music

timtimes / Flickr / Creative Commons

One of the primary topics emcees rap about, aside from their own skill on the microphone, is hip hop itself—the music, the fashion, what hip hop is and what it isn’t.

It’s a tautology that, as far as I can tell, is practically non-existent in other forms of music. Rock and roll dabbles in the occasional self reference, but the act is nearly compulsory in hip hop. If every emcee’s first verse is about how amazing they are, their second verse is about how much they love hip hop.

londonist.com / Google Images / Creative Commons

There is a raw honesty about the music of PJ Harvey, and that is probably the reason she’s the only person to twice win England’s Mercury Prize for best album of the year.

Now, she has figured out a way to make her next album a much more intimate and meaningful experience for the listener: she is treating the recording as an art exhibit.

    

In Walt Whitman’s poem “I Hear America Singing”, he writes of “the varied carols” he hears, ”each singing what belongs to him or her, and to none else/Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs”.

Stairway To Litigation

Jan 20, 2015
Heinrich Klaffs / Wikimedia Commons / Creative Commons

Led Zeppelin was one of a wave of British bands enamored with American delta blues, and they covered a large number of blues artists like Robert Johnson and Willie Dixon.

“Borrowing” songs from someone else is part of the blues tradition, but Led Zeppelin might have taken things too far. They have already been sued in the past for plagiarising Howlin’ Wolf and Sonny Boy Williamson. Now, they find themselves in court again, this time over the authorship of the band’s colossus, "Stairway to Heaven," a song that has earned more than half a billion dollars.

hansthijs / Flickr / Creative Commons

When hip hop began, it sounded like this:

This is Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, from 1979-- the year I was born, and six years after DJ Kool Herc invented the breakbeat. As one of the first hip hop records, it’s emblematic of a lot of early rap music: it’s a long track and the emcees throw in pretty much every rhyme in the book. At that point, hip hop was still largely party music, with rappers functioning primarily as boosters for the deejay.

boysketch.deviantart.com / Google Images / Creative Commons

Music in video games has come a long way from the bleeps and bloops heard in the very first games.

Wichita State University

This past weekend, a memorial service was held for former Wichita State University professor Robert Town, who died in December. Town was professor of organ at the university from 1965 - 2006 and played a major part in the university's acquisition of the great Marcussen organ, which is housed in Wiedemann Hall and was the first such organ built in North America.

The voice you'll hear in this remembrance is Andrew Trechak, associate professor of piano at Wichita State, who arrived at WSU in 1981. The music is from a May 1990 concert by Town, playing the Marcussen organ.

Torin Andersen

This weekend marks the release of the latest CD by Spirit of the Stairs, Tronan Vs. The Spidernauts.

Whereas past releases from the all-instrumental group have clocked in around the hour mark, Tronan consists of only four songs—all recorded since the release of the group’s 2012 effort, Lambo Doors.

Courtesy photo

Steve Hatfield is a drummer/educator based in Wichita, Kan. He has shared the stage with artists such as Joe Williams, Martina McBride, Glenn Alexander, Bob Florence, and Jerry Hahn. He currently performs with The Bodo Ensemble, The Elemental Trio, Cabaret Oldtown, Music Theater of Wichita, and leads the aptly named Steve Hatfield's Band.

I’m Steve Hatfield. I’m a freelance musician in the Wichita area. I also teach at Wichita State [University] and I have my own private studio here in town.

Did you ever notice that “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” has the same tune as the “Alphabet Song?” It’s also the same as Baa, Baa Black Sheep, and, slowed down, it becomes "What a Wonderful World."

A song with new lyrics given to an existing song is called a “Contrafactum.” This is a great way to express a new perspective, even if it’s just satire, like singing “Batman Smells” to the tune of “Jingle Bells.”

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