Thursday, March 30, 2006

College radio or shall I say, pure student radio

News story from today's issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education:

Turning Campus Radio on Its Head
Podcasts and Web streaming widen college radio's reach, but some stations worry about becoming too mainstream

Brock Read profiles the world of college student radio, where independent music still lives and wackiness usually ensues. He writes about the new technological developments of podcasting and streaming which have help spread its programming far away from the campus from which it originated. Interaction now happens at a scary pace, especially with our AOL Instant Messenger window. Imagine a window popping up on the computer screen saying, "You guys suck" five seconds before you have to go on-air. I developed a pretty tough skin very quickly. And no, I'm not going to play Nick Drake for you again. LOL.

Student radio...ah, good times. I remember the two years I had on air at WIUS with my roots show, The Kitchen Party.
I found volunteering at the station to be a good overall experience. We were required to be on one committee, which only took up an hour or two a week in addition to prepping and hosting my show. Most of the time I spent on the Production Committee where we wrote, voiced, recorded, and edited public service announcements, imaginary commercials, and some underwriting credits. It was fun, because I got to use my creativity and write what a college student might find entertaining. Sometimes it was long-form, sometimes pithy. These announcements were usually written for particular voices on the committee in mind. People wrote for me when they had a public radio voice in mind--it's close and untrained, but that's the cadences and tone I've picked up most. We had some funny people writing and voicing those announcements: some natural comedians and others that needed to come out of their shell a bit more.

One semester I volunteered for the Engineering Committee. It was a valuable experience. I learned a lot about gear: mixing boards, cables, microphones, and fixing stuff. I had nightmares about industrial arts class when I was told we'd be soldering cable at one of our meetings (cable to RCA connectors). Most of the volunteers were in the Audio program at IU, but our committee head was gracious and helpful enough to teach me about radio and equipment.

Being on-air gave me experience about being "natural" on-air. You learn how to think on your feet (or on your seat, in most cases). You also learn about the pressures of time and the clock. We were required to play announcements and give a weather reading at certain points of an hour. According to Wikipedia, a format clock is "a diagram produced by a programme director or a producer to illustrate where each programming element appears in a typical hour." Our clock was pretty loose. We were required to play one promo around 20 minutes, one underwriting credit about 30 minutes, and weather on the 40. This was not absolute, but I tried to stick to the requirements as much as I could. You had to remember to play these from another computer which was tied into the board.

The first year I broadcast I structured my shows very tight. Since I was only one of two folk DJs, I had to make sure that product was coming into the station for me to play. I had to review CDs, do cold-call e-mails to artists and labels, and report back what I played (or at least put my playlists on the FOLK-DJ listserve).

Volunteering for WIUS was quite different from my work at WETA and WFIU. At the public radio stations I was a staff member, and it was almost all behind-the-scenes. I had assigned duties and I stuck to them, while being occassionally asked to voice something special. I like being behind-the-scenes: whether it's cataloging, acquiring new CDs, or researching for producers or announcers; but it really drove home to me that these tasks have to be for the benefit of the people who are on-air. Radio stations are not libraries. Yes, they should be paying attention to their historical archival material, but often they are no-frills operations.

Filed under:

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Public radio websites: One site to rule them all?

A not-so-recent commentary (Feb. 21, 2005) by Mark Fuerst in the public broadcasting newsletter, Current talks about the failings of public stations to create appealing websites in an economic manner. If a goal of the system was to create a website for each one of the 500 public stations, they've very nearly succeeded: only a few rural stations lack one, he states. What is being wasted is the opportunity for true collaboration between public radio stations and their major content provider, NPR. His answer is to look at people who are doing this well. His model is Major League Baseball's website. They provide a portal/co-branding solution through their common interface and integrated back-end system. He outlined what is needed to be considered in creation of a multi-station integrated platform:

1) A clear articulated vision of online service.
2) Consistent traffic metrics
3) A "unified back-end solution"
4) CPB's leadership.

This will not be easy. NPR is not the only game in town. There are independent producers, stations which syndicate independently of NPR, other distributors like PRI and American Public Media, as well as international ones. There are also many stations that are not part of the traditional public broadcasting community--i.e. NPR affiliates--that are essentially community broadcasters. Many of these take some network programming, but serve their communities in a non-profit function. Many questions: Will they be invited to the table? How will all these parties play together?

If NPR won't (or isn't allowed to) produce for all stations, who will do it? (I was going to say "step up to the plate" to further the baseball metaphor, but I'll refrain). What system will they use? Probably something which incorporates Content Depot which is gaining more traction as a content management system for the public broadcasting community. How will PubCore and other digital asset management systems fit into all of this? And what about music with its rich and complex relationships between contents, carriers, participants (with many roles), mediums, forms and genres. Stay tuned, more to come.


Tuesday, March 28, 2006

New CLIR report on digitization of analog material

Capturing Analog Sound for Digital Preservation: Report of a Roundtable Discussion of Best Practices for Transferring Analog Discs and Tapes

Abstract (

"This report investigates procedures to reformat sound on analog carriers to digital media or files. It summarizes discussions and recommendations emerging from a meeting of leading audio preservation engineers held January 29–30, 2004, to assess the present state of standards and best practices for capturing sound from analog discs and tapes.

This report is one of several studies that CLIR is undertaking on behalf of the Library of Congress and the National Recording Preservation Board."

There is an online executive summary.

It is available for download as a PDF or can be purchased through CLIR

The next report (the engineers' second meeting) on how to preserve files in the digital domain will be coming out shortly.

Great quote

I was amused and delighted to hear a comment by conductor Antal Dorati in a panel discussion from the early 1970s he did with three American composers. The question asked was: "How do you feel about the ever changing reproduction system" [for audio recordings]?

He replied:
I think as the systems of reproduction constantly get better, maybe we’ll arrive at the point where real people will make real music.

The Poetry is in the Pity

Last night my choir started rehearsal on Benjamin Britten’s opus magnum, his War Requiem. It is a work of grand scope utilizing a full-size symphonic chorus and orchestra, a chamber orchestra, organ, children’s chorus, soprano, tenor and bass soloists. We sightread the piece last night, woodshedding as we went along. I know from listening to it (and writing about it in a term paper in college) that it is a profound work; indeed, a meditation on the nature of war itself. English poet and World War I soldier Wilfred Owen wrote, “My subject is War, and the pity of War…the Poetry is in the Pity.” Britten interposes the traditional Latin text of the Mass for the Dead with the war poems of Owen.

Here are the first lines of the poems which Britten brought into the Requiem, followed by the title of the poems:

What passing bells for those who die as cattle? (Anthem for Doomed Youth)
Bugles sang, sadd’ning the evening air (Voices, The Next War, Sonnet On Seeing a Piece of Our Artillery Brought Into Action, and Futility)
So Abram rose, and clave the wood (The Parable of the Old Man and the Young)
After the blast of lightning from the East (The End)
One ever hangs where shilled roads part (At a Calvary Near the Ancre)
It seemed that out of battle I escaped (Strange Meeting)

Here’s a website I found which talks about the War Requiem.

It takes a space as large as a Cathedral to enter into the mysticism of the work. One of the reasons I sing with the Cathedral Choral Society, instead of Choral Arts or any one of the other fine symphonic choirs in town, is the chance to make music in this grand space. It’s not only that the space is grand, it’s that the Cathedral itself is a place to escape the noise of everyday life and enter into one’s thoughts. Maybe that’s a little too philosophical. The Cathedral itself acts as a musical instrument: its architecture resonates with certain types of music, especially that of choir, and organ (and surprisingly, bagpipes).

In the coming months, I’ll talk each Tuesday about our rehearsal process and the music that Britten wrote. I think that talking about the process of making music will underscore the value of the artifacts that audio archivists and music librarians aim to preserve and give access to.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Relaxing to a transistor radio

It's always nice to get away from the city on the weekend. Today a friend and I went to Front Royal. There are some wonderful antique shops in that town, as well as a great vintage store.

I was particularly impressed with this one which had all sorts of kitchenware, clothes, period telephones, and other curiosities. They had a lot of old photograph equipment, including old Polaroid cameras, an 8-mm film camera and projector. I indulged in a bit of nostalgia by picking up some old Great Muppet Caper glasses from the 80s. I also picked up a radio. Not a stereo system, not a satellite radio system, not a boom box...a portable GE AM/FM 15 transistor radio receiver from the 1970s.

Here's a picture:

It's got a strap on the top of it, so I can carry it into the garden and enjoy a good baseball game this summer. :-)

If you open the back, there's a mess of wires and transistors plus space for 4 double-A batteries. If you think hacking is a recent phenomenon, think again. Ham radio enthusiasts have been doing since the early part of the 20th century with their crystal sets, and then later with vacuum tubes. My next goal is to procure a shortwave set.

Current listening: "Traditions with Mary Cliff," WETA-FM 90.9 (broadcast)

The values of librarianship

Recently I made a comment about a Zits comic strip to a listserve that dealt with libraries:

What's even more frightening is the cartoon from 3/17 in which Jeremy said that he was busy doing research for a history paper due the next day. His mother muses "Ah, research! When I think of the hours I spent at the library when I was your age..." Jeremy then says "Done!," turns around and asks " went to a library?"

X number of messages go by on this listserve...some about how they don't use the library anymore, about how everything should be digitized and accessible over the Internet, others defending books and the printed word, etc. I didn't really have a point when I posted my comment, but it did get me thinking about why libraries are important and why I am annoyed by the idea that all you ever need to learn is on the Internet.

Tonight I replied to my colleagues:

My unwritten point was that libraries remain temples of information not necessarily because of the resources they offer, but the services they provide to a world in critical need of information navigators through the noise of the Internet. Why is the library still important? Consider these values of librarianship as taken from Shiyali Ramamrita Ranganathan's Five Laws of Library Science:

1) Books are for use.
2) Every reader his or her book.
3) Every book its reader.
4) Save the time of the reader.
5) The Library is a growing organism.

Substitute recordings or databases or Internet resources if you want for book, but these principles still hold up as valid goals for information providers. In 1995, future ALA president Michael Gorman articulated five new laws for the 21st century.
One of those was to "respect all forms by which knowledge was communicated," and another was to "honor the past and create the future."

To these ends those of us who are librarians (and I don't claim there is consensus) try to provide the most useful resource for a patron's information needs. Sometimes that will be a book, sometimes a video, sometimes a microfilm, sometimes an Internet database. All research builds on that which has been done in the past; and there is no evidence (save Google's testbed of five libraries) that it will economically viable to provide a world of digitized primary documents in the next decade (or two) to allow professional researchers to only use the Web for their research.

While I was in library school at Indiana, I met many students that were on fire from the idea of working with primary materials like rare books and manuscripts (as well as cylinders and 78s, photographs and nitrate film). I think that there will be those in every generation who value artifacts from the past and will want to preserve them. Part of preservation is keeping the memory of that object alive, along with its context, in the form of access through surrogate copies (microfilm, digitization, reprinting). Two of the greatest gifts scholars and librarians have given humanity are the bibliography and the catalog which document the existence of materials that would otherwise be forgotten. We are all in the business of preserving memory for ourselves, our children, our students, as well as future generations.

Ultimately I believe the two most valuable commodities a library can offer any community is its librarians and its buildings (some of the last free, public spaces where community members can gather without the pressure to consume.) I don't think the library is going anywhere. While some of the services it offers and the internal processes we practice must change, our goals remain and the backlog continues.
...Yadda yadda, these views are my own...

Happy weekend to all!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

CCS review online

The Washington Post review by Grace Jean for the Bach Consort/CCS concert is now online.

She begins by stating the obvious: "Rarely will you find a program that pairs Carl Orff's "Carmina Burana" with three of J.S. Bach's most popular cantatas." She goes on to say:
But on Tuesday evening, the Washington Bach Consort and the Cathedral Choral Society gave such riveting performances of the composers' works at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall that it was difficult to imagine any better combination.
This is what she said about the chorus:
The Cathedral Choral Society's 230 energetic voices, with the Children's Chorus of Washington, followed Lewis's every command in an exhilarating and cinematic "Carmina Burana." The driving rhythms, alternately earthy and clangorous, held steady at impressive expanses of volumes and relented only for a few key solos.
Not a lot of newspaper space for a review, but all of it was complimentary. I'm not sure other reviewers would have been so overly laudatory, but what came across (at least to me) from the performance is the incredible emotional energy that the orchestra, soloists, and choruses brought to the performance. It was a sell-out crowd--indeed, Carmina sells. We had both organizations' subscriber bases to draw upon, and performing outside of our main venue gets ourselves in more of a public eye.

And if you thought Carmina is a good piece, wait until you hear Benjamin Britten's War Requiem. The Cathedral Choral Society will be performing next on Sunday, May 21, 2006 at 4:00 p.m. at the Washington National Cathedral. I hope folks in the area can make it. You can order your tickets here. Our soloists include soprano Marina Shaguch, tenor Robin Leggate, and baritone Jochen Schmeckenbecher.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Recent NPR ombudsman piece

A recent piece by NPR Ombudsman Jeffrey Dvorkin reminded me of how the big East Coast media outlets patronize smaller markets and their news outlets. In this piece he criticizes NPR for "slamming the yokels." This is one of the worst aspects of the "East Coast mentality" that life solely revolves around Washington and New York (and to a lesser extent, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Boston). After returning to DC from library school, people were imminently curious about what life is like in the "great flyover." I may be from Pennsylvania, but I'm from western PA which is a lot closer in values with the Midwest than the East Coast. I'm glad Dvorkin wrote this piece. Hopefully it'll help remind NPR that they provide content for local stations, and are not the end-all-be-all of non-commercial media. He concludes by writing:

NPR does very solid reporting on national issues. But it doesn't have a monopoly on good journalism and David Greene's report seemed to imply that it does.
This plays out on a larger scale when you think of NPR and the bigger media conglomerates's efforts to disenfranchise low power FM stations. Along that line I recommend a local blog on Washington independent media, called DCIndymedia. Dave Hughes' DCRTV aggregated news on the local broadcasting scene is good too.

Tempus pro Carmina

Last night I performed Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana with the Cathedral Choral Society at the Kennedy Center. Overall I think we did a very good job. We had some interesting moments—you know, those sort of moments that only happen in live performance. Like where you are keeping one eye on your music and the other on the conductor, when suddenly the conductor wants to do something he’s never tried before. It does keep you on your toes, but after so many years of performing you learn to compensate. As I often say, no performance with Reilly is ever dull. We really did acquit ourselves admirably, as evidenced by a real standing ovation (not just the ordinary Washington variety).

Our group usually performs at the National Cathedral where we are the resident symphonic chorus. We were presented (along with the Washington Bach Consort) by the Washington Performing Arts Society. Our amazing soloists were soprano Elizabeth Futral, tenor/swan Robert Baker, and bass-baritone Stephen Powell. We had really good interaction with Baker, who has sung the tenor solo in Carmina with us many times over the last decade. (CCS performed Carmina twice with the Washington Ballet). The movement “In taberna” allowed the tenors and basses to do what they do best: ham it up! The swan was roasted, and the abbot was appropriately imbibed. More than that—and I think this is why it’s quickly becoming our signature piece—is that we own the music. After singing this piece three times with this group in the last decade, I definitely think this is the case

How can 200 singers do more than sing notes on a page? How can they tell a story and convey emotions, musical beauty and drama, and still sing in-tune, in-time, and in-style? Rehearsal, rehearsal, rehearsal. The older I get the more I admire volunteer musicians who give of their time and energies to artistic endeavors. We could be sitting on our couches watching reality shows or reading books, etc. But we choose to belong to a community of artists, and I can’t think of a better way to spend an evening. The late conductor Robert Shaw said that any time you make music is extra time God gives you to your life. It’s a good lesson to internalize as I learn music, because there is no greater gift than being able to give of yourself through art.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Folk music tonight

After finally going to see Transamerica tonight [EXCELLENT movie, Brokeback * 3, IMO], I retired home for an evening of folk music streams from my old standby, Jim Blum and his weekend folk show on WKSU (Kent, OH). The reason I call it my standby is that it is always consistently good. I've been listening since I was an undergraduate at the College of Wooster. Jim Blum has an engaging personality style, which is on the one hand, very professional; and on the other, very community-oriented and sounds very in-the-moment. His show features music, interviews, reports about the environment, and mentions of pets that need homes. He defines folk music very broadly, which I appreciate. It's also the philosophy I took when I hosted the Kitchen Party for two years on WIUS.

WKSU also produces Folk Alley, which is very good. Folk Alley is always on, so I like to listen to it at other times. The live show is really good for a weekend night, like this one. It's no secret that public radio listening played a major role in my music tastes or my dedication to broadcasting. I cannot imagine not having the soundscapes that public radio provides: Prairie Home Companion, This American Life, Performance Today, Thistle and Shamrock, and all the local programming from the places I've lived: Erie, Interlochen, Wooster, Bloomington, and D.C. There's something about driving around and having my favorite drive-time companion on. There are too many wonderful announcers to attempt a list of my favorites. But tonight's post is a tribute to one who has been in my life since 1993. Keep up the good work Jim!

Blum played a couple of excerpts from an exceptional Canadian bluegrass band, named The Bills (formerly known as the Bill Hilly Band). I played them on The Kitchen Party back in 2004. I found them while I was researching Canadian artists by surfing the Net.

On a recordings note, I recently purchased the most recent album "The Hard and the Easy" by the Newfoundland band, Great Big Sea. The cover art speaks for itself:

There are some great songs on this album, including The River Driver, the Mermaid, Captain Kidd, and Cod Liver Oil. It's nice to see redeem themselves after their last two albums which were basically folk-lite, "soft-rock" efforts. I hope they play the Birchmere soon.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Music librarians featured in the NYT

More on the Juilliard gift in the New York Times. (See previous post). Lots of familiar names and a great media showing for some of this country's top music librarians, including:

- Jane Gottlieb, Juilliard Conservatory ("a diminutive Upper West Sider with a serious demeanor.")
- Don Krummel, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign ("Juilliard got in there ahead of time," he added. "Whoopee! Good for Jane.")
- J. Rigbie Turner, Morgan Library
- Jon Newsom, Library of Congress, Music Division (retired)

Juilliard does plan to hire a curator for the collection in 2009, after items have been processed and a special room has been built. Both scholars and librarians will be watching.

Meetings on archiving and access to media

There are lots of meetings about media, licensing, archiving of digital video content coming up. Thanks to for the heads-up.

1) Beyond Broadcast: Reinventing Public Media in a Participatory Culture in Boston at the Berkman Center on May 12 & 13.

2) USC is hosting the Licensing Research Project on April 14, with National Video Resources (NVR). NVR is a group about which I need to learn more. They have been working with documentarians and the Center for Social Media on statements about fair use and have done a report on how DVDs are impacting independent media.

3) AlwaysOn is having its OnHollywood conference May 2-4 in L.A.

I'm sure there'll be more to come on the "long-tail" of content.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Washington group for bloggers

I just found a Meetup Group for DC bloggers. It seems like another neat tool for online social interaction, paired with real-time events. There are monthly meetings at Pharaoh's Rock and Blues in Columbia Heights. I hope this will be a fun way to network and meet new people in town.

The next event is Wednesday, March 15, 2006 at 7:00 p.m. It is United Weblogger Meetup Day. I can't go because of a previous commitment, but I hope to go soon.

Media thoughts: Runway, podcasts, and process

I like to think that I have a good balance in my life between watching and listening to popular media (movies, recordings, television, radio, webcasts) and more historical cultural artforms. By day I'm working with historic recordings primarily of classical music, and at other times I'm consuming some popular stuff, in addition to performing with a chorus, going to concerts and plays, and writing program notes for various arts organizations around town. One of my recent favorites has been Project Runway, a reality show on Bravo. It's become one of my favorite television shows, in fact it has been appointment viewing for me on Wednesday evenings--at least until last week which was the season finale.

Regular viewers often feel a void when a season or a series ends. I've felt it with some of the best shows: L.A. Law, The Cosby Show, Cheers, Family Ties, Seinfeld, and soon The West Wing. I'm sure television executives have wondered at the end of each season how they are going to sustain interest until the next season. Well, Bravo is using various tricks to sustain interest, such as blogs (more of Tim Gunn), and other weekly content. Why would they bother to do this? Primarily to keep interest high in these properties, I suspect. Why can't orchestras or theaters do this though? If the supply of concerts or shows is limited, then people will move on to something else after the season is done. Alex Ross, Drew McManus and Greg Sandow's blogs about how the way arts are presented need to change. I think so too.

One of the reasons that I think reality shows are so successful are that they are perceived to have more interactivity with the public than sitcoms or dramas. Letting viewers get involved through blogs, comments, and other activities encourages greater buy-in to your product. They want to "make it work" for you. In fact, the R&D for the new show Viral Videos (Bravo) is almost all user-driven. People can contribute their favorite clips, which are then edited to make a modern day America's Funniest Home Videos. The result comes out more like I Love the 80s than People Say the Darndest Things. Make no mistake though, these shows still reflect a producer's viewpoint.

Back to Runway...I love watching process. I enjoy watching and learning about how people do things I would never have thought of doing, be it fashion, hairstyling (Blowout), or directing a movie (Project Greenlight). And thanks to some of the programs on other networks, like the Food Network or the Learning Channel, I think the improvement shows in how I present myself or live my life. It was from watching the extra commentaries and behind-the-scenes features on the Lord of the Rings discs that probably inspired me to learn more about technology and how productions are created. And to be honest, it's made me more critical as a consumer of media. Much like a historian, I'm now constantly asking what aren't we seeing? Tim Gunn's podcasts have been a particular education on how fashion is made, marketed, and merchandised. I am particularly happy about how well Chloe and Daniel V. did this season in showing a remarkable maturity and professionalism that I like to think I bring to my own work.

Here's a book that I recommend anyone who is interested in media studies or popular culture read. It is by Fresh Air television commentator David Bianculli (pronounced Bee-in-Cooly).

Bianculli, David. Teleliteracy: Taking Television Seriously. New York: Touchstone Books, c1992. ISBN: 0671882384. 304 pp. Includes extensive bibliography.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Obsolete music in the news

There's a new piece in the Naples News about Dick Spottswood, the host of WAMU's Dick Spottswood Show. Subtitled the Obsolete Music Hour, Spottswood has been spinning discs since 1967. Though retired he continues to produce his show from Naples, Florida, and it airs on WAMU in Washington, DC and online at their website and at Bluegrass Country. I've met Mr. Spottswood a few times at folk festivals when he was still living in Washington, and he's a regular at ARSC conferences. Best of all, he's a librarian, as well as a radio host and closet ethnomusicologist. (Kip Lornell refers to him as a "reformed librarian." He's written or co-authored some of the field's most valuable discographies on country and ethnic music, including:

* Meade, Douglas S., with Dick Spottswood and Guthrie T. Meade, Jr. Country Music Sources: A Biblio-Discography of Commercially Recorded Traditional Music. Chapel Hill, NC: Southern Folklife Collection, University of North Carolina Press, c2002. 1002 pp. ISBN: 0807827231 (alk. paper). Includes foreword by Joseph C. Hickerson.

* Brooks, Tim. Blacks and the Birth of the Recording Industry, 1890-1919. Urbana, Ill.: University of Illinois Press, c2004. 634 pp. ISBN: 0252028503. Includes appendix of Caribbean and South American recordings by Dick Spottswood.

* Spottswood, Richard K. Ethnic music on records: a discography of ethnic recordings produced in the United States, 1893 to 1942. Urbana, Ill.: University of Illinois Press, c1990. 7 vol. ISBN: 0252017188 (set: alk. paper).

Here he is in his home in Naples:

You can hear his show on the air at WAMU-FM on Sunday afternoons from 1 to 3 pm (EST). (Yes, I am suggesting you listen by turning on your radio, if you're in the area; others can listen online). Also Bluegrass Country has some really cool premiums, including CDs of the blues and train songs; and a genre called "plum-pitiful songs." Great old stuff.

There's also an audio slideshow at the Naples site.

On another note, I've decided that I'll try to listen to baseball this year through the radio or by webcast (with the exception of the World Series) instead of watching on TV. There's something about listening to baseball and imagining what's going on, instead of being forced to watch the pictures. The teams I try to keep up with are the Nationals, the O's, and the Indians.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Community arts blogging & more radio history

Well, my proposal to give a presentation at the Performing Arts Roundtable at next year's Music Library Association conference was accepted. Huzzah! I'm going to be talking about how (and whether) performing arts organizations in the DC area are using blogs and other RSS technologies to market and interact with their audiences. If that sounds a little vague, have no fear...I'll be tailoring it down, but it's hard enough to pin a blog down to one subject--let alone one that only talks about dance or theatre or medieval basket-weaving. If any of my regular readers know of any DC-centered blogs, LiveJournals, or sites that have RSS feeds (that are centered primarily on arts-related topics), please let me know. Thanks! :-)

I'm continuing to read about the history of radio. I've just started Listening In: Radio and the American Imagination. I've admired the writing of the author, Susan J. Douglas for years ever since I read her book on women and the mass media, Where the Girls Are: Growing Up Female with the Mass Media. I think it's going to be a great read. Stay tuned for more quotes and musings on the subject.

Off topic:
There's a really cool version of the Washington Metro (WMATA) map where if you hover a metro stop, it'll list the bloggers who are close by.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Just travelin' thru / Oscars

I don't usually shill for Apple, but if you enjoyed Dolly Parton's performance of "Travelin' Thru" (from the Transamerica soundtrack) at the Oscars Sunday night, you can get your free download on iTunes.

King Kong got several technical awards. It was nominated in the categories of Art Direction, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, and Visual Effects. (They won the latter three). Being a sound guy, I'm especially proud of them winning the sound awards.

Congratulations to Peter Jackson, Joe Letteri, Brian Van't Hul, Christian Rivers and Richard Taylor, Christopher Boyes, Michael Semanick, Michael Hedges and Hammond Peek, Mike Hopkins and Ethan Van der Ryn, and all of WETA Workshop! Let's hope this is just a warm-up to a screen version of the Hobbit.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

They've got a touch of the Gaelic in them

As I was surfing today for music from Cape Breton, I came upon this archive of recordings of live music sessions held on the Island from a site called Cape Breton Live. Their most recent show is a square dance held in West Mabou, Nova Scotia with fiddler Troy MacGillivray, pianist Mac Morin, and guitarists Jason Murdock and Pius MacIssac. (hmmmm, not sure of the relationship with Ashley or Dave). You can listen in MP3 or WMA formats on either high speed or dial-up. You can even hear the stepdancers, buy CDs from the artists, and view photos of the dances. What a cool way to promote grass roots music.

Cape Breton Island...what a beautiful and haunting place:

On that note, you might want to pull the news feed from the Community Arts Network site. It promotes "information exchange, research, and critical dialogue within the field of community-based art."

All the great music on the Cape Breton site reminded me of this awesome station of the BBC's called, Radio nan Gaidheal which I mentioned on my Kitchen Party blog last year. You can hear more Scottish artists and Gaelic speakers there.

It could be Franky...It could be fresh and clean

For any music folks in New York, here's two exciting programs about minimalist composer Philip Glass's seminal work Einstein on the Beach at the New York Public Library. Opera meets video preservation.

n.b.: For more on why video preservation is such a problem, check out what's left of my video preservation blog, A Study in Preserving Moving Images. (clue: It's magnetic tape)

Thursday, March 9, 2006, 6:00 PM
Light, Movement, Design, Duration: Preserving Robert Wilson at the Theatre on Film and Tape Archive

Selections from the Robert Wilson Audio/Visual Collection, Theatre on Film and Tape Archive, with commentary by Archivist Sarah Ziebell Mann [a big name in video preservation]

Saturday, March 11, 2006, 3:00 PM
Light, Movement, Design, Duration: Preserving Robert Wilson at the Theatre on Film and Tape Archive

Excerpts from Einstein on the Beach, the 1976 opera by Robert Wilson and Philip Glass. Commentary by Archivist Sarah Ziebell Mann

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Cataloging gone awry (or what you can do in MARC)

UPDATE: Ok, while this was fun, it's a little too personal to keep up this long.
I'm taking it down. I had great fun cataloging myself using relator codes (for myself and my parents (who I considered added entries), geographic area fields, subject analysis, links, and other descriptive information.

Study of iMixes/playlists gone mainstream

Some of you MIS/PhD folks might find the Post's recognition of ICTs and other social networking uses encouraging for the field.

From today's Washington Post
Downloading Empathy to Your iPod: Online Playlist Creators Search for Catharsis, Discover a Marketplace

IMixes -- as well as playlists on other services such as Rhapsody, Musicstrands and Soundflavor -- are the online cousins of amateur cassette-tape and CD mixes created over the years by countless music collectors as soundtracks for parties and road trips. Many of the playlists focus on a theme -- and many of those on a personal one, whether the subject is a lost love, a class reunion, a nasty breakup, duty in Iraq or a new romance.

Great gifts to an amazing music school

The Juilliard School's received an extraordinary gift of music scores and manuscripts from its chairman, Bruce Kovner recently.

From the New York Times:

The gift consists of 139 items: autograph scores, sketches, composer-emended proofs and first editions of major works by Brahms, Schumann, Schubert, Beethoven, Chopin, Stravinsky, Bach, Liszt, Ravel, Copland, Mozart and other masters of the classical music canon. Many of the manuscripts have been unavailable for generations and could be a significant source of new insight for scholars and performers.
You can read Juilliard's press release here.

New Yorker Music Critic Alex Ross (The Rest is Noise, blog) talks about the autographs, gives a full inventory of the manuscripts, and discusses the working draft of the four-hand piano arrangement Beethoven's Grosse Fuge (seen above) given to Juilliard. (There's also materials related to Samuel Barber's opera Antony and Cleopatra.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Let the streamcasting wars begin (errr...continue?)

Here's an interesting article from the International Herald Tribune about how public broadcasters around the world are adopting new technologies sooner than their commerical counterparts and increasing their market shares. National Public Radio is increasing their efforts to podcast and is building a National Podcasting Directory. This is worrying local public stations who need more local support, not more users going to NPR's site for programming. Add to this the fact that National Public Radio is now operating its first terrestial station. [It's not in the United States. They bought the lease of a former VOA station in Berlin].

Please support your local station, because they pay fees to NPR to support this programming, and they are the voice of your local community!

Some more highlights of the article:

Car Talk for big boys:
In September, Radio Netherlands started a radio program aimed entirely at truck drivers, who can pick up the two-hour "On the Road" show throughout Europe in a variety of forms, from traditional radio to online streaming.
Finally--the convergence talk we've heard for years:
"Historically, the commercial stations were focused on essentially music stations and a limited number of genres and songs and artists, because that was the way to get the advertising dollar," said Ed Shedd, a media partner with Deloitte in London. "The converging world really suits talk and chat and discussion, and that really plays into the hand of the public-service broadcasters that are more invested in talk services."
Also, NPR can't blame satellite radio competition for its audience slump, according to the Current magazine.