Music

Trust Me, I’m An Expert: How augmented reality may one day make music a visual, interactive experience

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You probably heard your first strains of music when you were in utero. From then on it’s helped you learn, helped you relax, hyped you up, helped you work, helped you exercise, helped you celebrate and helped you grieve. Authors: The Conversation Music is ingrained in so many aspect of our lives, but it’s also the subject of a significant body of academic work. Today’s episode of Trust Me, I’m An Expert is all about research on music. We’ll be ... Read More »

Aretha Franklin: A Legacy in Music

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Aretha Franklin’s voice was a pure, painful, and unforgettable expression of American history and American feeling, the collective experience of black Americans and her own life. David Remnick The New Yorker The Queen of Soul, who died Thursday morning, was the daughter of the most influential black pastor in Detroit, a charismatic, often cruel man who filled the house with musical friends—Duke Ellington, Della Reese, Nat Cole, Mahalia Jackson—and a… Aretha Franklin rarely spoke of her inner life, her crises—she was wary of ... Read More »

Ancient Greek music: now we finally know what it sounded like

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In 1932, the musicologist Wilfrid Perrett reported to an audience at the Royal Musical Association in London the words of an unnamed professor of Greek with musical leanings: “Nobody has ever made head or tail of ancient Greek music, and nobody ever will. That… Armand D’Angour The Conversation Indeed, ancient Greek music has long posed a maddening enigma. Yet music was ubiquitous in classical Greece, with most of the poetry from around 750BC to 350BC – the songs of Homer, ... Read More »

Decoding the music masterpieces: Rossini’s William Tell, and its famous overture

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Although it boasts one of the most famous sequences of music in existence, Gioachino Rossini’s William Tell is hardly a staple of the operatic repertoire. Madeline Roycroft The Conversation At five hours long in its original composition, and with a challengingly high male singing part, it is rarely heard in its entirety. Victorian Opera’s current production of William Tell, a three-hour abridged version, is the first in Australia in over 140 years. The opera is certainly most famous for its ... Read More »

How Shakespeare used music to tell stories

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Today we fully expect film, television and theatre to use music to shape meaning. Simon Smith The Conversation The screeching violins of Psycho and the menacing Jaws theme, for instance, both depend upon a shared 20th-century dramatic language in which music indicates mood. Rewind 400 years and it may not seem like the same is true. Take Shakespearean drama. Many modern productions choose to avoid historical music altogether, preferring new compositions or pre-recorded popular songs that more obviously indicate mood ... Read More »

The best anthem for Workers’ Day? ‘Stimela’ – a tale about apartheid’s migrant labour system

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What is the ultimate song to celebrate Workers’ Day? Many will suggest “The Internationale” which had its roots as a poem written in the aftermath of the Paris Commune in 1871 by Eugène Pottier, a transport worker. Andries Bezuidenhout The Conversation Set to music a few years later, it became the anthem for the wider progressive movement. It served as the Soviet Union’s anthem after the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, making it more closely associated with the communist movement. But ... Read More »

How Beethoven’s ‘mistake’ became one of our most famous tunes

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Without question, the final movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony contains one of the most famous tunes ever written. Scott Davie The Conversation Since its first performance in 1824, the “Ode to Joy” has been repurposed in endless ways, both reverential and exploitative, from performances at the Berlin Wall to its use in tawdry advertising. This final movement, which combines voices and orchestra, is based on Friedrich Schiller’s 1786 poem extolling a humanist theme of universal joy. Beethoven started sketching ideas ... Read More »

Cinema and smart phones: the art of increasing audiences for opera, ballet and theatre

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Watching an opera, play or ballet has become an increasingly cinematic experience. “Livecasting” performances directly onto screens is now a major part of these kinds of production. Alan Williams The Conversation London’s Royal Opera House has an upcoming “Cinema Season” which includes live relays of Carmen and Swan Lake. In the US, the New York Metropolitan Opera House started livecasting in 2006, while the UK’s National Theatre Live began in 2009. The Royal Opera House and the Royal Ballet joined ... Read More »

Bach: The Art of Fugue review – a striking, perfectly shaped performance

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Accademia Bizantina/Dantone (Decca) In The Art of Fugue, “Bach plays to God and himself in an empty church”, the critic and composer Wilfrid Mellers memorably wrote. Andrew Clements The Guardian The sequence of 20 fugues and canons, grouped according to the contrapuntal devices they employ, remains one of the most enigmatic works in the history of western music, not only left unfinished at Bach’s death in 1750, with its final fugue incomplete, but also lacking any indications as to how it might be ... Read More »

Decoding the music masterpieces: Liszt’s Piano Sonata in B minor

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Opinion Clara Schumann, the wife of the great composer Robert Schumann, wrote in her diary on May 25, 1854: Liszt sent Robert today a sonata dedicated to him and several other things with a friendly letter to me. But the things are dreadful! The Conversation By Zoltán Szabó, Sydney Conservatorium of Music ABC [Johannes] Brahms played them for me, but they made me utterly wretched … This is nothing but sheer racket — not a single healthy idea, everything confused, ... Read More »

50 years on, what The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper teaches us about music

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It was 50 years ago today. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was released. Andy Walton Christian Today Arguably the Beatles’ most celebrated album, it was unleashed onto an unsuspecting world in June 1967. Though there had been hints of the thousand new directions the band was about to take on previous records, Sgt. Pepper was a quantum leap. The orchestral grandeur of A Day In The… 50 years on… Read More »

Lou Reed Creates a List of the 10 Best Records of All Time

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If you want to write, most every writer will tell you, you’ve got to read, read, read, and read. OpenCulture “Read more than you write,” advises Teju Cole. Even great filmmakers like Werner Herzog and Akira Kurasawa cite copious reading as a prerequisite for their primarily visual medium. But what about music? What advice might we hope to receive about the art of writing catchy, memorable, culturally significant… Lou Reed Creates… Read More »

The Threshold Choir: Singing for people on the cusp of death

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Do you find comfort in music? The Threshold Choir sings for people on the cusp of death, hoping to alleviate some of their anxieties… Fiona Pepper ABC The concept of a Threshold Choir first began in America in 2000; a book of ‘comfort’ songs were written and local chapters… Now there are more than 130 choirs worldwide… The Threshold Choir… Read More »

Decoding the music masterpieces: Bach’s The Art of Fugue

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In the last decade of his life, from 1740 to 1750, Johann Sebastian Bach abandoned the furious pace of composition he had maintained for over 30 years and concentrated his creative energies largely on the composition of just six works. Daniel Herscovitch The Conversation They were the second volume of The Well-Tempered Clavier, the Goldberg Variations, the Canonic Variations on Vom Himmel Hoch, The Musical Offering, the B Minor Mass and finally, The Art of Fugue. In these six… Decoding ... Read More »

The surprising origins of famous Christmas carols

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The familiar tunes never fail to get us in the festive mood – but many of them have remarkably un-Christmassy roots, writes Mark Forsyth. BBC Mark Forsyth The Christmas carol service was invented in Truro in 1880 by a chap called Edward WhiteBenson. The story goes that on… The surprising origins of… Read More »

‘There’s definitely a global movement to eradicate women’s rights’: Garbage singer Shirley Manson

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Shirley Manson, frontwoman of 90s indie band Garbage, is bewildered. ABC Monique Schafter “Why any woman would want to divorce themselves from the idea of equality is beyond my understanding,” she told 7.30. She is reflecting on the current state of… ‘There’s definitely a global movement to… Read More »