Analysis

The Beaten Path: A History Of American Percussion Music

Nicole V. Gagné In the concert halls of 18th and 19th century Europe, percussion was traditionally regarded as being almost exclusively a secondary aspect of orchestral music—and one best employed with caution. Ironically, this European attitude toward percussion was summed up by an American composer noted for his nationalism. In What To Listen For In […]

No Common Practice: The New Common Practice and its Historical Antecedents

Benjamin PiekutPhoto by Megan Wolf When I initially spoke with friends and colleagues about the notion of a new “common practice,” I became aware that the concept is not nearly as widely-recognized as I had initially thought. Is it a set of performance techniques? Is it neo-romantic symphonic music? Or could it be defined as […]

Polyphonic Lives: Composers Working Behind the Scenes in the Music Industry

Jed Distler multitaskingPhoto by Randy Nordschow The great lyricist Johnny Mercer liked to tell the story of how his wife Ginger struck up a conversation with a stranger. Asked what her husband did, Ginger replied that he wrote songs. The stranger replied, “Yes, but what does he do for a living?” Many composers, in fact, […]

Making Marx in the Music: A HyperHistory of New Music and Politics

No one can doubt that music has a big role to play in the world of political protest. The controversial musicians we read about in the papers, though, are mostly from the pop and folk genres. It’s not only that those musicians are more visible, though that’s certainly true as well. Classical music and jazz seem to have a more long-term, measured, even sublimated approach to political protest, slower to react and more deeply embedded in the structure of the music itself.

Declaration of Independents: A HyperHistory of Independent Jazz Labels

David Adler and a few CDsPhoto by Dr. Jennifer M. Good I’m in a Manhattan hair salon, waiting for my turn under the scissors. A DJ on WBLS-FM comments breathlessly on the signing of Patti LaBelle to Def Jam Records. “That’s huge, for both of them!” she exclaims. Why? Because LaBelle remains one of the […]