Author: oconnellmusic101

  • Blood Memory in Porgy and Bess

    Over the weekend, I saw the Metropolitan Opera’s wonderful new production of George Gershwin’s 1935 opera Porgy and Bess. Choreographer Camille A. Brown, below, was interviewed backstage about the dances she created for the production. She spoke about drawing on the performers’ “blood memory.” In a recent TED talk, Brown explained that: Movement has always […]

  • The Happy Heaven of Harlem

    Many artists moved to Harlem, where they were free to cultivate the inner life. Langston Hughes, the most famous poet of the Harlem Renaissance, reading his poem “I, Too”: The Harlem Renaissance was the artistic flowering of the Great Migration. As Duke Ellington wrote in “Drop Me Off in Harlem”: I don’t want your Dixie,You […]

  • Playlist and Journal Assignment for “Race and the Embodiment of Culture”

    Content warning: racist imagery. One of your first reading assignments, “Race and the Embodiment of Culture” by John Szwed, was published in the journal Ethnicity in 1975. Szwed makes reference to many music and dance forms, as well as visual imagery, across times, places, and cultures. This post is a compendium of the forms he […]

  • Black Girls’ Handgames

    The D.C.-based arts organization Black Girls Handgames Project is dedicated to remixing and repurposing classic (pre-electronics) children’s games, many of which originated in communities of color. Cofounder OnRae LaTeal explains: The children’s handgame “Miss Mary Mack,” for instance, played here by the great folksinger Ella Jenkins (with some assistance from . . . Barney), dates […]

  • The DNA of American Classical Music

    While driving to Target to buy a new vacuum on Black Friday (oh, the glamorous life of an adjunct!), I turned on the radio to the classical station, which was in the middle of this piece, in a new arrangement for piano quintet (piano, two violins, viola, and cello). At first I thought it was […]

  • Composing Irony

    The round tune “Frère Jacques” (Brother John) is known across cultures and languages in Europe. In German, it’s called “Bruder Martin” or “Bruder Jakob.” In the third movement of his Symphony no. 1 in D minor, Gustav Mahler presents us with a sardonic, funeral-march like version of the song in minor. He was inspired by […]

  • The Valkyries

    The stirring “Ride of the Valykyries” opens Act III of Wagner’s opera Die Walküre. Eight of the nine Valkyries, the warrior daughters of Wotan, ride their horses onto the battlefield to gather up the dead heroes and take them to Valhalla, the home of the gods. They await their sister Brünnhilde, who arrives with Sieglinde […]

  • A Curated Motown Playlist

    The first single released on the Motown label in 1960. The Motown house band, the Funk Brothers.

  • Some Motor City History

    Blind Blake (1896-1938) recorded “Detroit Bound Blues” for Paramount in 1928. It’s a kind of miniature record of at least some of the impetus behind the Great Migration. I’m goin’ to Detroit, get myself a good jobI’m goin’ to Detroit, get myself a good jobTried to stay around here with the starvation mob I’m goin’ […]

  • “Ode to Joy” Re/Mix

    Some resources for your final project. The text of Friedrich Schiller’s “Ode to Joy”: “An die Freude” “Ode to Joy” Freude, schöner Götterfunken,Tochter aus Elysium,Wir betreten feuertrunken,Himmlische, dein Heiligtum!Deine Zauber binden wiederWas die Mode streng geteilt*;Alle Menschen werden Brüder*Wo dein sanfter Flügel weilt. Wem der große Wurf gelungenEines Freundes Freund zu sein;Wer ein holdes Weib […]