music

Commentary
5:30 am
Tue April 14, 2015

Here Come Termination Rights

Credit Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Congress changed copyright law in the 1970s with a provision that allows songwriters to get out of their contracts 35 years after they had signed away their rights to record companies.

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Commentary
6:30 am
Mon April 13, 2015

The True King Of Hip Hop

DJ Premier at work
Credit Markus Rödder / Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

The turntables are to hip hop what the guitar is to rock and roll. Or, more precisely, they are what the guitar, bass, drums and keyboard are to rock and roll.

Hip hop was born from the turntables, and through hip hop, the turntables were transformed from a simple playback device into an instrument that has been featured in countless jazz arrangements and even symphonies.

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Commentary
5:30 am
Tue March 31, 2015

Musicians Who Sing Along

Glenn Gould
Credit Don Hunstein / Glenn Gould Foundation

This is Glenn Gould’s famous 1981 recording of Bach’s "Goldberg Variations." If you listen very carefully, you can hear him singing along. He sang so loudly that his recording engineers often couldn’t avoid it being picked up by the microphones.

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Commentary
6:30 am
Mon March 30, 2015

Hip Hop And The Politics Of Now

Kendrick Lamar
Credit Merlijn Hoek / Wikiportrait / Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported

Rapper Kendrick Lamar’s new album To Pimp a Butterfly is as much manifesto and rallying cry as it is an LP. While it’s now difficult to listen to hip hop without hearing echoes of Ferguson, Mo., Lamar intentionally places Butterfly squarely in the center of that conversation. The online magazine ‘The Root’ called it the music of the Black Lives Matter hashtag.

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Commentary
5:30 am
Mon March 30, 2015

The Many Faces Of Cinderella

Credit DanceCenter No1 / Wikimedia Commons / Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

She has been known as Katie Woodencloak, Aschenputtel, Cendrillon, and of course, Cinderella. Her rags-to-riches story has been told in books, stage, film, television, opera and ballet. There are versions of it from all over the world. The popular French version of the tale, written by Charles Perrault, is best known for supplementing the narrative with such details as the pumpkin-turned-coach, the slippers made of glass and the fairy godmother.

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Commentary
5:30 am
Tue March 17, 2015

The Delta Blues Of Germany

Kraftwerk performing live
Credit bluesmuse / Flickr / Creative Commons

You may not be aware of this, but the last four decades of music have been heavily influenced by German underground rock from the 1970s.

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Commentary
6:30 am
Mon March 16, 2015

The Mask Of Doom

MF DOOM

Masks are more than a flashy stage gimmick for the emcee and producer MF DOOM. The iron mask, first worn by his namesake, the comic-book villain Doctor Doom, serves as the central conceit for what is now a decades-long exploration of hip hop’s more formal, structuralist elements.

DOOM raps primarily in two bar couplets, heavily coded with slang, and layers and layers of abstraction and association, as in the dizzying verses of the song “Figaro”:

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Commentary
5:30 am
Tue March 3, 2015

Why Music Is Greater Than The 'Mozart Effect'

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Credit Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

You’ve all heard about The Mozart Effect, the theory that listening to classical music will “make you smarter.” Whether or not research bears this out, the Mozart Effect has become a rallying cry for music educators and is even a trademarked way to sell CDs to parents hoping their kids would eventually get high-paying jobs.

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Commentary
6:30 am
Mon March 2, 2015

Keeping It RIGHT

Plug 1 and Plug 2 of De La Soul
Credit blackouthiphop.com / Google Images / Creative Commons

I read an article criticizing the movie Whiplash that argued its violence is over-the-top and unrealistic— the movie positions violence as part of the relationship between student and teacher. The criticism was that the relationship was so rare as to be unrealistic.

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Commentary
5:30 am
Tue February 17, 2015

Distributing Music Outside The Box

Credit tyler.stefanich / Wikimedia Commons / Creative Commons

Recorded music now makes so little money that some artists have gone to a completely different business model.

Musicians are now releasing their work for free in the hopes that their music will reach the ears of someone willing to put it in a movie, or that it will help promote a live tour or merchandise sales. This is called a “Creative Commons License,” and it grants everyone the right to freely distribute the work, provided they don’t sell, alter or claim it as their own.

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