Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Auld Lang Syne

The traditional New Year's Song, Auld Lang Syne, is a Scottish poem by Robert Burns (1759 - 1796) set to a folk song.  It is a song of nostalgia for the old days, and on New Year's Eve the "old days" are the days of the previous year.

You can hear it sung by the U.S. Army Chorus via Naxos Music Library by clicking this link.  (Ball State login required)

The Music Collection includes song books that are old enough to be out of copyright (i.e., published before 1923).  One song book includes an arrangement of this classic song - with all the original stanzas - for you to review before celebrating New Year's Eve (click to enlarge):

Friday, December 13, 2013

Top CDs of Fall Semester, 2013

The Music Collection circulates CDs of all kinds of music for both study and enjoyment. This Fall, not counting CDs that were on reserve for classes, the following CDs were the top 10:

Night Visions, by Imagine Dragons
Compact Disc 21038

In Utero, by Nirvana
Compact Disc 17574

Red, by Taylor Swift
Compact Disc 21366

Nothing but the Beat, by David Guetta
Compact Disc 21140

Born to Die, by Lana del Rey
Compact Disc 21194

Babel, by Mumford & Sons
Compact Disc 21348

Channel Orange, by Frank Ocean
Compact Disc 21068

The 20/20 Experience, by Justin Timberlake
Compact Disc 21741

The Truth About Love, by P!nk
Compact Disc 21533

Sigh No More, by Mumford & Sons
Compact Disc 19845

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Famous Moments In Rock History

The History of Rock n' Roll includes many iconic moments.  Rock and television developed together, with live variety shows, news coverage, music videos, and marathon fund-raisers bringing the music and its culture into living rooms and the historical consciousness.  Some of the more memorable events are:

1956  Elvis Presley appeared on The Ed Sullivan variety show, propelling him to superstar status.  His third appearance on the show was filmed from the waist up.

1959  A plane crash in Iowa takes the lives of early rock stars Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and the "Big Bopper."  The event was commemorated as "The Day the Music Died" in Don McLean's famous 1971 song, "American Pie."

1964  Beatles on Ed Sullivan.  LIke Elvis before them, the Beatles' appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show was a milestone, ushering in the "British Invasion" of popular music.

1967  Monterey Pop Festival was considered the beginning of the "Summer of Love" in California, with Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, The Who, Otis Redding, and Indian sitar player Ravi Shankar.  It was the first big rock festival.

1969  The Woodstock Festival  attracted 400,000 to a New York farm for a weekend of iconic musical acts.  For many the muddy three-day festival epitomized the counter culture of the Baby Boomer generation.  Artists included Arlo Guthrie,  Creedence Clearwater Revival, Janis Joplin, Sly & The Family Stone, Jefferson Airplane, Santana,  The Who, and Jimi Hendrix who famously performed a psychedelic version of The Star Spangled Banner.  The film, Woodstock: 3 Days of Peace & Music documented the festival and the "Woodstock Generation" that attended.

1969 Altamont Speedway in California was the site of a free concert in December, 1969. 300,000 people attended the poorly planned event that was supposed to be the West Coast's answer to Woodstock.  Four people died, and there were four births at the event.  The Rolling Stones' documentary, Gimme Shelter, includes footage of a Hell's Angels member (they were hired for security duty and paid in beer) stabbing a fan to death as he attempted to approach the stage brandishing a gun.  Instead of becoming another Woodstock, "Altamont" came to represent the antithesis of the Peace & Love event.  Rocker Patti Smith called it "the end of the idealism of the sixties."

1969  Rocker Alice Cooper achieved notoriety after the "chicken incident" in which he tossed a live chicken off the stage at a concert, unaware chickens could not fly.  The crowd tore it to pieces and rumors spread that he had bitten off its head.  This incident marks the beginning of "shock rock."

1979  Who Concert tragedy.  At Riverfront Coliseum in Cincinnati eleven fans were killed and 23 injured in a rush for the doors.   Meanwhile, Disco starts to dominate the airwaves.  It looked like stadium rock was coming to an end.

1980  John Lennon was assassinated by Mark David Chapman, putting an end to any hopes of the Beatles getting back together.

1983  U2's concert at Colorado's Red Rocks outdoor Amphitheatre was filmed under challenging conditions, giving the resulting film ("U2 Live at Red Rocks: Under a Blood Red Sky") a unique look and helping to ignite their career.  Later bands would also record live concerts at Red Rocks.

1984  Madonna's performance of "Like a Virgin" at the first MTV Video Music Awards was shocking for its time.  Dressed in a wedding gown, she fell to the floor, revealing her underpants.

1985  LiveAid was a fundraising concert for victims of a famine in Ethiopia simultaneously held in England at Wembley Stadium, seating 72,000, and in Philadelphia's John F. Kennedy Stadium, seating 100,000 people.  Both were broadcast to an estimated audience of 1.9 billion.  One of the most memorable acts was Queen (Live at Wembley Stadium) due to Freddie Mercury's command of the crowd.  The U.K. concert ended with the song, "Do they know it's Christmas" and the U.S. concert ended with  Michael Jackson's song, "We Are the World."

1986  Paul Simon performed with South African singers, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, on Saturday Night Live.  They had also collaborated on his album, Graceland.  The collaboration would be controversial, as some believed he was unethically exploiting their talent, and because there was a cultural boycott on South Africa at the time to combat Apartheid.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

New Holiday Music in the Music Collection

New releases, here in time for your holidays:

Putumayo Presents: A Jewish Celebration
Compact Disc 21806
Beegie Adair:  Jazz Piano Christmas
Compact Disc 21804
Compact Disc 21804
Mary J. Blige: A Mary Christmas
Compact Disc 21805
Susan Boyle: Home for Christmas
Compact Disc 21802
Mannheim Steamroller: Christmas Symphony II
Compact Disc 21807
Compact Disc 21807
Punk Goes Christmas
Compact Disc 21801

Il Volo: Buon Natale, The Christmas Album
Compact Disc 21803

Monday, November 25, 2013

Hanukkah Music in the Music Collection

Hanukkah comprises eight nights of celebration, usually in December, but in 2013 it begins the evening of November 27 and ends the evening of December 5. There are several spellings in Roman letters due to the original spelling being in Hebrew. Check out rock group, The Leevees' song, "How do you spell Channukkahh? on Hanukkah Rocks.

In the catalog, the spelling is "Hanukkah."

Search Hanukkah -- Songs and Music for both scores (sheet music) and recordings.
Search Hanukkah -- Songs and Music and compact for CDs of Hanukkah songs.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Rock Music: The Guitar and Its Masters

The electric guitar epitomizes rock music as much as anything else.  From the 1950s to today, no rock band or soloist would be without a guitar, or perhaps two or three.  The guitar is a versatile instrument that can play various roles in the rock group:
  • Bass guitar, playing the low notes
  • Rhythm guitar, playing the harmonies
  • Lead guitar, playing solos during the breaks
Gibson Les Paul guitar
played by Slash
of Guns n' Roses
In many groups the guitarist plays both lead and rhythm roles, and takes a back seat to the lead singer.  Still, during many songs there is a break during which the guitarist has a long solo, and the "guitar heroes" of rock show their virtuosity there.  There have only been a few rock guitarists who led their own groups or gone solo, most notably Jimi Hendrix, Mark Knopfler (Dire Straits), Eric Clapton, and Joe Walsh, formerly of The Eagles.

The guitar itself became part of the show, as when The Who's Pete Townshend smashed it on stage. But most guitarists treasure their instruments, and they often have several instruments with distinct sounds. The famous guitars have been the Gibson company's Les Paul model, and Fender's  Stratocaster model.

Guitar Heroes of Rock History:

Les Paul: though not a rocker, revolutionized the guitar and Gibson's Les Paul model is a classic instrument still played today by some of rock music's most famous guitarists.

Chuck Berry's duck walk
Chuck Berry is rock music's first virtuoso, playing his hollow-body guitar while singing and dancing to such hits as "Maybelline."  His stage moves influenced later musicians, especially his "duck walk" (pictured).

The Beatles famously had three guitarists, all of whom also sang.  Paul McCartney played bass guitar left-handed. George Harrison played acoustic and electric guitars and also learned to play the sitar, a stringed instrument native to India.  John Lennon played harmonica and piano in addition to the guitar.  All three played a variety of guitars throughout their careers.

Hendrix playing his
Stratocaster behind his back
Jimi Hendrix wowed audiences by playing the guitar held behind his back and with his teeth, among other stunts, but it was his virtuosic solos that have earned his reputation.  He played left-handed, using a specially modified Fender stratocaster.

Eric Clapton's career began in the 1960s, with his band The Yardbirds and continued with Cream and Derek and the Dominos.  In the 1970s he went solo, uniting his distinctive singing voice with his command of the guitar.

Jeff Beck was one of the famous Yardbirds guitarists (the others are Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page) before going on to a solo career and collaborating with many great bands and rock musicians.

Jimmy page playing
the 12-string side
of a two-neck guitar
Jimmy Page, guitarist with Led Zeppelin, contributed signature licks on both electric and acoustic guitar.  The Gibson Les Paul instruments were some of his favorites.  He also played on two-neck and three-neck guitars.

Keith Richards has contributed some of the most memorable guitar riffs in rock history during his 40-plus years with The Rolling Stones.

Frank Zappa was a genius of sound art, using unusual sounds to evoke anachronistic ideas within one song.

Pete Townshend of The Who is famous as much for destroying guitars on stage as for performing on them.

Alex Lifeson contributed signature licks and innovative solos to the classic songs of Rush, such as Working Man.

Joe Satriani had a long and influential solo career before joining the supergroup, Chickenfoot.

Brian May of Queen was greatly overshadowed by Freddie Mercury's stage presence, yet his guitar echoes through the group's big hits.  He plays on a guitar that he designed himself and made with his father's help.

Joe Perry of Aerosmith has been upstaged by its histrionic frontman, but he is considered one of the best rock guitarists.

Peter Frampton famously asked "Do you feel like we do" through his specially outfitted Gibson Les Paul guitar.  In 1980 the guitar was lost in a plane crash and looters had scavenged it and then sold it.  Frampton thought it had been destroyed, but it was returned to him in 2012, over 30 years lager.

Stevie Ray Vaughan
with "Number One"
Stevie Ray Vaughan ramped up the improv and riffs of the blues genre, reigniting interest in the blues. He died in 1990 in a helicopter crash, and his brother Jimmie continues the Vaughan family guitar tradition.  His "Number One" Fender Stratocaster was his main guitar (his others were also Stratocasters) and took quite a beating over his career.  It spawned a signature "SRV" model by the company.

David Gilmour was guitarist for Pink Floyd during its heyday on albums such as Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall.

Slash of Guns n' Roses created some iconic guitar solos before leaving the band to start his solo career.

Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits is also a soloist and composer of film scores.

Ritchie Blackmore
playing a
Fender Stratocaster
Ritchie Blackmore of Deep Purple, famous for the riffs of the group's greatest hit, "Smoke on the Water"

Eddie Van Halen of Van Halen made his name with fast-paced songs such as "Hot for Teacher."

Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath lowered the pitch of his guitar strings to relieve the pain of an old industrial injury to his fingers.  The resulting sound helped define heavy metal for the next generation and beyond.

Angus Young's duck walk
Angus Young of AC/DC plays Gibson guitars while strutting about the stage using his hero Chuck Berry's moves.

Dave Mustaine is both singer and lead guitarist for the group Megadeth.

Randy Rhoads (with Ozzy Osbourne)

Steve Vai played with Frank Zappa's band before going solo, though he is also well known for his collaborations with other rockers and eventually joined Whitesnake.

Dickie Betts of The Allman Brothers Band took over the lead guitar role after the death of Duane Allman.  His guitar instrumental, "Jessica," is a staple of classic rock radio.

Dimebag Darrell, of Pantera, created a darker, edgier guitar tone that would define the heavy metal sound for a generation or more.

John Petrucci of Dream Theater "shreds" his guitar in virtuosic speed.  He has also become a teacher, and has made instructional videos.

John Frusciante, was guitarist of the Red Hot Chili Peppers before going solo.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Rock Ballad in the 1970s

Rock started as a fast-paced dance music in the 1950s but performers quickly learned they needed to breathe a little air into their sets with slower songs. Some hard-rocking artists' ballads became their biggest hits, in fact. The late 1960s and early 1970s seemed to be the peak time for the rock ballad.  The 1970s ushered in the power ballad with the most famous slow-paced song, Led Zeppelin's 1971 hit, Stairway to Heaven. Over the decade each artist brought his own voice and emotion to the genre:
The tradition carried into the 1980s and 1990s with such hits as:

Monday, September 30, 2013

Banned Books Week: Banned Music, Too!

Every year the American Library Association celebrates the freedom to read by taking a week to highlight books that people have challenged or banned. Banned Books Week has been an ALA tradition for many years, but did you know that music has also been banned or challenged?
In the Twentieth Century and beyond:
  • 1930s: Hitler and the Nazi party ban music by Jews
  • 1936: The BBC bans "When I'm cleaning windows," a song about a Peeping Tom window cleaner
  • 1939: Billie Holiday's song about lynching, "Strange Fruit," was banned from radio and from her own recording label.
  • 1957: "Wake up Little Susie" by The Everly Brothers was banned by many radio stations for suggesting premarital sex
  • 1964: "Louie Louie" by the Kingsmen was challenged by the governor of Indiana as "obscene"
  • 1968: The Doors' anti-war song, "Unknown Soldier," was edited for radio
  • 1970: "Puff the Magic Dragon" (1962) by Peter, Paul & Mary criticised by Vice President Spiro Agnew for promoting a drug culture
  • 1977: The Sex Pistols' "God Save the Queen" was banned in British radio for criticizing the Queen
  • "The Pill" by Loretta Lynn (birth control)
  • 1990: 2 Live Crew is arrested for obscenity charges
  • 1996: Congress holds hearings about the effect of lyrics on youth, targeting Marilyn Manson's Antichrist Superstar especially
  • 2001: After the attacks of 9/11 Clear Channel Radio made a list of songs not to play, including "Walk like an Egyptian" by The Bangles, "Bodies" by Drowning Pool, "Stairway to Heaven" by Led Zeppelin, "American Pie" by Don McLean, "Jet Airliner" by The Steve Miller Band, "Another one Bites the Dust" by Queen, "It's the End of the World as We Know it" by R.E.M., "Black Hole Sun" by Soundgarden, "Sunday Bloody Sunday" by U2, "Jump" by Van Halen, "Highway to Hell" and other songs by AC/DC, "Imagine" by John Lennon, and "New York, New York" by Frank Sinatra
  • 2003: The Dixie Chicks were banned from many radio stations after criticizing President Bush in 2003
  • 2012: Lady Gaga: Banned in Indonesia after protests by Islamic critics

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Organ: King of Instruments

Sursa Hall Organ, Ball State
The pipe organ has been called "King of Instruments" because of its wide expressive range.  The largest pipes reverberate through the floors of great churches and halls, while the tiniest pipes can be reminiscent of the most delicate nightingale.  Subtle differences in the shape of pipes enable it to imitate many other instruments, especially wind instruments, or create a wide variety of sounds (timbres).
An organ consists of:
  • One or more keyboard for the hands (manuals)
  • A keyboard for the feet (pedals)
  • Many "ranks" of pipes, each consisting of the full scale of pitches in matching timbres.
  • Air flow to the pipes
Organs from the Middle Ages and Renaissance had one manual, one rank of pipes, and hand-operated bellows.  In the Baroque, organs had more than one manual, pedals, and behind the scenes assistants operated bellows to supply air to the pipes. Over time, organs became bigger and grander, with more keyboards, more ranks of pipes, and in the Twentieth Century, electrified air supplies.

Baroque Organ, with Manual Bellows
Organ stops, two pulled out
To select from amongst the many timbres available, near the keyboard the organ-maker put knobs that the organist would pull out to engage a particular rank of pipes.  These were called "stops" (because they stopped the air when pushed in), so to "pull out all the stops" means to use all the pipes of the organ simultaneously, which would be very loud.  Modern organs have levers that are pushed downward rather than stops, but the expression hasn't changed.
Organs have been installed in most churches and Cathedrals of the Christian churhes, but the world's largest operating organ is the famous Wanamaker Organ, in Macy's Department Store (formerly Wanamaker's) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  It has over 28,000 pipes and six manuals.

Manuals and Stops of the Wanamaker Organ

The most famous organist/composers (in historical order) are:
For more information on the organ, search CardCat:
Organ Music  (scores and CDs)
Organ Music -- History and Criticism

or follow the links to these materials in Ball State University Libraries' holdings:
Bach's Organ in Leipzig, St. Thomas Church

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Rockin' with the Hammond Organ

Deep Purple "Smoke on the Water"
When most of us think of a rock band, we envision a drummer, bass guitarist, lead guitarist and a rhythm guitarist.  One of the musicians may also be the lead singer, and sometimes the band or singer uses a piano, as with Queen, Elton John, or Billy Joel.

Booker T. "Green Onions"

Most of us don’t think of the organ. The organ’s long history in church music makes it seem like the least likely instrument for a rock band, but the Hammond B3 portable organ became the signature sound for psychedelic rock of the 1960s and continued to be popular into the 1970s.  It was often in the background, and sometimes played without the pedals, but it was indelibly there in sound.

Zombies "Time of the Season"
Because of its small size and amplified sound, it was a great "gig" instrument for traveling musicians.  In addition, unlike the piano or traditional organ, the Hammond organ could swell (increase in loudness), do a vibrato sound, and eventually also incorporate automated percussion sounds, so it became a staple of recording studios too.  Musicians as diverse as Billy Preston, Bob Dylan and Steve Winwood added the Hammond's classic sound to their songs.

Today, electronic keyboards are smaller and even more versatile, but the Hammond organ lives on in memory and is still played today.   Even when a portable "modern" synthesizer keyboard is on stage, it often imitates the sound of the Hammond, especially the iconic B3 model.

The history of the Hammond organ in the 1960s is the history of rock music.  These songs would not sound the same without the Hammond organ, especially the famous B3:

• The Kingsmen: Louie Louie  (1959)

• Booker T & the MG’s: Green Onions (1962)

• The Rascals: Good Lovin (1966)

• The Doors: Light My Fire (1967)

• Procol Harum: A Whiter Shade of Pale (1967)

• Steppenwolf: Born to be Wild (1968)

• Iron Butterfly: In-a-gadda-da-vida (1968)

• The Zombies: Time of the Season (1969)

• Sugarloaf: Green-Eyed Lady (1970)

• Deep Purple: Smoke on the Water (1972)

Three Dog Night (1970s):
  • Just an Old Fashioned Love Song 
  • Family of Man
  • Joy to the World
  • Mama Told me Not to Come
  • Try a Little Tenderness
  • Liar

ML 597 .F19 2011
Dozens of other artists made careers as soloists on the organ, in jazz, popular and other idioms.  Current rockers who favor it include the Decemberists.  For more information on the Hammon organ, its history, specs, and artists, check out The Hammond Organ: An Introduction to the Instrument and the Players who Made it Famous, by Scott Faracher (ML 597 .F19 2011)

Three Dog Night

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

June 14: Flag Day

On this day in 1777, the first United States flag was decided by America's Continental Congress, the precursor of today's Congress.  In 1916 President Woodrow Wilson declared June 14 "Flag Day."

If you don't have a flag to display or flag pin to wear, you can celebrate in song.  Ball State's online audio resource, Naxos Music Library (Ball State login required) has several albums of patriotic music. 

50 Patriotic Songs, including The Star Spangled Banner (the National Anthem), You're a Grand Old Flag, Holding the Flag for America, Riders for the Flag, and a musical setting of The Pledge of Allegiance.

The United States Marine Band, a.k.a. "The President's Own," plays regularly for presidential functions.  It is one of the most prestigious musical organizations in the country, with top professional musicians selected through very competitive auditions.  Hear them on Naxos performing The Stars and Stripes Forever, by John Philip Sousa (who conducted the Marine Band for many years) and The Red, White and Blue, and True to the Flag.

If you can't remember the words to the Star-Spangled Banner, here is a scan from one of the Music Library's 19th Century song books.  At the end you'll see the original words to the melody -- which was a drinking song!