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Prairie Pop: The sound of money

The Great Gatsby

Carey Mulligan has always wanted a killer line. In a 2009 interview with the New York Times, she wondered where all the good lines had gone, the ones she remembered from a youth spent watching family friendly action films like Indiana Jones. “Someone’s almost fallen off a cliff,” she said, “and then they don’t, and […]

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Prairie Pop: Girls got game

In the classic Destiny’s Child song “Say My Name,” the protagonist suspects that her man is cheating on her because his voice has changed: “Every other word is ‘uh huh,’ ‘yeah,’ ‘okay.’ Could it be that you are at the crib with another lady?” The woman, voiced by Beyoncé, demands reassurance through spoken language. Fully rejecting the idea that “actions speak louder than words,” Beyoncé argues for the importance of words themselves and the voices that speak them. Who else is there? What is your voice hiding? And why can’t you just say my name? […]

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Prairie Pop: The World was a Song..Then it all Went Wrong – Review of Tom Hooper’s Les Misérables

In 1915, American opera singer Mary Case took to the stage and sang alongside phonograph recordings of her own voice. She was Thomas Edison’s favorite singer, so the story goes, and she was participating in a massive series of promotions for Edison’s phonograph and record company that became known as the Tone Tests. The purpose […]

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Prairie Pop: Radiolies? “Truth” in Sound and Storytelling

At the end of September, the podcast Radiolab went in search of “truth.” It was a daunting task, to be sure, but not wholly outside the scope of the program, which bills itself as “a show about curiosity…where sound illuminates ideas, and the boundaries blur between science, philosophy and human experience.” In essence, it’s a […]

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Prairie Pop: Making Music Work – David Byrne on the economics of the music industry

I recently watched David Byrne give a Power Point lecture on the economics of the music industry. That a man with a flair for dramatic presentation, a wisp of a man who famously wore an outrageously large suit in a concert documentary, a punk-rocker who was singing at CBGB’s since before his new collaborator, St. Vincent, […]

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Brain Waves: MP3’s and the Science of Sound

“One of nature’s greatest wonders is the ability of the human ear to distinguish among the millions of sounds around us. Each sound has a distinctive pitch, loudness, and quality….these characteristics are determined by the frequency, intensity, and of sound waves which your ears pick up and analyze.” So begins The Science of Sound, a […]

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On the Beat: Will rock for food

In February 1852, John Sullivan Dwight, a transcendentalist and graduate of Harvard Divinity School, decided to start a music magazine. In a pamphlet outlining his ideas, he wrote that his journal would cover the developments of “the Musical Movement in our country, of the growing love of deep and genuine music, of the growing consciousness […]

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On the Beat: Counting down

Seemingly no one hates Counting Crows more than Guided by Voices frontman Robert Pollard. An oft-cited gem from his 2005 stage-banter album, Relaxation of the Asshole, goes something like this: “I wanna know how the guy from the Counting Crows used to fuck everybody from Friends? How the fuck’d he do it? He’s an ugly […]

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On the Beat: Summer earcation

In his 1992 book A Sound Education, Canadian composer and theorist Murray Schafer made this observation about contemporary life and listening: “As people have moved to cities over the past century they have developed a preference for close-up sounds…” […]

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On the Beat: F’n A, It’s May!

On May 1, 1965, at an annual celebration in Prague, Allen Ginsberg was crowned the King of May. The tradition of May Day and its royalty was founded back in who-knows-when for reasons of who-knows-what (pagans or something), but on this particular May Day, ’60s counterculture and communist oppression met head-on. After Ginsberg was paraded […]

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On the Beat: It's Raining Shows

In Langston Hughes’ 1921 poem “April Rain Song,” the thing that everyone hates about April–its big problem–is instead turned into a point of celebration, ending with the lines, “The rain plays a little sleep song on our roof at night / And I love the rain.” This point was totally lost on Billie Myers, who borrowed the phrase “Kiss the Rain” (taken from the poem’s first line) to create… […]

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DeVotchKa

Saturday, April 1 – First United Methodist Church – $20 Beyond some of the common descriptors–Balearic-folk, gypsy-punk–Denver’s DeVotchKa is best understood as a theatrical band, a band who makes music that is soaring, moody, orchestral and filled with a kind of yearning that most bands can only hint at. Their first record, 2000’s aptly-titled Supermelodrama, […]

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