Monday, July 3, 2017

Visit the Music Collection via Youtube!

If you plan to visit soon, let us show you the way!  Music Collection coordinator Addison Smith takes you from the South Entrance to the main points of interest in this brief video:

Friday, June 2, 2017

Ukulele Renaissance

Grace Vanderwaal on
America's Got Talent
The ukulele, a small strummed string instrument associated with Hawaiian music, has experienced a renaissance in recent years.  It was a popular instrument in the 1920s and 1950s, and is popular once again.  Small, inexpensive and easy to learn, the instrument is a great way to learn the basics of music performance.  In fact, it has been adopted as the instrument of choice for public school general music instruction, overtaking guitar and piano.  Tenor ukuleles are also popular because they are tuned to the same notes as guitars, making it easy to learn guitar chords on a budget.

On television and radio, the ukulele provides the soundtrack for advertisements for wholesome products.    The most frequently used song in popular culture has been "Over the Rainbow / What a Wonderful World," sung by the late Israel Kamakawiwo'ole, a.k.a. "Iz."  Other famous performers of the past include Hawaiian songster Don Ho and 1960s icon Tiny Tim.  More recently, the 2016 winner of America's Got Talent was 12-year-old singer Grace Vanderwaal, who accompanied herself on ukulele.

The Music Collection has sheet music (scores) of traditional Hawaiian music and popular music arranged for ukulele:

Absolute Beginners: Ukulele teaches tablature (TAB), a visual representation of the frets and strings, and offers backing tracks to help you get started:
MT 756.8 .S67 A2 2010

The 4-Chord Ukulele Book
M1630.18 .A13 2013
It's amazing how many songs you can play with just four chords!  After you've gotten your start with chord playing you can play classics such as "Don't be Cruel" (Elvis Presley),  "If I had a Hammer" (traditional), "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" (Bob Dylan), "Man of Constant Sorrow" (traditional), "My Generation" (The Who), "The Sound of Silence" (Simon & Garfunkel), and "Just the Way You Are "(Bruno Mars).

Hawaiian Favorites
M1630.18 .H39 2011
This song book with a CD of backing tracks includes songs associated with the ukulele, such as "Blue Hawaii," made famous by Elvis Presley, and "Tiny Bubbles," the 1966 hit that became Don Ho's theme song.

Iz: The Songbook Collection
M1629.7 .H4 I9 2005
Songs in both English and Hawaiian (with translations) as performed by the most famous ukulele player of the recent past.  Iz's four albums are represented, including "Alone in Iz World," his top-selling album. The album and songbook include his famous version of "Over the Rainbow/Wonderful World."

The Beatles for Ukulele
M1630.18 .B375 2008
Twenty songs by the Fab Four, arranged for ukulele with chord symbols and staff notation.   The songs come from all periods of the group's hit songs, and include "All you Need is Love," "Good Day Sunshine," "Hey Jude," "Let it Be," and "Yellow Submarine.

Jumpin' Jim's Ukulele Country: 36 Classic Country & Western Songs Arranged for Ukulele
M1630.18 .J86 2005
Old-time country music traditionally featured acoustic guitar, a sound that translates well to ukulele.  This song book includes such classics as "Back in the Saddle Again" (Gene Autry), "Crazy" (composed by Willie Nelson and sung by Patsy Cline),  "Happy Trails" (Roy Rogers), and "King of the Road (Roger Miller).

The Ultimate Ukulele Songbook: The Complete Resource for Every Ukulele Player! 59 Songs!
This songbook includes popular songs from the 1910s to the 2000s.  Though the songs were not originally composed for ukulele, you will enjoy playing such hits as "The Lazy Song" by Bruno Mars, "Under the Sea" from the Disney film The Little Mermaid, "Sunday Bloody Sunday" by U2, "September Ends" by Green Day, "American Pie" by Don McLean, and "Happy Birthday."
M1630.18 .U485 2014

You can try your hand at the ukulele without investing in an instrument because Educational Technology and Resources Collection (ETRC) owns three ukes for check-out.  The ETRC circulation desk is on the Lower Level of Bracken Library, near the Music Collection desk.

For more inspiration, check out these compact discs that feature or include the ukulele:

Jake Shimabukuro.  Travels
Compact Disc 22876
Shimabukuro is the top virtuoso of the ukulele today.

A Great Big World.  Is There Anybody Out There?
Compact Disc 22132

Elvis Costello & The Imposters.  The Delivery Man
Compact Disc 16240

Elvis Presley.  Blue Hawaii
Compact Disc 20864

Squirrel Nut Zippers.  Hot
Compact Disc 13240

Israel Kamakawiwo'ole.  Facing Future
Compact Disc 16238

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Songbooks with Audio Accompaniment

Feeling inspired by "The Voice" or the news that "American Idol" will be coming back?

If you have been singing along with your favorite artists, you may want to step up your game and sing along with backing tracks.  The Music Collection has several song books that come with CDs or online audio.  Hal Leonard's Pro Vocal series includes "Amazing Slow Downer" software that allows you to pick the tempo you want.  It is compatible with Mac, PC, iPods, etc.  Check out the Men's series or Women's editions or search for Recorded Accompaniments (Voice) to view them all.

The Music Collection also has the complete Jamey Aebersold Play-Along jazz series, which includes some vocal albums and song books with challenging repertoire for you to hone your chops:

Selected Song Books for Male Voices:
Lennon & MacCartney:  Eight classic Beatles hits including Can't Buy Me Love, Yesterday, and A Hard Day's Night
M1630.18 .L46 L46 2007

Queen:  Includes Bohemian Rhapsody, Another One Bites the Dust, Crazy Little Thing Called Love and five other hit songs
M1741.18 Q44 A4 2012

Frank Sinatra Classics:  Includes New York, New York, Witchcraft, and six other hits
M1630.18 .F73 2007

Frank Sinatra Standards:  Songs include Come Fly with Me, Love and Marriage, My way, and five others
M1630.18 .F732 2007

Motown: Eight songs including I Heard it Through the Grapevine and You are the Sunshine of My Life
M1630.18 .M686 2008

Selected Song Books for Female Voices:
Lady Gaga:  Hits including Bad Romance, Poker Face, and Paparazzi
M1630.18 L33 L33 2010

Patsy Cline:  Hits include Crazy, I Fall to Pieces and Walkin' After Midnight
M1630.18 .P38 2007

R&B Super Hits:  Songs include Respect, What's Love Got to Do With it and Midnight Train to Georgia
M1630.18 .R211 2005

Musicals of Boubill & Schönberg:  Songs include I Dreamed a Dream, I'd Give My Life for You, and On My Own
M1508 .S37 M8 2007

Selections from Musical Shows and Films:
Annie: Broadway Singer's Edition
M1508 .S92 A5 2013

Frozen: Seven Songs
M1508.2 .A53 F7 2014

Rent: Selections
M1508.1 .L37 R4 2008

Kid's Musical Theatre Anthology:  Songs from The Lion King, Finding Nemo, The Little Mermaid, and other hit musicals
M1507 .K53 2008

Vocal Selections from the Aebersold Play-Along Series:
Cole Porter for Singers: Songs include You'd be So Nice to Come Home To, Night and Day, In the Still of the Night, and other classics
MT 68 .J36 vol. 117

When I Fall in Love: Romantic Ballads:  Songs include I Can't Get Started, Someone to Watch Over Me, Embraceable You and many others
MT 68 .J36 vol. 110

Singers! It Had to Be You: 24 Standards in Singer's Keys: Time After Time, Stardust, Summertime, and other vocal classics
MT 68 .J36 vol. 107

Yesterdays: Jerome Kern's Jazz Classics:  Songs from musicals, including All the Things You Are, The Way You Look Tonight, Smoke Gets in your Eyes, and others
MT68 .J36 vol. 55

Monday, April 24, 2017

Jazz Appreciation Month: Fusion

One of the most controversial movements in jazz was fusion, the melding of jazz with another style, usually electrified or electronic rock.  Jazz purists rejected the movement, but the style attracted many fans who had previously been uninterested in jazz.  Several jazz musicians became "crossover" stars, and several rock artists incorporated jazz idioms ("jazz-rock").  For years, many rock musicians had improvised in live shows, and jazz was the source of the rhythm section for rock (guitar, bass & drumset), so the 1970s fusion of the two genres was a compatible pairing.  Some bands also brought in other elements, such as Latin percussion or R&B vocals, but the term's wide umbrella leaves room for them all.

Trumpet player Miles Davis pioneered fusion with his 1969 album, Miles in the Sky, though 1970's Bitches Brew is more well known. He blended electric rock-based sounds with traditional jazz instruments to create a sound never heard before.  Future stars of fusion Joe Zawinul, Wayne Shorter, and Chick Corea contributed to Bitches Brew.

The Mahavishnu Orchestra was a five-member group formed by guitarist John McLaughlin.  Several changes of membership meant that musicians moving on would share fusion with new audiences. including Jean-Luc Ponty (electric violin) who went on to have a solo career.

Electronic keyboardist Herbie Hancock and his group, Return to Forever, released the best-selling fusion album, Head Hunters, in 1973.  The album has been added to the Library of Congress's National Recording Registry and it is on the list of Rolling Stone Magazine's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.  A funky bass solo opens the all-instrumental album and repeats throughout the first track, "Chameleon." Chameleon runs on for over fifteen minutes, long even by jazz standards.  Chameleon has become a standard for modern jazz artists.

Weather Report, was a tight combo led by keyboardist Joe Zawinul, who had collaboarted with Miles Davis.  It was the most commercially successful group, releasing albums from 1971 to 1985.  Zawinul and saxophonist Wayne Shorter had participated in Miles Davis's In a Silent Way sessions, making Weather Report the next logical step in the development of fusion.  Bass player Jaco Pastorius's all-harmonics solo in "Birdland" (from Heavy Weather) demonstrated his artistry and remains an iconic moment in fusion history.  The song helped propel the fusion movement into mainstream markets.  Zawinul, Shorter, and Pastorius would all continue as band leaders and soloists after the dissolution of the band.

The Pat Metheny Group was another group with crossover appeal.  The group consisted of Pat Metheny, guitar, Lyle Mays, piano, Mark Egan (electric) bass, and Dan Gottlieb on drums.  Metheny continues to record and perform,lending his virtuosic technique to a variety of methods.

Spyro Gyra formed in 1974 and produced albums with a softer sound than the other fusion groups.

The Brecker Brothers (Randy, trumpet and flugelhorn, and Michael, saxophone and flute) performed together from the 1970s through the 1990s.

Maynard Ferguson was a squealing trumpet player who began his career as a big band soloist and toured with his fusion-playing big band in the 1970s.  The group consisted of 12 players, many of whom came from American universities with jazz programs.  Ferguson traveled to high schools and colleges across the country, leaving his mark on a generation of jazz players and impressionable young audience members.  In addition to jazz songs with rock elements added, he arranged popular songs for his jazz band.  Examples are "MacArthur's Park" and the theme from the film, "Rocky" (Gonna Fly Now)

M.F. Horn (1971)
M.F. Horn 4 & 5: Live at Jimmy's (1973)
Conquistador (1977)

Other Fusion Artists:
Matrix was a 1970s group of nine players founded by keyboardist John Harmon and his students from Lawrence University.  Their two most well-known albums were concept albums.

Madeski,  Martin &Wood is a jazz-funk group that started recording in the 1990s and continued to release albums until 2012.  The individual musicians have collaborated with other fusion players, keeping the genre alive until the present day.
George Benson's smooth guitar playing and even smoother vocal talent sometimes qualify him as "fusion," though more in the popular or R&B vein than the rock vein.  He is one of the musicians who ushered in the "smooth jazz" sound of the 1980s.

Birds of Fire: Jazz, Rock, and the Creation of Fusion:  ML 3506 .F45 2011
Jazz-Rock Fusion: The People, the Music:  ML 385 .C2
Head-Hunters: The Making of Jazz's First Platinum Album:  ML 417 .H23 P66 2005

Friday, March 31, 2017

National Recording Registry Additions: 2017

Every year 25 recordings are honored by the National Recording Registry for preservation by the Library of Congress's National Recording Preservation Board.   Songs, albums, and spoken recordings can be nominated by members of the public.  You can nominate up to fifty titles!

Those selected for the Class of 2016 include Judy Garland's "Over the Rainbow" and Don McLean's "American Pie."   To see the list of all titles selected for preservation, click here.

Most of the albums and songs honored this year are available on CD in the Music Collection:

Signatures, by Renée Fleming (1997, opera arias)
Compact Disc 4870

Vespers, by Sergei Rachmaninoff, performed by the Robert Shaw Festival Singers (1990)
Compact Disc 4954

Straight Outta Compton, by N.W.A. (1988)
Compact Disc 19863

Remain in Light, by The Talking Heads (1980)
Compact Disc 12736

Treemonisha (opera by Scott Joplin, conducted by Gunther Schuller)
Compact Disc 5414

Their Greatest Hits, 1971-1975, by The Eagles (1976)
Compact Disc 3437

The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, by David Bowie (1972)
Compact Disc 18136

The Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery (1960)
Compact Disc 13856

Saxophone Colossus by Sonny Rollins (1956)
Compact Disc 12270

American Pie, by Don McLean (1971)
Amazing Grace, by Judy Collins (1970)
In the Midnight Hour, by Wilson Pickett (1965)
People, by Barbra Streisand (1964)
Hound Dog, by Big Mama Thornton (1953)
Over the Rainbow, by Judy Garland (1939)

What songs or albums do you think should be preserved?   List them in the comments or nominate them!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Women's History Month: Women in Jazz

International Sweethearts of Rhythm
Women in Jazz

Jazz was formed by several threads in Southern American music, threads that were the purview of male musicians.  Many of the developments in early jazz took place in bars and brothels -- places where women from good families just shouldn't go!  Despite the domination of men in jazz, a few women took their place alongside men in the early years, sometimes as their spouse, too.  Lil Hardin married Louis Armstrong, for example, but continued her own career after their divorce.

In the 1920s dance "orchestras" became popular, leading to the famous big bands of the 1930s and 1940s.  Few of these organizations hired women except as singers.  Especially during World War II, jazz vocalists fronting big bands would be a woman or an all-female group. "All girl" bands were  novelty acts but were also an outlet for many talented women.   The most famous were the International Sweethearts of Rhythm.

For interviews and performances watch The International Sweethearts of Rhythm documentary via  (Log in required from off campus)

Ella Fitzgerald
In the 1950s, jazz returned to its roots in small ensembles and improvised soloing, leaving aside the smooth melodic pop songs with big band backing that dominated in the 1940s. The new style, bebop (or "bop") celebrated instrumental virtuosity, for the most part, but scat singing -- using nonsense syllables in place of words for improvisation, gave vocalists an equal footing in the new style.  Both men and women excelled at this type of singing.  Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan were among the most famous singers of scat.

Jazz has continued to evolve along with society, and now there are more women than ever performing and recording professionally.  Check CDs by these artists from the Music Collections:

Regina Carter

Toshiko Akiyoshi

Regina Carter (violin)

Alice Coltrane (saxophone)

Marian McPartland (piano)

Maria Schneider (big-band leader)

Hazel Scott (piano)

Esperanza Spalding (bass)

Mary Lou Williams (piano)

Diana Krall

Dee Dee Bridgewater

Betty Carter

Ella Fitzgerald

Billie Holiday

Diana Krall

Madeleine Peyroux
Peggy Lee

Carmen McRae

Madeleine Peyroux

Dianne Reeves

Diane Schuur

Nina Simone

Cassandra Wilson
Sarah Vaughan

Dinah Washington

Brenna Whitaker

Cassandra Wilson

For more about women in jazz, check out these books:
Jazzwomen: Conversations with Twenty-One Musicians
ML395 .E572 2004

Swing Shift: "All-Girl" Bands of the 1940s, by Sherrie Tucker
ML82 .T83 2000

Madame Jazz: Contemporary Women Instrumentalists, by Leslie Gourse
ML82 .G69 1995

Stormy Weather: The Music and Lives of a Century of Jazzwomen, by Linda Dahl
ML82 .D3 1984

Friday, March 10, 2017

1967 in Music: A Counter-Culture Goes Mainstream

It's been fifty years since the "Summer of Love" in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco.  In the summer of 1967, the counter-culture community swelled in numbers as baby boomers on their college break trekked to San Francisco for a utopian, drug-inspired experiment in communal living.   Peace and Love ruled the day.  Hippies explored altered states through drugs and Eastern meditation.   "Flower Power" would spread from this hub through the rest of the country as the 1960s progressed.   "San Francisco," a hit song by Scott McKenzie, contains the iconic line:  "If you go to San Francisco, be sure to wear flowers in your hair."  The Beatles sang "All you need is love" on their Magical Mystery Tour album.

Musicians of the era drew from diverse influences.  The folk revivalists of the 1950s and early 1960s inspired new singer-songwriters such as the Mamas and the Papas and Simon and Garfunkel.  The Grateful Dead, a San Francisco band, released their first album in 1967.  The Troubadour, a club in Haight-Ashbury, became the center for this style.

Artists inspired by the folk tradition include:
(click links for library holdings)
Mamas and the Papas
Simon and Garfunkel
The Grateful Dead
The Byrds
Buffalo Springfield

Advances in recording studio technology made "psychedlic" rock possible.  The Beach Boys's 1966 album, "Pet Sounds," raised the bar for music production.  Portable equipment allowed the style to penetrate music festivals too.  The movement impacted musicians in England as well.  An artist colony in Chelsea perfected the psychedelic look of the 1960s; the Beatles "dropped acid" (LSD) and released the album, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band; and Pink Floyd released The Piper at the Gates of Dawn.

Artists inspired by psychedelic drugs and electronics include:
Pink Floyd
The Doors
Jimi Hendrix
Jefferson Airplane
Procol Harum
Strawberry Alarm Clock
The Velvet Underground
The Who
Frank Zappa (and the Mothers of Invention)

Many of these musicians appeared during the 3-day International
Monterey (California) Pop Music Festival in June of 1967.  The
festival kicked off the "Summer of Love" and inspired the
organizers of the Woodstock Festival (1969).   Seasoned and
budding stars alike contributed to the festival, which was filmed for posterity

For more about music from 1967 and the 1960s counter culture, 
check these out:

Hair, a Broadway musical based on hippie counterculture,
premiered in October of 1967:
Compact Disc 17232 or Compact Disc 17306  (Broadway cast album)

DVDs in the Educational Technology & Resources Collection
The Monterey Pop Festival
DVD 388 (3 DVDs plus guide)

Summer of Love (PBS)
DVD Video 4661

From the General Collection (2nd - 4th Floors)
American Hippies
HQ799.7 .R66 2015

Baby Boomers and Popular Culture

The Haight-Ashbury: A History
HN80 .S4 P47 1980

The Harvard Psychedelic Club
BF209 .H34 L38 2010

The Psychedelic Experience:  A Manual Based on
The Tibetan Book of the Dead, by Timothy Leary
BF207 .L4 2007

Summer of Love: Art of the Psychedelic Era
N6494 .P79 S86 2005

The Summer of Love: Haight-Ashbury at its Highest
F869 .S35 A57

We are the People Our Parents Warned us Against
HQ796 .V68

Monday, February 20, 2017

Black History Month: Caribbean Styles

Enslaved Africans were sent to the Caribbean Islands during the colonial era, and due to separation from other cultures and enslavement by different countries, developed individual musical styles.

Haiti is known for music that most closely resembles that of the Yoruba people.  Though officially Catholic, for centuries the people practiced an African version of the religion, Vodou or Vodoun.  Through music, spirits enter the body of practitioners.

ML1038.S74 S65 2012
Trinidad is best known for steel drums, or steel pan drums.  African slaves had long used various percussion instruments, and slaves deprived of traditional instruments innovated with the materials at hand.  This tradition persisted in modern cultures, and Trinidadians developed pitched instruments from steel pans (usually from oil drums) that are now popular instruments worldwide.

Jamaican Reggae evolved from a genre called Rock Steady, and is most closely associated with Bob Marley and the Wailers, whose most famous songs sing of freedom with a Jamaican accent.  His son, Ziggy Marley, continues the tradition.

Reggae would become popular worldwide, especially in Africa.  Artists such as Lucky Dube and the Refugee All Stars of Sierra Leone adopted the genre, using it as a means of protest from an African point of view.

DVD Video 413
Read about Reggae in Oxford Music Online / Grove Music or Music Online: The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music. (log in required from off campus)

Cuba, colonized by Spanish slave masters, developed diverse styles as freed slaves mastered Colonial styles.  Retaining the percussive aesthetic of African music, Cuban jazz is often referred to as "Afro-Cuban."  Latin-tinged jazz of the 1950s derives from American musicians' fascination with Cuban music.  Cuban musicians who became famous in the 20th Century include Xavier Cugat and Pérez Prado, the "Mambo King."   More recent performers are Tito Puente, Bebo Valdés and Ibrahim Ferrer.      For more sabór de Cuba, check out the famous video of the Buena Vista Social Club.

ML3532.5 .R44 2009
Puerto Rico, and Puerto Ricans of New York, developed Reggaeton, which is more closely related to rap than to reggae.  Popular artists include Daddy Yankee and Wisin & Yandel.  This Latin-tinged rap music sprang from the
Puerto Rican DJ community first in Puerto Rico and later also in
the in the Bronx and the American West Coast.
It reached its peak of popularity ca. 2005-2010.

***~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ * * * * * * ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ * * * * * * ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ * * *

To search for the music of a specific country or style, use the Libraries' Media Finders: →  (Research) →  Media Finders.  There is one for World Music and one for Musical Recordings (Other than classical).

The World Music finder searches for books, DVDs, and musical instruments (Educational Technology and Resources Collection) as well as recordings:

The "Music Other Than Classical" media finder allows you to choose country and style, for example, jazz from Cuba:

Friday, February 3, 2017

Black History Month: Recording Labels and the Musical Entrepreneur

Today's music listeners are probably well aware of record labels devoted to music by African-Americans.  Russell Simmons  and Rick Rubin launched Def Jam Recordings in 1984.  Cash Money Records, founded in 1991, launched the careers of Drake, Lil Wayne and Nicki Minaj.  In 1989, in conjunction with major label Arista Records, Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds and Antionio "L.A." Reid launched LaFace Records, which has since been absorbed by RCA.

This isn't a new phenomenon.  Since the beginnings of the recording industry, black entrepreneurs launched many successful labels which in turn launched the careers of many artists who otherwise may not have found an audience.

The Music Collection has CDs and information about many of these labels.

1921: Black Swan Records was founded in Harlem by Harry Pace.  It was the first black-owned record label that produced music by and for black Americans.  Pace recorded ground-breaking artists such as Fletcher Henderson and his Orchestra, one of the first great dance bands, and songstress Ethel Waters.  Composer William Grant Still was one of the regular accompanying instrumentalists.  The label was short-lived but its impact continues to this day.

During the 1930s and 1940s, black artists recorded for white-owned labels, many making a lot of money and becoming superstars of their time.  Records marketed to black audiences were called "race records."  Okey, Columbia, Paramount and Decca made millions from this market.

In the 1950s artists and the recording industry rebelled against the polished pop sounds of the post-war era.  In jazz, small bebop combos recalled the earliest days of jazz, when improvisation within small groups gave artists such as Louis Armstrong creative freedom.  There was also a folk music revival, which brought rural sounds to the fore.  White artists such as Pete Seeger and The Weavers popularized white folk music, the blues of rural black America experienced a renaissance that eventually resulted in the new genre of rock 'n' roll.  The Library of Congress's folklore programs brought both black and white folk music to urban consciousness through its records (Most now available on the Smithsonian-Folkways label)

Motown, named for the Motor City, Detroit, was the first big label dedicated to and owned by African-Americans.  Founded and run by Barry Gordy in a two-story house, the label produced many superstar artists, and the label became synonymous with the soul sound of 1960s African-Americans.  It also became synonymous with self-affirmation in the 1960s Civil Rights Movement. "Power to the Motown People" is a compilation of songs from 1968-1975 that expressed the varied feelings of artists during turbulent times.  The label continues to produce African-American artists' work.

Selected CDs in the Music Collection:
Hitsville USA: The Motown Singles Collection

A Cellarful of Motown: The Rarest Detroit Grooves
Catalog Subject Search:  Motown Record Corporation

Read more about the African-American recording industry in The Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History (log in required from off campus)