Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

Grace Slick isolated vocal on “White Rabbit”: Wow!

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Here it is, and the story of it.

Written by LeisureGuy

28 January 2018 at 3:32 pm

Posted in Music

Johnny Cash Takes A Stand: Looking Back On His Folsom Prison Performance

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NPR has an interesting article giving the backstory on the Folsom Prison concert.

Not in Folsom Prison, but Johnnie Cash singing it:

Written by LeisureGuy

13 January 2018 at 1:53 pm

Posted in Business, Daily life, Music

Theramin time

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Not your grandfather’s theramin, eh? This is the Moog Theramini, $300 from Amazon. To see what can be done with it:

Clara Rockmore was the greatest theramin virtuoso, and she provides 5 Secrets for Mastering the Theremin. Worth listening to her play, and the article at the link has more examples.

Written by LeisureGuy

18 December 2017 at 9:45 am

America’s wholesome square dancing tradition is a tool of white suprema

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I didn’t know this. Robyn Pennacchia writes in Quartz:

If you live in the United States, chances are high that, growing up, you had to take square dancing in gym class. I myself spent a week at my Rochester, New York, high school learning to allemande left and right—skills I was highly unlikely to ever need again. At the time, although I thought it was odd, I was merely grateful for not having to change into my gym clothes.

As it turns out, there’s an unusual reason why so many American students spend their formative years learning to do-si-do. Twenty-eight out of 50 states have declared square dancing their official dance. This is part of a coordinated campaign—a dancespiracy, if you will—to make square dancing the official dance of the United States, in the hope that doing so “would give square dancing and its related activities more visibility and have a positive effect on recruiting new dancers.”

But the institutionalization of square dancing isn’t just about the joy of dance. It’s also about America’s legacy of racism and anti-Semitism—and the surprising tools that get used in the effort to uphold whiteness.

Henry Ford was scared of jazz

To understand how square dancing became a state-mandated means of celebrating Americana, it’s necessary to go back to Henry Ford, the founder of Ford Motor Vehicles. Ford hated jazz; he hated the Charleston. He also really hated Jewish people, and believed that Jewish people invented jazz as part of a nefarious plot to corrupt the masses and take over the world—a theory that might come as a surprise to the black people who actually did invent it.

In volume three of Ford’s The International Jew series, written in 1921, he writes:

“Many people have wondered whence come the waves upon waves of musical slush that invade decent homes and set the young people of this generation imitating the drivel of morons. Popular music is a Jewish monopoly. Jazz is a Jewish creation. The mush, slush, the sly suggestion, the abandoned sensuousness of sliding notes, are of Jewish origin.”

Like Hitler, who greatly admired Ford and even mentioned him approvingly in Mein Kampf, Ford believed that Jewish people were evil geniuses diabolically planning to control the world. Black people, he thought, were not necessarily evil, but certainly not as swift as white people, and were particularly prone to being manipulated and controlled by “the Jews.”

His view of race now forms the basis of the “Democratic Plantation” theory that many of today’s conservatives have embraced, arguing that liberals and Democrats are “the real racists” in that they nefariously support social welfare programs only in order to manipulate black people into not voting Republican.

Ford hired black workers, and paid them the same as his white workers. But he was very concerned that they, along with his other workers, would be morally corrupted by the evil forces of jazz. Jazz, he believed, would lead them astray, propelling them toward liquor, tobacco, sex, and all kinds of other sins.

Ford and his wife had long had an interest in what he termed “old fashion dancing.” When he bought the Wayside Inn in Sudsbury, Mass, in 1923, he hired a man named Benjamin Lovett to not only teach square dancing to him and his wife, but also to guests of the Inn. At this time, however, the dance form was already seen as old-fashioned and, well, square. Even in the country, where these kind of dances had once been popular, jazz and swing were taking over.

Square dancing as sanctuary

By bringing back square dancing, as well as other primarily Anglo-Saxon dances like waltzes and quadrilles, Ford believed he would be able to counteract what he saw as the unwholesome influence of jazz on America. People, he imagined, would leave the dance halls and cabarets in droves to swing their partners round and round at liquor-free square dance clubs. If jazz was the cause of America’s moral decay, he reasoned, the road to repair it could be as simple as replacing it with fiddles and square dances.

In order to bring his dream to life, Ford poured tons of money into square dancing and country music in general. In 1926, he published an instruction manual for aspiring square dancing instructors titled “Good Morning: After a Sleep of Twenty-Five Years, Old-Fashioned Dancing is Being Revived by Mr. and Mrs. Henry Ford.” He also required his employees to attend the square dancing events he created for them, funded fiddling contests and radio shows promoting “old time dancing music,” as well as the creation of square dancing clubs across the US—where modern, Western-style square dancing as we know it now was really created.

Perhaps ironically, given Ford’s intent to squash the influence of black music, America’s square dancing tradition—like nearly everything else—was in fact built by black people. While European dance traditions like the French quadrille certainly informed the evolution of square dancing, the addition of the call-and-response form of calling out dance moves initially started with the black slaves, who were required to perform at white dance balls in order to reproduce the steps themselves without formal dance training.

Nonetheless, Ford saw these dances as intrinsically white, and thus more intrinsically wholesome. Along with his wife and their square dance instructor Benjamin Lovett, he campaigned to bring square dancing to the physical education classes of students across the country, believing it would teach children “social training, courtesy, good citizenship, along with rhythm.” The schools agreed, and by 1928, almost half the schools in America were teaching square dancing and other forms of old-fashioned dancing to students.

Although Ford never fully supplanted jazz, he did spark a revival of interest in square dancing. Newspapers published full-page dancing instructions; 34 colleges across America started teaching early American dancing. It was practically a national rage again for a few years—before dying out again.

Square dancing for America

But square dancing did not go quietly into that good night. In the 1930s, another square dance aficionado—a Colorado school superintendent named Lloyd “Pappy” Shaw—helped revive the tradition once again, and continued Ford’s quest to spread square dance to schools across the country. . .

Continue reading. There’s lots more.

Written by LeisureGuy

16 December 2017 at 9:02 am

Posted in Daily life, Jazz, Music

Very nice guitar playing…

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Written by LeisureGuy

1 December 2017 at 3:17 pm

Posted in Music

At the Met Opera, a Note So High, It’s Never Been Sung Before

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Zachary Woolfe reports in the NY Times:

It lasts just a split second, almost imperceptible in a two-hour score. It’s over too quickly to summon the dogs of the Upper West Side or to break any nearby windows.

But brief as it is, the A above high C that the soprano Audrey Luna reaches in Thomas Adès’s new opera, “The Exterminating Angel,” is so high, it has never been sung in the 137-year history of the Metropolitan Opera.

High C has been hit by the thousands. D’s and E’s, too, are rousing but not uncommon. F’s have been rarer, and G’s and A flats rarer still.

But a high A — a combination of genetic gifts, rigorous training and psychological discipline over two fragile vocal cords — is monumental, and unprecedented at the Met, according to its archivists.

“There’s a particular thrill about that high coloratura range,” Mr. Adès said in a phone interview. “When I hear the conventional high C of a soprano, I want to say, ‘Show us what else you’ve got.’”

“I’ve practiced up to a C above high C in the past,” she said in an interview in her dressing room. “So I know it’s in me. But it’s just nothing I’ve performed on any stage before.”

“When I saw Ariel the first time, it was like a dare,” she added, referring to the “Tempest” score. “And this is a double-dog dare.”

In “The Exterminating Angel,” based on the 1962 Luis Buñuel film, Ms. Luna plays Leticia, an opera diva who is part of a blue-bloods dinner party, the guests of which find themselves mysteriously unable to leave at the end of the evening. The vocal demands are a workout for almost every performer onstage. . .

Continue reading.

Video clips at the link allows you to hear her sing. The whole article is interesting and worth reading. Later in the article:

Adding to the excitement of the high A is its placement in the score. Unlike in other high-flying parts — the imperious Queen of the Night in “The Magic Flute,” the spunky Zerbinetta in “Ariadne auf Naxos,” the long-suffering title role in “Lucia di Lammermoor” — there’s little time for Ms. Luna to warm up: The A is her very first note, sung before she’s even visible onstage. (She sings it again a short time later, as the party guests, in a surreal portent, leave the stage and re-enter.)

Written by LeisureGuy

7 November 2017 at 10:31 am

Posted in Art, Music

John Coltrane Draws a Mysterious Diagram Illustrating the Mathematical & Mystical Qualities of Music

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For the musicians among my readers—if any. I thought this Open Culture post by Josh Jones was quite interesting, though I am far from being a musician. It begins:

In a post earlier this year, we wrote about a drawing John Coltrane gave his friend and mentor Yusef Lateef, who reproduced it in his book Repository of Scales and Melodic Patterns. The strange diagram contains the easily recognizable circle of fifths (or circle of fourths), but it illustrates a much more sophisticated scheme than basic major scale theory. Just exactly what that is, however, remains a mystery. Like every mystical explorer, the work Coltrane left behind asks us to expand our consciousness beyond its narrow boundaries. The diagram may well show a series of  “multiplicities,” as saxophonist Ed Jones writes. From the way Coltrane has “grouped certain pitches,” writes vibes player Corey Mwamba, “it’s easy to infer that Coltrane is displaying a form of chromatic modulation.” These observations, however, fail to explain why he would need such a chart. “The diagram,” writes Mwamba, “may have a theoretical basis beyond that.” But does anyone know what that is?

Perhaps Coltrane cleared certain things up with his “corrected” version of the tone circle, above, which Lateef also reprinted. From this—as pianist Matt Ratcliffe found—one can derive Giant Steps, as well as “the Star of David or the Seal of Solomon, very powerful symbolism especially to ancient knowledge and the Afrocentric and eventually cosmic consciousness direction in which Coltrane would ultimately lead on to with A Love Supreme.”

Sound too far out? On the other side of the epistemological spectrum, we have physicist and sax player Stephon Alexander, who writes in his book The Jazz of Physics that “the same geometric principle that motivated Einstein’s theory was reflected in Coltrane’s diagram.” Likewise, saxophonist Roel Hollander sees in the tone circle a number of mathematical principles. But, remaining true to Coltrane’s synthesis of spirituality and science, he also reads its geometry according to sacred symbolism. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

13 October 2017 at 5:28 pm

Posted in Music

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