6 posts from September 2015

September 30, 2015

The Avid Listener Digest, October 2015

To help readers navigate the growing list of essays published on The Avid Listener, we've created a downloadable "digest." In it, you'll find links to all our content—organized by category—as well as information on upcoming features. Check it out, and keep coming back for more!

Download The Avid Listener Digest October 2015

September 28, 2015

Poetic Protest: Women, Hip-hop, and Islam

Felicia Miyakawa (Round Rock, TX)

When we think about protest music, we tend to think about music sung at political rallies or music created for a cause—the labor movement for example, or anti-war songs. But sometimes protest music is subtle. Sometimes performance itself—the getting up on stage in front of people, the very act of appearing in public—is the protest. Such is the case of Poetic Pilgrimage, a British Hip-hop duo comprised of Muneera Rashida and Sukina Abdul Noor. Their music certainly can be political: their song “No More War” decries war in all forms and encourages listeners to see the destruction that our material culture has wrought. “I’ve seen it all before: death, destruction; heard it all before: greed, corruption; no more, no more war,” they chant in the chorus.

Continue reading "Poetic Protest: Women, Hip-hop, and Islam" »

September 21, 2015

How It’s Meant to be Heard: Authenticity and Game Music

William Gibbons (Texas Christian University)

I never thought I would be listed as the “Dungeonmaster” in a concert program, much less for one of the world’s leading wind symphonies. Nevertheless, that was my title last March, when The Dallas Winds generously invited me to provide some on-stage commentary during a live concert of video game music. It was a thrilling evening—not only did I get to experience the ensemble up close, but I also got to speak publicly about one of my favorite topics to a large, enthusiastic, and diverse audience.

After the concert, I chatted with some audience members about what they had particularly enjoyed about the program. Though the responses varied, one refrain caught my attention: many listeners were excited to have heard their favorite game music “how it was meant to be heard.” They seemed to mean that they preferred the music performed by a large, live ensemble instead of the original, electronic version—they felt, in other words, that the orchestral rendition was somehow more “authentic.” There’s nothing wrong with wanting to hear game music played by an orchestra, of course—it can be a richly rewarding musical experience. But the idea of finding the “real” piece of music somewhere beyond its original form raises some tricky questions (and ones not unique to game music).

Continue reading "How It’s Meant to be Heard: Authenticity and Game Music" »

September 16, 2015

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September 14, 2015

“Solidarity, Forever”: Zilphia Horton’s Labor Songs, Communism, and the CIO

Felicia M. Miyakawa (Round Rock, TX)

When labor agitators met for marches and rallies in the early twentieth century, they sang from songbooks. Their songbooks were inexpensively printed, pocket-sized, and usually included only the lyrics because the tunes were well-known. (A song set to a familiar tune is known as a contrafact.) They sang about labor demands, encouragement and solidarity for their fellow workers, and government and industry corruption. Some songs, such as "Joe Hill" (which boasted original words and music), canonized labor saints who had been martyred for the cause. Every scandal, victory, or loss seemed to inspire a song. In 1911, for example, Joe Hill himself wrote the lyrics to “Casey Jones—the Union Scab,” to be sung to the tune of “The Ballad of Casey Jones,” just before a huge railroad worker strike. It was published for the first time the next year in The Little Red Songbook, compiled by the International Workers of the World (IWW).

Continue reading "“Solidarity, Forever”: Zilphia Horton’s Labor Songs, Communism, and the CIO" »

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A History of Western Music

J. Peter Burkholder, Donald Jay Grout, and Claude V. Palisca

The Enjoyment of Music

Kristine Forney, Andrew Dell’Antonio, and Joseph Machlis

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