Archive for the ‘music’ Category

Friday, November 8th, 2013

Music: 15 The Boffo Finish

Adventures in Music

Cab Calloway

Any performer will tell you, the way you leave the audience is the way they’ll remember your act. There’s no finale more unforgettable than the one in Stormy Weather.

Finale to “Stormy Weather” 1943 with Cab Calloway, Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, Lena Horne and the Nicholas Brothers

I’m constantly amazed at the “pop culture amnesia” that seems to be an epidemic today. People have forgotten some of the greatest achievements of mankind… and what have they replaced it with? Infomercials, current events clowns, celebrity gossip and patently phony reality shows. Now, I can already hear you saying… “Well. me and all my friends know about important stuff… all kinds of stuff!” Whenever I ask one of my archive interns what kind of music they listen to, I always get the same answer- “All kinds of music!” Then I ask, “Who’s your favorite country and western artist?” or “What’s your favorite opera?” and I get blank stares. It turns out that “all kinds of music” means “acid house, electronica, trance, darkwave, eurobeat, speedcore, etc.”- a million different names for basically the same kind of music. It isn’t their fault that they’re ignorant of the cultural riches of the 20th century. Big media has kept them in the dark so they can spoon feed them “pre-packaged, pasteurized entertainment product”.

The “good stuff” is all out there. You don’t need a fancy shmancy archive. All it takes is a “breadcrumb”, a clue, a YouTube video clip, an MP3, a name to Google- and this wonderful world opens up like a flower. It turns out that the world we live in really isn’t such a drab and dreary place after all!

Stephen Worth
Director
Animation Resources

Adventures in MusicAdventures in Music

This posting is part of a series of articles comprising an online exhibit entitled Adventures in Music.

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

Music: 14 The Importance of Skill

Adventures in Music

Niccolo Paganini

Now here’s an area of music where I’m a little out of my familiar territory. I played violin for one grueling year in elementary school and swore off it forever (much to the relief of my parents). Although I’m interested in violin music (as long as someone else is holding the fiddle) I’ve never really explored the repertoire for solo violin. I know a little bit about Paganini- he was a flamboyant showman who used pyrotechnic technique to dazzle audiences- and I know Nathan Milstein was a great violinist who performed into his 80s- but I can’t call myself knowledgeable about this stuff at all.

Nathan Milstein: “Paganiniana” 1968
(sorry for the typo in the slate)

But I can tell you that when I first saw this clip on EMI’s Great Recordings of the Century DVD, my jaw was hanging on the floor. Ever since Andy Warhol made “ideas without skill” fashionable back in the 60s, it seems to me that popular culture has been playing a game of “skill limbo”. How low can we go? How badly drawn can a cartoon be and still be considered a cartoon? How many drum machines and sequencers can we stack up to avoid having to learn a real instrument? How much plastic surgery does it take to make acting skills unnecessary? I really don’t know the answers to those questions. Every day is a new horror.

But when I see someone who has both an idea AND skill, I’m reminded just how doggone powerful and dynamic a creative artist can be. I’m sick and tired of accepting “half a loaf”. Speak to me with eloquence. Dazzle me with your skill. Communicate an important idea. I insist on “all of the above”.

Stephen Worth
Director
Animation Resources

Adventures in MusicAdventures in Music

This posting is part of a series of articles comprising an online exhibit entitled Adventures in Music.

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

Music: 13 Artists Collaborating Without Words

Adventures in Music

Duke Ellington

Here’s another stunning clip from Norman Granz: Improvisation. This video captures the moment when the painter and sculptor Joan Miro (apologies in advance to the punctuation police) and jazz composer Duke Ellington meet for the first time for an improvised jazz session. I’ve witnessed similar unusual artistic collaborations myself- I produced a rock video for Bjork (more apologies!) that was designed and animated by John K.

Duke Ellington: “Improvisation for Miro”

Parties at my house are always interesting interactions between cartoonists, musicians and creators of all stripes. Sometimes these sorts of things don’t work out- Walt Disney and Salvador Dali’s “Destino” was never meant to be (and when it finally was completed, it looked very little like either of their work). But when two great creative minds in different disciplines can find a way to work in tandem, wondeful things can happen. I’m sure there are more unusual collaborations between different types of artists. If you can think of some, tell me about them in the comments.

Stephen Worth
Director
Animation Resources

Adventures in MusicAdventures in Music

This posting is part of a series of articles comprising an online exhibit entitled Adventures in Music.