Happy Talk: Listen to the Room Where Ella Fitzgerald Sang

Inside the Sunset Boulevard building that busted racial barriers. As you listen to Ella Fitzgerald sing “Take the ‘A’ Train,” try to also listen around it and through it. Listen to the song as it begins—Lou Levy’s piano warming up through the applause—and listen to the final seconds after it finishes, the band in brief[…]

Ancient Oral Transmission: A Marriage of Music, Literature, Tradition, and Culture

Typically oral transmission refers to the basic action of passing information, in this case music, through oral and aural means. By Emma PattersonMusic Specialist and Vocal Coach There are a number of misunderstandings about ancient oral transmission that negatively affect the way musicians view music history but also the process of how music was and[…]

When L.A. Was the Land of Funk in the 1970s

Lakeside left their mark on a Black music renaissance. In 1972, the ten members of the Dayton, Ohio funk band, Ohio Lakeside Express, piled into a U-Haul van and headed straight for Sunset Boulevard. Westward migration was in the air. Motown (the nation’s top Black music label) had already pulled up its Detroit roots and[…]

Musical Imagery in the Global Middle Ages

Texts and images produced throughout the medieval world reveal that harp music could elicit powerful responses. Infernal Noise In the Hell panel of Hieronymus Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights triptych, an anthropomorphic, fully clothed hare blows a hunting horn, the hunted aping the hunter. A naked man, penetrated by a recorder, carries an oversized shawm[…]

The Function of Music in Ancient Greek Cults

Examining the important role of music in ancient Greek cult practices. By Dr. Jana Kubatzki Research Associate in Musicology Freie Universität Berlin Abstract This paper deals with the important role of music in ancient Greek cult practices. It will explore the types of music that were played and research the effect music may have had on[…]

Can We Know What Music Sounded Like in Ancient Greece?

Terracotta amphora, c490 BCE. Courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York Despite a wealth of ancient writings, archaeological remains of instruments, and even inscriptions with musical notation, the question has long been thought intractable. By Dr. Armand D’Angour / 08.08.2018 Associate Professor of Classics Jesuit College University of Oxford They told me, Heraclitus, they told me[…]

Byzantine Music and Musical Manuscripts

Music has played a central role in Greek Orthodox services for centuries. Nicolas Bell describes the manuscript evidence for this music in the Byzantine and post-Byzantine eras. By Dr. Nicolas Bell College Library Trinity College Cambridge The Byzantine Empire fostered a very rich musical tradition. The music used in church services is exceptionally well preserved[…]

African Rhythms, Ideas of Sin and the Hammond Organ: A Brief History of Gospel Music’s Evolution

A choir sings traditional gospel music. Staff Sgt. Bernardo Fuller For the enslaved Africans, music – rhythm in particular – became a tool of communication about their conditions. Later, it laid the foundation for spirituals and gospel songs. By Dr. Robert Stephens / 02.28.2018 Professor of World Music University of Connecticut The enslaved Africans who first arrived in the British colony of Virginia in 1619 after being forcefully removed from their natural[…]

Music, Time and Long-Term Thinking: Brian Eno Expands the Vocabulary of Human Feeling

   By Austin Brown (left) and Alex Mensing (right) / 11.30.2017 Brian Eno’s creative activities defy categorization. Widely known as a musician and producer, Eno has expanded the frontiers of audio and visual art for decades, and posited new ways of approaching creativity in general. He is a thinker and speaker, activist and eccentric. He formulated[…]

Music Fundamentals and Appreciation: Anyone Can Grasp the Basics

     By (left-to-right) Dr. N. Alan Clark, Dr. Thomas Heflin, and Dr. Elizabeth Kramer Clark: Director of Bands, Middle Georgia State University Heflin: Assistant Professor of Jazz, Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College Kramer: Associate Dean and Associate Professor of Music History, University of West Georgia What Is Music? Music moves through time; it is not static.[…]

The Jazz Age in America: Redefining the Nation, 1919-1929

Carter And King Jazzing Orchestra, 1921 / Wikimedia Commons Edited by Matthew A. McIntosh / 05.01.2018 Historian Brewminate Editor-in-Chief Introduction The illustrations for F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tales of the Jazz Age, drawn by John Held, Jr., epitomized the carefree flapper era of the 1920s. Following the hardships of the immediate postwar era, the United States[…]

Reconstructing a Masterpiece of Choir-Book Illumination by Niccolò da Bologna

Initial G: The Assumption of the Virgin, about 1392–1402, Niccolò da Bologna, from the Gradual of Niccolò di Lazzara for Santo Spirito in Farneta (Lucca). Tempera colors and gold leaf on parchment, 14 x 12 in. The J. Paul Getty Museum, Ms. 115 (2017.122.5), leaf 5. Gift of Elizabeth J. Ferrell Leaves by the Bolognese artist,[…]

Music of the Middle Ages

By Dr. Elizabeth Kramer Associate Dean and Associate Professor of Music History University of West Georgia Introduction and Historical Context Musical Timeline Click image to enlarge Introduction What do you think of when you hear the term the Middle Ages (450–1450)? For some, the semi-historical figures of Robin Hood and Maid Marian come to mind. Others[…]

What Did Ancient Music Sound Like?

This sarcophagus depicts a variety of ancient musical instruments, including the tympanum (drum), flute, and kymbala (cymbals). Sarcophagus with Scenes of Bacchus, Roman, A.D. 210–220, with 19th-century supports. Marble, 67 15/16 in. wide. The J. Paul Getty Museum, 83.AA.275 Enzo Fina and Roberto Catalano of Musicàntica explore ancient musical traditions. By Eidelriz Sanga / 07.18.2012[…]

Songs in the Key of Human

A new Harvard study suggests that people around the globe can identify lullabies, dancing songs, and healing songs — regardless of the songs’ cultural origin — after hearing just a 14-second clip. / Image by Adobe Some musical meaning may transcend cultural boundaries and be universally human. By Peter Reuell / 01.26.2018 Poet and Harvard[…]

How the Orchestra is Arranged by the Biology of the Brain

Charlie Nguyen/Flickr/Creative Commons By Richard Kunert / 04.20.2016 PhD Candidate Donders Institute Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics Imagine yourself at a concert hall looking at a symphonic orchestra on stage. Have you ever noticed that high-pitched strings sit left of low-pitched strings? Going from left to right, one usually sees violins, violas, cellos and double[…]

Why Sad Songs Can Be Feel-Good and Noise Music Can Be Nice

Lauren C/Flickr/Creative Commons By Princess Ojiaku / 01.14.2016 Adele’s heartbreaking ballad Hello, about a lost lover, has topped the Billboard Hot 100 for weeks, while 25, the album from which it comes, broke records for the highest number of album sales in its first week (3.48 million). Sad songs can be immensely popular, often moving us in a more memorable way[…]

Phonomenal! Rare Sides from the History of Sound Recording

Francis Barraud [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons By Melissa Pipe / 03.30.2017 A Marvin Duchow Music Library (McGill University) exhibit explored the history of recorded sound through its rare collection of 20th century recordings and related ephemera. Cylinder, shellac, and vinyl records with varying disc and groove sizes, speeds, composition materials, colours and uses offer[…]

Earworms: How and Why Music Gets Stuck in Your Head

By Dr. Zuleyka Zevallos / 09.10.2016 Sociologist Have you ever had a song playing in  your mind that you just can’t tune out? The social science term for this is “involuntary musical imagery” (IMI) otherwise known as an “earworm.” In this post, I’ll discuss research about IMI, focusing on data from a study by Victoria Williamson and colleagues tracing[…]

Parsing the Poet, Bob Dylan

“I’m a Dylan professor and a Dylan fan,” says Harvard Professor Richard Thomas, who teaches a popular freshman seminar on the singer-songwriter and recently published “Why Dylan Matters.” / Stephanie Mitchell, Harvard Staff Photographer New book examines the influence of the classics on the Nobelist’s music. By Jill Radsken / 12.13.2017 Richard Thomas may be the[…]

Refugee Women Cope With Trauma and Stress Through Drum Circles

Women and children participate in a drum circle in El Cajon, California. Studies have shown that recreational music-making in general and group drumming in particular can decrease stress and change the genomic stress marker. / Photo by Ari Honarvar How music is helping women from war-torn countries express grief and loss. By Ari Honarvar / 12.05.2017 More than three[…]

Rough, Smooth, or Deep: Why the Sound of a Voice is Multisensory

Sarah Vaughan by William P Gottlieb. / Wikimedia Commons By Dr. Pavlo Shopin / 11.15.2017 Lecturer in the Philosophy of Language, Comparative Linguistics, and Translation National Pedagogical Dragomanov University To make sense of human voices, we rely on senses beyond hearing. The songs of Taylor Swift can be sweet and soft. Lady Gaga’s singing feels[…]

Glen Campbell Combined Rural Grit and Urban Sheen – Like a Rhinestone Cowboy

In Las Vegas, 1970. EPA By Dr. Adam Behr / 08.10.2017 Lecturer in Popular and Contemporary Music Newcastle University The American singer Glen Campbell did not care for musical boundaries. He probably enjoyed hearing The Meters, doyens of New Orleans funk, covering Wichita Lineman, as much as he enjoyed performing a slow, country-tinged version of Foo Fighters’[…]

Inventing the Recording

Coloured engraving after J.T. Balcomb depicting an Edison phonograph with a carbon microphone, 1878 / Wellcome Library Dr. Eva Moreda Rodríguez on the formative years of the recording industry, focusing on the culture surrounding the gabinetes fonográficos of fin-de-siècle Spain. By Dr. Eva Moreda Rodriguez / 07.12.2017 Lecturer in Music University of Glasgow To the question “When[…]