Two January entries from my tweet diaries.
The first is about professional identity:
The second was a response to one of my tweets by the guru of archives social networking, Kate Theimer (@archivesnext):
The original tweet
was in regards to the Folkways album “Exotic Dances,” which you can view in its scanned glory (newly available via the beautiful new Smithsonian Collections Search Center) below:
Exotic Dances (FP 52/FW 8752, 1950) selected by La Meri
Jake Shimabukuro, worldwide ukulele virtuoso and phenom, is the subject of a new documentary by L.A.-based filmmaker Tadashi Nakamura, titled Life on Four Strings: Jake Shimabukuro. Jake describes himself as primarily a Hawaiian traditional musician, but his style incorporates all sorts of influences from jazz to rock to flamenco to Japanese classical music. The documentary was screened last night by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, and I really enjoyed it. The film begins with shots of ukulele construction, and also features interviews with Fred Kamaka, a maker of Kamaka Ukuleles.
The documentary will air on PBS at 9pm on the evening of 10 March 2013. Watch the trailer here:
Here’s the youtube video that launched Jake to fame outside of Hawaii, playing George Harrison’s “When My Guitar Gently Weeps”:
Check it out!
Instagram’s “Making of … ” series featured Carbonetti guitars last week. The gallery of various stages of guitar construction includes instagrams by Jimmy Carbonetti from his studio in New York, New York:
“I cut all of my own wood and wind all of my own pick ups,” says Jimmy.
See the entire gallery at Instagram’s tumblr or read more about Jimmy “Cobra” Carbonetti in this June 2011 interview by IO Tillet Wright in The Lowdown (NYTimes Magazine Blog).
This is not the first time musicians around the world have faced punishing consequences for being rebellious.
In light of the events surrounding Pussy Riot in Russia, NPR Music’s Elizabeth Blair reports on other musicians who have voiced unpopular political opinions. It’s an excellent illustration of the political aspects of music and song. In an interview with Afropop‘s Banning Eyre, focused on the music of Thomas Mapfumo, Blair observes:
The two year jail sentence for the members of the band Pussy Riot might seem extreme to people in the U.S. where musicians are protected under freedom of speech. But this is not the first time musicians around the world have faced punishing consequences for being rebellious.
Read the full story at NPR’s The Record: Music as the Ultimate Rebel Yell
I found my ARSC newsletter in the post when I arrived home this evening. I was quite taken with the illustration on back, RAAF pilot Eric Douglas playing a record for Adelie penguins in Antarctica, January 1931:
The photo was taken by Frank Hurley during the British, Australian and New Zealand Research Expedition (BANZARE) of 1929–1931, an “acquisitive” expedition with the purpose of claiming extensive areas of the Antarctic for the British Commonwealth.
I enjoyed the photo’s playful tenor. Though the caption suggests “unappreciative” penguins (how would appreciative ones look?), the one reproduced in the newsletter shows one looking directly at the phonograph with what might be interpreted as an inquisitive gesture (then again, how would an inquisitive penguin look?). Perhaps somewhere in the National Library of Australia there is documentation as to what Douglas was playing for the penguins!
More photos are at the exhibit page, including a feature on albatrosses. More materials, including photographs and documents from the BANZARE expedition, can be searched online at the National Archives of Australia.
“How,” asks Kartomi, “do musical instruments reflect the musical thoughts of society?”
What if you asked how musical instruments shape (not just reflect) the musical thoughts (and actions) of a society?
It is possibly a seed for a more sociological approach. It is, potentially, more akin to actor-network theory and implies some role for objects themselves. What are an instrument’s affordances?
Kartomi, Margaret. 1990. On Concepts and Classifications of Musical Instruments
. Chicago and London: Univ. of Chicago Press.