June 2014

Vocal Chamber Music

Vocal Chamber MusicVocal chamber music carries a rich tradition in Western music and has proven to be a highly versatile genre.  In 1985, Barbara Winchester and Kay Dunlap compiled an extensive repertoire guide to this broad form, approaching it from a unique angle that extends beyond simply music for one voice and a piano. Twenty-three years later, a new and updated edition has been released, providing additional resources for vocal chamber music performers.

One item of particular interest is the specific instrumentation that is targeted in this volume.  Entries included in this edition are exclusively collaborative in nature; the selections require one to twelve voices as well as one to twelve additional instruments other than piano or guitar.

Included titles were written as early as 1650, and span until 2005. The inclusion of voicing, instrumentation, date, and publisher adds a rich context to titles that are sometimes very obscure. To aid readers further, the authors include an index of music sources for locating scores from publishers that no longer exist.

This volume will particularly be useful for vocalists and voice teachers searching for new repertoire for concerts and recitals – particularly if they desire components of increased collaboration and variety.

Hannah Johnson, research assistant

The Oxford Dictionary of Music

oxford dictionary 6thThe Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music, a long-time standard music reference source, has received an upgrade with its latest edition, renamed the Oxford Dictionary of Music.

The sixth edition contains over 10,000 entries total, spanning the history of Western music and covering various musical topics, including theory terminology, major works and composer names, and musical instruments.  The dictionary also provides references to useful websites associated with some entries. The authors have included appendices for non-English terms and common musical abbreviations.  An online dictionary supplement, included with purchase of the dictionary, provides additional materials.

Writers Michael and Joyce Bourne Kennedy and editor Tim Rutherford-Johnson have broadened the scope in this expanded edition.  It includes 250 new entries to increase coverage of popular music, ethnomusicology, sound technology, and contemporary composers. Hundreds of preexisting entries have also been reviewed and updated.

Both scholars and amateurs alike will appreciate this update as they explore a variety of current and evolving topics.

Hannah Johnson, research assistant

Songwriter’s Market

2014-songwriters-marketThis industry directory provides songwriters at every level of experience with contact information and submission guidelines for companies in the music industry to whom they can submit demos in order to obtain contracts. Writer’s Digest Books publishes it annually.

Most of the companies listed are based in the United States, though there is some international coverage, especially in the Canadian market. While the directory is intended mainly for popular songwriters, one of the sections, titled “classical performing arts,” covers performing organizations like choirs and orchestras that are looking to commission works in the classical style.

The other seven sections of the directory include music publishers, record companies, record producers, managers and booking agents, music firms, play producers and publishers, and concerts and awards. Entries provide the company name, openness to submissions, contact information, year established, staff size, release frequency, method of payment, distribution vehicles, guidelines for submissions, music types sought, and recent releases by the company.

Before the main directory, each issue includes essays that guide less-experienced songwriters through various aspects of the profession, for example, ways to create more variety in lyrics, common pitfalls, and rip-off company types to watch out for.

Born to Play: The Ruby Braff Discography and Directory of Performances

BraffRuby Braff, a celebrated jazz trumpeter/cornetist with a professional performing career that spanned from the 1940s to the early 2000s, was a prolific and dedicated musician. Though not a household name like Benny Goodman or Louis Armstrong, his work commands the same level of respect from jazz performers and enthusiasts alike.

This discography by Thomas P. Hustad attempts to document all of Braff’s recordings (issued, unissued, and private) and performances. While the author admits that the goal was impossible to achieve, he did manage to create an extensive and thoroughly researched catalogue, over 600 pages long, that will be an valuable resource for those interested in Braff’s life and music.

In addition to providing standard discographical and biographical information, many of the entries contain a few paragraphs of enlightening or anecdotal information concerning the recording or performance, including stories from Braff and quotes from his colleagues and friends. These additions make the discography a fascinating read and an effective biography as well.

Abraham Myler, research assistant