When it comes to classical music and American culture, the fat lady hasn’t just sung. Brünnhilde has packed her bags and moved to Boca Raton.
Classical music has been circling the drain for years, of course. There’s little doubt as to the causes: the fingernail grip of old music in a culture that venerates the new; new classical music that, in the words of Kingsley Amis, has about as much chance of public acceptance as pedophilia; formats like opera that are extraordinarily expensive to stage; and an audience that remains overwhelmingly old and white in an America that’s increasingly neither. Don’t forget the attacks on arts education, the Internet-driven democratization of cultural opinion, and the classical trappings—fancy clothes, incomprehensible program notes, an omerta-caliber code of audience silence—that never sit quite right in the homeland of popular culture.
The holiday season typically provides a much-needed transfusion. But the most recent holidays came after an autumn that The New Yorker called the art form’s “most significant crisis” since the Great Recession. Looking at the trend lines, it’s hard to hear anything other than a
Posted February 14 2016 — 6:10 PM EST
The biggest night in music is just one night away, and the 58th annual Grammy Awards will air live on Monday.
Taylor Swift, who’s nominated for seven Grammys this year, is set to open the show, and Kendrick Lamar, who leads with 11 nominations, and The Weeknd, who also has seven noms, will also perform.
Rihanna will take the stage for the first time since the release of her new album Anti, and Adele (whose new album 25 wasn’t eligible this year) is also set to perform. The rock supergroup The Hollywood Vampires (including Alice Cooper, Johnny Depp, and Joe Perry) will make their live TV debut, as will the cast of the Broadway show Hamilton, who will broadcast their opening number live from the Richard Rodgers Theatre in New York.
Jackson Browne will join The Eagles in a tribute to their late band member Glenn Frey, and Lady Gaga will honor David Bowie with a performance. Chris Stapleton, Gary Clark Jr., and Bonnie Raitt will also unite to pay tribute to B.B. King.
- Alabama Shakes
- Joey Alexander
- James Bay and Tori Kelly
- Justin Bieber and Jack Ü (Diplo and
Between soccer and scouts, your school-age kid’s schedule is loaded with fun activities. If you’re on the fence about adding music classes to the list, take note of the benefits that come with signing your little one up for violin or piano lessons. Maybe she won’t be the next Beethoven, but she may have an easier time learning math, practicing good manners (including patience!), and becoming a team player. Read on to learn more about the benefits of music education.
It improves academic skills.
Music and math are highly intertwined. By understanding beat, rhythm, and scales, children are learning how to divide, create fractions, and recognize patterns. It seems that music wires a child’s brain to help him better understand other areas of math, says Lynn Kleiner, founder of Music Rhapsody in Redondo Beach, CA. As kids get older, they’ll start reciting songs, calling on their short-term memory and eventually their long-term memory. Using a mnemonic device to do this is a method that can later be applied to other memory skills, says Mary Larew, Suzuki violin teacher at the Neighborhood Music School in New Haven, Connecticut. Musical instrument classes also introduce young children to basic
It’s close to 5 o’clock on a late afternoon in January when Mike Tetreault, a tall, lanky redhead, turns off Massachusetts Avenue and enters Symphony Hall through a side door. He checks in with the security guard and then heads for the basement, wrestling with more than 150 pounds of gear (mallets, snare drums, tambourines) in a backpack and a roller bag. The rest of the instruments he’ll need tonight will be supplied by the Boston Symphony Orchestra. He’s an hour and a half early.
The basement of Symphony Hall is nothing like the velvety opulence upstairs. It’s cold down here, with concrete walls and harsh fluorescent lights. As Tetreault signs in at a table and waits to get into a practice room, he notices the oversize instrument travel cases that are strewn everywhere, ready to safeguard harps and timpani during symphony tours. Tetreault, a Colorado-based percussionist, has already survived a nerve-wracking round of cuts to get this opportunity tonight to audition for one of two openings at the world-renowned BSO. He reads the list of the other contenders and is pleased to see a bunch of names he doesn’t know. Younger, he reassures himself. Less experienced.
Howard Needham is standing in a room deep in the bowels of Catholic University’s Ward Hall, listening to Samantha Cody play violin.
“The wolf notes are gone,” he says to Emil Chudnovsky, a CU music professor and violin soloist hovering nearby.
Chudnovsky cocks an ear, listening for the undesirable overtones, and looks skeptical. “I think the post is tight,” he says.
“I loosened it already,” responds an irritated Needham, shaking his head. “I loosened it a lot.” Still, he gestures to Cody to hand over the fiddle. Using a worn brass tool that he slides inside one of the curving f-holes cut into the violin’s top plate, Needham makes a small adjustment, then passes the instrument back to Cody.
She raises it to her chin and resumes playing. The two men look at each other and nod simultaneously. The sound is better.
This is a meeting with several motives. Cody, a 16-year-oldChevy Chase resident and one of Chudnovsky’s star students, is about to play in a string competition; to best her rivals, she’s playing Chudnovsky’s own violin, which has a much more powerful sound than her own.
Needham, a Maryland-based violin maker,
In 2000, a Stanford Ph.D. named Avery Wang co-founded, with a couple of business-school graduates, a tech start-up called Shazam. Their idea was to develop a service that could identify any song within a few seconds, using only a cellphone, even in a crowded bar or coffee shop.
At first, Wang, who had studied audio analysis and was responsible for building the software, feared it might be an impossible task. No technology existed that could distinguish music from background noise, and cataloging songs note for note would require authorization from the labels. But then he made a breakthrough: rather than trying to capture whole songs, he built an algorithm that would create a unique acoustic fingerprint for each track. The trick, he discovered, was to turn a song into a piece of data.
Shazam became available in 2002. (In the days before smartphones, users would dial a number, play the song through their phones, and then wait for Shazam to send a text with the title and artist.) Since then, it has been downloaded more than 500 million times and used to identify some 30 million songs, making it one of the most popular apps in
For the last few years, the prevailing theme in the recorded music business has been that CD and download sales were plunging while streaming has shot up quickly, as listening habits shift online.
That theme largely continued in 2015, with one big exception: Adele.
Last year, 241.4 million albums were sold in the United States, down 6 percent from 2014, according to data released on Tuesday by Nielsen. CDs, once the music industry’s most powerful profit engine, declined to just 125.6 million units last year, a decline of 11 percent from 2014 and 82 percent from their peak in 2001. Nielsen tracks the number of units sold, but not their sales revenue.
Downloads of complete albums last year dropped 3 percent to 103.3 million, and downloads of individual songs fell 12.5 percent to 964.8 million, dipping below one billion for the first time since 2007.
At the same time, streaming activity nearly doubled in 2015. On-demand audio and video streams on outlets like Spotify, YouTube and Apple Music — which, unlike radio
In early 1984, when Epic Records executives presented their slate of upcoming releases at the CBS Records convention in Hawaii, they couldn’t resist playing up the success they were already having. So between the pitches for new albums, Epic inserted stock footage of semi trucks and a voice-over that thunderously announced, “There goes another load of Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ albums!”
Trucks weren’t really leaving the warehouse every few minutes, but “Thriller” was still shattering expectations more than a year after its Nov. 30, 1982, release. Epic was selling more than 1 million copies per month in the United States alone.
Nearly 27 years after its release, “Thriller” still stands as the best-selling studio album in the United States, according to the RIAA, which has certified it 28-times platinum. More than 50 million copies have been sold internationally, according to estimates.
But the album’s success can’t be measured by sales alone. As Jackson moonwalked his way into music history, “Thriller” set a new benchmark for blockbusters that changed how the music business promoted and marketed superstar releases. It also changed MTV, breaking down the cable network’s racial barriers and raising the bar for video quality.
From the beginning, Epic intended to
On a mild Monday afternoon in mid-January, Ester Dean, a songwriter and vocalist, arrived at Roc the Mic Studios, on West Twenty-seventh Street in Manhattan, for the first of five days of songwriting sessions. Her engineer, Aubry Delaine, whom she calls Big Juice, accompanied her. Dean picked up an iced coffee at a Starbucks on Seventh Avenue, took the elevator up to Roc the Mic, and passed through a lounge that had a pool table covered in taupe-colored felt. Two sets of soundproofed doors led to the control room, a windowless cockpit that might have been the flight deck of a spaceship.
Tor Hermansen and Mikkel Eriksen, the team of Norwegian writer-producers professionally known as Stargate, were waiting there for Dean. Both are tall and skinny ectomorphs with pale shaved heads who would not look out of place in a “Matrix” movie. Dean, who is black, is neither skinny nor tall; she reached up to give them big hugs, which is how she greets almost everyone. They chatted for a while. Dean has a comical, Betty Boop-ish speaking voice, which will be featured in the upcoming animated film “Ice Age: Continental Drift.” (Sid, the giant ground sloth
Concord Bicycle Music continues its roll-up of indie labels with two more acquisitions, buying the HighTone record label catalog and the recorded music assets of Bandit Records, the late George Jones’ label imprint. Terms of the deals were not disclosed.
The catalog of HighTone, founded in 1983 by Bruce Bromberg and Larry Sloven, includes Americana and various other roots music from such artists as Rosie Flores, Dick Dale, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Dale Watson, Joe Lewis Walker, Tom Russell, Buddy Miller, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Joe Ely, Dave Alvin, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown and Robert Cray. The catalog had been sold to Shout! Factory, which in turn was the seller in this current deal.
R.E.M. Taps Concord Bicycle to Handle Group’s Warner Bros. Catalog: Exclusive
Meanwhile, the Bandit Records catalog, obtained from Jones’ widow Nancy, includes about 140 songs from the late country artist, including such albums as The Rock, The Gospel Collection, Kickin’ Out The Footlights Again and Hits I Missed…And One I Didn’t. It also included an unreleased Jones duet collection featuring such artists as Leon Russell, Vince Gill, Keith Richards, Ricky Skaggs and Mark Knopfler.
“HighTone, and Bandit, represent an important niche in the American independent music culture and fits
Hemingway had rock-star status (and even impersonators). Steinbeck was Springsteen. Salinger was Kurt Cobain. Dorothy Parker was Courtney Love. James Jones was David Crosby. Mailer was Eminem. This is to say — and I understand how hard this is to appreciate — that novelists were iconic for much of the first half of the last century. They set the cultural agenda. They made lots of money. They lived large (and self-medicated). They were the generational voice. For a long time, anybody with any creative ambition wanted to write the Great American Novel.
But starting in the fifties, and then gaining incredible force in the sixties, rock-and-roll performers eclipsed authors as cultural stars. Rock and roll took over fiction’s job as the chronicler and romanticizer of American life (that rock and roll became much bigger than fiction relates, I’d argue, more to scalability and distribution than to relative influence), and the music business replaced the book business as the engine of popularculture.
Now, though, another reversal, of similar commercial and metaphysical magnitude, is taking place. Not, of course, that the book business is becoming rock and roll, but that the music industry is becoming, in size
Arcade Fire and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band have announced a David Bowie memorial parade. “Pretty Things: A Second Line for Bowie” will take place in New Orleans on Saturday, January 16th.
A Facebook event page was launched for the event, and it details the parade’s route, which begins at 4 p.m local time and instructs attendees to wear their “best Bowie outfit or something more strange.” The page also includes an appropriate quote from Bowie: “The truth is of course that there is no journey. We are arriving and departing all at the same time.”
One of Bowie’s final live performances was with Arcade Fire back in September 2005. At the time, the band was just beginning to break, having released their debut album Funeral earlier that year. Bowie and Arcade Fire performed the late rock star’s “Five Years” and the then-burgeoning band’s “Wake Up” together at a Fashion Rocks concert at New York’s Radio City Music Hall. A week later, he joined the band at their Central Park performance.
Prior to the performances, Bowie raved about the band to Rolling Stone. “There’s a certain uninhibited passion in the Arcade
After a five-month ceasefire in the Drake vs. Meek Mill beef, the latter rekindled his feud with Drake Saturday with the arrival of Mill’s surprise new EP 4/4, featuring a cut aimed directly at the Toronto rapper. The two previously traded diss tracks, onstage barbs and backhanded tweets in the summer of 2015, with Mill firing “Wanna Know” and Drake unleashing “Charged Up” and “Back to Back.”
Mill reignites the feud on the 4/4 track “I’m Da Plug Freestyle,” first by stepping on Drake and Future’s own What a Time to Be Alive cut “Jumpman,” which also served as the basis for Kanye West’s Nike-blasting track “Facts.” “Jumpman, Jumpman, Jumpman / Ain’t nobody tell ’em this ain’t what they want, man / You ain’t really write it, I’m like ‘who’s your stuntman?,'” Mill raps, once again calling into the question whether Drake uses a ghostwriter, which sparked the beef in the first place.
Later on the freestyle, Mill references Drake’s “Started From the Bottom” and also circles back at one of the more biting lines from Drake’s “Back to Back,” “Is that your world tour, or your girl’s tour?,” a knock that the Philadelphia rapper was the opening act for his girlfriend, Nicki Minaj.
Clarence Reid, the R&B singer who moonlighted as the innovative, masked and explicit rapper Blowfly, passed away Sunday. He was 76. Reid’s death comes just days after it was revealed that he was admitted into a South Florida hospice care facility as he suffered from terminal liver cancer and multiple organ failure. A spokesperson for Reid confirmed the singer’s death to Rolling Stone.
“Clarence Reid, the genius known both by his given name and as Blowfly, the Master of Class, passed peacefully today, January 17th, in his hospice room,” Reid’s longtime collaborator and drummer “Uncle” Tom Bowker wrote on Facebook. “His sister Virginia and I thank you for all the love you have shown this week. We also thank you for supporting Clarence’s 50+ year music career – especially these last few years. We love you and will keep you informed on services and tribute performances in Clarence’s honor.”
Artists like Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Flea, Ice-T, Flying Lotus, DJ Quik, Pete Rock, Run the Jewels’ El-P and many more have turned to social media to pay tribute to the one-of-a-kind artist who had an unforgettable impact on many in the soul and hip-hop community. “I had the