The composer Billy Strayhorn spent almost all of his adult life in the professional company of Duke Ellington, operating as a crucial but seldom visible creative partner whose own greatness has finally emerged only in the past two decades — long after his death in 1967 at age 51. The author of “Take The ‘A’ Train,” “Lush Life” and “Satin Doll,” Strayhorn wrote songs, suites, scores and other works that run to well over 1,000 pieces in all. He was an impeccable and sensitive craftsman whose own musical universe overlapped and expanded the vast world of Ellingtonia; his tonal language ran the gamut from classical to bebop.
100 Years Of Billy Strayhorn, Emotional Architect Of Song
This month marks Strayhorn’s centennial. He was born in Dayton, Ohio on Nov. 29, 1915 and grew up in Pittsburgh, a jazz capital known for producing other pianists and composers. A musical prodigy, he began composing while in high school, writing a musical called Fantastic Rhythm that included the future standard “My Little Brown Book.”
In late 1938, while Ellington was playing in Pittsburgh, a two-degrees-of-separation friendship resulted in the bandleader granting Strayhorn a
In mid-November, I was lucky enough to accompany a group of American composers and performers traveling to Cuba for the Havana Contemporary Music Festival
Going to Cuba was a longtime dream for me, especially as it has been an incubator for incredible music and dance that draw upon its history as a crossroads — and crucible — for indigenous, West African, Spanish and other imported traditions. As Fernando Sáez Carvajal, the director of an independent contemporary dance company, Malpaso, pointed out to me, Cuba is not just an island. It is also a collection of ports, and historically, port cities are incredibly fertile grounds for creativity and innovation because different peoples come together.
In the weeks ahead, I’ll have much more reporting and conversations from this trip, but Cuba is such sacred ground that I couldn’t help but dedicate this month’s edition of Latitudes entirely to its music.
The Havana Contemporary Music Festival ishttp://acai-beeren.org/wp-admin/post-new.php led by composer and conductor Guido López-Gavilán, who was a very enthusiastic and warm host to the 10 U.S.-based composers selected for this experience. I’ve now heard a few different versions of one of his works, the lively and polyrhythmic Camerata en Guaguancó.
The guaguancó is a kind of Cuban
In the new movie Youth, an elderly, retired composer-conductor is called upon to conduct for the first time in years. He’s an Englishman named Fred Ballinger — and the request is from Queen Elizabeth II. It seems Ballinger’s composition Simple Songs, written when he was a much younger man, is the only thing the Queen’s husband, Prince Phillip, will listen to.
That premise necessarily makes a few demands of the film. Someone had to play Ballinger convincingly, which Michael Caine does. More importantly, though, someone had to compose a piece of music that could plausibly account for Prince Phillip’s fictitious fondness, and for Ballinger’s fictitious fame. That job was handed to David Lang.
The Pulitzer Prize-winning composer spoke with NPR’s Robert Siegel about the curious task of writing music fit for royalty, from the perspective of an artist well past his glory days. Hear their conversation at the audio link, and read an edited version below.
Robert Siegel: Tell me about “Simple Song #3,” the composition at the heart of the story. Was this written after you saw or read the movie, or did you have it in the drawer all along?
David Lang: No, I wrote it specifically for this film. But the
A battle between upbeat, finely crafted pop and politically minded hip-hop seems to be what’s shaping up for the biggest prizes at this year’s Grammy Awards. The nominees were announced this morning, in advance of the awards ceremony on Feb. 15.
Leading the way with 11 total nominations is Kendrick Lamar and his album To Pimp A Butterfly. But Taylor Swift racked up seven nominations, including three out of the four biggest categories — Album of the Year, Record of the Year and Song of the Year. But R&B singer, songwriter and producer The Weeknd matched Swift’s total tally.
For those looking for a “Swift vs. Lamar” narrative, however, things aren’t so simple: the Best Pop Group/Duo Performance and Best Music Video nominees include their collaboration “Bad Blood.” (Lamar also has another nominated video in the latter category, for his anthemic “Alright.”)
Especially among the four major categories — Album of the Year, Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best New Artist — many of the nominees were nearly a forgone conclusion, considering the rapturous response they’ve already received from critics and fans alike.
Nominees for Album of the Year are Alabama Shakes’ Sound & Color; Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A
“Lyrics drove me to country music,” said the producer Dave Cobb in an interview we published yesterday about his path from the L.A. rock scene to producing a handful of albums that signal a return of traditional country to Nashville’s main stage, including ones by Jason Isbell, Sturgill Simpson and Chris Stapleton. “I think maybe what I wanted to do is to find a way to make country records feel like all the other records I adored, but with those lyrics. And voice. I’m always looking for a voice.”
For his newest project, Cobb has rounded up a dozen. The concept album Southern Family, coming out on his own Elektra Records imprint in March, features his closest allies in creating what he simply calls “honest” music. It features his close friends Anderson East, Isbell and Stapleton; the latter singer’s gifted wife, Morgane; longtime allies Shooter Jennings and Jamey Johnson and new collaborators Holly Williams and Brandi Clark; and Cobb’s cousin, Brent, who’s written some of the most memorable tracks by artist like Luke Bryan and Little Big Town. Also participating are musicians from every corner of country’s big picture, including Miranda Lambert and Zac Brown, and Rich Robinson of Black Crowes
The British singer Diane Charlemagne passed away on Oct. 28. You may be forgiven, at least a bit, if her name doesn’t immediately ring a bell, because the music industry rendered her anonymous, especially in the U.S. To audiences in the UK, where electronic dance music has long been a readily translatable dialect in pop music’s lingua franca, she was the “voice of a generation,” the vocalist of 1990s dance-floor landmarks like Goldie’s “Inner City Life.” On these shores, she was better known as a backup singer and guest vocalist, having spent several years touring with Moby
Charlemagne’s voice may be indelibly imprinted on our ears and brains, but like too many others, her name evaded familiarity, her identity subsumed in the groove and buried deep in the liner notes. The Oscar-winning 2013 documentary 20 Feet From Stardom shone a welcome spotlight on the plight of rock backup singers like Darlene Love, Merry Clayton and Claudia Lennear, luminous talents pigeonholed into a niche where, according to one singer, “they would like you to come in, make things sound great, take very little credit, and go home quickly.”
In dance music, however, such voices aren’t in the background at all but provide the
There’s no doubt that listening to your favourite music can instantly put you in a good mood. But scientists are now discovering that music can do more for you than just lift your spirits.Research is showing it has a variety of health benefits.Fresh research from Austria has found that listening to music can help patients with chronic back pain.And a recent survey by Mind – the mental health charity – found that after counselling, patients found group therapy such as art and music therapy, the most useful.Here, we present six proven ways that music can help you and your family’s health
1. CHRONIC BACK PAIN
How it helps: Music works on the autonomic nervous system – the part of the nervous system responsible for controlling our blood pressure, heartbeat and brain function – and also the limbic system – the part of the brain that controls feelings and emotions. According to one piece of research, both these systems react sensitively to music.
When slow rhythms are played, our blood pressure and heartbeat slow down which helps us breathe more slowly, thus reducing muscle tension in our neck, shoulders, stomach and back. And experts say that apart from physical tension, music also reduces psychological
Small moments of happiness occurred many times while working with David,” recalls Yacco Takahashi, a Harajuku pioneer and Japan’s first fashion stylist, who first met the artist in 1972 and introduced him to Kansai Yamamoto, the designer responsible for some of his most famous looks.
In 1972 I was in London coordinating a photo shoot with T. Rex for Masayoshi Sukita [Bowie’s longtime unofficial portraitist and lensmen behind the Heroes album cover]. One day, we found a strange poster in the street. It was of David Bowie. I called RCA and they approved Sukita to photograph David. We did a session with him, wearing Kansai Yamamoto’s clothes, after his July 8th show at Royal Festival Hall, which Sukita and I attended. It was the first time seeing him live, and we were really into his world.
I went to New York in 1973 for David’s first performance at Radio City as his stylist. I brought all the clothes from Kansai’s London show for him to wear. David wore traditional Japanese ninja outfit in order to change costumes quickly and I worked as a “Kuroko” (a stagehand in Kabuki theater), wearing a black leotard and pantaloons. To my outfit, I added children’s suspenders with
The Affect Music Has On Different Teens
Music is something that every person has his or her own specific opinion about. Different people have different taste, and various types of music have many ways of leaving an impact on someone. It can be relaxing, angering, soothing, energizing, and many more.
There are so many types of music out there today. Rap, pop, rock, country, indie, alternative, hardcore are some of the abundant types in the world. Music sends out either good or bad messages that have big impacts on how people act. People usually become friends with others who have a same taste in music as the rest of the people they hangout with, or it can be vice versa. People may not want to associate with people who have different tastes in music because they’ll argue about what they think is better but its just their own opinions.
Rap and Rock music are two very important types of music in the world. They both send out different messages and help kids. The lyrics sung or rapped by the artists can be things going on in their own personal lives, and people with the same types of problems can listen