Thursday, February 27, 2014

We Want Another One Just Like the Other One

If you find a book or an article that's really helpful and on-target for you research, how do you find more things like it?

In both our catalog and our databases, look at the links for the subject terms. Here's an example from our catalog.

In addition to strict subject linking, some of our databases have functions relying on keywords and relevancy ranking that may provide useful results. When you've found a good article, look around the edges of the page for things like "Find Similar Results" or "See similar documents." The results are only as good as their relevancy ranking, so what you get may or may not be on target for your interests, and not every database has this feature. But it could do some of the heavy lifting for you in rounding up research materials.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

New Yorker Complete Archive, 1925-2006

The library has the complete archive of the New Yorker from 1925 to April 2006. It is available on the research computer in the library reading room. Just click on the icon to see the table of contents listing or to search. You'll then be prompted to insert the correct DVD-ROM, which you can check out from the circulation desk in the main library.

The pages are PDFs, so you'll see every cartoon and advertisement, not just the text. You can print to the attached printer, or use the print function to save as a PDF to take with you on a flash drive.

We have more recent issues available full-text in several databases (search our journal list for details), but only the articles are indexed, so you won't get the other images.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Berklee Students, What's the Worst Song of All Time?

NPR's All Songs Considered took up the topic of the worst songs of all time. Rather than merely bludgeoning listeners with painful examples, they got analytical about what makes a song terrible. A key point was being subjected to excessive exposure; as a result, it was very generation-specific. All the hosts of the podcast were old enough to have endured "We Built This City" by Starship (available on CD 10258) back in its heyday. I'm old enough to not only hate Journey but to be bewildered that I still need to hate Journey in 2014.

No one on the show represented a younger generation. So my question to you, Berklee students, most of whom were born in the '90s and have listened to lots of musc, what's the worst song of all time that you've had to suffer through? Chime in with your opinions in the comments section. (The comments section is open to all, but we're particularly curious about this age group.)

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Know Your Bugs Bunny Music

The Brattle Theatre in Harvard Square is hosting the Bugs Bunny Film Festival this week. Many of the Looney Tunes cartoons included musical references, and you can bone up on this with the library's help.

The All Bugs Revue includes the classic "What's Opera, Doc," which uses Wagner's operas as its basis, and has been analyzed in this article:

Jaszoltowski, Saskia. "Warum Wagner? Musikalische Grenzüberschreitungen in (Zeichentrick-)Filmen." Archiv für Musikwissenschaft 69.2 (2012): 154-64.

Now you may be thinking you don't need to know German to enjoy Wagner, but its hard to read a German article without being fluent in the language. Fortunately, our databases can help you out. This article is in the International Index to Music Periodicals Full Text, on of our many databases that includes a translation function. The computer-generated translation is choppy compared to what a knowledgeable human would do, but it's good enough to understand the author's intent.

The All Bugs Revue also has an example of a gag that was repeated in several of the Looney Tunes cartoons, where a character hooks up dynamite to a piano key and presents a foe with sheet music with that particularly note. The song is always "Those Endearing Young Charms." Whether you want to find out what the song sounds like without the ensuing explosion or want to stage your own similar gag (and the library takes no responsibility for your criminal actions), we have the score for the traditional Irish song, whose complete title is "Believe Me, If All Those Endearing Young Charms." As one example, it is in The Big Book of Irish Songs (MP1744 .B54 2003)

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Anti-Valentine's Day Playlist

Whether you're single or simply not prone to sappy sentimentality, Valentine's Day may not be a cause for celebration.

 If you're looking for song suggestions to go along with your less-than-romantic mood, take a look at Touch Me, I'm Sick: The 52 Creepiest Love Songs You've Ever Heard by Tom Reynolds (ML65 .R653 T68 2006). Reynolds covers both big hits and deep cuts, organized by themes. Examples include stalker songs such as "Every Breath You Take" by the Police and "Run for Your Life" by the Beatles as well as songs about incest, necrophilia, outright bitterness, etc. Each song includes a discussion of the track and why it's creepy.

Ironically, although the author acknowledges that he took the book's title from the Mudhoney song, that piece didn't make the list. If you want to hear it, you'll find it in on Superfuzz Bigmuff (Annex CD Box 17)

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Fred Armisen Brings Along Indie Rockers for Seth Meyers Gig

News broke yesterday that Fred Armisen had been named to lead the house band as Seth Meyers takes over on NBC's Late Night. While Armisen is best know for his comedy work on Saturday Night Live and Portlandia, he does possess musical skills as a drummer and guitarist, most notably with '80s punk band Trenchmouth. He's combined his comedy and musical skills with the creation of the pro- Margaret Thatcher punk rocker character Ian Rubbish and performing TLC's "Waterfalls" with Dinosaur Jr's J Mascis at the Berklee Performance Center last year. So he clearly brings a useful array of talent to the gig.

Seth Meyers/Twitter

What is more surprising is who is rounding out the band Armisen has assembled, some pedigreed indie rockers who are unexpected choices for a late night talk show house band. Armisen has tapped Les Savy Fav's guitarist Seth Jabour and bassist Syd Butler and Girls Against Boys keyboardist Eli Janney. Armisen played drums on Les Savy Fav's 2007 album Let's Stay Friends (Annex Box 3). Girls Against Boys made a minor splash in the mid '90s for combining the disjointed angularity of post-punk pioneers the Fall with pinup looks. Although Janney wasn't part of the GVSB line-up then, you can hear the band in our collection on Venus Luxure No. 1 Baby (CD 19815).

Drummer Kim Thompson rounds out the Late Night band.

The line-up is an unexpected choice, but people said the same thing when the Roots got the job with Jimmy Fallon, and that has resulted in many memorable musical moments.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Beatlemania Hits America

It was 50 years ago, February 7, 1964, when the Beatles first arrived in America. Two days later they turned the country upside down with their first U.S. television appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show.

Revisit the excitement they caused with library resources:
  • The Beatles: The First U.S. Visit (DVD 1649)
  • The Ed Sullivan Show Featuring the Beatles and Various Other Artists (DVD 1856-1857)
  • The Very Best of the Ed Sullivan Show. Vol. 1. Unforgettable Performances (DVD 1195)
  • "'Ladies and Gentlemen ...': The Beatles: The Ed Sullivan Show, CBS TV, February 9, 1964" an article by Laurel Sercombe in Performance and Popular Music: History, Place and Time (ML3470 .P45 2005)
  • We have more than a shelf full of books on Beatles history at ML421.B42. Larry Kane's Ticket to Ride: Inside the Beatles' 1964 & 1965 Tours that Changed the World (ML421.B42 K36 2004) focuses on those specific events.
  • "Hiram's Report," p. 21-23 in the "Talk of the Town" column  in The New Yorker, February 22, 1964 discusses the events. It is available for in-library use only on the computer by the reference desk in the reading room. Get the DVD-ROM with that issue, AP2 .N676 2005 DVD-ROM 5, at the desk in the main library.
  • For more primary source material written at the time, use the publication year of 1964 when searching our article databases. You'll get not only the cover story from the Saturday Evening Post, "Building the Beatles Image" by Vance Packard (p. 36), you'll also get the variety or responses in the follow-up "Letters to the Editor" on April 11, 1964 (p. 5-6), both available via Academic Search Premier. Said one writer, "The space wasted in printing a Beatle article plus the unsightly picture of this shaggy foursome on the March 21 cover make me wonder if the editors have taken leave of their senses."

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Remembering Philip Seymour Hoffman as Lester Bangs

With the untimely passing of Philip Seymour Hoffman, veteran music journalist Jaan Uhelszki recalled how uncannily the actor captured her friend and former coworker Lester Bangs, the legendary rock critic. She wrote a piece for Spin about her recollections. Hoffman played Bangs in Almost Famous, but the resemblance carried over to his off-screen activities.

Remembering Philip Seymour Hoffman, Lester Bangs, and 'Almost Famous,' by Jaan Uhelszki

See Hoffman's performance in Almost Famous (DVD 400). To get more of a feel for the character he played, see our materials by Bangs and Jim DeRogatis's book about him, Let it Blurt: The Life and Times of Lester Bangs, America's Greatest Rock Critic (ML243.B245 D47 2000).