On the Vagaries of Aesthetic Appreciation

In 1978, at age thirteen, I became a Bob Dylan fan thanks to his side of the multi-artist Concert for Bangladesh three-record set. My knowledge of Dylan’s life and work was extremely limited, but I was eager to learn and hear more, and my interest was piqued by his appearance that year in The Last Waltz, Martin Scorsese’s … Continue reading On the Vagaries of Aesthetic Appreciation

Zenobia Powell Perry’s ‘Homage’ to William Dawson

Homage (1990) for piano by Zenobia Powell Perry opens with one hand, one line, cantabile. The spiritual “I’ve Been ‘Buked and I’ve Been Scorned” emerges unharmonized, smooth and flowing. Unlike a singer whose breath sustains the tone, the piano notes move from decay to decay to create an illusory, long melodic line. After presenting the tune … Continue reading Zenobia Powell Perry’s ‘Homage’ to William Dawson

Feeling Gezelligheid on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, December 2012

With the exception of maybe Bruce Springsteen, there is no musician I enjoy seeing live more than Andrew Bird, whom I’ve been fortunate enough to see play at least a half-dozen times over the past ten years throughout New York City. Each performance is a real show for the senses— attendees are not only treated … Continue reading Feeling Gezelligheid on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, December 2012

Where There’s a Waltz There’s a Way: Exploring the Secrets of Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations

By: Robin Wallace (School of Music, Baylor University) // Ludwig van Beethoven receives a waltz by Anton Diabelli in early 1819, about a year after getting his new Broadwood piano and well into the final decline of his hearing. The piece initially seems unpromising to him, but it feels amazing on this new instrument, whose … Continue reading Where There’s a Waltz There’s a Way: Exploring the Secrets of Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations

Before It Goes Away: Performance and Reclamation of Songs from Blackface Minstrelsy

By: Sheryl Kaskowitz (Providence, Rhode Island) // Blackface minstrelsy was a popular and pervasive form of entertainment in the United States from the mid-nineteenth century to the 1920s, and its legacy continues to haunt American popular culture. Whether or not songs have roots in minstrelsy can be difficult to determine; their lyrics have often been changed … Continue reading Before It Goes Away: Performance and Reclamation of Songs from Blackface Minstrelsy

Blurring Categories: Bob Dylan’s Nobel Prize

Patti Smith performs Bob Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall” at the 2016 Nobel Prize ceremony. Smith accepted Bob Dylan’s award on his behalf. The Swedish Academy’s decision to award the Nobel Prize in Literature to Bob Dylan was one of the biggest news stories of 2016. Major news sources including the New York Times and The Guardian reacted to the announcement, and Dylan’s initial refusal to acknowledge the award brought another wave of comment and criticism. Some critics focused on the meaning of literature in the wake of this award.

Beethoven’s Deafness and the Myth of the Isolated Artist

By: Linda Shaver-Gleason (Lompoc, CA) // In a scene from the 1995 movie Mr. Holland’s Opus, music teacher Glenn Holland tells his high school students about Beethoven’s deafness while playing the second movement of the composer’s seventh symphony (the same movement used fifteen years later during the climax of The King’s Speech). Holland has just … Continue reading Beethoven’s Deafness and the Myth of the Isolated Artist

“Hard Times Come Again No More”: Springsteen’s Vision of Community

May 23, 2009, Izod Center, East Rutherford, New Jersey. Bruce Springsteen sings Stephen Foster’s “Hard Times Come Again No More” with a spoken introduction asking for people to support local relief efforts. “We’ve gotta stand up, support our neighbors, and please support the local community food bank of New Jersey.”

Stop Copying My Music!: The Emergence of Musical Copyright in England

J. C. Bach’s Symphony in B-flat Major, Op. 9, no. 3. This symphony is one of the three Op. 9 symphonies that were at the heart of J. C. Bach’s second lawsuit against the London publishers Longman and Lukey, who were accused by Bach of producing and selling unauthorized copies of the symphonies.

“Dedicated to All Human Beings”: Remix Culture, Fandom, and the Case of Radiohead’s “Reckoner”

By: Reba A. Wissner, Montclair State University // Radiohead’s video for “Reckoner. A remix is the digital reinterpretation of a song by adding, removing, or altering its constituent parts such as beat, tempo, and instrumentation. Many artists remix their own songs, and DJs often remix the songs of other musicians. More and more frequently, artists … Continue reading “Dedicated to All Human Beings”: Remix Culture, Fandom, and the Case of Radiohead’s “Reckoner”