We finally got ourselves a copy of Laina Dawes’ awesome book “What Are You Doing Here? (A black woman’s life and liberation in Heavy Metal)” (Bazillion Points, 2012).
Dawes, a journalist, photographer, and music writer, talks about her experiences growing up in the metal and punk scenes in Canada. Great chapter headings hint at the content, and the deserved anger, with names like “Too Black, Too Metal, and All Woman” and “The Lingering Stench of Racism in Metal.”
“Society allows white guys to utilize this music to get their aggressions out, act like He-Man and go crazy. The same benefits they get out of the music, black women not only get, but need even more. Black women need spaces in society where we can be free and express our individuality and be who we want to be.”
In addition to the racism in the metal community, Dawes found that many other black women who loved metal were often rejected by friends, family members, or their communities because of this. At 206 pages, this book is a slim but good read, and very welcome addition to the world of metal.
Can’t get to the Music Library to check out “What Are You Doing Here?“ yet? Listen to this recent NPR interview with Dawes right now, or head over to Dawes’ YouTube playlist of black women in hard rock, heavy metal, and punk (or all of the above!)
Today’s new book looks at music in terms of its place in the Iraq War and contemporary American military culture. Written by Jonathan Pielsak of CUNY, Sound Targets: American Soldiers & Music in the Iraq War (Indiana University Press, 2009) looks at the relationships between power, chaos, violence, survival, and music.
Focusing on metal and hip-hop, the two genres that have been the most popular with the troops, Pielsak examines the role of music in military recruiting, as inspiration, as a form of personal expression for soldiers, and as a psychological tactic.
However, this book tends to raise more questions than it answers, as Pielsak himself admits in the postscript. But with a solid index and good glossary to military ranks, this is a successful interdisciplinary work that opens a window into a facet of life for American soldiers in the Iraq War. Stop by and check it out!
We recently received our own minimalist puffy-covered copy of How Music Works, written by David Byrne of the Talking Heads (McSweeneys, 2012), and it’s really quite splendid. In the type of book it is, it reminds me of Aaron Copland’s books on music.
It has an enormous scope, ranging from the earliest appearances of music to current music technology, but focuses more on the future of the music industry in general. The language is clear and active, interspersed with personal anecdotes (“Eno and I were full of enthusiasm…”).
While lacking an index, I very much appreciate the thorough Suggested Reading at the back of the book, which starts off with Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces, next to Alan Lomax’s Folk Song Style and Culture, ranging to John Cage’s Experimental Music lecture and Kamraan Gill’s A Biological Rationale for Musical Scales.
One could really give oneself a thorough education on music history and the music industry between Byrne’s book and these suggestions! Stop by and check it out for Thanksgiving break.
It’s true that we don’t have many classes here on Hip Hop and Rap, but we still have plenty of people working with them for conference, or for fun. We’ll be working on building up our collection of rap sound recordings, but for now we have some great books.
The foreword, written by KRS-ONE, gives some insight as to the importance of Chuck D and his lyrics (I highly recommend reading the whole piece):
…Chuck D is always writing and publishing something of intellectual, spiritual and cultural value to Hip Hop, the United States and African Americans in general; not because he has to, but because he wants to.
Chuck D is NOT desperate. He hasn’t been forced into his style of writing because of a lack of money, education or opportunity…This is why the instrument before you is indeed a classic and accurate work of enormous cultural benefit.
…Chuck D reflecting upon the meaning of his work offers attuned Hiphoppas in the future an accurate look into what helped to cause Hip Hop in their time…
Beyond his poetic abilities, Chuck D fits the description of Hip Hop’s authentic “poet of protest”. And when reading the words and thoughts of such an icon as Chuck D it is always best to remember that Chuck D uses Rap as a tool for social change and the renewal of mass consciousness, not just to achieve a fast buck…
Each of the lyrics have a reflection written by Chuck D next to it, which provides both context and interpretation. They’re all fascinating, not just for the lyrics, but also for the history of a movement. Stop by and check it out!
We’ve made some great new acquisitions this summer, but we were waiting for you all to return before we highlighted them. The first is an interdisciplinary work, combining music and sociology, called Playing for Change: Muscic and Musicians in the Service of Social Movements (Paradigm, 2012) by Rob Rosenthal of Wesleyan University and Richard Flacks of UC Santa Barbara.
I felt it was appropriate, so close to the anniversary of Occupy Wall Street, to post about a book on social change. Contents range from music for organizing unions, to Aretha Franklin, lyrical power, artist intent, and more.
Context is discussed, as well as times when music has harmed a movement. A thorough book with a decent index and extensive references, come on over to the Music Library and check it out!
Our latest arrival is Calypso Calaloo: Early Carnival Music in Trinidad (1993, University of Florida Press), by Donald R. Hill. Despite its age, this book remains one of the best resources on calypso and Caribbean music.
Calaloo (or callaloo) is a kind of stew, which varies based on what region it’s made in. Similarly, calypso music is a “blend of unlikely ingredients” - having been developed in Trinidad 100 years ago, calypso was primarily music for Carnival. There are all kinds of calypso subtypes, which Hill goes into.
Looking at early published records, festival music, lyrics, and more, Hill provides a thorough view of calypso. Helping to flesh out the book are a couple of appendices and a comprehensive glossary and index, as well as an accompanying CD. Check it out!
Today’s new book is all about music we call “bad” and why it receives that moniker. A collection of academic essays, Bad Music: The music we love to hate (2004, Routledge) contains articles on all forms of bad music and discussions as to why the Academy rejects the music it has over the years and why we feel guilty about listening to it when we needn’t.
What makes something popular? Even if it’s considered “bad”? Jazz, rock, punk, world, country, and pop have all been subject to this judgment. With articles from a variety of academics, editors Christopher J. Washburne and Maiken Derno have put together an innovative, interesting book.
Whether you’re a fan of Kenny G, ABBA, disco, or Rebecca Black, you should take the time out of listening to your bad music to reading about it. Check it out!
Last week we posted about our new acquisition Noise/Music, and today’s title is related. Pink Noises: Women on electronic music and sound (2010, Duke University Press) is another great recommendation from SLC Reference Librarian Eamon Tewell.
Author and electronic musician Tara Rodgers interviewed twenty-four women who work in some way with electronic music - DJs, composers, electronic musicians, sound artists, etc. From the introduction (p. 2): “The interviews investigate the artists’ personal histories, their creative methods, and how issues of gender inform their work.”
Interviewees include: Pauline Oliveros, Maggi Payne, Ikue Mori, Rekha Malhotra (DJ Rekha), Le Tigre, Bev Stanton, and more. Includes a glossary, discography, references, and thorough index. Check it out!
We’ve been getting a bunch of new books to support our fantastic electronic music program, lately. One of the newest is Noise/Music: A History (2007, Continuum) by lecturer/musician/author Paul Hegarty (thanks for the recommendation, SLC Reference Librarian Eamon Tewell!)
For those of you who aren’t familiar with noise music, this book is a good introduction, historical overview, and study. Hegarty starts with experimental music in the earlier part of the 20th-century, with composers like Erik Satie, Charles Ives, and movements like free jazz. Hegarty moves into John Cage, Jimi Hendrix, Kraftwerk, Throbbing Gristle, and ties in theorists like Gilles Deleuze. There’s a whole chapter on Japanese noise musician Merzbow.
Hegarty explains his topic very simply in the preface:
Noise/Music is about noise, about how noise relates to music, and the different ways we arrive at noise music, even if such a combination would seem contradictory, impossible, doomed to fail. It is a history of how, int he twentieth century, noise has become a resource, was incorporated into musicality and rejected musicality, while all the while occurring in the place of music. (ix)
Each chapter has a bibliography, which makes it very easy to pinpoint relevant resources, along with a good index. At a slim 221 pages, this book packs an extensive amount of history in without weighing down the topic. Check it out!
Today’s book is a collection of essays on opera called The work of opera: genre, nationhood, and sexual difference (Columbia University Press, 1997) edited by Richard Dellamora and Daniel Fischlin. Although this isn’t new, it’s still a good resource.
Dellamora and Fischlin felt strongly moved by the AIDS epidemic being constructed as a “sexual plague” and how national tensions about this appear in operas. By thinking of operas in terms of genre, nationhood, and sexuality, they also open up the gates to other disciplines.
Some of the essays included are:
and many others. Check it out!
Writer and activist Ellen Willis spent years critiquing popular/rock music for the New Yorker (in addition to writing occasionally for Rolling Stone and the Village Voice) during the ’60s and ’70s, and was one of the first music critics to do so on a large scale.
Willis especially loved counterculture musicians, like Bob Dylan and Janis Joplin, unsurprising when you consider her radical views and activism. The writings in Out of the Vinyl Deeps: Ellen Willis on Rock Music (edited by her daughter, Nona Willis Aronowitz) are a selection of her writings, from 1967 to 2001.
and many more. Although an index would have been very helpful, this is still a highly valuable book on rock and pop highlighting some of the biggest changes to occur in the 20th century. Check it out!
Oxford University Press came out recently (well, in 2010) with a new book by Joanna Demers called Listening through the noise: the aesthetics of experimental electronic music. Demers looks at electronic music since 1980, examining the huge variety of genres and subgenres in electronic music.
From the back of the book:
The abilities of electronic music to use preexisting sounds and to create new sounds are widely known. This book proceeds from this starting point to consider how electronic music changes the way we listen not only to music, but to sound itself.
The use of previously undesirable materials like noise, field recordings, and extremely quiet sounds has contributed to electronic music’s destruction of the “musical frame,” the conventions that used to set apart music from the outside world.
In the void created by the disappearance of the muscial frame, different philosophies for listening have emerged.
In addition to an extensive glossary, bibliography, and index, Demers’ book includes a link to an accompanying website with sound recordings that complement the readings. Check it out!
One of our latest books is a favorite of music faculty Toby King. Written in 1999 by anthropologist and ethnomusicologist Gerhard Kubik, Africa and the Blues comes from academic roots yet is very accessible to non-academics. Kubik talks a look at blues an its origins, with traits coming from Africa and various mutations occurring all over the Americas.
Kubik’s work goes back over fifty years, tracing genealogies of African music to 18 different African countries, as well as South America and the US. Shelved separately is an accompanying CD that contains some of the music discussed in the book. At a little over 200 pages and with a thorough index, Africa and the Blues is a great resource. Check it out!
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:
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!