Friday, February 28, 2014

New Videos: Louise Talma / Before Rap


Kendra Preston Leonard: “Meaning and Myth in Louise Talma’s First Period Works

The American Musicological Society and the Music Division of the Library of Congress present lectures highlighting musicological research conducted in the Division’s collections. In the most recent, Kendra Preston Leonard discusses early work the twentieth-century composer Franco-Amercian composer, Louise Talma (1906-96). Read our preview of the lecture HERE.



Past AMS/LOC lectures include:

Spring 2013: Todd Decker, “Making Show Boat: Jerome Kern, Oscar Hammerstein II, and the Power of Performers”; Fall 2012: Barbara Heyman, “Samuel Barber: Serendipitous Discoveries”; Spring 2012: Thomas Brothers, “Louis Armstrong: The Making of a Great Melodist”; Fall 2011: William Meredith, “What the Autograph Can Tell Us: Beethoven’s Sonata in E Major, opus 109”; Winter 2011: Carol J. Oja, “Bernstein Meets Broadway: Race, the Blues, and On the Town (1944)”; Fall 2010: W. Anthony Sheppard, “American Musical Modernism and Japan”; Spring 2010: Steve Swayne, “William Schuman’s Puzzling Seventh Symphony”; Fall 2009: Walter Frisch, “Arnold Schoenberg's Creative Journey, 1897-1912”; Spring 2009: Jeffrey Magee, “Now It Can Be Told: The Unknown Irving Berlin”; Fall 2008: Annegret Fauser, “After Pearl Harbor: Music, War, and the Library of Congress”; Spring 2008: Judith Tick, “Ruth Crawford Seeger, Modernist Composer in the Folk Revival: Biography as Music History.” 
Click HERE for information on previous lectures, including links to the webcasts.


Loren Kajikawa: “Before Rap: DJs, MCs, and Pre-1979 Hip-Hop Performances

The American Musicological Society and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum (RRHOFM) in Cleveland, Ohio, are collaborating on a new lecture series that brings scholarly work to a broader audience and showcases the musicological work of the top scholars in the field. Description of series and past lectures HERE.

Loren Kajikawa describes his lecture on 25 September 2013 as follows:

“Rapper’s Delight,” the multi-platinum single that propelled The Sugarhill Gang into the national spotlight late in 1979, effectively launched a new genre called“ rap music.” For those at the center of New York’s hip hop scene, however, the sudden rise of The Sugarhill Gang—a group that had never performed together live until after they had a hit record—came as a shock. The group’s many critics have emphasized their lack of credibility as live performers, their stealing of other MCs’ rhymes, and the way their hit song emphasized the MC at the expense of the DJ. Yet this focus on the inauthenticity of “Rapper’s Delight,” has shielded from view a profound shift in form that accompanied hip hop’s translation from live performance to recorded rap.

Fortunately, the world of hip-hop music before “Rapper’s Delight,” is not completely lost to us. In addition to oral histories and autobiographies describing the era, a trove of pre-1979 bootleg recordings provides us with valuable documentation of this bygone era. My lecture focuses on two of the best preserved of these tapes, featuring RRHOFM inductees DJ Grandmaster Flash and The 4 MCs (before they added Rahiem and became the Furious Five). I rely on close listening and an original approach to transcription that highlights the expressive practices and artistic priorities of hip hop’s first DJs and MCs. Although we hear something that resembles later music—namely MCs rapping over beats—these recordings feature a sense of musical spontaneity that distinguishes them from later studio-produced music. By paying closer attention to pre-1979 hip hop on its own terms, I seek a greater understanding and appreciation for the work of pioneering DJs and MCs, and I hope to demonstrate how formal analysis and questions related to historical performance practice can serve to generate new knowledge in popular music research.


Timeline: The video is 1 hour, 33 minutes, 48 seconds long. Contents are as follows:
0:00: Opening recording
2:40: Introduction: Jason Hanley, Director of Education
7:55: Welcome: Greg Harris, President and Chief Executive Officer
10:38: Introduction to the lecture: Susan McCLary, Professor of Music, Case Western Reserve University
13:50: Loren Kajikawa's lecture
1:11:40: Q&A

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