“What is music? There’s no end to the parade of philosophers who have wondered about this, but most of us feel confident saying: ‘I know it when I hear it.’ Still, judgments of musicality are notoriously malleable. That new club tune, obnoxious at first, might become toe-tappingly likeable after a few hearings. Put the most music-apathetic individual in a household where someone is rehearsing for a contemporary music recital and they will leave whistling Ligeti. The simple act of repetition can serve as a quasi-magical agent of musicalisation. Instead of asking: ‘What is music?’ we might have an easier time asking: ‘What do we hear as music?’ And a remarkably large part of the answer appears to be: ‘I know it when I hear it again.’”
For the full story, please see aeon.
“Pete Seeger, the singer, folk-song collector and songwriter who spearheaded an American folk revival and spent a long career championing folk music as both a vital heritage and a catalyst for social change, died on Monday in Manhattan. He was 94.”
Read about Seeger’s life in The New York Times.
“Fifty years ago, the governor of Indiana banned the Kingsmen’s Louie Louie for being obscene. The FBI then spent two years investigating its lyrics, cementing the song’s reputation as rock’s ultimate rebel anthem, recorded by everyone from the Stooges to the Clash”
Read the full story at The Guardian.
Blues guitarist Tommy Bankhead rubbed shoulders with some of the genre’s royalty, from Howlin’ Wolf and Elmore James to Albert King and Sonny Boy Williamson. But visitors to the overgrown St. Louis cemetery where Bankhead was buried more than a decade ago would never know his musical legacy. Or his name. Read more at ctvnews.ca
Beneath the shimmering lights of a bar in western Beijing, a group of roughly two dozen retirees fell still under the baton of the 64-year-old choir conductor Li Xiaojin. With a flick of his wrist, Mr. Li sent the Beijing Founding Figures Group into a sonorous rendition of “Longing for the Red Army,” a well-known Communist revolutionary number. Read more at the New York Times
Those who are bothered by the idea that young Mainers may never have been exposed to a regional Maine accent might be cheered to hear that a pair of central Maine songwriters hope to buck the trend by injecting a strong dose of Maine-isms into the chorus rooms of schools across the state. Read more at the Portland Press-Herald.
“The goal of the New York Philharmonic’s digital archives is to make available all of the organization’s historical documents. Because creating such a comprehensive resource is no small task—the orchestra began operations in 1842—the philharmonic opted to start with a portion of its materials—specifically those from what the Web site labels the International Era (spanning 1942 to 1970). During this time the orchestra took its place as a premier ensemble in the world, just as the United States became a world power. It might be more apt to call this the Leonard Bernstein era since the chronology neatly bookends his debut with the group (in 1942) and his retirement as music director (in 1969). Of the more than 24,000 documents currently available, almost 4,000 are associated with Bernstein; this is considerably more than the 1,177 linked with Bernstein’s colleague Andre Kostelanetz, the conductor of the philharmonic’s popular concerts. For scholars who study Bernstein, then, this site provides an invaluable look at primary materials, although those who are more generally interested in the orchestra’s history will also find it worthwhile.”
For the full story, please see the Journal of American History.
Three hundred sixty-five. That’s the number of days the Minnesota Orchestra will have gone without playing in its concert hall in 2013. The orchestra became the unwitting poster child for labor strife in the classical music world — and, to some extent, an emblem of the problems facing non-profit arts institutions across the country. Learn more at npr.org
Voices of Afghanistan is an ensemble of Central Asian musicians from different generations and varied musical backgrounds. They share a passion for the music of Afghanistan, as well as a desire to introduce it to audiences in their present home in the U.S. Banning Eyre recently spent time with these musicians as they created their debut album, Love Songs for Humanity. Learn more at npr.org
Yusef Lateef, a Grammy Award-winning musical explorer who played many exotic instruments and was among the first to combine jazz with elements of what became known as “world music,” died Dec. 23 at his home in Shutesbury, Mass. He was 93. Read more at the Washington Post.