Arachnophonia : Brahms “Ein deutsches Requiem”

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 worker, Emma R. (class of 2021) and features Johannes Brahms’ “Ein deutsches Requiem” which was composed between 1857 and 1868. Thanks, Emma!

Johannes Brahms

Ein Deutsches Requiem

Brahms Ein Deutsches Requiem

For some strange reason, ever since I was a child I was drawn to classical music. It wasn’t forced on me by my parents through piano lessons or anything similar – in fact, my dad used to, and occasionally still does bemoan my lack of interest in his “oldies” (considering mine are centuries older, I question the use of this term) and acoustic singer-songwriter favorites. A memorable (and embarrassing) moment when I was entering sixth grade illustrates this complete disconnect from reality and a lack of common sense – I asked the 20-something DJ at the 6th grade ice-cream social/dance party to “please play some Mozart so I could hear myself think.” Yes, this actually happened, and no, it did not go over very well (clearly). I’ve grown somewhat over the years; my Spotify account tells me that in 2017, Sia’s “Chandelier” edged out the “Dies Irae” from Mozart’s Requiem, coming in at 46 and 47 most commonly played, respectively, but there’s still something about a good “Kyrie” or a sumptuous aria or an intriguing overture that synthesizers just can’t match.

Richmond Symphony Chorus

In recent months, I’ve been listening to the Brahms Requiem more than any other album or song (I fully expect to find each movement on Spotify’s analysis of my 2018 habits). I walk across campus humming the key motives and it plays on my speakers as I do my hair or study for an exam. I’m sad to say I hadn’t discovered this piece before this year. The reason for this sudden infatuation? This piece will be the first I will perform as a member of the Richmond Symphony Chorus, with performances in the middle of November. From the night of the first rehearsal – a complete read through of the piece – cover to cover – in August, I was hooked.

Brahms score

Unlike the typical Latin text of the classical requiem, Brahms wrote entirely in German, and as such was free to abandon the standard movements and sections dictated by the traditional text. While I might bemoan the loss of a Brahmsian rendition of the “Dies Irae,” this gave him the ability to craft a framework of his own. My personal favorite moment of the Brahms is the second, though after a particularly intense rehearsal on the sixth I was about ready to shift my allegiances. I’m still loyal to the second though, for the reason of a specific 20 second section occurring at 9:34 – 9:54 of the second track of this recording. This moment, for me, captures the glorious beauty of wonderful music that truly stands the test of time, and let’s be honest, that soprano part is just so fun to sing!

Johannes Brahms c. 1866

Johannes Brahms c. 1866

Arachnophonia: U2 “All That You Can’t Leave Behind”

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 worker, Cole (class of 2021) and features U2’s album All That You Can’t Leave Behind. Thanks, Cole!

U2

All That You Can’t Leave Behind

U2 - All That You Can't Leave Behind

U2’s 10th studio album All That You Can’t Leave Behind was released on October 30th, 2000. It is their fourth-highest selling album, with over 12 million copies sold.

“Let’s be frank.” I feel like any discussion regarding U2 in 2018 has to, for whatever reason, be prefaced by those three words. The fabled Irish rock band present a somewhat curious case in the canon of The Great Rock And Roll acts; few bands achieved such a breadth of critical and commercial success without famously disbanding (see: The Beatles, The Smiths, and, to a lesser extent, Pink Floyd.) or cycling through members to the point of near-unrecognition (The Rolling Stones). No, U2 are still here, still plucking away through a slew of pedal effects. From Boy (1980) to Songs of Experience (2017), co-founders Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton, and Larry Mullen Jr. have experienced everything that a modern musical career could promise. Eight number one albums in the United States. 22 Grammy awards (more than any other group). A PR misstep that has forever associated their name with “how do I get this off of my iPhone?” Induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Multiple collaborations with Kendrick Lamar that can at best be described as “uncomfortable.” The Dublin boys have done it all.

So, let’s be frank: the U2 of today is not the U2 of How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, just as that U2 isn’t the U2 of Achtung Baby, just as that U2… etc., etc., ad nauseam. Nor should they be. A discography spanning such a great length ought to be varied, especially if the band in question is as experimental and flippant with their sound as U2. For this reason, I chose to write about their tenth studio album.

U2 Beautiful Day

All That You Can’t Leave Behind constitutes the best of U2’s ever-changing sound. After a mixed reception to their industrial and electronic dance-inspired efforts of the ‘90s (Zooropa and Pop), the group set out to record a ‘return to form.’ Melding the electronic drums of the group’s Pop-era sound with the Edge’s signature effect-driven guitar playing, more reminiscent of The Joshua Tree than ever, the lead single “Beautiful Day” proved an instant success, charting at #1 in the U.K, the Netherlands, and Australia, and #21 in the U.S. In keeping with their tradition of social conscience, the fourth and final single, “Walk On” was inspired by and dedicated to Burmese democratic activist Aung San Suu Kyi, who was at the time placed under house arrest. “Walk On” is widely regarded as U2’s greatest ode to hope, due to both the instrumentation, centered on one of the Edge’s most gratifying riffs, and the heartening lyrics:

Walk on, walk on
What you got they can’t steal it
No they can’t even feel it
Walk on, walk on…
Stay safe tonight

“Walk On” was attributed even greater significance after the September 11th attacks, as it was performed on the September 21st television benefit concert America: A Tribute to Heroes. Subsequently, the single was interpreted as a message of hope to a nation grappling with the world changing before them. The song won the Grammy for Record of the Year in 2002, contributing to the total seven Grammys awarded to the album. Interestingly, “Beautiful Day” had previously won Record of the Year in 2001, making All That You Can’t Leave Behind the only album to receive two Record of the Year awards consecutively.

U2 - All That You Can't Leave Behind

All That You Can’t Leave Behind is the album that forced U2 into the very core of my musical tastes. I fully accept that The Joshua Tree is the band’s best output (and indeed, one of the greatest rock records ever), but there’s an elusive quality to this one that demands it be at the forefront in my mind. Maybe it’s just because it happened to be one of the three U2 albums forever interred in the CD player of my dad’s Oldsmobile. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy the 50 minute nostalgia injection it provides. Or maybe it’s because not a great many albums are so blatantly and unabashedly a product of the moment they were created in. From the millennium-era instrumentation and lyrical inspiration, to the life the songs took post-release, All That You Can’t Leave Behind is the musical embodiment of how Bono & co. saw the world in 2000. Even for the majority of people who didn’t grow up hearing snippets of this album every time that got in their family’s car, I think we can all appreciate the power of an album that can transport us, if only for a short while, to its moment.

New CDs added – September 2018

New CDs for September 2018

Concertos and Chamber Music

Jane Antonia Cornish – Constellations
Jane Antonia Cornish – Continuum

Jane Antonia Cornish - Continuum

Jazz

John Coltrane – Both Directions At Once : The Lost Album
Mary Halvorson – The Maid with the Flaxen Hair
Takaaki – New Kid In Town

John Coltrane - Both Directions At Once

Musicals

David Hein – Come From Away
Jeanine Tesori – Caroline, Or Change

Caroline or Change

Various Artists – Spongebob Squarepants, The New Musical
David Yazbeck – The Band’s Visit: Original Broadway Cast Recording

Spongebob Broadway

New CDs added – Summer 2018

New CDs for Summer 2018

Concertos & Chamber Music

Lou Harrison – Works for Percussion, Violin, and Piano
Steve Reich + SO Percussion – Drumming Live
Various Artists – Kaleidoscopic

Lou Harrison - Works

Piano Music

William Appling – Scott Joplin: The complete rags, waltzes and marches
Beth Levin – Inward Voice

William Appling - Scott Joplin

Jazz

Hector Barez – El Laberinto del Coco
Masayoshi Fujita – Book of Life

Masayoshi Fujita - Book of Life

Danny Green Trio plus Strings – One Day It Will
Maria Schneider Orchestra – The Thompson Fields

Maria Schneider - The Thompson Fields

Woody Shaw – Tokyo ’81

Woody Shaw - Tokyo '81

Cantatas & Choral Music

Eighth Blackbird – Olagon : A Cantata in doublespeak
Tigran Mansurian – Requiem

Eighth Blackbird - Olagon

Musicals

Sara Bareilles – Waitress: Original Broadway Cast Recording

Waitress - Original Broadway Cast

Stephen Flaherty – Once On This Island: The Musical: New Broadway Cast Recording

Once On This Island - New Broadway Cast

Electronic Music

Jaan Raats – Marginalia
Various Artists – Electronic Chamber Music

Jaan Raats - Marginalia

Popular Music

Art of Time Ensemble with Steven Page – A Singer Must Die

Art of Time Ensemble - A Singer Must Die

Kendrick Lamar – Damn

Kendrick Lamar - Damn

Arachnophonia: Green Day “American Idiot”

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 worker, Duncan (class of 2018) and features American rock band Green Day’s 2004 album American Idiot. Thanks, Duncan!

Green Day

American Idiot

Green Day - American Idiot

In discussions of individuals’ favorite music, it is often noted how certain songs, albums, and artists have a significant amount of “staying power” with those individuals. These works have managed, at numerous stages of people’s lives, to maintain their resonance. For me, the album that has had this degree of prolonged impact is Green Day’s 2004 album, American Idiot.

Green Day

I was raised on “oldies” music. Throughout my childhood, starting around the age of three or four, I would go to bed each night with the music of The Beatles, The Monkees, or Simon and Garfunkel (among others) quietly playing on the boom box which rested on my bedside table. I distinctly remember my parents burying their heads in their hands in embarrassment as I sang along to The Monkees’ Greatest Hits on a crowded flight. All of this is to say that, for as long as I can remember, I had been primed for an appreciation for rock & roll.

Then, when I was in fourth grade, I came across the song “Holiday” on YouTube, and I was immediately enamored. I am the son of a (progressive, it should be noted) North Carolina pastor, and had not yet been exposed to the bluntness, ruggedness, and vulgarity of punk music. While I certainly did not understand the political significance of the song at the time (the song is a criticism of the invasion of Iraq), I enjoyed the edginess of the track; it seemed charged with angst and sarcasm. One YouTube spiral later, I was begging my parents for the album for months. Eventually, my parents were worn down by my persistence, and bought me the album.

While I initially appreciated the album for its catchiness, it has established new levels of significance for me in the decade since I first listened. The album is what the band describes as a “punk rock opera,” following a character named the Jesus of Suburbia as he faces the trials of an unhealthy home life, disenfranchisement, drug abuse, and lost love. The album is particularly effective in that it personifies the resentment of American society at the time of its conception. If anything, the issues addressed in the album have gained greater significance as our political landscape has grown increasingly polarized.

While a large part of my appreciation of the album is rooted in in nostalgia, I think the album holds up both thematically and musically. I still find myself returning to it and experiencing new levels of appreciation. The album has been incredibly significant for me, and I hope others experience it similarly.

Arachnophonia : Bon Iver “Bon Iver”

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 worker, Claire (class of 2020) and features indie folk band Bon Iver’s second album. Thanks, Claire!

Bon Iver

Bon Iver

Bon Iver - Bon Iver

Last semester, I had the chance to attend a Bon Iver concert, after being an avid fan of the band for more than six years. The concert exceeded my expectations. Since the concert, I have frequently listened to Bon Iver’s second studio album, cleverly titled Bon Iver. This album is a departure from the band’s first album, which was self-recorded in an isolated cabin in the woods of Wisconsin. Bon Iver won the Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album in 2012, and the song “Holocene” was nominated for both Song of the Year and Record of the Year, breaking into the alternative music scene in a bold and recognizable way. My favorite song on this album is, by far, “Holocene.” The name of the song is shared with geological epoch which translates to “The Age of Man.” The album also features titles of tracks with names of places, such as Hinnom, TX and Lisbon, OH, which seem to have little to do with the songs themselves. The experience of listening to this album from start to finish is difficult to describe in words, yet it brings about an intense emotional response, allowing listeners to question their own human condition in this “Holocene” we are currently living in.

Bon Iver - Holocene

Arachnophonia : The Smiths “The Queen Is Dead”

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 worker, Aly (class of 2018) and features a classic 1986 album by the British group The Smiths. Thanks, Aly!

The Smiths

The Queen Is Dead

Smiths - The Queen Is Dead

One of The Smiths’ most well-known albums, The Queen is Dead, is the quintessential album for anyone looking to get into this quirky indie rock band. The album, released in 1986 and re-released as a collector’s edition in 2017, has been unanimously praised, and even considered the “greatest album of all time” by major British music publication NME. The lyrics, sung by the famous now-solo Morrissey, are filled with clever imagery and sharp social commentary. Track 9, “There Is A Light That Never Goes Out,” was featured in the classic rom-com 500 Days of Summer and remains one of the most famous Smiths songs. This album is full of songs that take a few listens to really absorb all of the witty lyric details that often hint at social unrest, emotional struggles, and even anarchy. For someone looking to indulge in some of the best vintage fight-the-power music with hints of satire, this album is definitely worth the listen.

Smiths - Queen Is Dead poster

Arachnophonia : Maroon 5 “Live: Friday The 13th”

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 worker, Mary (class of 2018) and features a 2005 CD/DVD release by the band Maroon 5. Thanks, Mary!

Maroon 5
“Live: Friday the 13th”

Maroon 5 Live Friday the 13th

This is a live DVD and CD release by Maroon 5, and it was recorded on May 13, 2005 in Santa Barbara, California at the Santa Barbara Bowl. The live concert is a performance of all their songs and the CD contains the same tracks. I chose this one because Maroon 5 is one of my favorite artists and this CD contains one of my favorite tracks called “Sunday Morning.” “Sunday Morning” is often described as blue-eyed soul or jazz-fusion. This is one of my go-to songs when I’m driving in a nice weather. When the weather gets warm and the sky looks nice outside, I just want to drive and listen to this song. This is the kind of a song that you want to listen to when you had a lazy day, slept in on a weekend and are going to a nice brunch place on a warm nice day in April or May. The lyrics are very sweet as well as it describes someone who is all the songwriter sees when life gets hard to do. I highly recommend this song to those of you who haven’t heard it yet as the weather is warming up now!

Maroon 5

New CDs added in March!

New CDs for March 2018

Concertos, Chamber and Orchestral Music

Francois Devienne – Flute Concertos Nos. 9-12
Jennifer Higdon – All Things Majestic / Viola Concerto / Oboe Concerto
Jennifer Higdon – Piano Trio / Voices / Impressions

Higdon - All Things Majestic

Sheku Kanneh-Mason – Inspiration

Sheku Kanneh-Mason - Inspiration

Jeffrey LaDeur – Debussy & Rameau: The Unbroken Line
Alon Sariel – Telemandolin

Alon Sariel - Telemandolin

Arnold Schoenberg – String Quartets 2 & 4 / Gringolts Quartet
Kai Schumacher – Beauty in Simplicity

Kai Schumacher - Beauty in Simplicity

Jazz

Behn Gillece – Walk of Fire
Aaron Goldberg – The Now

Justin Kauflin – Dedication
Jimmy McGriff – The Best of the Sue Years, 1962-1965

Jimmy McGriff

Thelonious Monk – Solo Monk
Mostly Other People Do The Killing – Red Hot
Oneness of Juju – Space Jungle Luv

Oneness of JuJu - Space Jungle Luv

Gregory Porter – Nat “King” Cole & Me
Rez Abbasi Acoustic Quartet – Intents and Purposes

Rez Abbasi Acoustic Quartet

Opera, Opera Excerpts and Art Songs

Daron Hagen – After Words : 21st-Century Song Cycles

Daron Hagen 21st Century Song Cycles

Choral Music

Benjamin Britten – A Ceremony of Carols / Friday Afternoons / Three Two-Part Songs
Luminos – In Lucem
John Turner – Christmas Card Carols

Luminos - In Lucem

Folk and World Music

The James Connolly Songs of Freedom Band – Songs of Freedom
Various Artists – Andina, the Sound of the Peruvian Andes : Huyano, Carnaval & Cumbia, 1968 to 1978

Andina

Popular Music

Various Artists – Caribbean in America, 1915-1962
Steven Wright-Mark – My Plastic World …

Caribbean in America

Arachnophonia: David Bowie “Blackstar”

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 worker, Gabi (class of 2020), and features Blackstar , the 25th and final album from English musician, David Bowie. Thanks, Gabi!

David Bowie

Blackstar

David Bowie - Blackstar

On what would have been David Bowie’s 71st birthday, an HBO original documentary titled, David Bowie: The Last Five Years premiered on the channel. The film explores the end of Bowie’s career, ranging from his last ever live performance in 2004, to the release of his final album, Blackstar, and corresponding music videos. The film revealed a new side of Bowie to me, and as a longtime fan, I was intrigued by the processes behind his later work, which he kept so concealed from the public–until now. It has inspired me to write about Bowie’s final album, his swan song, Blackstar.

HBO Doc promo

Blackstar came out when I was a senior in high school. I had listened to Bowie’s complete discography throughout my teenage years and was caught by surprise when he released a full-length album in 2016. Upon first listen, the album is very unique compared to his others, which says a great deal considering every one of Bowie’s albums represents a different stylistic era of Bowie. The album is concise, featuring only 7 tracks and a running time of 41 minutes. A new influence of jazz is also noticeable throughout the record, especially on track 4: “Sue (Or In a Season of Crime)“. This track featured collaborators like Maria Schneider, a notable jazz musician and composer. Bowie even cited Kendrick Lamar‘s To Pimp a Butterfly, an album that fuses hip-hop and jazz, as an inspiration for this choice.

This jazz influence overtakes that of rock’n’roll, which many would associate as Bowie’s main style. There is also something distinctly darker and ominous in the sound of Bowie’s voice on this album as compared to others. This, paired with the mix of new, experimental styles, made the listen of Blackstar a unique one for a Bowie fan. What would he do next? Did Blackstar mark a definite new era in Bowie’s sonic exploration?

Two days after the album’s release, before having much time to process or interpret this new sound, David Bowie passed away from liver cancer. The world was heartbroken, as the disease had been kept a secret from the public since its inception. It was not until his passing, however, that the public uncovered the true genius behind Blackstar: it is encrypted with secret messages that allude to Bowie’s death.

In the title track, Bowie sings,

“Something happened on the day he died
Spirit rose a metre then stepped aside
Somebody else took his place, and bravely cried
(I’m a blackstar, I’m a blackstar)”

Bowie - astronaut

Throughout his career, Bowie sung about space in a myriad of ways. On the song “Star”, from his 1973 album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, he calls himself a rock n roll star, but now, he has faded to black. In the music video for Blackstar, we even see a nod to Major Tom himself in the opening shot, as a man in a space suit looks up at a gigantic, black star.

Track 3, “Lazarus“, opens with the lines,

“Look up here, I’m in heaven
I’ve got scars that can’t be seen
I’ve got drama, can’t be stolen
Everybody knows me now”

Here, Bowie is literally calling to his listeners from the afterlife, reflecting on his time as a public figure. The corresponding music video features Bowie lying tensely in a hospital bed, and eventually he is dragged into a dark closet, almost like he was dragged away from life into death.

Tony Visconti, longtime producer, collaborator, and friend of Bowie, said that this album was Bowie’s “parting gift” to his fans. Two years after his death, the gift still resonates, and the musical risks he took throughout the project are reminders that even in his weakest days, Bowie was an innovator, and will always be remembered as one.

avid Bowie - Blackstar portrait