, and I’ve learned how to mike an amp to get the best tone for both clean and overdriven sounds.  Through experimenting with a recorder I can use for free, I’ve learned a lot that has certainly come in handy now that my studio has grown to include more professional equipment.

H2 buttons, dials

This is the Zoom H2, front display with buttons, and the inputs and other controls on the sides.

Also handy was the fact that I could really break into multi-instrument songwriting.  Once I had one track already recorded, I could easily play over that to come up with whatever harmonies, solos, extra instruments, or choruses I thought I liked.  As a result, my music began to become much more epic and larger in scope, something that I have certainly enjoyed playing around with.  The recorder comes with a built in metronome with count in, so you will have a good reference point to make sure all your tracks line up.

piano recording via Zoom H2

Need to recording acoustic piano in a practice room? Try the Zoom H2!
Rights to photo belong to

The last thing I’ll mention about the H2 is that is has a lot of flexibility.  It is great at recording acoustic guitar, but you can also widen the recording area to capture a full band rehearsal, or record a music lesson so you can always return to some good advice.  It is unlikely that you will check it out and find it cannot do what you want it to.  So I’d say: challenge yourself.  Check out the H2 recorder and record that demo for use in your portfolio, write a multi-track song or grab some friends and cover a great tune.  You have quite a few options when it comes to the music library’s Zoom.

100 Years of Woody Guthrie


100 Years of Woody Guthrie, cover imageEditor’s Note: This guest post by one of our Student Managers, Nils Niemeier, is a must-read for any fan of Woody Guthrie. It accompanies the new display put together by Nils on the second floor of Boatwright Library in the study area. Enjoy!

Woody Guthrie (1912-1967) may have only lived to be 55, but his legacy has had a continuous impact on American music, both in the folk scene and outside of it.  Born in Okemah, Oklahoma, Guthrie took to music as a way to support his first wife and three children during the Great Depression, traveling all over the western United States, playing concerts and radio programs and doing itinerant labor.  He finally settled in California in 1937, where he made a name for himself as a social commentator and musician on local radio stations.  He soon became tired of life in California, and headed east to New York in 1940, where he met Alan Lomax and recorded several hours of music and conversation with him for the Library of Congress. In 1941, he joined the Almanac Singers, a pro-Communist, anti-Fascist group of musicians with whom Guthrie wrote many songs urging action against the Fascists in Europe (though the Almanacs had been against US entry into the war prior to the breaking of Hitler’s nonaggression pact with Stalin).  While in New York, Guthrie had his own radio program, and made money for himself and his family through his recordings.  Still a rambler, he traveled constantly across the United States.  Unfortunately, this constant traveling contributed to the dissolution of his first marriage.

By 1942, Guthrie was writing, and he published his semi-fictionalized autobiography, Bound for Glory, in 1943.  Around the same time, Guthrie enlisted in the US military, first in the Merchant Marine, and then in the Army.  All the while he continued writing songs.  Following the end of the war, Guthrie married his second wife, and settled down on Coney Island, where he lived until 1954.  They had three children together.  He continued writing songs and books, including several albums for children.  It was also during the 1940s that he began showing signs of developing Huntington’s disease (which he inherited from his mother).  In 1954, he left his second wife and their children to go to California, where he met his third wife and had a daughter by her.  The rise in anti-Communist feeling and black-listings in California during the 1950s, however, caused him to head east again, this time to Florida, where he lived on a friend’s property and began working on a second book.  As his symptoms worsened, though, Guthrie and his third wife went back to New York.  In 1958, he was diagnosed with Huntington’s and was admitted to Greystone Psychiatric Hospital, where he lived out the rest of his days.  His hospital room became a mecca for young musicians who wished to play for or learn from him.  He died in 1967.

In total, over the span of his life, Guthrie wrote nearly 3000 songs, and two books.  He also left behind an extensive portfolio of paintings and drawings, as well as numerous letters and unfinished writings.

In light of the centennial of his birth, and given the enormous impact Guthrie had on the folk music movement in the United States, I have put together a small exhibit of just a fraction of the books and recordings by and about Woody Guthrie in our physical and electronic holdings.  Here are some excerpts from the exhibit text to pique your interest:

Woody Guthrie, signed letter to Harry Zollars

Autographed copy of Guthrie’s auto-biography, with a letter to Harry Zollars. Bound for Glory, 1943 (Rare Book Room, ML429.G95 A2)

The first edition of Guthrie’s autobiography, with a letter to Harry Zollars written in the endpapers.  The letter outlines Guthrie’s personal political philosophy during the years of the Second World War: “…we will either soon have a union world or a fascist one—and even then the fascist one couldn’t do any more than postpone the Union world—a bad and terrible and useless and bloody delay—so let’s have Union—because Union is the sum total of all ideals and all religion.”

Alan Lomax, written in 100 Years of Woody Guthrie

UPPER RIGHT: Endorsement from Alan Lomax, writing Hard Hitting Songs for Hard-Hit People, and the founding of the Almanacs (from Woody at 100: The Woody Guthrie Centennial Collection, RM1629.G88 W66)
LOWER LEFT: Two letters from Guthrie in 1942: to the Library of Congress and RCA Victor in Pastures of Plenty: A Self Portrait, 1990 (ML410 .G978 A3 1990)

Alan Lomax, known for his collections of American folk songs and field recordings of folk and traditional music made for the Library of Congress, became one of Guthrie’s greatest musical allies.  As evidenced in the letter from Lomax, he held Guthrie in high regard.  With Lomax and Pete Seeger, Guthrie wrote notes for the songs included in the collection of union, work, and protest songs, Hard Hitting Songs for Hard-Hit People, which was not published until 1967 due to the controversial nature of the lyrics included, many of which exhibited a pro-union bias.  Not long after Guthrie became associated with Lomax, he also became a member of the Almanac Singers in 1941, a pro-Soviet group featuring Lee Hays, Pete Seeger, and Millard Lampell (among others. Including Lomax’s wife, Bess, and briefly, Burl Ives), that strongly supported US intervention in the Second World War following Hitler’s violation of the non-aggression pact with Stalinist Russia.

The letter on the left-hand page is Guthrie’s open letter to the Library of Congress thanking them for the preservation of his songbook; in it, he jokingly hopes that members of Congress will gather around and sing his songs, especially “the most radical tunes.”  He jokes, too, that if members of Congress knew that he was going to be published, they would have “cut my original book down by half.  Thank goodness we got it through.”

The letter on the right-hand page is a more serious plea to R. P. Weatherald of RCA Victor to consider publishing an album of “war songs [as] work songs” to motivate the people to work toward the American war effort and defeat the fascists.

Woody Guthrie recordings, property of Parsons Music Library, University of Richmond

Guthrie’s recordings, located at Parsons Music Library on campus

Guthrie’s personal impact on the American Folk genre sometimes overshadows his work with other musicians.  In addition to his solo recordings, Guthrie performed and recorded with many musicians, including those involved with anti-Fascist, Popular-Front group, The Almanac Singers, prior to and during the Second World War.  Some of the musicians with whom Guthrie was associated were Sonny Terry, Cisco Houston, Pete Seeger, Leadbelly, and Brownie McGhee.

If you are interested in Guthrie’s life, work, and music, feel free to browse the University of Richmond Libraries Catalog (, or see the exhibit in the Second Floor Study Area in Boatwright Library.  You can also learn more about Guthrie’s life and music at the official Woody Guthrie Foundation website (

What do you listen to during finals?


This thesis proposal has got me down. Help me, 50 Cent!

It’s almost here – the end of the fall semester! With finals almost over, and the campus starting to empty out a bit, I asked the student employees here at Parsons Music Library what they listened to in order to survive the end of the semester. The responses were great fun to read, and also very informative. We’re approaching a new era of music consumption (okay, we’ve actually been here for a long time already) — that of streaming audio and internet radio. It’s fun to hear the music anywhere you like, and get access in a way that suits you. And we’re not the only ones collecting data on this phenomenon, as you’ll see from this recent study.

Below you’ll find our student staff replies to the question “What do you listen to during finals?” Feel free to add your answers to this question in the comments area!

Continue reading

Hear and see our own Richuan Hu in action!

Editor’s update (1/17/13): Here is video of our student assistant, Ruiquan (Richuan) Hu performing with the UR Orchestra last semester. Bravo, Richuan!

As a part of the upcoming concerto performance that features the Music Library’s own Richuan Hu, we’d like to present a previous blog submission that Richuan wrote about his thoughts on studying a famous piano work by Franz Liszt. Please come out to the UR Orchestra concert on Wednesday, December 5 at 7:30pm in Camp Concert Hall, so you can hear Richuan in action as he performs the first piano concerto by Chopin. Richuan is the winner of the 2012 concerto competition!

UR orchestra and Richuan Hu

UR orchestra and Richuan Hu


Continue reading

Alternative Weaponry between War and Peace

This guest post by Delia Flanagan, one of the student employees at Parsons Music Library, sheds great light on the way music serves society, promotes peace, and works to unify people in conflict zones. Thank you, Delia, for these valuable thoughts!


This past year I lived in one of the most hotly-debated conflict regions. Each passing day, as one would assume, I was faced with the most powerful of weaponry. This almighty force however, is not exclusive to any one side of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In fact, it is fiercely maneuvered and discharged daily on both sides of the Israel Separation Wall. Everyone has access to it: all ages, all socio-economic stances, all political perspectives and all paths of faith. Due to the rapid fire of globalization, this weapon is continuously spreading and gathering greater force and subsequent influence across checkpoints, nation-state borders, and ideological barriers.  Day by day this weapon continues to have a tremendous and lasting impact on every soul it passes. The trembling effects of this weapon veer away from those of the archetype ammunition, that is, destruction, demolishment, and dehumanization.  Instead, this weapon produces and is produced by love. This weapon is music.

The powerful effects of music are generally known and understood. Yet in a region where politics and warfare are the epicenter of international attention, discussions of power and influence revolve around military officials, security forces and political bureaucrats. The influential transcendence of music however, going beyond all positions, perspectives and polities, is often ignored and overlooked.

Throughout my experience in Israel/Palestine/the Holy Land (or whichever name you and/or your political perspectives label this region,) I distinctly noticed the prevailing effects of music in bringing peace, love, compassion and empathy between Israelis and Palestinians. Yet as an American—especially one without ancestral, ethnic or religious ties to either side of the conflict—the almighty force of music served as the ultimate factor in connecting my individual self to the widely diverse and complicated territory I came to call my home. While the limited knowledge I had in both Hebrew and Arabic allowed me to converse with the local community greater than the average Western traveler, my sincere passion for music was the ultimate ingredient for immersing and engaging myself as a native. Whether I was listening to a live Oud player with friends in Ramallah, or dancing at a trance music festival in the Negev desert, music allowed me, and all of those around me, to eradicate any preconceived labels or harmful barriers, put the discourse of war and conflict aside, and rather bask in the transmitting waves of love, unity, and respect for all.

Now that I am back on the University of Richmond campus, I long for that feeling of utter peace and compassion amidst living in a conflict zone. Fortunately there are many outlets for me to be brought back to this particular state of bliss. While working at Parsons Music Library, I continuously come across a variety of CDs that allow me bring the sounds of the Holy Land into my Richmond experience. In particular, the “Desert Blues- Rêves d’ Oasis” collections, along with “Zaghareed: music from the Palestinian holy land” and Palestinian hip hop group DAM’s “Dedication” album have allowed me to reminisce on the beautiful and spiritual sounds, collecting my memories and nurturing my nostalgia in order to push forth with my final year at the University. The sounds inspire me as I begin contemplating which path to take upon graduation, as I long to live in a place again, where despite all of the volatility of political combustion, music continues to spread as the almighty weapon of force and love.

Images taken from Arab music festival in Majd Al-Shams in the Golan Heights.

Election Season Is Upon Us – National Anthems Heard Here!

Hello blogosphere! This is the first entry in Listening In, the blog of Parsons Music Library. Enjoy and leave comments, please!

We’re kicking off the blog with a post that is always timely, but even more so now that we have the 2012 Presidential Election within a few weeks.

You are all no doubt quite familiar with the importance of our national anthem, “The Star Spangled Banner.” Any large public ceremony, professional athletic event, or public gathering makes sure to start with a performance, usually sung by a vocalist. With an octave and a half range, though, this song is notoriously difficult to sing, and critics of the music often complain that it is down right unsingable!

public domain, published in 1814 by Carr's Music Store

One of only 10 existing originals that show the complete music and words to Francis Scott Key’s composition.

So why did Francis Scott Key set his beautiful poem about witnessing the battle of Fort McHenry during the War of 1812 to this song? Actually, he knew of the melody for a good ten years before he wrote the lyrics. The song was composed originally by Englishman John Stafford Smith as a popular song called “The Anacreontic Song” in honor of Greek poet Anacreon. Key liked the melody, and so it turned into “The Star-Spangled Banner.” (Yes, that is just about the shortest history one could write about the origins!)

But what about other countries around the world? Most anthems are musical symbols, just like a crest or flag, of the history and people of their country. The article on national anthems in Grove Music Online says the following about the variety of text subjects in anthems:

“The texts of national anthems are rarely of literary merit. Patriotic fervour is usually the keynote, although the forms and images used to express it vary a good deal and can reveal much about the character of a nation at the time the words were written. The text of an anthem may often have to be revised or modified in the light of political changes within the country or in its relations with its neighbours. Some countries, particularly those that have enjoyed long periods of peace and political stability, choose anthems that dwell on the natural beauty of the land. Several anthems are built around a national hero, such as Denmark’s King Christian and Haiti’s Jean-Jacques Dessalines, or around a nation’s flag, like those of Honduras and the USA. Many are in effect prayers, like God Save the King/Queen, or calls to arms, like France’s La Marseillaise. The struggle for independence (or the pride in achieving it) is a favourite theme among those countries that have emerged since 1945.”

Interestingly, Grove Music Online also divides the style of music that helps classify an anthem. They use the following distinctions:

1) Hymn: Eurocentric in design with stateliness, smooth melodic development, and typically quite old in origin.

2) March: Like “La Marseillaise” of France or “Marcha Real” of Spain.

3) Operatic anthem: Central and South America typically, many of which were written by Italians, and quite impractical to sing.

4) Folk anthem: Might require indigenous instruments and/or formal gestures, and typically have no influence from European colonization. Myanmar, Japan, Tibet, and Sri Lanka are a few examples.

5) Fanfare: with no text normally, these are more simply a music theme. Since many Middle Eastern countries only allow a sung performance if the audience is the same gender as the performer, their anthems often fall into this category. Examples include Qatar, Kuwait, and Bahrain.

One final interesting note from Grove:
” In January 1972 an arrangement by Herbert von Karajan of the main theme from the finale of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony was adopted (against the wishes of many musicians) as a European anthem by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe (it was later chosen also as the national anthem of Rhodesia).”

For further reading, here is the link to the Grove article, with descriptions of many anthems, along with short musical notation of their melodies.If you’d like to listen to some collections of national anthems, here are links to audio recordings of national anthems across the world that we own:

Collections of National Anthems (Europe, U.S.S.R., Asia)

America, Africa, Middle East, Oceania

Hymnes nationaux du monde (performed by the Vienna State Opera Orchestra)

World Anthems (performed by the Miller Brass Ensemble)