Viewpoint

Singing It—Generations in Jazz

Jen Shyu, Fay Victor and Sheila Jordan

What a jazz singer does with a melody is every bit as compositional as an improvised instrumental solo, and not only when those singers are scat singing. Over the course of the next three weeks, three extraordinary jazz vocalists who come from three very different backgrounds and span three generations—Sheila Jordan, Fay Victor, and Jen Shyu—will tell the story of why they sing, what they sing, and perhaps most importantly, why they sing what they sing.

Musings on the Media

tv cameras

Composers and performers today look to the media (whatever they think that might be) as a conduit between their art and the general public. As digital media and social networks continue to evolve, both the proximity and the fixed boundaries between creators and the media have been affected.

In search of Musical Integration Between the United States and the Rest of the Americas

A photo of the street sign showing the intersection of Grand Street and Avenue of the Americas with a rusty plaque of the USA on top

Today, across South America, one finds dozens of tourists from all over the world (including many from the United States) who wish to explore the richness of the region. But within the world of notated music, the situation is the opposite. In fact, we can no longer talk about Latin American as a single unit, given the lack of information that exists between its different countries.

En busca de una integración musical entre Estados Unidos y el resto de las Américas

A photo of the street sign showing the intersection of Grand Street and Avenue of the Americas with a rusty plaque of the USA on top

En cualquier lugar de Sudamérica uno se encuentra con decenas de turistas de todo el planeta (incluyendo muchos estadounidenses), que buscan explorar las riquezas de la zona. Ya está claro para ellos que no todo es selvas impenetrables, ni pequeños poblados de madera. Pero en el medio de la música de tradición escrita, también debemos hablar a la inversa. Incluso no podemos hablar de Latinoamérica como una entidad unitaria, ya que existe desinformación entre lo que hace un país y otro.

Digital to Analog: Plug and Play

Advertisement ca. 1899 (via the Library of Congress).

It is the history of music, forever communicating—what, exactly? But forever communicating, nonetheless, even as the message gets hopelessly lost in the translation to music. And it’s not a bug; it’s a feature.

“This is My Design”

Hannibal-Harpsichord

Composers need to control their materials and, to an extent, their musicians. This is true for the murderer Gesualdo and the gentle John Cage, more so for the latter. Most composers are autocrats; Cage was totalitarian. And autocracy and totalitarianism, in their view of and relationship to human beings, are the political equivalents of malevolent psychopathology.

Thank You For Your Reply

Area blocked off by masking tape with the words "Polite Line"

Music people, in general, have always seemed to possess a higher level of character and integrity in pursuit of a particular calling. But it seems that now, even in the new music world where we are all essentially in the same boat, so-called professional courtesy is no longer a given.

The Know-Nothings of Jazz

photo of woman covering eyes, ears and mouth

Institutionalized jazz is safe, museum-piece jazz, but the music still happens in basements and lofts and living room performance spaces. These are the alternative venues and institutions for a music that, by definition, is outsider music, counter-culture music.

The Dangers of Secondhand Music

SecondHandMusic

There’s a lot of blame to spread around for our music appreciation downgrade, but I think there’s a single phenomenon that’s working harder than all the others: the constant bombardment of music functioning as an aspect of an environment.

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