Programming music by underrepresented groups: how do we reach our new normal?

By Megan McLaughlin

The year 2020 started with even more performances of Ludwig van Beethoven’s compositions than usual — many symphonies, chamber music societies, and organizations announced their plans to perform all of the legendary Romantic composer’s nine symphonies, complete piano sonatas, string quartets, and more in honor of his 250th birthday. It’s a shame that the dead white guy can’t be here with us to celebrate.

In the 2019 report of “The year in statistics” from Bachtrack, a London-based online classical music magazine, Beethoven was listed as the most performed composer of the year, based on the 34,648 concerts the publication listed on their website. Beethoven was also first in 2018 and 2016, and was second only to Mozart — another dead, white, male composer — in 2017, 2015, and 2014. Considering his undisputed popularity in ordinary years, many were not thrilled to hear of a yearlong celebration of a composer who is already given plenty of attention.

Continue reading “Programming music by underrepresented groups: how do we reach our new normal?”

Why 645AR Is More Serious Than You Think

By Jason Kreloff

645AR, despite nobody knowing his real name or identity, deals with a lot of slander everyday on internet blogs, in video reactions, and even on his own Instagram and Twitter pages. Comments range from the simple, “645AR is trash” to backhanded jokes like “645AR makes music only dogs can hear.” However, like any serious artist who truly believes in their craft, he takes all of the criticism and hate in stride.

Scam Rap Has Put Detroit Back on the Map

By Jason Kreloff

Have you ever wanted to know how to make quick and easy cash on your computer or mobile device? Well look no further — Detroit’s array of scam rappers have got you covered. 

Since they emerged out of Motor City obscurity, rap artists such as Teejayx6, 10kkev, and Kasher Quon have been seamlessly integrating genre-pushing musical experimentation with get rich quick schemes, creating a whole new lane of hip-hop known as scam rap. In a typical song, you might find instructions or “methods” encoded in the lyrics. Methods can range from simple card cracking to full-on dark web scams.

Continue reading “Scam Rap Has Put Detroit Back on the Map”

Motivation during Isolation

By Tyler Smith

For most of my life I’ve been a musician and a runner. Both are things that require lots of self discipline and motivation. But now that we are all stuck at home with all the time in the world, why has it suddenly become so difficult to stay motivated? Why does lying in bed all day watching TV suddenly sound infinitely more appealing than spending my time pursuing what I love?

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Tiny Ref Desk Concerts bring good vibes to Conservatory Library

By Megan McLaughlin

Name a venue that regularly presents performances by jazz trios, early music choirs, flute ensembles, acapella groups, and other seemingly random and disparate musical acts. An unexpected venue that might not have made your list for such an assortment of offerings is the Oberlin Conservatory Library. “The more outside of the box, the more fun it becomes,” Reference Librarian Kathy Abromeit said during a Zoom interview about the monthly Tiny Ref Desk concert series.

Inspired by National Public Radio’s popular Tiny Desk Concerts, the Conservatory Library series is outside the norm of what one typically might expect from their everyday library experience. In October of 2018, the Library began hosting twenty-minute noontime concerts performed by a variety of groups — the first was a jazz ensemble — as a way to promote student library workers, give instrumental studios a new venue at which to perform, and change the relationship patrons feel toward the space.

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Analog vs. Digital and Why You Shouldn’t Care Anymore

Roland Space EchoBy Jason Kreloff

The last thing we need is one more white cisgendered male in the music recording industry giving heated opinions on why your digital plug-ins sound like trash— all the while flaunting complicated pieces of analog equipment that would destroy your bank account.

Chances are, if you heard a song on the radio, it has been recorded, engineered,  mixed, and mastered by a man. Historically, through privilege and generational wealth, white men have used positions of power to monopolize the making of music. This results in the boxing out of those with no access to resources.

Even worse, analog studio equipment is really expensive these days, which makes establishing a professional audio career all the more daunting. However, analog gear ultimately means nothing for the future of music. Continue reading “Analog vs. Digital and Why You Shouldn’t Care Anymore”

Desert Island Discs

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As an in-class writing assignment, we gave students 15 minutes to answer the question, “What three CDs would you want to have with you on the proverbial desert island?”

Lilyanna D’Amato 

WonderI would do terribly on a desert island. I’d be a nervous wreck — for sure the first to go in a Lost situation. I’d get all weepy and scared but, to give myself some credit, I think I would also become imaginatively retrospective. I’d spend my days on the lonely beach looking back at old memories, watching them in my mind. I’d stave off insanity by reminding myself of who I have been at different points of my life, holding on to selfhood as a means of survival, parsing together broken images of car rides and concerts and thanksgivings and parties and tears and laughs and all that comes with growing up. Continue reading “Desert Island Discs”

John Prine’s Intimate House of Strombo Performance: Concert Review

By Maisie Sheidlower

Everything about the first five minutes of the House of Strombo performance, streamed on CBC music, made clear that it was recorded at a time before now. Quick shots to the stand-up bassist’s hands revealed them to be gloveless. Pans to the grinning faces of the audience revealed them to be maskless. Wider shots of the venue staff revealed them to be flirtily nudging each other — partaking in the physical contact many of us have been deprived of for so long now. And, in the center of it all, John Prine, who as of this week is another privilege Corona has dictated we must go without. 

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Wet Ink Ensemble: Glossolalia/Lines on Black

By Tyler Smith

Hailed by the New York Times as “The Best Classical Music Ensemble of 2018,” Wet Ink Ensemble has lived up to this acclaim once again with their recent release Glossolalia/Lines on Black. The album takes its name from the two extended works by Wet Ink members Alex Mincek (saxophone) and Sam Pluta (electronics). The remainder of the septet includes Eric Wubbels (piano), Erin Lesser (flutes), Ian Antonio (percussion), Josh Modney (violin), and Kate Soper (voice). 

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Jazz Forum Review

OglesbyBy Damani Malcolm

On February 21st, I settled into a seat at the Cat in the Cream to watch Ben Oglesby’s Quintet play what will probably be Stolof’s final Jazz Forum. I was hoping the group — composed of himself on guitar, Matt Stolof (drums), Gervis Myles (bass), Abe Gold (piano), and Max Schlenk (tenor saxophone) — would take the opportunity to make a statement, and I was not disappointed.  Continue reading “Jazz Forum Review”