Friday, April 27, 2012

An Appreciation for the Art of Transcription

NPR's A Blog Supreme has a commentary about an interview with saxophonist Woody Mankowski, whose day job is transcribing recordings for music publishing company Hal Leonard. Patrick Jarenwattananon explains to readers a skill that commonplace among musicians but unfathomable to most others.

Translating Ether To Paper

We have many of Mankowski's transcriptions in our collection. It is the diligent but unheralded work of many Hal Leonard-employeed transcribers who make up a significant chunk of our jazz and pop score collection.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Think Outside the Stage

The Washington Post recently covered a different way of performing: underground concerts. Over the past few years, websites and production companies like Blogothè and Mason Jar Music have been filming artists playing in unusual locations (like a deserted parking garage or an abandoned building) and sharing these unique performances online. As Melissa Bell discusses in her article, these videos really show how the environment in which the musicians play can enhance the performance.

Want to try your hand at doing an underground concert? Check out Nyree Belleville's The Complete Guide to House Concerts and Other Satisfying Alternative Venues (ML3795 .B425 2003) in our library collection for tips on how to set up your own alternative performance.

Friday, April 20, 2012

RIP Levon Helm

Ralph Rosen, Media Center Manager and a drummer himself, is our guest blogger for this post.

On April 19 we lost one of the great talents of American Music. Levon Helm passed away due to the throat cancer that he’d been battling since the late 1990s. He was one of the finest singers and drummers of his generation. He was known for his membership in he Band, a group that created a fusion of American roots music in a way that revolutionized how we hear these various influences.

A native of Arkansas, music was a common activity in his family with both parents singing and encouraging Levon and his sister to do the same. He started to play guitar at eight years old. Growing up in the ‘40s and ‘50s, he witnessed at first hand the important pre-rock performers such as bluesman Sonny Boy Williamson and bluegrass pioneer Bill Monroe. He was on hand at early performances by such rockers as Elvis Presley and Bo Diddley. He built a washtub bass for his sister Linda and they performed locally as a duo. By this time he was also playing drums and joined Ronnie Hawkins’s band upon graduating high school.

Hawkins took the band to Canada because he felt the work opportunities were greater than in the states. Eventually the band consisted of Levon, Ronnie Hawkins and three Canadian players. They worked consistently until 1963 when they decided to perform without Hawkins calling themselves Levon and the Hawks. Bob Dylan chose them to work with him when he first started to perform with a full band. Eventually the Hawks called themselves the Band and released 7 studio albums from 1968 until their breakup in 1976.

Levon Helm continued with his own projects including the reunited Band in the 1980s. After the death of beloved Band member Richard Manuel, the group continued with three more studio albums. Helm instituted a series of concerts called the Midnight Ramble at a barn attached to his home in Woodstock, NY.

Speaking personally, I was lucky enough to perform (on his drum kit!) at one of the Rambles. I was invited to attend them several times afterwards, each time meeting and talking with Levon. I found him to be a humble, warm and very funny guy. As a drummer myself, it was always great to watch his unique style up close. He will always be one of my favorite musicians. There’ll never be another like him!

Highlights of Helm's work in our collection:
as a sideman:
  • The Hallmark Sessions (Lenny Breau) (CD 29272)
  • The Roulette Years (Ronnie Hawkins) (CD 4122-4123)
  • Diamond Jubilation (the Dixie Hummingbirds) (CD 22874)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

RIP Dick Clark

America's oldest teenager has died well past his teen years. Explore our collection to learn how Dick Clark and American Bandstand shaped the world of rock and roll.

American Bandstand: Dick Clark and the Making of a Rock 'n' Roll Empire by John A. Jackson (ML3477.J33 1997)

The History of American Bandstand: It's Got a Great Beat and You Can Dance to It by Michael Shore with Dick Clark (ML3477 .S46 1985)

Rock & Roll at 50 with an introduction by Dick Clark (ML385 .L5 2002)

Rock, Roll & Remember by Dick Clark and Richard Robinson (ML429.C53 R6)

The Songmakers Collection (DVD 731-732)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Noted Music Writers: In Town and In Our Collection

Two well-regarded music critics will be speaking in Boston this week. Even if you can't get to their talks, you check out their books here.

Alex Ross is the music critic for The New Yorker, and his book The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the 20th Century was a Pultizer Prize finalist. He is speaking at Trinity Church on Tuesday, April 17 about sacred music in the 20th century (see here for details). We have The Rest Is Noise as both a book on reserve (ML197 .R68 2007), which means it is only available for 2 hours at a time when the library is open, and as an ebook, which means it is available for a week at a time even when the library is closed.

Simon Reynolds will be the keynote speaker at Tinnitus: A Symposium on Art and Rock 'n' Roll at Harvard on Saturday, April 21. A trove of his writing, especially for Melody Maker, is available from Rock's Backpages, and our collection of his books includes Rip It Up and Start Again: Post-Punk 1978-84 (ML3534 .R47 2006) and Generation Ecstasy: Into the World of Techno and Rave Culture (ML3540 .R53 1998).

Friday, April 13, 2012

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees

We at the library take special interest in the opening of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Library & Archives, but the big news in Cleveland this weekend is Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. To gain an appreciation for this year's inductees, check our holdings by each of them, including CDs, DVDs and scores.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Remembering Mirek Kocandrle

The news of Mirek Kocandrle's death hit us hard in the library. He brought his passion for rock music to our Punk Out event last year at which he spoke about the history of the movement and I played DJ. He poured 20 years of effort into his book Pop Rock Sounds & Vibes of the 20th Century (ML156.4.P6 K64 2003). He was a friendly regular in the library stacks.

It is at least a consolation that his legacy is captured in our collection of his works, including the many recordings of Berklee Performance Concert concerts that he contributed to.

Jaromir Kocandrle, 61

Friday, April 6, 2012

Explore the Legacy of Jim Marshall, the Father of Loud

Jim Marshall, dubbed the Father of Loud for creating the Marshall stack, has died at the age of 88. The L.A. Times has an obituary that highlights how the amplifiers he invented had a profound influence on the sound of rock.

Jim Marshall dies at 88; creator of famed rock 'n' roll amplifiers

Want to explore his legacy further? Head to the media center to hear and see the many acts that rely on Marshall stacks, including This Is Spinal Tap (DVD 696), which includes Nigel Tufnel's legendary (and fictional) Marshall amp that goes all the way to 11. And even though Pete Townshend was a Marshall customer, the supplement cover for the Who's Thirty Years of Maximum R & B Live (DVD 3611-3612) has a photo of a blown Hiwatt amp.

For even more detail, check out these books on the man and his productions:

Jim Marshall, Father of Loud: The Story of the Man Behind the Worlds Most Famous Guitar Amplifiers (TK7807 .M37 M35 2004)

The History of Marshall: The Illustrated Story of "The Sound of Rock" (ML1015.G9 D69 1993)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

So Percussion: Tiny Desk Concert on NPR and In Our Collection

So Percussion, a percussion ensemble from Brooklyn, is NPR's most recent band to appear on their Tiny Desk Concert series. Check out the video and watch them make music from everyday items around the office.

If you want to listen to more of their music, we have two of their albums right here in our collection: So Percussion (CD 27254) and Amid the Noise (Annex CD (Box 24)). If you find a CD in our catalog with a call number that starts "Annex CD," bring the information to the media center desk. These are CDs in our collection that have not been fully cataloged and labeled yet. If you request one, we will have it for you by the next business day at the latest, but it may only require a 10-minute wait if sufficient staff is available.