Hip-hop studies is one of the newer fields of academic music scholarship, but it’s currency doesn’t mean it’s any less important. Although it seems like hip-hop studies might be a narrow field, it’s really incredibly interdisciplinary.
The 2nd edition of That’s the Joint! The Hip-Hop Studies Reader (Routledge, 2012) edited by Murray Forman & Marsk Anthony Neal combines much of the most important scholarship and research in this area into one impressive volume. You can read about everything from the politics of graffiti to queer women of color in hip-hop to hip-hop in refugee camps and more.
Topics covered include:
- Hip-hop history and historiography
- Hip-hop culture and authenticity
- Space and place
- Gender and sexuality
- Politics and resistance
- Technology and lyrics
- Production and industry
- Global influences of hip-hop
That’s the Joint! combines views of hip-hop from both cultural, production, aesthetic, and historical areas, making this an incredibly useful book for all subject areas. Check it out!
We recently received the 2nd edition of Jennifer C. Post’s incomparable resource book Ethnomusicology: a Research and Information Guide (Routledge, 2011) and let me tell you, it is chock full of fantastic information - the title does not disappoint.
Post herself explains the book’s contents best in the introduction:
This guide for research in ethnomusicology directs users to resources for finding information in music and related fields, and provides annotated lists of selected current publications. Research in ethnomusicology shares ideas and methods with many academic disciplines, and embraces activities that are equally at home inside and outside of the academy.
Ethnomusicologists are scholars, educators, performers, community advocates, filmmakers, museum curators, and media archivists. Research materials for their 21st century productions include articles and books, websites and blogs, video clips and documentary films, audio recordings, and field documentation published with commercial recordings and preserved in archives. (page 1)
The Guide is split into several parts, nicely organized into areas such as “research guides and links to online information,” or “encyclopedias, dictionaries, and handbooks” or “film and video recordings” covering areas all over the world.
Areas that might be of particular interest to SLC students are chapters focusing on Gender and Music, Regional discographies, Dance, Religion and Music, Theater, and Jazz and Blues (although there are many more than this). You can check out this phenomenal book anytime at the music library!
Those unfamiliar with Sacred Harp may be surprised to learn that it involves no harps whatsoever - it’s a form of group singing, also known as shape note. To quote author David Warren Steel:
Sacred Harp singing is a community musical and social event, emphasizing participation, not performance, where people sing songs from a tunebook called The Sacred Harp, printed in music notation using four shaped notes… Despite its reliance on printed materials, Sacred Harp singing is a form of traditional music that stands on the persistent collaboration of generations of composers, songbook compilers, editors, and revisers, singing teachers, song leaders, and singers of all ages who identify with its sincerity, enthusiasm, devotional strength, and deep historical roots. [Introduction, p. xi]
There’s been a growing interest in Sacred Harp in academia, so I was really pleased to see that David Warren Steel and Richard H. Hulan recently published The Makers of Sacred Harp (University of Illinois Press, 2010). This book focuses on the Sacred Harp songbook and those who created it: Benjamin Franklin White and Elisha James King, in 1844.
To see an example of both the shape notes and hear the singing, watch this youtube video from a Sacred Harp convention featuring the song Idumea: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ptsM-Md5LPM
Including biographical sketches of the composers, Sacred Harp styles, an extensive list of songs, and a thorough index, this is a good resource for anyone looking to learn more about the history of early American music. Check it out!
Most of Straus’ works focus on music theory (those of you in Pat Muchmore’s Post-Tonal Theory class will be very familiar with Straus), but Straus took a departure from the norm to write about a subject that was both close-to-home and unfamiliar to him: disability.
In Extraordinary Measures, Straus looks at disability from a sociological perspective compared to a medical perspective, focusing on the impact and concepts of disability on musicians (composers, performers, and listeners) with disabilities. Some of the composers discussed include Beethoven, Delius, and Schumann. Some of the performers include Itzhak Perlman, Evelyn Glennie, and Thomas Quasthoff.
Extraordinary Measures is a very scholarly, but simultaneously accessible book - Straus includes a list of music terms for those non-musicians who may be interested in the topic. He gives brief biographies of the composers and performers listed. A fascinating book, everyone should read this at some point. Check it out!
Tom Huizenga on why rap and opera hit some kind of nerve with people. (via nprmusic
An interesting read!
Our annual Library survey is up! For those of you who are current students, you should have received a link in your SLC email. The Library survey is incredibly helpful to all of us who work in the SLC Libraries - every year we review our statistics gathered from the survey and make changes in an attempt to constantly improve our services.
The Music Library has a section in the Annual survey, too, and we want to know your opinion about some pretty important decisions we’re making here (for example, CD organization). The survey takes about 10 minutes to complete, and you have until Friday, February 24th at 11:59pm to complete it.
Not only are there two $25 gift certificates to win (either to Amazon or to Slave to the Grind, your choice), but you can have a real impact on the way the libraries function, what books or videos or music go into our collection, and how we present our services. We’d really appreciate it!
Ann Powers via Whitney Houston: Her Life Played Out Like An Opera (via nprmusic)
For those who don’t know, solkattu is a kind of rhythm language, Nelson says. It’s used as a way to describe and vocalize intricate percussion patterns, most often performed by tabla players. Here’s an excerpt from the introduction that explains it:
The Tamil word solkattu means “words bound together,” which is an elegant definition. The “words” are more or less percussive-sounding single syllables, nearly all of which begin with consonants. They are “bound together” on two levels: first, into combinations that comprise phrases, for example ta ka di mi. The phrases are then combined into larger patterns and designs bound together by meters, called tāla.These cyclic meters are counted by recurring sets of hand gestures: claps, waves, and finger counts. Speaking such patterns while counting a tāla with the hands is solkattu.
Nelson’s writing is clear and a good introduction for someone who wants to gain a better understanding of South Indian rhythms. Included are two DVDs that allow you to hear and see solkattu in action. Stop by and check it out!
Music journalist Chuck Eddy has reviewed a huge variety of bands in the past 30 years, from the Beastie Boys, the Pet Shop Boys, Robert Plant, to the Flaming Lips and AC/DC. One of the first critics to widely cover indie rock, he’s also known for his reviews in the heavy metal, hip-hop, and country genres.
So it’s great to see that a collection of his work has been published by Duke University Press (2011). Rock and Roll Always Forgets includes excerpts from his time at the Village Voice, Billboard, Rolling Stone, Creem, Spin, and Vibe.
The columns are organized by genre, and an index is thankfully included, making this a great book for research, as well as being fun to read.