Wednesday, September 03, 2008
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Tuesday, August 05, 2008
So here are a few of the highlights:
Rhythm Records Online is a resource I have been using for a while to purchase South African music I have difficulty acquiring here in the US. This is also a great source for news on the SA music industry, and my source for a few tracks that are otherwise only available on vinyl.
A promotional trailer for a recently aired TV documentary called Johnny en die Maaiers. I am attempting to procure a copy of the documentary itself. I also came across this review.
A trailer for a forthcoming documentary on Fokofpolisiekar. This looks like it will be super! I'm afraid you have to have a facebook account, and have videos installed to view this. I'm looking for another link, though.
Masizakhe. I can't remember whether I blogged this when I saw it last year, but it is a super documentary, and worth seeing, if you can. There are some good clips here.
MK. Afrikaans television channel that features a lot of music.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
So in addition to that special little legacy, I thought I'd just record a few of the things I will always associate with my great aunt are my memories of her beautiful garden, which was a wonderland to me as a child: labyrinthine, filled with the biggest nasturtiums, robust agapanthus (offspring of which now reside in my garden in Johannesburg, and my parent's garden in the Drakensberg), a huge gingko tree, a sweet-scented Jacaranda, the flowers of which she would allow to stay on the driveway as they fell, because she loved the colour, violets with leaves that covered my two hands together, and a statue of Wendy; the beautiful wedding cakes she used to decorate, with brightly coloured icing flowers she once showed me how to make; enourmous, rich, desperately unhealthy, and completely irresistible meals that we always left loaded with take-home leftovers. I think in her home I experienced the style of hospitality and family-centered sociality that I most strongly associate with Afrikaner culture.
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Thursday, July 24, 2008
The following Friday we went to a Mets game at Shea Stadium, and while the seats were just about as high up, this time they were closer to first base. The Mets game was even more laid back and entertaining than the Yankees game, with all the between innings activities, though because the Mets aren't my team (I'm a Yankees fan by default) the Yankees game was more exciting. Once again, though, the music thoroughly entertained me.
Then, a week later, we went to a minor league game on Staten island. This time the stadium was much smaller, and so were right near to the field, between home and first base. While these players clearly weren't on quite the same level as the major league players we had seen previously, the game was absolutely riveting, with the Staten Island Yankees scoring, the Batavian Muckdogs (yes, that really is their name) leveling up, and then overtaking them, and right near the end, the Yankees again leveling, and then winning. The game was also followed by fireworks, first in the distance on Manhattan (which we could see through the mist across the bay) and then right at the stadium.
We're planning on going to another game at the Cyclones stadium at Coney Island, but perhaps in a couple of weeks time....
So a few little to end this post:
Clearly the link between sports and music has historic precedents. Here is an article from the Mail and Guardian on music at the Olympic Games.
Anything you ever wanted to know about baseball history.
The Baseball Music Project.
Friday, July 11, 2008
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
I tried to go to the gym after work, and discovered that my student status only entitles me to use it at no cost during the academic year, and that officially ended at the start of this month. So no swimming for a few weeks. But I think I'll survive that. I'll just have to find excuses to walk a little further each day.
Oh, and on Friday and Saturday night I saw fireflies for the first time. NYChoirgirl calls them "lightning bugs". They're delightful little creatures that look utterly unremarkable until their butts light up, which they do at seemingly random intervals. I was utterly entranced by them.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
And in looking for information about our local community gardens, I found this great local blog. Thanks for the updates, Joey!
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
I've also been fighting an infestation of fungus midges on my herbs. I think they came in the soil in which I purchased the herbs, and for my first week or so here, there were hundreds of them! lots of spraying and soil drenching, all with non-toxic products, and long strips of sticky fly paper hanging from the curtain rail, and little dishes of apple cider vinegar seem to have them under control, but any other suggestions anyone has would be much appreciated. The plants are looking distinctly worse for wear, mostly, I think, from the spray, and I'd love to find a method of control that does them less harm.
Saturday, May 24, 2008
Friday, May 02, 2008
I wrote them last weekend (Friday to Monday), and am waiting to hear my results. But they are done, and out of the way, and now I have three pieces of writing to complete in lieu of finals, and then my parents arrive on Saturday next week for a three week visit. It has been so long since I last saw them, and I'm really looking forward to having them here. I'll try to keep this blog regularly updated then with our doings.
In the mean time, though, here is a nice little documentary on the Stonewall Chorale, that gives you a taste of one of the things I've been up to this year.
I cannot believe the academic year is practically over! One more year of course work left. That's a scary thought.
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Thursday, April 10, 2008
Wednesday, April 02, 2008
And I just received word that a book I wrote a chapter for has finally been published. It's on page 18 of the publisher's catalog, with the rather generic title Music and Identity: Transformation and Negotiation.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Have you ever heard "Danville Diva"? I can't find it in preview anywhere online, so my suggestion is that you listen to it on iTunes. There is a wonderful moment in that where Karen imitates an Afrikaans Diva accent (I think I prefer "princess" to "diva", because of the connection between "diva" and camp sensibility, but they mean roughly the same thing). I spent several hours listening to that today, thinking about how I might describe that sound, specifically to a non-South African. And then when I was searching for the song on YouTube for the purposes of this blog, I came across the wonderful recently added video from Karen's February performance in London.
The accent imitation is fascinating, but I'm also delighted by the moments of what Gary Tomlinson would call (if I remember the article I studied years ago correctly) "signifyin(g)", where she sings a fragment of a Malaika number (the final moments of "Destiny"), and Mary Mary's "Shackles". I have heard both songs often enough (if you have watched South African television station SABC 1 after about 23:00, you have probably heard them too), but don't know much about these groups. Whenever I hear the name Malaika I'm reminded of the Kenyan song by the same name, though I would hesitate to suggest that the group are deliberately referencing that. It is, however, interesting to me to hear Karen Zoid singing a gospel number about slavery in an RnB style within a "Kwaito style" (as she says at the beginning of the video clip) song. There's so much going on there!
My most recent intellectual obsession has been with describing vocal timbre, and in a recent writing exercise for Suzanne Cusick's 'Feminist and Queer Musicology' class, I discovered that language and accent are particularly good areas from which to approach this task. So that delightful litttle Karen moment got me very excited.
Then earlier I read an article by Cornelia Fales that Jason Stanyek recommended to me (if you have access to JSTOR, the link above will work, if not, you won't be able to access this particular article, and will just have to take my word on it). It's on timbre alright, and is a concerted effort to write (ethno)musicologically about timbre. But while I think the author's attempt to focus strongly on timbre rather than other aspects of music analysis is interesting, I was a bit disappointed by what I read as a collapse into references to the strongly visual. She uses spectographs to represent much of what she describes, and in the end doesn't really achieve much. I agree that the lack of vocabulary makes it impossible to talk directly on the topic, but I think that a more productive strategy, and one that I think Louise Meintjes exercises particularly effectively in Sound of Africa involves listening to how musicians (in her instance, studio technicians) talk about the sounds they're working with. It works, I think, because the writing focuses on a purpose beyond itself. She isn't writing about timbre for its own sake. She is writing about it to explain how a particular set of South African identities are constituted musically, and it works. I'm not entirely uncritical of her broader project (I think the collapsing of Zuluness, South Africanness and Africanness is the most troubling fault) but I do think she is doing the most exciting work of this nature I have encountered yet. Other related projects include Gage Averill's Four Parts, No Waiting and Aaron Fox's Real Country.
I love having an excuse to do all this good reading and listening!
Thursday, March 06, 2008
And the only reason this has come to public attention, it appears, is because a group of women wearing miniskirts marched to the taxi rank where the incident occurred. Police claim that this is the only incident to have been reported, despite the fact that women are regularly harassed in these locations. Of course, if the police would actually take down reports made by people, there might be more record of them.
It seems women can't win, either. I remember women being stripped not too long ago for wearing pants. Seriously, we are not living in the Victorian era, and men behaving like animals unable to control themselves at the sight of female flesh just doesn't fly. Or perhaps these really are men who belong behind bars, like animals at a zoo.
Image copyright South African Tourism. Originally found at http://www.zocotravel.com/surfing_holidays/south_africa/kwazulu_natal/durban/durban_surfguide.html
Wednesday, March 05, 2008
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
And on a slightly different note, I'm very excited, because one of my dear friends has been offered a fellowship by my department from the fall. I really hope she accepts.
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Saturday, February 09, 2008
I remembered seeing this ad, and not paying much attention to it at the time. It is long, and rather boring. The flood of objections on the New York Times site, however, are much more interesting. Notice, in particular,
no. 8 "Once one puts an "ethnic" accent on an animated character, one raises the spectre of stereotyping and beyond. Ever watched "Finding Nemo"? I got the same queasy feeling - why does this fish talk like, in my opinion, an inner city "African American"?"
no. 13 "I was offended by the ad using Cavemen. I have many Cavemen friends myself, and I find them very intelligent, well-spoken people. Hey, they invented the wheel. Sure they can be a little bit on the hairy side, and they don't take advantage of the dental plan offered at work, but media's constant protrayal of these men as perpetual abusive grunters goes way over the line. I'm surprised Neanderthal-Americans have not spoken up on this issue."
no. 14 "I thought sales genie made a nod to acknowledging the real world when they made a fellow named Chakrabarty the successful salesman in the ad. He did have a south Asian accent, but a real one rather than a caricature."
no. 15 "Had they given the Pandas accents that were non-stereotypical, say British, or California Valley Girl dialects, the commercial would have been more memorable, funnier, and offended far fewer people."
So it's good to represent diversity in ads, so long as everyone sounds alike? British or California Valley Girl accents are less offensive than Chinese or African American? Nemo sounds African American?
I admit I can see how these things could be offensive. The broken English is not good. But sometimes I miss South African senses of humour.
on the other hand, SA banned this priceless gem
Thursday, February 07, 2008
Wednesday, February 06, 2008
Below is list number 2 for my comps. This one focuses on issues of voice and race. There is a huge amount of material on race and music, but in the interests of producing a list I can actually get through by April 11, I am focusing explicitly on singing voices. The anomaly, then, occurs at the final two entries on the list, which deal with speaking voices, but in such a literalist, hard-science way, that I couldn't resist adding them. I did a vaguely tongue-in-cheek experiment with my students last semester, playing them the same piece of music sung by a counter tenor, a female soprano, a treble and a digitally constructed combination voice, and asking them to guess which was which. I once joked that a similar experiment with singers of various races would be interesting. And now I find someone has done it! And written a PhD thesis on it!!
And just because I think it is worth saying, the article by Grant Olwage called "The Class and Colour of Tone" is, in my opinion, the strongest writing on this topic available at present. Well worth a read.
Racialized voices bibliography
Antelyes, Peter. “Red Hot Mamas: Bessie Smith, Sophie Tucker and the Ethnic Maternal Voice in American Popular Song.” In Embodied Voices: Representing Female Vocality in Western Culture, ed. Leslie C. Dunn and Nancy A. Jones, 212–29. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994.
Averill, Gage. Four Parts No Waiting: A Social History of American Barbershop Harmony. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.
Hardy, Sarah Madsen, and Kelly Thomas. “Listening to Race: Voice, Mixing, and Technological ‘Miscegenation’ in Early Sound Film.” In ClassicHollywood, Classic Whiteness, ed. Daniel Bernardi, 415–41. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2001.
Lavitt, Pamela Brown. “First of the Red Hot Mamas: ‘Coon Shouting’ and the Jewish Ziegfeld Girl.” American Jewish History 87/4 (December 1999): 253–90.
Leonard, Neil. Jazz and the White Americans: The Acceptance of a New Art Form. London: Jazz Book Club, 1964.
Lhamon, W. T. Raising Cain: Blackface Performance from Jim Crow to Hip-Hop. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1998.
Mann, Geoff. 2008. “Why does country music sound white? Race and the voice of nostalgia” in Ethnic and Racial Studies Vol. 31 No. 1 January 2008 pp. 73_100
Olwage, Grant. 2002. “Scriptions of the choral : the historiography of black South African choralism” in SAMUS: The South African Journal of Musicology Vol. 22, pp. 29-45.
___. 2004a. Music and (post)colonialism : the dialectics of choral culture on a South African frontier. PhD Thesis, Rhodes University. Grahamstown: South Africa.
___. 2004b. “The Class and Colour of Tone: An Essay on the Social History of Vocal Timbre” in Ethnomusicology Forum Vol. 13, No. 2, pp. 203-226.
Michael Rogin. 2002. “Blackface, White Noise: The Jewish Jazz Singer Finds His Voice” in Critical Inquiry, Vol. 18, No. 3. (Spring, 1992), pp. 417-453. http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0093-1896%28199221%2918%3A3%3C417%3ABWNTJJ%3E2.0.CO%3B2-5
Rubio, Phil. “Crossover Dreams: The ‘Exceptional White’ in Popular Culture.” In Race Traitor, ed. Noel Ignatiev and John Garvey, 148–61. New York: Routledge, 1996.
Stras, Laurie. 2007. “White Face, Black Voice: Race, Gender, and Region in the Music of the Boswell Sisters” in Journal of the Society for American Music Vol. 1, No. 2, pp. 207–255
Walton, Julie H. 1992. Speaker race identification from acoustic cues in the vocal signal. Ph. D. Thesis, Memphis State University.
Walton, Julie H. and Robert F. Orlikoff. 1994. “Speaker Race Identification From Acoustic Cues in the Vocal Signal” in Journal of Speech and Hearing Research Vol.37 738-745 August 1994.
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Thursday, January 24, 2008
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
I'm also taking superstar Suzanne Cusick's music and gender course this semester. It's a course this department is most famous for, and I'm really excited about it. The workload is pretty intense, but I have a reduced course load this semester to assist me with exam prep, so I think this is probably the best time of all to be doing this.
I'm also in the middle of submitting a whole series of applications for summer funding and summer work. It is a bit of a challenge, as there aren't many options open to international students, but I'm stretching my options a bit, and putting a lot of emphasis on my choral experience. One of the possibilities I'm most excited about will involve training childrens' choir all summer. I would so love to do that! The summer is a challenge for all students, and a lot of people warned me about the particular challenges of international grad student summers. But I'm sure I'll be able to make something work. Worst case scenario, I spend the summer waiting tables in Johannesburg, and saving money for the new year. Let's hope it doesn't come to that!
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
So here is list 1:
The topic is "Afrikaans Music", and I am adding items as I access them (NYU interlibrary loan is working overtime, but wonderfully efficiently). But here, for now, is the start. Any other suggestions are much appreciated.
Bezuidenhout, Andries. 2007. “From Voëlvry to De La Rey: Popular music, Afrikaner Nationalism and lost irony” on LitNet http://www.litnet.co.za/cgi-bin/giga.cgi?cmd=cause_dir_news_item&news_id=11123&cause_id=1270 28 February 2007. Accessed 14 January 2008.
Bosman, Martjie. 2004. “Die FAK Fenomeen: Populêre Afrikaanse Musiek en Volksliedjies” in Tydskrif vir Letterkunde Vol. 41, No. 2. (2004), pp. 21-46.
Byerly, Ingrid Bianca. 1996. The Music Indaba: Music as Mirror, Mediator and Prophet in the South African Transition From Apartheid to Democracy. PhD Dissertation, Department of Cultural Anthropology, Duke University.
Currin, Brian and Stephen Segerman (eds). 1996-2007. South African Rock Encyclopedia. http://www.rock.co.za/. Accessed 14 January 2008.
Grobbelaar, Pieter W. 1999. Kommandeer! Kommandeer!: Volksang uit die Anglo-Boereoorlog. Pretoria: J. P. van der Walt.
Grundlingh, Albert. 2004. “"Rocking the Boat" in South Africa? Voëlvry Music and Afrikaans Anti-Apartheid Social Protest in the 1980s” in The International Journal of African Historical Studies, Vol. 37, No. 3. (2004), pp. 483-514.
Hamm, Charles. 1985. “Rock 'n' Roll in a Very Strange Society” in Popular Music, Vol. 5, Continuity and Change, pp. 159-174.
Hopkins, Pat. 2006. Voelvry: The Movement That Rocked South Africa.
Jury, Brendan. 1996. “Boys to Men: Afrikaans Alternative Popular Music 1986-1990” in African Languages and Cultures, Vol. 9, No. 2, Gender and Popular Culture, pp. 99-109.
Ludemann, Winfried. 2003. “Uit Die Diepte Van Ons See: An Archetypal Interpretation of Selected Examples of Afrikaans Popular Music” in South African Journal of Musicology/Suid-Afrikaanse Tydskrif vir Musiekwetenskap, Vol. 23, pp. 13-41
Monday, January 07, 2008
Prior to the performance, we had dinner at Xai Xai, a recently opened South African Wine Bar in the hell's kitchen neighbourhood. In the interests of an authentic South African experience, we ordered Cathedral Cellars (KWV) Shiraz, pap, wors and tomato and onion chow, curried fish, Malva pudding and pumpkin fritters with cinnamon sugar. It was a fabulous meal, not cheap, but more "authentic" (yes, I know that's a very unacademic word, but it works, here) than what I had at that other South African restaurant that shall not be named. I definitely plan to visit again.
Thursday, January 03, 2008
The weekend before Christmas, NYChoirgirl's parents celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary (Congratulations, Mr and Mrs NYChoirgirl!) with a wonderful party that has taken NYChoirgirl and her sister nearly a year to plan and organize, and went off without a hitch.
And Christmas the next week was super. NYChoirgirl and I had a quiet Christmas dinner together, followed by midnight mass on Christmas eve. On Christmas day we overdosed on sugar, with home baked Greek shortbread, home-made marzipan, Christmas pies and Quality Street chocolates (purchased at Myer's of Keswick), and wonderful, and very boozy, fruit cake, made by a friend of NYChoirgirl's in Vermont. It arrived by post, wrapped in bourbon-soaked cheese cloth, moist and crumbly, and wonderful.
And then the next day, we left for a four day holiday in Philadelphia. We had a wonderful time, visiting Independence hall, and the liberty bell, the national constitution center, Penn's landing, society hill, the Jewish American museum, the Reading Terminal Market, the Italian market, and the museum of Art. We had wonderful dinners at several fabulous restaurants, incredible ice cream, and super tea, on one evening, over a game of scrabble. We played pool in the basement of a cute women's bar, tasted shoo fly pie bought at an amish stall, and admired a series of tapestries based on sketches by South African artist William Kentridge. We had such a wonderful time, I was sad to see it end.
But with New Year's eve the day after we returned, there wasn't much time to feel sorry for myself. We skipped between two parties on New Year's eve, watched the ball drop, and then tried to sleep while the partying continued next door into the early hours of the morning. And then we started the year by watching the Rose Parade on television, followed by a nice long walk to a New Year's day brunch, and bowling at a Jackson Height's bowling alley.
And now I'm home, huddled against the cold weather, doing bibliography searches, and getting excited, once again, about the reading I will be doing this semester. I really needed this break.
So, happy New Year, everyone. I hope 2008 is wonderful.