Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

We Recommend: Cajun and zydeco CDs and LPs

Cajun music, and its cousin, zydeco, are musical forms that originated in south Louisiana.  Cajun music ranges from small to large ensembles, from folk to pop, country and rock styles, and is available to hear in the Monroe Library, on CD and LP.  Cajun is usually sung in a local form of French and played on violin, small accordion, guitar, bass, and drums.  Zydeco can be in French or English and features large accordions, electric guitar and bass, rubboard, and sometimes saxophone and trumpet.  There’s a large original group of songs, like the Valse de Bayou Teche and the Eunice two step, with some English pop, rock and country tunes.  We have recordings by giants like Clifton Chenier, BeauSoleil, the Balfa Brothers, and Amedé Ardoin.  We have CD and vinyl recordings; click here to do a catalog search.

We Recommend: The Carter Family

Will you miss me when I’m gone? : the Carter Family and their legacy in American music by Mark Zwonitzer

The Bristol Sessions, Country Music Foundation Records

Anyone who loves bluegrass, country, Southern gospel and the like will surely be familiar with “The First Family in Country Music.” Mark Zwonitzer’s Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone is a lovely biography of musical pioneers the Carter Family that delves into the history of a family and the culture that shaped them. Be sure to supplement your reading with some ear candy via The Bristol Sessions,  a collection of 1927 recording sessions in Bristol, TN of some of country music’s (then unknown) pioneers.

Elizabeth Kelly, Digital Initiatives Librarian

New volume: Johannes Brahms Gesamtausgabe

The Monroe Library is proud to add a new volume of the Johannes Brahms Gesamtausgabe (Complete works of Johannes Brahms), edited by our own Dr. Valerie Goertzen, Associate Professor of Music History. Dr. Goertzen’s volume covers Brahms’ arrangements for piano, four hands, and two pianos of works by other composers.

Being asked to edit a critical edition/complete works volume for a major composer is a coup among scholars in the field. Even beyond the prestige, it is truly a labor of love, with the work taking place over several years. Sixty five volumes are planned and 18 have been published. The Monroe Library is thrilled that our volume has arrived and is available for our students and faculty to use.

Congratulations, Dr. Goertzen!

WE RECOMMEND: Music for 18 Musicians by Steve Reich

Reich, Steve. Music for 18 Musicians. LP. ECM, 1978.

Music for 18 Musicians

Music for 18 Musicians

When minimalism (as a style) gets a bad rap, it’s usually for pretentiousness (or perhaps “difficulty” – though it could be argued that the one is a tributary of the other). And while it’s understandable that casual listeners might be flummoxed by the subconscious tone poems of Phill Niblock or – to use the most famous example – Cage’s 4’33, it’s also true that when harnessed properly there is a great deal of beauty available in repetition, silence, and stasis.

Steve Reich went to Africa in the early 70s to study percussion and returned to compose two of his most notable works – 1971′s Drumming and 1976′s Music for 18 Musicians. While Drumming is a clear take on his Ghanan studies, Music for 18 Musicians is a masterwork. Simultaneously propulsive and ethereal, comprised of an ensemble with strings, mallets, pianos, woodwinds, and vocalists performing without a conductor, 18 Musicians is easily one of the most accessible pieces of work to emerge from the 20th Century avant garde.

Though not the first minimalist composition – that honor usually goes to Terry Riley’s In C – and perhaps not as gorgeous as Reich’s own Six Marimbas – a 1986 rearrangement of his earlier work Six PianosMusic for 18 Musicians is nevertheless a seminal piece and one of the best entry points into the often esoteric world of 20th Century composition.

The opening sections of Music for 18 Musicians may be heard at Steve Reich’s website.

Note: This post references the LP version released on ECM in 1978. There are other versions available, including a 1997 recording on Nonesuch, in the library’s collection. The differences are, to me, mostly matters of taste – the ECM recording blurs the players into a murkier ensemble performance while the Nonesuch version has more distinct individual performances.

Phil Rollins, Learning Technologies Developer.