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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Music, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 1,901
1. Alan Moore’s Secret Q&A Cult Exposed! Part II: You’ll Gasp When You See What He Told Them!!!

His Celestial SelfDeep in the grubby sump of one of those so-called ‘Social Media’ sites, there is a clump of aging comics fanboys called The Really Very Serious Alan Moore Scholars’ Group, known to its sad and lonely adherents as TRVSAMSG. When they’re not annotating everything in sight, or calling down ancient evils on the heads of […]

2 Comments on Alan Moore’s Secret Q&A Cult Exposed! Part II: You’ll Gasp When You See What He Told Them!!!, last added: 6/24/2016
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2. Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan, 587 pp, RL 4

I missed Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan when it came out in February of 2015. Scholastic is one of the few publishers I don't get review copies from and, working in a library instead of a bookstore now, I an not as up on what's new in the world of kid's books as I once was. I even missed the March, 2015 review of Echo in the New York Times Book Reivew, which I usually scour. Echo crossed my radar in January of this year when it won a Newbery Honor, along with two other superb books, The War that Saved My Life and Roller Girl. While I hate the fact that I didn't read Echo right when it came out, I am so, so glad that I knew absolutely NOTHING about it (save that it won an award) before I began listening/reading it. Having worked with and been an avid reader of children's literature for more than 20 years, I've kind of read it all. There aren't too many plots or characters that surprise me or feel really new and original. Echo surprised me - it's as if A. S. Byatt, an author of novels for adults that are magnificently crafted and often centered around a work of art - wrote a kid's book. If you want to be surprised by a story and you trust me and the librarians who hand out the Newbery awards, stop reading my review after the next sentence and go out and get your hands on a copy of Echo. Actually, I very, very strongly suggest LISTENING to the audio of this book (as well as buying it - you WILL want to own it) because - tiny spoiler alert - music is an integral part of Echo, and you get to hear it in the audio.

Stop reading HERE if you want to be surprised

I was definitely surprised when I started listening to Echo and there were music credits before the story began. I was especially surprised when harmonica music kicked in. Like several minor characters in the book, I, too, did not take the harmonica seriously - nor did I notice the drawing (wonderful artwork by Dinara Mirtalipova) of one on the cover and spine of Echo! Echo is a work of historical fiction wrapped in the cloak of a fairy tale that is ultimately a story about the power of music to, "pass along . . . strength and vision and knowledge," and even overcome fear, intolerance and hatred. The story visits three very different children at three different times, starting in 1933 and ending in 1942. The common thread that connects these three children is their passion for music, embodied, at that time, in the harmonicas that they own. Surrounding these stories is the tale of a boy that begins just before the start of the 20th century. From a Gypsy, who presses a mouth harp on him for free, he buys a book titled, The Thirteenth Harmonica of Otto Messenger. The book tells the story of three abandoned princesses with beautiful singing voices. Trapped in the woods under the spell of a witch, they need a messenger to take something out into the world for them, something that will break the spell. Becoming lost in the woods, Otto meets the three princesses from the book. Desperate to know the end of their story, they enchant the harmonica that the Gypsy gave him and he agrees to send it into the world where, if it can "save a soul from Death's dark door," the spell will break and the princesses can return home.

The stories of the three central children in Echo would have been a satisfying book on their own, but linking them with the fairy tale of the three sisters imbues Ryan's novel with a quality of hopefulness and beauty, much like the sound of a well played harmonica. Part one begins in 1933, in Tossingen, Germany, with young Friedrich, a gifted musician. Part two begins in Pennsylvania, 1935. The third and final part begins in 1942, just after Pearl Harbor, in California, a harmonica at the heart of each story. Friedrich has a port wine birthmark on his face and suffers from seizures. Hitler's persecution of physically disabled forces Friedrich and his family to make difficult choices and his story ends without closure, his life in danger. Part two, features orphan brothers, the eldest of whom is a gifted musician, with his only hope for survival hinging on his ability to make it into a renowned harmonica band. Mike and Frankie are adopted by a painfully grieving heiress who needs to produce an heir to keep her fortune, their story also ending in a moment of danger and uncertainty. Finally, Ryan turns to Ivy Maria Lopez, shining a light on xenophobia and racism. 

It is Fresno, 1942, and Ivy is the child of migrant farm workers. Her brother, Fernando, has just enlisted and her father has just accepted a job running a farm in Orange County. When they arrive at the farm, the Lopez's discover that it belongs to a Japanese-American family that has been sent to an interment camp. Their oldest child, a son in the Marines, is coming home on leave to sign the running of the property over to Mr. Lopez, if he approves of him. Ivy, and her parents, struggle to understand how the Yamamoto family, with a father who fought in WWI and a son fighting in WWII could be treated this way, while at the same time Ivy experiences racism and segregation when she learns that she is not allowed to attend her neighborhood school, but must go to one that will "Americanize" children like her. Living in California and working with the children of immigrants, many of whom are also the children of migrant workers, this part of the story resonated most with me.

The last two parts of the novel tie together all three stories in a marvelous, deeply satisfying way that had me weeping. Ryan returns to the fairy tale, bookending Echo with the conclusion to the story of the three princesses as well as the story of Otto, now the messenger, and the enchanted harmonica that he must send out into the world and how it gets there. Echo is a big book, but as many reviewers have said, and as was my experience, you will soar through it, drawn along by the beauty if Ryan's writing, the craft of her story and the humanity of her characters.

Source: Purchased Book & Audio Book

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3. My Thoughts on the Beatles Anthology

This June my Dad and I watched The Beatles Anthology. (Thank you, inter-library loan system!) I was tempted to say rewatch because we had--as a whole family essentially--watched the television broadcast in 1995. The TV broadcast was six hours--including commercials. The DVD release is about ten hours--no commercials of course. So there was SO MUCH MORE to watch.

When I first watched The Beatles Anthology, I was somewhat familiar with the blue and red albums. (The red album was 1962-1966; the blue album was 1967-1970). I didn't have any absolute definite favorites.

Within a year of watching The Beatles Anthology, I would own all the albums--even Yellow Submarine. I listened to their music--a lot. I watched their movies--some. I read a handful of biographies. I even did a research project on The Beatles in college for a history class. (Another fun 'research project' I did in college was a report on the Teletubbies for a linguistics class.)

This video has a lot to offer fans: interviews with all four Beatles (John's portions being from radio and TV interviews), interviews with others close to the Beatles Derek Taylor, Neil Aspinall, George Martin, Brian Epstein (his portions coming from radio/TV interviews), footage of the group performing, rehearsing, filming, traveling, goofing around. The TV broadcast kept more to the point perhaps in telling a narrative story. There was a beginning, middle, and end. The DVDs allow a lot more messy completeness. A lot more rehearsals. A lot more full performances. What viewers get is a very, very human side to the Beatles.

So there are eight episodes total. The first episode really just gets down to basics. When each Beatle was born. The home life of each Beatle. How each Beatle got interested in music. How each Beatle learned to play music. How they met each other--when they met each other. The early days of performing in public--and getting paid for it. The rest of the episodes really focus on THE BEATLES. Getting discovered. Recording singles and albums. Playing various clubs. Getting fans. Touring and performing, etc. There are a lot of details in this success story. And it's a fantastic, absorbing documentary.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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4. Tony Awards Fashion Poll

Which Dress Would You Wear to the Tony Awards?

The Tony Awards ceremony (officially known as Antoinette Perry Awards for Excellence in Theatre) was on Sunday. The awards recognize actors and singers in live Broadway shows, and Hamilton fan that I am, you KNOW I was watching! Which dress would YOU wear if you were nominated for a Tony?

Tony Awards

Photos by Larry Busacca, Theo Wargo, and Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions

Vote for your favorite dress in the Comments.


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5. Hamilton Personality Quiz

HamiltonWhich Hamilton Song Are You?

There are a lot of things we can’t get enough of: books (of course), chocolate, puppies, and…the Hamilton soundtrack! In case you aren’t familiar with the amazing-ness that is Hamilton, it is a Broadway musical about the life of Alexander Hamilton (one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, and the face on the $10.00 bill). If you haven’t heard the soundtrack yet, don’t delay—it’s pretty incredible. I’ve spent a long time listening to the soundtrack on repeat.

All the songs on the Hamilton soundtrack are too good to have just one favorite, but take this HAMILTON SOUNDTRACK PERSONALITY QUIZ to find out which song most matches your personality. Which song are you? The sweet and sentimental “Helpless”? The daring “Guns and Ships”? Find out below!

You would most like to live in this time period: a) the 1950s. b) the 1980s. c) Ancient Rome. d) the future. e) the present.

Your friends would best describe you as: a) silly. b) driven. c) daring. d) confident. e) sweet.

If you were an animal, you would most likely be: a) a sloth. b) a wolf. c) a cat. d) a parrot. e) an otter.

Out of these book series, your favorite is: a) Diary of a Wimpy Kid. b) Dork Diaries. c) Percy Jackson and the Olympians. d)Harry Potter. e) Whatever After.

Your worst trait is: a) being too possessive. b) being jealous. c) being too recklessly daring. d) being conceited. e) being too sensitive.

Of these deserts, your favorite is: a) an ice cream sundae. b) cake. c) brownies. d) cookies. e) pie.

Your favorite is: a) Language Arts. b) Math. c) Science. d) Art. e) Music.

If your life were made into a movie, it would most likely be: a) a comedy. b) a soap opera. c) an action movie. d) a sci-fi adventure. e) a romance.

Your favorite pair of shoes are: a) cowboy boots. b) a well-loved pair of canvas sneakers. c) a pair of high-tech running shoes. d) flip flops. e) classic and a little dressy.

You just found out that your parents got you tickets to see Hamilton for your birthday. Your reaction is: a) That’s all? You wanted a unicorn! b) You make sure you’re allowed to do whatever you want with the tickets, and then sell them to some kid at school for $8,000. c) You make your best friends compete in a backyard talent show. The winner gets to go with you to see Hamilton! d) Scream and faint. When you revive, run into your Hamilton-themed room to blast your favorite Hamilton songs on repeat for the next 24 hours. e) Put on your own musical presentation to thank your parents for their unbelievable generosity, and tell them you finally forgive them for giving you a baby brother instead of the puppy you asked for.

Ready for the results? Read on.

If you got mostly A’s, you are “You’ll Be Back”!
You are sunny, upbeat, a little silly, and 10000% confident that everything is going to turn out just fine. People are drawn to your cheery attitude, but, like King George, you might be a little too eager to believe in happily ever after. You also have a tendency to make light of serious situations. And though you hate to admit it, you can be pretty set in your ways. If you remember to show a little more compassion every now and again, you really will succeed in inspiring everyone you see to be just as happy as you are!

If you got mostly B’s, you are “Wait for It”!
Like Aaron Burr, you don’t let a temporary setback keep you from trying your best. You are quiet and thoughtful. You like to set goals and will work hard to achieve them, and you are a very passionate person. That can mean that you take failure a lot harder, too, so don’t be so hard on yourself! You might not be in the spotlight right now, and you might feel a little jealous sometimes of those that are, but you have a great can-do attitude. You’ll be acknowledged for your talents in due time . . . if you don’t let your emotions get the best of you!

If you got mostly C’s, you are “Guns and Ships”!
You are a daring (and sometimes hardheaded) force to be reckoned with! You like to live life in the fast lane, and your energy is infectious. You are drawn to other people who also like to move at a near-reckless pace. There’s never a dull moment with you! You are a great team leader, but remember to slow down every now and again so you don’t get ahead of yourself. Remember to breathe and live in the present!

If you got mostly D’s, you are “My Shot”!
You are funky, confident, and bold. You have an effortless cool factor that people really admire. There’s just something about you: the way you walk, the way you talk . . . it’s all so natural. You’re a trendsetter without even trying. You understand the value of teamwork—and whether it’s a pool party or a group project at school, you’re a pro at making sure everyone feels welcome.

If you got mostly E’s, you are “Helpless”!
You are a starry-eyed romantic and you believe in the good in everyone. Even in the face of cruelty, you find the strength to be kind. Some may dismiss you as unrealistic, but don’t pay attention to them: people like you are so important. The world needs sweet people like you to remind us to be kind to one another!

Which song did you get? Did we miss your favorite song from the Hamilton soundtrack? Let us know your thoughts in the Comments below!

See ya later,



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6. Hamilton Trivia Quiz

HamiltonHamilton Trivia Quiz

American history + rap music + clever, story-telling lyrics  = Hamilton. Alexander Hamilton has an amazing story to tell, and his life is brought to life by the Broadway musical, Hamilton. It’s already won the Pulitzer Prize and was just nominated for 16 Tony Awards – the most in Broadway history! Tickets are pretty much impossible to get, but you can listen to the amazing soundtrack to get a taste of what it’s like. (I’m totally obsessed!)

A little backstory . . . Alexander Hamilton was born in the West Indies around 1755. His father abandoned him, and his mom died when he was 12. After a hurricane destroyed his town, he jumped on a boat to New York and carved a name for himself. He was rejected from Princeton University, faced discrimination as an immigrant, but used his strong personality and “power of the pen” to get ahead. He became General Washington’s right-hand-man in the Revolutionary War, part of the new U.S. Government Cabinet, helped write the Federalist Papers, founded the NY Post newspaper, the first bank in the U.S. and basically established the American banking system. He died in a pistol duel with the U.S. Vice President Aaron Burr. Lots of other drama too!

Catch a beat with our Hamilton Trivia Quiz based on Hamiltunes from the musical soundtrack.

1. What song has these lyrics?
“As a kid in the Caribbean I wished for a war.
I knew that I was poor;
I knew that it was the only way to
Rise up!
The elephant is in the room.
The truth is in ya face when ya hear the British cannons go . . .

2. The song “You’ll Be Back” is sung by King George of which country?
Hint: He is not happy over the colonies wanting to break up with him, so he sings madly . . .
“Time will tell.
You’ll remember that I served you well.
Oceans rise, empires fall.
We have seen each other through it all.
And when push comes to shove . . .
I will send a fully armed battalion to remind you of my love!
Da da dat dat daaaaa . . .”

3. Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr are long-time rivals. Hamilton loves to taunt Burr with the phrase: ”If you stand for nothing, Burr, what’ll you_________?” A) Fall for? B) Eat for dinner? C) End up doing for the rest of your life?

4. What song has these lyrics?
“I’m not throwin’ away my shot!
I’m not throwin’ away my shot!
Ayo, I’m just like my country;
I’m young, scrappy, and hungry.
I’m not throwin’ away my shot!”

5. When Thomas Jefferson comes home from Paris, he sings a song “What’d I Miss?” about which state?
“So what did I miss?
What’d I miss?
___________ , my home sweet home, I wanna give you a kiss.”
Name that state! A) Oregon B) Virginia C) Texas

6. Was Alexander Hamilton Secretary of State OR Secretary of the Treasury?
Look at the lyrics from the song “Schuyler Defeated” for a clue:
(Sung by Aaron Burr to Hamilton) “Oh, Wall Street thinks you’re great. You’ll always be adored by the things you create.”

7. In the song “The Room Where it Happens”, Aaron Burr sings, “Or did you know, even then, it doesn’t matter where you put the U.S. Capital?”
Hamilton answers, “Cuz we’ll have the banks, we’re in the same spot. And I wanted what I got.”
What city instead of Washington D.C. was the U.S. Capital supposed to originally be in? (But Hamilton made sure the banking center of the nation was there, which he thought was just as important).

8. In the last song of the show “Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story,” who is credited for telling the story of Hamilton’s life? A) George Washington B) Aaron Burr C) His wife Eliza

Did you score front-row answers? Check below to find out:

  1. ANSWER: “Right Hand Man”: the song where General George Washington (later to be President) picks Alexander Hamilton as his right hand man in battle.
  2. ANSWER: King George of England. (The King George songs are hilarious – some of my faves!)
  3. ANSWER: “Fall for.” (Oooh – take that Burr!) Alexander prided himself on being a man of strong opinions. He thought Burr was always too afraid to take a stand.
  4. ANSWER: “My Shot” (possibly my favorite song on the soundtrack).
  5. ANSWER: Virginia.
  6. ANSWER: Secretary of Treasury.
  7. ANSWER: New York City.
  8. ANSWER: His wife Eliza. They had mad drama, but she forgave him and interviewed soldiers he fought with, went over thousands of pages of his writings, carried on his fight against slavery, and established the first orphanage in New York City.

What do you guys think of Hamilton? Has it gotten you interested in American history? What are your favorite songs? Let us know, in the Comments!


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7. Prince and “the other Eighties”

Prince died Thursday, and I am sad. I've been asked to write about his death, but staring at the empty expanse beyond the flashing cursor, all I really know how to say is in the line above. Plenty of writers, more ably than I could, have written and spoken movingly about Prince since his death.

The post Prince and “the other Eighties” appeared first on OUPblog.

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8. 10 facts about the “king of instruments”

The organ is a complex, powerful instrument. Its history is involved and wide-ranging, and throughout the years it has commanded respect as it leaves its listeners in awe. To celebrate the organ, we compiled a list of 10 facts you may or may not know about this magnificent instrument.

The post 10 facts about the “king of instruments” appeared first on OUPblog.

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9. Revitalising Cambodian traditional performing arts for social change

I am recently returned home (Australia) from six months on a music research project in Cambodia. There were, of course, the practical challenges of the type I quite expected. In the monsoonal downpours, getting around in central Phnom Penh meant wading through knee-deep, dead-rat kind of drain-water. In the thatched huts of the provinces, malarial critters droned their way under my net by night. Gastro and heat exhaustion laid me flat.

The post Revitalising Cambodian traditional performing arts for social change appeared first on OUPblog.

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10. Finally

All these years of the kids’ piano lessons have been leading to this.

Hamilton Vocal Score

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11. Bittersweet melodies of Agustín Lara in Güeros

The story of four teenagers on a quest to locate their ailing musical idol requires a mix of nostalgia, myth, apathy and disillusionment. Played out across the vast urban expanse that is the City of Mexico, Güeros is conceived in the alternative deadpan style of Jim Jarmusch’s early films or, perhaps, Wim Wenders’ mid-1970s road movie triology.

The post Bittersweet melodies of Agustín Lara in Güeros appeared first on OUPblog.

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Laura Kidd's latest album "Direction of Travel" has just launched digitally, with a music video - and I made the animations on it. Watch and listen!

I am so proud to be part of this - it's an amazing song from a brilliant album.  I had to listen to it a LOT to synch up the drawings, and I still love it.

It took me a week of mostly drawing and redrawing rain drops, with assistance from my niece Paula who did the lettering.

An early test. A bit too inky!

Making a big neat sheet of regular rainfall, painted with a calligraphy brush pen.
Scanned and animated.

Most of the rain is hand-drawn to suit the specific scene, though.

Editing the rainfalls drop by drop to make it look more natural  that they are missing her face...

Experimental digital weather

Drawing a thunderbolt

Extremely helpful cat

All the lettering and some of the rain, by Paula

Zonked assistants


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13. The history behind Ukraine’s 2016 Eurovision song

Most entries to the Eurovision song contest are frothy pop tunes, but this year’s contribution from Ukraine addresses Stalin’s deportation of the entire Tatar population of Crimea in May 1944. It may seem an odd choice, but is actually very timely if we dig a little into the history of mass repression and inter-ethnic tensions in the region. Almost a quarter of a million Tatars, an ethnically Turkic people indigenous to the Crimea, were moved en masse to Soviet Central Asia as a collective punishment for perceived collaboration with the Nazis.

The post The history behind Ukraine’s 2016 Eurovision song appeared first on OUPblog.

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14. Composer Richard Causton in 10 questions

Richard Causton’s studies took him from the University of York via the Royal College of Music and the Scuola Civica in Milan, to King’s College, Cambridge where he is Lecturer in Composition. In addition to composition, Causton writes and lectures on Italian contemporary music and regularly broadcasts for Italian radio. In our occasional series, in which we ask Oxford composers questions based around their musical likes and dislikes, influences, and challenges, we spoke with Richard Causton about his writing, new music, and his desert island playlist.

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15. Free e-book for April: Pilgrimage to Dollwood


Download your copy of our free e-book for April,
Pilgrimage to Dollywood: A Country Music Road Trip through Tennessee by Helen Morales, here.


A star par excellence, Dolly Parton is one of country music’s most likable personalities. Even a hard-rocking punk or orchestral aesthete can’t help cracking a smile or singing along with songs like “Jolene” and “9 to 5.” More than a mere singer or actress, Parton is a true cultural phenomenon, immediately recognizable and beloved for her talent, tinkling laugh, and steel magnolia spirit. She is also the only female star to have her own themed amusement park: Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Every year thousands of fans flock to Dollywood to celebrate the icon, and Helen Morales is one of those fans.

In Pilgrimage to Dollywood, Morales sets out to discover Parton’s Tennessee. Her travels begin at the top celebrity pilgrimage site of Elvis Presley’s Graceland, then take her to Loretta Lynn’s ranch in Hurricane Mills; the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville; to Sevierville, Gatlinburg, and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park; and finally to Pigeon Forge, home of the “Dolly Homecoming Parade,” featuring the star herself as grand marshall. Morales’s adventure allows her to compare the imaginary Tennessee of Parton’s lyrics with the real Tennessee where the singer grew up, looking at essential connections between country music, the land, and a way of life. It’s also a personal pilgrimage for Morales. Accompanied by her partner, Tony, and their nine-year-old daughter, Athena (who respectively prefer Mozart and Miley Cyrus), Morales, a recent transplant from England, seeks to understand America and American values through the celebrity sites and attractions of Tennessee.

This celebration of Dolly and Americana is for anyone with an old country soul who relies on music to help understand the world, and it is guaranteed to make a Dolly Parton fan of anyone who has not yet fallen for her music or charisma.

Just to reiterate, download your free copy here.

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16. Selena Gomez Trivia Quiz

Selena GomezSelena Gomez Trivia Quiz

Selena Gomez is what show business calls a “triple threat.” She can sing, dance, and act. Along with her acting success, she has an awesome musical career as well. But there are a few things about Selena that you might NOT know. Take this trivia quiz to learn a few interesting facts about the beautiful starlet.

  1. In the hit show Wizards of Waverly Place, what was the name of Selena’s character? A) Alex B) Sandy C) Max D) Theresa
  2. Which of these is NOT the name of a movie in which Selena stars? A) Monte Carlo B) Princess Protection Program C) Ramona and Beezus D) High School Musical
  3. Selena played a character named Mikayla on which other popular TV show? A) The Suite Life on Deck B) Hannah Montana C) iCarly D) Victorious
  4. On which children’s show did Selena get her big break? A) Blue’s Clues B) The Wiggles C) Yo Gabba Gabba D) Barney & Friends
  5. In which U.S. state was Selena born? A) Illinois B) New York C) Texas D) California
  6. True or False? Selena is of Mexican and Italian heritage.
  7. Selena’s birthday is in which month? A) July B) June C) April D) December
  8. True or False? Selena was the youngest UNICEF Ambassador.
  9. Selena’s ex-boyfriend Justin Bieber planned a romantic date for the two of them at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, during which he screened which of these classic movies? A) Grease B) Titanic C) The Wizard of Oz D) Clueless
  10. Which pop star gave Selena the song “Rock God”? A) Rihanna B) Pink C) Katy Perry D) Taylor Swift

Read on for the answers . . . 

1. In the hit show Wizards of Waverly Place, what was the name of the character Selena played? A) Alex. Selena talks about how she created her character in this video.

2. Which of these is NOT the name of a movie in which Selena stars? D) High School Musical

3. Selena played a character named Mikayla on which other popular TV show? B) Hannah Montana

4. On which children’s show did Selena get her big break? D) Barney & Friends. Yep, that’s rightBefore making it big on Wizards, Selena could be found hanging out with a giant purple dinosaur named Barney! She was just seven years old.

5. In which U.S. state was Selena born? C) Texas

6. True or False? Selena is of Mexican and Italian heritage? True.

7. Selena’s birthday is in which month? A) Selena was born on July 22, 1992.

8. True or False? Selena was the youngest UNICEF Ambassador. TRUE. UNICEF is an organization that provides needy children emergency care, education, and other necessary aid. Selena, who is proud to offer her voice and recognition to their cause, has traveled as far as Africa to help out.

9. Selena’s ex-boyfriend Justin Bieber planned a romantic date for the two of them at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, during which he screened which of these classic movies? B) Titanic

10. Which pop star gave Selena the song “Rock God”? C) Katy Perry. Ms. Perry also sang backup on “Rock God.” Selena says, “I actually had to fight for that song. I wanted it so bad.”

Selena Gomez image © Jason Merritt/Getty Images/Thinkstock

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17. An eventful weekend at the 2016 Society for American Music conference

The 2016 Society for American Music (SAM) conference was held in Boston, where scholars and institutions from around the globe gathered together in a supportive and uplifting five-day meeting that consisted of panels, presentations, discussions, field trips, musical performances, receptions, and the celebration of books and authors.

The post An eventful weekend at the 2016 Society for American Music conference appeared first on OUPblog.

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18. Three Cuts

Songs leave unique imprints on people and places. In India, especially, songs from films offer a multitude of trajectories for anyone who is more than deferentially familiar with them, contained in or limited by larger prospective areas of film study material. Film songs form a major portion of its popular culture; hence, they are etched into individual and collective memories weaving unique tapestries of such imprints. As there are growing studies of Indian song production and consumption, I see myself having travelled across these trajectories, my memories of them intersecting my local, national, and global journeys. Songs and singers have a great capacity to intrigue and enervate you, charm and choke you, with their virtuosity and subtle (and sometimes loud) communication. The following three cuts are a reflection of such subjective encounters, many of which have long stayed buried without articulation. Here they are hoped to take one on a short journey of three very different experiences linked to three songs in Hindi, Telugu, and Bengali languages. Their evocative and perhaps provocative potential, as linked, montaged yet aggregated experience of an aural cinema, is a good starting point to learn more about Indian film songs.

First Cut

A rare Lata Mangeshkar song. That’s what it was. I had never heard it before.

But, when my father played it on a Sony multi-player on a late evening, it became a discovery — one of the many songs of the great singer of the subcontinent. It was a lullaby. A few weeks prior to this event, it was played on Chaya Git (10 p.m.) (or Aap ki Farmayish at 10.30 p.m.), a programme that broadcast Hindi film songs – often, the old ones — on Vividh Bharti, to which my father listens avidly. And, on his first encounter with the song, he was in near tears.

His Geminian curiosity put him on a quest for the song; as a retired employee of All India Radio, it wasn’t tough for him to talk to his (retired) colleagues at Vivid Bharti and track the song through their friends to Mumbai’s station. So, soon, there it was, a CD arriving at his doorstep. He clung to it dearly and played it many times, one of which was my visit to him.

I had never heard anything more magical. It was a song composed by Brij Bhushan (Kabra) for the film Pathan (1962), the Hindi lyrics penned by B K Puri. That day, listening to the song I again wondered what that ‘Lata-Mangeshkar-quality’ in Hindi popular film music was all about. Mesmerising. It is something that one is so accustomed to, feel comfortable with; it’s like taking sanctuary under a thick mango tree on a summer day. Even then, you never know what is in store for you until ‘it’ finds you, throws you off guard and makes you carry an imprint of it to the end of all experiences. It is just an experience of, somehow, coming home.

Second Cut

If you lived on the east coast of North America, you’d know how blizzards hit you. And if you passed through one, or just reached home in time only to wake up the next morning to let in a pile of powdery snow through the threshold, then you knew you had it for the day. But, the fun part is when you play old Indian film songs on the system, cooking rice or parathas, and wondering what you’re doing with your life in snow there, you end up singing the song that’s playing on the system. How frequently you sing such songs, and how many, is a different story. You’re perhaps not thinking about songs but about mending those thick, unmusical boots to wear for work the next day. That’s the life of a person straddling two landscapes and two cultures.

On one such occasion, a group of us travelled from Toronto (I was doing my MFA at York University in Toronto) to New York, and to Boston, around the start of the new millennium. There was a big blizzard awaiting our arrival, but we drove through Boston listening to some old Telugu film songs. And what fun it was! Neither the faces outside nor the words of the song had anything to do with each other. We shopped for Indian vegetables somewhere close to Cambridge, cooked an elaborate Indian meal, ate, drank, and finally agreed, along with a television channel, that Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” was the best and most popular number of the previous century as we chimed our destinies into the new millennium. Pop music? In India? I cannot decide who the best singer can be when I think about it. But I know one thing. That almost all singers sang at least one ‘English song-like number’ — something that had a waltz tempo, and some tune that had an everlasting appeal. You don’t need to know the words to listen to them. So on a blizzard afternoon, you can listen to an English song in your mother tongue like this one. (Well, you can listen to it even when there is no blizzard).


The song was from a 1954 Telugu film Raji naa Pranam (Raji, My Life), sung by R Balasaraswati to a tune composed by S. Hanumantha Rao, whose filmic output is very small. Perhaps this was the only film he scored music for. I’m not sure.

Third Cut

Indian film songs are the most mobile these days. Imagine what life would be without the Internet, and if you cannot play a “Thriller”, a Telugu, Bengali, or Hindi film song of rarity to ‘just listen to it once’. Technology too brings blizzards. Perhaps it brings so many of them, there is so little time to appreciate all…

The only one I remember, sitting in India, on a warm afternoon in Bangalore, is the one of the turn-of-the-millennium. That blizzard is somehow about identifying “Thriller”, and through it, remembering so many other songs that have no connection to Michael Jackson. This summery afternoon brings to my mind, as I write this, a beautiful Bengali song of Sandhya Mukherji that Salil Chowdhury so effortlessly composed. Ask any Bengali friend for its meaning.

The world remembers the best numbers in a certain way; you can remember your songs by playing on YouTube reverentially without consigning them to the crushing feet of time, especially those little gems tucked away in beautiful voices unknown to many who have neither the means nor the inclination to judge.

Featured image: Brigade Road in Bangalore. Photo by Ryan. CC BY 2.0 via ryanready Flickr.

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19. The trick of the lock: Dorothy L. Sayers and the invention of the voice print

Pre-eminent among writers of mystery stories is, in my opinion, Dorothy L. Sayers. She is ingenious, witty, original - and scientific too, including themes like the fourth dimension, electroplating, and the acoustics of bells in some of her best stories. She is also the inventor of the voice-activated lock, which her hero Lord Wimsey deploys in the 1928 short story 'The Adventurous Exploit of the Cave of Ali Baba'.

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20. Passion season / Bach season

The arrival of Lent and the anticipation of Holy Week on the Christian liturgical calendar bring with them what professional musicians call "passion season." In a close parallel to "Messiah season" in December, singers and players hope to find work performing musical settings of the crucifixion narrative, to help audiences and congregations listen and worship and to help get themselves through the next few months’ rent.

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21. The evolution of flute sound and style

This March, we’ve been focusing on the flute and its history and importance in the music scene. Resident OUP history editor Nancy Toff is also active in the flute world, as a performer, researcher and instructor. In order to delve into Nancy’s wealth of knowledge about the flute, we asked Meera Gudipati, currently attending the Yale School of Music as a Master of Music, to interview her about flute performance, music history, and other favorite flutists.

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22. Local opera houses through the ages

Nineteenth and twentieth Century opera houses are finding new lives today. Opera houses were once the center of art, culture, and entertainment for rural American towns--when there was much less competition for our collective attention.

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23. Cambiata choirs explained

At the beginning of May 2015, I spent some time at the Cornwall International Male Voice Choral Festival, a massive affair with 70 choirs at 60 events in 50 venues all over Cornwall, packed into a long Bank Holiday Weekend. The mastermind behind this well-organised event was Festival Director Peter Davies, director of the Huntingdon Male Voice Choir.

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24. Taylor Swift Trivia Quiz

Taylor SwiftTaylor Swift Trivia Quiz

We love Taylor Swift! Our Taylor Swift: Would You Rather got over 250 Comments. She has accomplished more than most people will in a lifetime. She’s racked up many Grammy Awards and has been ranked by Forbes magazine as the 12th-most powerful celebrity. She’s also starred in blockbuster movies like Valentine’s Day, The Giver, and even hosted Saturday Night Live. Test yourself to find out how much you know about Taylor Swift!

1. What was Taylor Swift’s very first #1 Billboard song back in 2012? A) “You Belong With Me” B) “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” C) “Love Story” D) “Shake it Off”

2. Fill in the blank. “Welcome to ___ _____.” (Hint: it’s a city!)

3. What is Taylor Swift’s lucky number? A) 7 B)13 C) 1989 D) 1

4. What is Taylor’s favorite nail polish color? A) Red. B) Blue. C) Black. D) Pale Green.

5. TRUE or FALSE? Taylor Swift originally wanted to be a country music singer.

6. Name the number of Grammy Awards Taylor Swift has won. A) 10 B) 3 C) 29

7. Her 1989 album has had five #1 Billboard hits! See if you can name them by filling in the blanks.

  • W——  D—–
  • S—-  It  O–
  • B–  B—-
  • Bl— Sp—
  • St—

8. TRUE or FALSE? Taylor’s parents both have backgrounds in the finance and banking industry.

9. What is Taylor Swift’s favorite animal? (Hint: she has two of these as pets.)

How was the Taylor Swift Trivia Quiz? I hope it was beyond your “Wildest Dreams” and you were able to fill in each “Blank Space.” Ok, I’ll stop now! Seriously, before I create any more “Bad Blood” (oops!) here are the answers . . .

1. What was Taylor Swift’s very first #1 Billboard song back in 2012?
ANSWER: “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together!” This was her first song to hit Billboard’s Top 100 at #1 back in 2012. (“Shake it Off “was also a #1 hit but that was later in 2014!)

2. Fill in the blank. “Welcome to ___ _____.” (Hint: it’s a city!)
ANSWER: New York!

3. What is Taylor Swift’s lucky number?
Answer: Taylor was born on December 13, 1989 and considers “13” to be her lucky number. She even turned 13 on Friday the 13th! If you’re lucky enough to go to one of her concerts, you’re bound to find the number 13 in at least one place. Taylor has been known to scribble “13” on her hand in eyeliner.

4. What is Taylor’s favorite nail polish color?

5. TRUE or FALSE? Taylor Swift originally wanted to be a country music singer.
ANSWER: True. She’s always loved country music, and moved to Nashville when she was 14 where she signed a recording contract! In 2009 she became the first country music star to win a MTV Video Music Award for “Love Story.”

6. Name the number of Grammy Awards Taylor Swift has won.
ANSWER: 10! They range from Album of the Year (Fearless and 1989) to Best Country Solo Performance (“Mean”) to Best Music Video (“Bad Blood”). Not to mention she has tons of Billboard Awards, American Music Awards, Teen Choice Awards – the list goes on and on!

7. Her 1989 album has had five #1 Billboard hits! What are they?
ANSWERS: “Wildest Dreams” ”Shake It Off” ”Bad Blood” “Blank Space” and “Style.”

8. TRUE or FALSE. Taylor’s parents both have backgrounds in the finance and banking industry.
ANSWER: True. Here dad was a financial advisor, and her mom was a mutual fund marketing executive!

9. What is Taylor Swift’s favorite animal? (Hint: she has two of these as pets.)
ANSWER: Cats! Their names are Meredith and Olivia Benson and she is always posting adorable pictures of them – sometimes with her on tour!

And to keep it going, let us know your favorite Taylor Swift song in the Comments below! Fans look forward to lots of new music and movies in the future from this talented singer, songwriter, and actress.


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25. Music and what it means to be human

Music is a human construct. What is acknowledged as ‘music’ varies between cultures, groups, and individuals. The Igbo of Nigeria have no specific term for music: the term nkwa denotes ‘singing, playing instruments and dancing’.

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