Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Creating Virtual Exhibits - The Franklin McGinley collection on Duke Ellington

Greetings, friends! I'm Anne Mansella, intern from Simmons College's Graduate School of Library and Information Science (GSLIS), and I'm here to tell you about one of the exciting projects I've been working on in the Berklee College of Music Archives. You may remember that the Franklin McGinley collection on Duke Ellington was recently processed and made available back in June (if not, take a look here: "Archives Update: Two New Finding Aids"). The collection includes memorabilia created and collected by Franklin McGinley for and by Duke Ellington, including a scrapbook, additional clippings, and various commemorative materials. The scrapbook covers the rise of swing music and Duke Ellington and includes autographs by Ellington and other musicians of the period. The remaining loose materials document Ellington's posthumous legacy, with the majority of the clippings consisting of obituaries or coverage of his passing in 1974. We are now pleased to announce that a virtual exhibit has been created for this collection.

A painting from the scrapbook. Such vibrant colors!
Creating a virtual exhibit means digitizing items and presenting them in such a way that is not only user friendly and aesthetically pleasing but also remains true to the collection itself. There is no doubt that digitization is a great way to not only preserve collections but to also promote and make them accessible to a wide audience. That being said, not all collections are in good enough shape to be digitized. Such a process takes up a good amount of time, money, and resources. Rights need to be obtained. Technical support and security must be arranged, and various challenges are bound to arise. What works for one collection may not necessarily work or be the best option for another. One thing is for sure: when it comes to the digitization of collections and the creation of virtual exhibits there are lots of things to be figured out.

McGinley included drawings as well as newspaper caricatures in his scrapbook.

How did we create a virtual exhibit for the Franklin McGinley collection on Duke Ellington? First, we created a vision and workflow plan detailing how we would create files that work best for a digital exhibit. The scrapbook and loose files were scanned, and hundreds of digital items were then cleaned up using Photoshop. Various file versions were created for each item, each with a specific purpose including:
  • TIFF (archival copy)
  • PSD (modifiable copy)
  • JPG (web copy)
    • Low Resolution (original presentation)
    • Low Resolution Thumbnails (loose materials)
    • Hi Resolution (zoomable)
Once we modified the JavaScript used to create the exhibit, the web files were uploaded onto our website. After hours of work this collection is now available for viewing from the comfort of your own home. My favorite parts are the sketches and artwork that are scattered throughout the scrapbook, presumably done by McGinley himself. Other highlights include a rare autograph from bassist Jimmy Blanton, as well as other signatures from notable musicians of the time (Roy Eldridge, Coleman Hawkins, Louis Armstrong, Harry Carney, and Duke Ellington).

We hope that you enjoy viewing this virtual exhibit. Check it out here.

A sketch of Duke Ellington found within the scrapbook

Autographs found within the scrapbook, including a rare Jimmy Blanton signature! 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

JFK Assassination Playlist

"I shouted out, 'Who killed the Kennedys?' When after all, it was you and me," sings Mick Jagger in the Rolling Stones' "Sympathy for the Devil."

Lots of people are looking back to the John F. Kennedy assassination on its 50th anniversary, but one measure of its impact is in music. Here's a list of band names and songs that drew their inspiration from that tragic event. Links are to our catalog for materials we have available:

  • "Sympathy for the Devil," the Rolling Stone, Beggars Banquet (CD 4790)
  • "Abraham, Martin and John," Smokey Robinson & the Miracles, Anthology (CD 10514- 10515 Disc 2)
  • "Family Snapshot," Peter Gabriel, Peter Gabriel (CD 213)
  • "We Didn't Start the Fire," Billy Joel, Storm Front (CD 9812), includes "JFK blown away"
  • "He Was a Friend of Mine," the Byrds, The Byrds (CD 5707-5710 Disc 1)
  • "Jack Ruby," Camper Van Beethoven 
  • "(Glad I'm) Not a Kennedy," Shona Laing
  • "Life in a Northern Town," the Dream Academy, Like, Omigod! The 80$ Pop Culture Box (Totally) (CD 21291-21297 Disc 6) includes "In winter 1963/it felt like the world would freeze/with John F. Kennedy"
  • "Reverence" by Jesus & Mary Chain, includes "I want to die just like JFK"
  • "I Wanna Be Jack Kennedy," Psyclone Rangers

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Wardrobe Planning for Friday: Wear Your Old Band T-Shirt to Work Day

BBC Radio 6 is declaring Friday, November 22 the 6th annual Wear Your Old Band T-Shirt to Work Day. There's no word on whether this will catch on in the United States and, quite frankly, it could really describe any day Berklee.

If you want to learn more about rock t-shirt culture, page through Rock Tease: The Golden Years of Rock T-shirts by Erica Easley & Ed Chalfa (NK4890.S45 E27 2006). As you might expect, it has lots of pictures of rock t-shirts. But it also goes into the nuances such as the specific aesthetics of bootleg t-shirts, how designs have evolved over the years, and profiles of people whose work has been involved with band t-shirts, most notably Arturo Vega, the Ramones' art director and designer of their iconic logo. Vega observed, "Today, the Ramones have sold more T-shirts than records, without a doubt."

As Mark Arm of Mudhoney noted regarding the clothing's signficance, "...especially in the late '70s, if you saw anybody wearing a punk rock or new wave shirt it was definitely a signifier... Battle lines were being drawn."

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Legendary Hammond Organs

NPR Music has an interview with Larry Goldings about the Hammond B-3 organ, particularly the travails of touring with a 425-pound behemoth.

Soul From A Console: Jazz On The Hammond B-3 Organ

Even if your interest in the legendary organ isn't deep enough to enroll in one of Berklee's classes on Hammond organ techniques, you can still learn more about the instrument at the library with The Hammond Organ: Beauty in the B by Mark Vail (ML597 .V32 2002). The book covers the history of Hammond organs, techniques and playlists that highlight their unique sound.

Friday, November 8, 2013

For Veteran's Day, a Musician Turned Military Hero

The library will have limited hours on Monday, November 11, 12:00 p.m. - 5:45 p.m. in observance of Veteran's Day.

But to pay homage to the holiday, here's an article from the New York Times about Jason Everman. After being kicked out of both Nirvana and Soundgarden, he went on to a distinguished career U.S. Army Special Forces.

The Rock ’n’ Roll Casualty Who Became a War Hero

You can listen to Everman on guitar with Nirvana on Bleach (CD 25662) and on bass with Soundgarden on Telephantasm (CD 32002-32003), but his work in the military is much more impressive.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Improving Your Band's Web Site

Jessica Hopper's "Ask Fan Landers" column on the Dallas Observer blogs addresses a useful topic:

Here's What's Wrong With Your Band's Web Site

These days, having a Facebook or Bandcamp page is important but not enough, and if you're going to build a web site, you should do it right.

Hopper addresses two aspects. The first is web design, and the library has plenty of books on that subject. Designing Web Usability by Jakob Nielsen (TK5105.888 .N56 2000) is a classic work in that field. While some of the specific advice may be a bit dated, the underlying principles are still dead on.

The other angle Hopper deals with is how to use your band web site as part of your larger publicity strategy. The library can also help you on that front with books on public relations generally and music publicity more specifically.