Monday, August 29, 2005

Hip-hop media whoring
In Hip-Hop, Making Name-Dropping Pay

By Krissah Williams
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, August 29, 2005; D01

From a generic brick office building at the end of a road in Lanham, Tony Rome is creating a niche in an artless side of hip-hop that some people would rather not discuss.

Rome hooks up rap stars, R&B singers and urban comedians with major corporations that want to reach their fans. The ideal relationship, says Rome, who founded Maven Strategies in 1996, would have an artist write a brand name into a song, feature the brand in a music video and partner with the brand in other promotions, getting paid by the brand's owner along the way.

He began a recent Monday morning meeting at his six-person marketing firm with a bit of genial how-was-your-weekend banter. One company rep had gone to Dream night club in Northeast Washington; another played basketball with her boyfriend at ESPN Zone, and beat him. A company vice president celebrated his young son's birthday.

The conversation circled back around the small conference room to Rome, and on to business.

"So what's the status on the Seagram's Gin Live tour," asked Rome, a cool 37-year-old with a closely cropped afro.

Maven said he is promoting a concert tour for Seagram's Gin, and that he recently arranged a meeting between the liquor brand and singing hip-hop darling Lil' Mo at B. Smith's restaurant. The deal is done, Maven said, and contracts are signed. Seagram's will pay for the concert, the singer will headline the tour, and the posters promoting the concerts will prominently feature the gin.

Everything from gin to luxury cars is on the table, eagerly awaiting placement in a rapper's song or on the banner above a comedian's tour. For a price.

On to the next matter. Has the company that paid to have its product placed in scenes of up-and-coming Houston rapper Slim Thug's new music video approved the final cut? Thug is the latest rapper in hip-hop's dirty south genre, with its big beats and yell-along choruses. Rome declined to name the company that paid for the placement.

"We have the still pictures, but we're waiting for the video," said Lamar Lee-Kane Sr., Maven's vice president of branded entertainment.

The way Rome sees it, "no other media outlet gives away anything for free."

"We are trying to bridge that gap" between hip-hop artists and corporate America, he said.

With that philosophy as a guide, he has built Maven into a player in urban branding and product placement in hip-hop music and videos, advertising industry watchers say.

"In the past, [product placements] were negotiated in a somewhat informal way; what Maven Strategies has done is to really codify the relationship and create a structure for how much people get paid," said Lucian James, president of Agenda Inc., a San Francisco-based brand research firm. "That's one of the holy grails for product placement: to really work out what it is worth."

Rome began showing celebrities the money when he founded his company as an independent sports agency nine years ago, representing NFL players Kevin Hardy and Brian Mitchell. But as America's idols changed, so did Maven. As Michael Jordan grew older, kids no longer wanted "to be like Mike" but like Brooklyn rapper Jay-Z.

Soon Rome was no longer inking deals for football players. A deal in 2000 promoting the national Kings of Comedy tour, headlined by African American funnymen Steve Harvey, Cedric the Entertainer and Bernie Mac, led to a focus on urban entertainment and eventually hip-hop music. Rome got the HBO cable network, Crown Royal Whisky and other sponsors to back the tour with $1 million.

"What we are really about is helping our clients connect with their customers in unique creative ways," Rome said. He also works on product placements in urban films and finding corporate sponsorships for events targeted at African Americans, such as a program to stop childhood obesity.

Maven's prices vary depending on the branding a company is after, but Rome made news last Spring when Advertising Age, the ad world's publication-to-read, splashed a story across its Web site about a deal Maven stuck with McDonald's. According to the story, McDonald's confirmed that if rappers would include "Big Mac" in their lyrics, the fast food giant would pay them between $1 and $5 each time their song was played on the radio. Rome won't discuss the deal with McDonald's in further detail and guards his client list closely.

Most brands that hire Maven for product placement would rather not draw attention to the money exchanging hands between companies and the rappers.

Corporations want consumers to assume that rappers name-dropping hamburgers, cell phones or cars wrote the brands into their lyrics because they love them not because they were paid, said William Chipps, senior editor with IEG Sponsorship Report.

"It has to be organic," Chipps said. "It can't be blatant."

"Organic" is subjective. Robert "T-Mo" Barnett, a member of the once widely popular Atlanta rap group Goodie Mob, is working with Maven on a deal to promote a brand. Maven gave him the name of the product, and he wrote it into the lyrics of the single he is planning to release this year. T-Mo's contract with the company has not yet been signed, and Maven would not identify the brand. How much the company pays him for mentioning the brand depends on the radio popularity of the single.

T-Mo was in the studio recently and laid down the song, which he is calling "What's Happening."

"I was vibing," the rapper said. "It just came natural. I heard a good beat, and I just flowed with it. It was nothing I had to really force.

"I am helping them brand their company and at the same time they are helping me," he said. "I got a brand new baby boy, and I'm trying to feed him right now. I want to be smart about every move I make so I can maximize my earnings."

Larry Khan, senior vice president of R&B promotion and marketing for Jive Records, said this process for making music is "pretty much accepted."

"I guess in days gone by it would have looked like the artist was selling out, but now it has become a part of American culture. It doesn't hurt your street cred," he said.

Hip-hop artists, who often rhyme about their lives, fantasies and aspirations, have been touting their favorite brands in songs for years and subconsciously enticing their fans to buy them.

Hip-hop originally functioned as a sort of "black CNN," as rapper Chuck D of Public Enemy dubbed the music in the late 1980s. And the transition to mainstream pop culture, and thus branding, began innocently -- and unpaid. In 1986, popular Brooklyn rap group Run-DMC released "My Adidas" -- an ode to the sneaker company and their personal style. The song topped the charts and boosted the company's sales. Later, Adidas offered the rappers a paid sponsorship deal, and the relationship between the business and the art was formed.

In the past decade, the link between rappers and brands has evolved along with the music's promotion of bling and living the luxurious life. According to Agenda, brands were mentioned almost 1,000 times in the top 20 singles last year on the Billboard charts. The top brands were: Cadillac (70 mentions), Hennessy (69), Mercedes-Benz (63), Rolls Royce (62), and Gucci (49).

In the popular song "Overnight Celebrity" Grammy-nominated rapper Twista mentioned nine brands, including these:

I can get you on CDs and DVDs

Take you to BeBe and BCBG, . . .

Y'all take a look at her, she got such an astonishing body

I can see you in some Gucci or Roberto Cavalli

Rome said 90 percent of those radio plugs were free product placements and would cost the companies upwards of a billion dollars if they were paid advertisements.

"Hip-hop is really the only music genre that embraces brands in their songs and because they are doing it, I think the hip-hop artists should be paid for it," Rome said.

At least one of those artists was not only paid but says so in his song.

A version of Maven client Petey Pablo's song "Freek-a-Leek," which was one of the most played last year, included this line:

Now I got to give a shout out to Seagram's Gin/Cause I'm drinkin' it and they payin' me for it.
© 2005 The Washington Post Company

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Book Says Alan Lomax Neglected Black Scholars

John W. Work III (ca. 1950.) was a composer and musicologist at Fisk University in Nashville.

New York Times
August 29, 2005
Book Says Alan Lomax Neglected Black Scholars

A new book asserts that the American folklorist Alan Lomax gave short shrift to the work of black scholars who accompanied him on now legendary trips to the Mississippi Delta to record seminal blues artists like Muddy Waters.

Lomax's recordings for the Library of Congress, made during his travels through the South in the 1930's and 40's, make up perhaps the greatest repository of American vernacular music ever compiled.

But he was not alone on some of those trips. Three African-American scholars from Fisk University in Nashville, a black college founded in 1865 to educate newly freed slaves, accompanied him on two pivotal trips to Coahoma County in Mississippi in 1941 and 1942. And they continued to work on the project after Lomax left the Library of Congress. But Lomax, in his critically praised 1993 memoir, "The Land Where the Blues Began" (Pantheon Books), gives the three only a few cursory mentions, one in the acknowledgments. In the memoir, Lomax, who died in 2002, also conflates the two Coahoma County trips into a single trip.

In the new book, "Lost Delta Found" (Vanderbilt University Press), the editors, Robert Gordon and Bruce Nemerov try to set the record straight by publishing the long-forgotten manuscripts of the Fisk scholars: John W. Work III, a composer and musicologist; Lewis Wade Jones, a sociologist; and Samuel C. Adams Jr., a graduate student. Mr. Gordon and Mr. Nemerov say these manuscripts provide a more balanced picture of the Coahoma County research as well as a more nuanced analysis of the Jim Crow South than is to be found in Lomax's memoir.

Published with the three Fisk manuscripts are 158 songs transcribed by Work, ranging from the familiar ("Shoo Fly," "Shortnin' Bread") to the whimsically obscure ("Stuball," "I Am a Funny Little Dutch Girl").

"Work's transcriptions show us that Mississippi wasn't only about the blues," said Mr. Nemerov, a former audio specialist at the Center for Popular Music at Middle Tennessee State University, who unearthed about two-thirds of Work's hand-written manuscript at Fisk University in 1989 and wrote about it in The Tennessee Folklore Society Bulletin. "There are children's songs and other social songs that serve no purpose other than for neighbors to entertain each other."

According to "Lost Delta Found," it was Work, the leader of the Fisk research team, who initiated the Mississippi study when he applied to the Library of Congress for money to support a recording trip to Natchez. Alerted to Work's interest in Southern vernacular music, Lomax, who ran the library's Archive of American Song, entered the picture and, Mr. Gordon and Mr. Nemerov say, diverted the project to Coahoma. Once the team arrived in Coahoma, they were told of a blues singer who worked as a farmhand on Col. Howard Stovall's plantation. That farmhand turned out to be McKinley Morganfield, a k a Muddy Waters.

Lomax wrote extensively of the Coahoma Country trips in "The Land Where the Blues Began," published long after the fact, but the research was supposed to have been jointly published some five decades earlier by Fisk University and the Library of Congress. The Fisk scholars' manuscripts were somehow lost after they were sent to the Library of Congress in 1943 by Work, who died in 1967, and have been published for the first time in "Lost Delta Found."

"Lost Delta Found" is an outgrowth of Mr. Gordon's research for his 2002 biography "Can't Be Satisfied: The Life and Times of Muddy Waters" (Little, Brown). Tipped off in the late 1990's by Mr. Nemerov to Work's contributions, Mr. Gordon sifted through Lomax's vast archive at Hunter College in New York, where, after much burrowing, he found a manuscript stuffed in the back of a file cabinet in a powder-blue cover with Lewis Wade Jones's name on it. Also written on the cover were the words "Property of Fisk University." When Mr. Gordon matched up the document to the incomplete, hand-written manuscript that Mr. Nemerov had unearthed, he knew he had discovered a significant contribution to Southern folkloric scholarship.

The document was a revelation to Mr. Gordon, describing in vivid detail the ways Coahoma County's residents worked, played and practiced religion. He said Work's manuscript, in particular, is a crucial primer on the region's musical practices, from sermons to children's songs - his careful academic analysis leavened with interviews with the county's citizens.

"To me, Work is important because he's an academic who sees the value of homegrown, vernacular material," Mr. Gordon said. "Most academics were ashamed of that."

Work went into the Coahoma County project with an open mind, Mr. Gordon added. Unlike Lomax, Work took note of well-spoken blacks who owned land, and the fact that spirituals were already on the wane in certain parts of Mississippi - both of which ran counter to Lomax's assumptions about the Southern black man, Mr. Gordon said.

"That's the biggest difference between Work's assessment of the South and Lomax's evaluations in his own book," Mr. Gordon said. "One documented what was there, the other focused on what he'd expected to find. Lomax was disappointed to discover that blacks owned land, because it didn't conform to his vision of the South."

According to the book, Lomax used a photograph of a sharecropper's cabin in his book without giving proper credit to Work. The picture was found in the manuscript of Mr. Adams, the Fisk graduate student. Asked to comment on "Lost Delta Found," Ellen Harold, an editor and translator at the Alan Lomax Archive at Hunter College and Mr. Lomax's niece, said, "I feel the book makes claims and innuendoes that are ridiculous."

"Work wasn't neglected," she added. "Perhaps he would have been a greater folklorist had he had more support. But he had a tenured position at Fisk as chairman of the music department, and Alan never had an academic position. I just don't see him as much of a victim. Gordon and Nemerov claim that Alan used a photograph of Work's that wasn't credited, but I don't see how they can say with certainty that it was Work's."

Ms. Harold said she believed that Work had a copy of the manuscript all along, but never bothered to have it published. "My sense is that Work wasn't the most organized person," she said. "He requested the manuscript from the Library of Congress in 1958, and the correspondence from the Library doesn't indicate in any way that the manuscript had been lost or misplaced. He had 20 years to write about the project; he just never did."

Ms. Harold said she did not know how the Fisk manuscript wound up in Mr. Lomax's archive.

Regardless of the murky circumstances surrounding the mysterious loss and re-appearance of the Fisk research, Mr. Gordon said he hoped that "Lost Delta Found" would draw people to Work's scholarship.

"It's really beautiful work," said Mr. Gordon, "and there's a lot more of it." Mr. Gordon and Mr. Nemerov would like to publish a second volume of Work's essays and speeches.

As for Lomax and his legacy, Mr. Gordon is of two minds.

"I still believe that Lomax was a great folklorist," Mr. Gordon said. "But I do wonder why he had so much trouble acknowledging his peers, especially given the fact that they were African-American. Why would he miss that opportunity?"

Thursday, August 25, 2005

South African Kwaito

New York Times
August 25, 2005
Hip-Hop Hybrids That Scramble Traditions

It's no surprise to hear hip-hop flourishing in cities all over the world. But it is a surprise - and a pleasant one - to hear it flourishing so sneakily. It's like some sort of cultural witness protection program: when hip-hop goes abroad, it often goes underground, changing its name and modifying its identity. The resulting hybrid genres pay tribute to the global reach of hip-hop while also scrambling its traditions.

Two of the most exciting hybrids have parallel stories. The music known as kwaito (pronounced KWEYE-toh) is based in South Africa, and the music known as grime is based in London. Both genres have made stars out of brash young performers who bend rhymes around computer-generated beats. Both reflect the local popularity of dance music: the loping rhythms of kwaito reflect South Africa's love affair with house music, whereas grime is descended from club-friendly genres like drum 'n' bass and garage. Like hip-hop, these two genres seem inseparable from the black youth cultures from which they emerged.

Kwaito is well established in South Africa, and upstarts (like Brown Dash) and veterans (like Spikiri) are making great music. But the genre is all but invisible in America and online. A curious American listener would be hard-pressed to find kwaito MP3's, let alone albums or concerts.

By contrast, New York's grime fans have been enjoying a grimy summer. Over the past six weeks, the city has played host to a series of shows featuring Lady Sovereign, Kano, DJ Cameo and the collective known as Roll Deep. Thanks in part to the attention paid by blogs and magazines (The Fader just put Lady Sovereign on its back cover), New York now has fans who will hang out at the Knitting Factory until nearly 2 in the morning just to hear Roll Deep's rising rapper Trim declaim his staccato lyrics. Even in an MP3 era, some musical worlds are much closer than others.

Unfortunately, the best way for an American to hear kwaito involves a long flight to Johannesburg. On Y-FM, one of that city's leading radio stations (available online at, kwaito takes its place alongside hip-hop, house, R&B and reggae. And the most popular kwaito artists routinely sell gold (25,000 units) or platinum (50,000). Like hip-hop in America in the 1980's (or even now), kwaito is not yet reputable (skittish listeners still haven't gotten over the genre's associations with thuggery), but it is certainly resilient.

One of the biggest recent kwaito success stories is that of Brown Dash, who scored a big hit with "Phants' Komthunzi Welanga," based on a clattering house track and an eerie electronic sound that mimics a theremin. (The title, in Xhosa, translates as "Under the Shadow of the Sun.") The song comes from his excellent album "Mthandazo Wabolova" (T.S. Records, online at, which fits his tough but playful lyrics over thumping house beats by Guffy, who started his career in jazz, and M'Du, who helped create the sound known as kwaito.

Another strong new kwaito album comes from a veteran. Spikiri, a producer and a member of the popular kwaito act Trompies, recently released "Simply the Best" (Universal South Africa), with the hit "Current," which is No. 1 on Y-FM's Top 10. "Current" has an energetic house beat and ghostly electronic sounds wafting in and out of the mix. And throughout "Simply the Best," Spikiri uses his dance beats to glue together all sorts of songs; he's a pop star who thinks - and acts - like a D.J.

Grime in London is nothing like kwaito in Johannesburg: the genre still haven't gone mainstream. Many grime stars are having a difficult time capturing the energy of their scene on full-length CD's; even in Britain, grime remains mainly underground. Kano is responsible for a series of stunning singles that show off his slick but restless flow (he often rides the very back of the beat, as if he's about to fall off), but his import-only debut album, "Home Sweet Home" (679 Recordings), is only fitfully entertaining. He is at his least effective when he tries to broaden his appeal by trading the fast, clipped beats of grime for the more laid-back rhythms of hip-hop.

To see the frantic and fertile grime underground at work (and play), American listeners might track down "Lord of the Decks 3" (, a mixtape package of two DVD's and a CD. The DVD's include live performances (one was filmed in New York this past March) plus interviews and videos, and the CD has freestyles and previews of new tracks. And if you can't find a DVD or a mixtape (or a vinyl-only single), you can always find an MP3. A genre this chaotic - built from harsh, jagged beats and intricate shouted verses - might have been tailor-made for bloggers.

So why is kwaito so much more obscure in America? Part of the problem is language: kwaito lyrics are usually delivered in a mashed-up slang that draws heavily from Zulu and Xhosa and Afrikaans. But another problem is kwaito's relative accessibility. While grime stars thrill bloggers with messy, noisy tracks, kwaito tends to be more tuneful and more exuberant; to an American listener, a kwaito hit might sound less like a weird experiment and more like mainstream party music. Kwaito might be obscure partly because it doesn't sound obscure enough.

From another angle, though, the obscurity of kwaito in America shouldn't be a surprise at all. Grime is the exception, not the rule; even in the age of MP3's, the vast majority of the world's pop music will continue to go unheard in America, and that's probably fine. But in an Internet age, it's increasingly easy for music obsessives to imagine that they - which is to say, we - are keeping up with the most exciting sounds from all over the globe. Every once in a while, we should think about all that we're missing, and why.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Synthesizer Innovator Robert A. Moog Dies

Synthesizer Innovator Robert A. Moog Dies

By NATALIE GOTT, Associated Press Writer 34 minutes ago

Robert A. Moog, whose self-named synthesizers turned electric currents into sound, revolutionizing music in the 1960s and opening the wave that became electronica, has died. He was 71.

Moog died Sunday at his home in Asheville, according to his company's Web site. An inoperable brain tumor had been detected in April.

A childhood interest in the theremin, one of the first electronic musical instruments, would lead Moog to a create a career and business that tied the name Moog as tightly to synthesizers as the name Les Paul is to electric guitars.

Despite traveling in circles that included jet-setting rockers, he always considered himself a technician.

"I'm an engineer. I see myself as a toolmaker and the musicians are my customers," he said in 2000. "They use the tools."

As a Ph.D. student in engineering physics at Cornell University, Moog — rhymes with vogue — in 1964 developed his first voltage-controlled synthesizer modules with composer Herb Deutsch. By the end of that year, R.A. Moog Co. marketed the first commercial modular synthesizer.

The instrument allowed musicians, first in a studio and later on stage, to generate a range of sounds that could mimic nature or seem otherworldly by flipping a switch, twisting a dial, or sliding a knob. Other synthesizers were already on the market in 1964, but Moog's stood out for being small, light and versatile.

The arrival of the synthesizer came as just as the Beatles and other musicians started seeking ways to fuse psychedelic-drug experiences with their art. The Beatles used a Moog synthesizer on their 1969 album "Abbey Road"; a Moog was used to create an eerie sound on the soundtrack to the 1971 film "A Clockwork Orange."

Keyboardist Walter (later Wendy) Carlos demonstrated the range of Moog's synthesizer by recording the hit album "Switched-On Bach" in 1968 using only the new instrument instead of an orchestra.

Among the other classics using a Moog: the Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again," and Stevie Wonder's urban epic "Livin' for the City."

"Suddenly, there was a whole group of people in the world looking for a new sound in music, and it picked up very quickly," said Deutsch, the Hofstra University emeritus music professor who helped develop the Moog prototype.

"The Moog came at the right time," he said Monday.

The popularity of the synthesizer and the success of the company named for Moog took off in rock as extended keyboard solos in songs by Manfred Mann, Yes and Pink Floyd became part of the progressive sound of the 1970s.

"The sound defined progressive music as we know it," said Keith Emerson, keyboardist for the rock band Emerson, Lake and Palmer.

Along with rock, synthesizers developed since Moog's breakthrough helped inspire elements of 1970s funk, hip-hop, and techno.

Charles Carlini, a New York City concert promoter, staged Moogfest in May 2004 to mark a half-century since Moog founded his first company while still in college. Emerson, Rick Wakeman of Yes, and Bernie Worrell of Parliament/Funkadelic were among those who played, and a second Moogfest was held a year later.

Moog had "this absent-minded professorial way about him," Carlini said.

"He's like an Einstein of music," Carlini said. "He sees it like, there's a thought, an idea in the air, and it passes through him. Passing through him, he's able to build these instruments."

"A lot of people today don't realize what this man brought to the masses," Carlini said. "He brought electronic music to the masses and changed the way we hear music."

But the now-pervasive synthesizer's ability to mimic strings, horns, and percussion has also threatened some musicians.

In 2004, musicians extracted a promise from the Opera Company of Brooklyn to never again use an advanced kind of synthesizer, called a virtual orchestra machine, in future productions.

A deliberate man with brushed-back white hair and a breast pocket packed with pens, Moog drove an aging Toyota painted with a snail, vines and a fish blowing bubbles.

"When I drive that thing around, people smile at me," he said. "I really feel I'm enhancing the environment."

He spent the early 1990s as a research professor of music at the University of North Carolina at Asheville before turning full-time to running his new instrument business, which was renamed Moog Music in 2002. The roster of customers includes Nine Inch Nails, Pearl Jam, Beck, Phish, Sonic Youth and Widespread Panic.

Moog is survived by his wife, Ileana; two daughters, a son, a stepdaughter, and his former wife, Shireleigh Moog.

A public memorial is scheduled for Wednesday in Asheville.


Associated Press writer Emery P. Dalesio in Raleigh contributed to this report.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Iranian Music article

excerpt from Middle East Studies Association Bulletin

Introduction to Traditional Iranian Dastgâh Music
Margaret Caton, Los Angeles CA
Reprinted from the Middle East Studies Association Bulletin, July 1994 (with changes in orthography to HTML standards).
Copyright 1994 by the Middle East Studies Association of North America

TRADITIONAL IRANIAN dastgâh music, as fostered in the courts and the homes of the aristocracy, draws from many sources, including regional music styles, religious genres of melody and chant and popular songs that have been reworked by master musicians and their students. In different regional capitals, musicians acquired their repertoire from their master teacher through a process of listening and repetition and also drew from local sources of music, incorporating these into their own unique version of this repertoire of traditional melodies and melodic fragments.

These melodies existed as the basis of creative performance, or improvisation, similar to the use of melodies in jazz improvisation in the West. Within the last century these melodies became organized and systematized into what is known as the dastgâh system, twelve groups of melodies arranged in a traditional order. These dastgâh are each arranged into a progression of modes, which are specific tunings and organizations of tones with connotations of mood and ethos. The entire body of a master s repertoire arranged in such a way is known as the radîf.

During a performance, specific melodies (gûshes) may be selected from the dastgâh, generally in the order they appear in the radîf, and are used as the basis of an improvised performance. The overall contour of the melody is arch-shaped, based on a progression of pitch levels from low to high to low, both within pieces and for the dastgâh as a whole. The ascending portion of the dastgâh gradually increases emotional tension, which is released approximately two-thirds of the way through a performance at the climax (auj) and then resolved as the dastgâh returns to the original pitch level and mode of the initial melody.

Iranian music reflects central concepts in Iranian culture, particularly Islamic mysticism, and also reflects cultural themes found in other art forms, such as architecture and rug design. The performance of the dastgâh has the potential of producing a hâl, or inspiration, that can transport both the listener and performer outside the realm of ordinary consciousness. The progression of modes within the dastgâh is, by its arch-shaped pitch contour, designed to gradually take the listener away from his daily concerns into the realm of the mystic, where he releases his current problems and contemplates spiritual verities.

Traditional music has been associated with Sufi philosophy, particularly through poetic themes. Classical poetry is an integral part of a performance of traditional dastgâh music, particularly the ghazals of Hâfez and Sa`adî, as well as the Masnavî of Rûmî. The form of the ghazal is an important structural element in the vocal performance (âvâz) of the dastgâh. Lines of poetry (bayt) are selected at the time of the performance and matched to one of the gûshes. Each bayt (or two) of poetry, then, is sung to a separate melody, as follows: vocalized introduction, misrâ` (half-bayt), vocal ornamentation (tahrîr), then second misrâ`, tahrîr and vocalized conclusion.

Traditional instrumental music is also based on the dastgâh system, and particularly on vocal forms. The meter and rhythm of a ghazal forms the basis for the rhythm of the traditional repertoire of melodies, and is an elastic, interpretive rhythm, though not to be confused with free rhythm. In addition, instrumentally- or musically-based rhythm occurs more frequently in instrumental performances of the dastgâh.

Instruments associated with the performance of classical music include the târ (double-bellied, long-necked lute), santûr (hammered dulcimer), nay (end-blown cane flute), kamânchih (spiked fiddle), tumbak (goblet-shaped drum), sitâr (long-necked lute, usually played solo) and, to a lesser extent, dâyirih (frame drum) and `ûd (lute).

Ensembles usually included a vocalist, one or two melody instruments and perhaps a drum. Beginning in the late Qâjâr period, ensemble performances and pre-composed forms became more frequent, attributed to the influence of music from Western cultures. A dastgâh performance became organized into a suite of sections, in the order of pîshdarâmad, âvâz, tasnîf and ring. The pîshdarâmad is a pre-composed overture for instrumental ensemble, the âvâz is the traditional body of the radîf, the tasnîf is a pre-composed song form for vocalist and instrumental ensemble and the ring is an instrumental piece in dance rhythm. Also interspersed in sections within the âvâz is the chahârmezrâb, a virtuosic instrumental solo.

Although the basis of classical Iranian music has remained the dastgâh system, different trends during the last century have influenced the following characteristics: the extent to which the performance is improvised, the size of the ensemble, the order of pieces and the incorporation of musical characteristics from different cultures, particularly European, Arabic and internal regional styles.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Ethnomusicologist Mantle Hood

Mantle Hood, 87; Professor, Pioneer in Studying World's Music and Cultures
By Mary Rourke
Times Staff Writer

August 9, 2005

Mantle Hood, a founder of ethnomusicology, the study of world music in its cultural context, who created the ethnomusicology program at UCLA, has died. He was 87.

Hood died July 31 at his home in Ellicott City, Md., his son Marlowe said. The cause was complications from Alzheimer's disease, the family said.

"Mantle Hood was the first scholar to take seriously the study of what was then called non-Western music, in the 1950s," said Christopher Waterman, dean of UCLA's school of arts and architecture and an ethnomusicologist.

Hood joined the UCLA faculty in 1956 and created what is now the department of ethnomusicology in 1960.

He envisioned a complete approach to the study of his field. He wanted students to learn at least two music traditions, their own and that of a culture new to them. He also urged them to learn to play a native instrument, drums for a student of West African music, for example. Common practice now, it was considered novel when he introduced the idea, which he referred to as bi-musicality.

By learning several music traditions, "Hood proved that the two could exist in harmony," Jacqueline Cogdell DjeDje, chairwoman of UCLA's ethnomusicology department, told The Times by e-mail this week. Hood saw it as a way to teach students respect and understanding for "people and cultures different from their own," DjeDje said.

Hood also expected his graduate students to see and hear the music they studied as it was performed in its native setting.

"Hood taught that the music comes out of the culture," said Robert Garfias, professor of anthropology at UC Irvine and one of Hood's first graduate students at UCLA. "His idea was to study the music as part of the culture."

Hood had been traveling the world from the time he graduated from UCLA in 1951 after earning a bachelor's and a master's degree in music. He received his doctorate from the University of Amsterdam, where he wrote a dissertation on Javanese music.

After joining the faculty at UCLA, he was granted a Ford fellowship that allowed him to live in Indonesia for two years and study its music. He later studied in India on a Fulbright fellowship.

An expert in the music of Java and Bali, Hood played all the instruments in a gamelan, an Indonesian symphony that consists of percussions, winds, strings and other instruments. In gamelan performances with his students, he played the rebab, a type of lute that is the lead instrument in the ensemble.

Dozens of his UCLA students went on to teach ethnomusicology. Several of them founded programs at universities, including UC Berkeley. "Hood had a very powerful impact on how ethnomusicology is taught," said Garfias, who founded a program at the University of Washington, Seattle, before moving to UC Irvine.

Hood was born in Springfield, Ill., and moved to Los Angeles with his mother in the 1930s after his father died. He played piano and later learned the saxophone but didn't expect a career in music. After high school, he worked at various jobs including as a draftsman at McDonnell Douglas. He also played saxophone in jazz bands.

He served in the Army during World War II and returned to Los Angeles in 1945. After a false start as an agriculture student at UCLA, he found his true calling.

Before he left the university in 1975, he wrote several books about his field, including "The Ethnomusicologist" (1971), which outlined research issues and questions related to what was then considered a new subject of study.

An ethnomusicologist, Hood wrote, "is inclined to be highly sensitive to other human beings, to respect their scales of values and their behavior, even if these are not compatible with his own."

Hood moved from Los Angeles to Hawaii in 1973 and began to write self-published novels. "As a young man, he had his heart set on being a writer," Marlowe Hood said. "As a teenager, he loved pulp fiction." He set his potboilers in countries he had visited over the years. "Just a Stone's Throw" is set in Bali. "The Keepers" is set in Hawaii and Japan.

In 1980, he relocated to Maryland where he established an ethnomusicology program at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. He wrote several more books about ethnomusicology and continued teaching until 1996.

Hood was married twice. His first marriage ended in divorce. He is survived by his wife, Hazel, and four sons.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Chicken calypso lawsuit

Chicken Case Goes to Caribbean Court

By PHILIP SPOONER, Associated Press WriterSun Aug 7, 2:44 PM ET

Sixteen years ago, allegations that a farm was supplying questionable chickens to restaurants inspired a flurry of biting calypso songs.

Memories of the "Barbados chicken controversy" still provoke chuckles among locals, but the furor died down and never resonated much off this Caribbean island.

That's about to change.

A libel suit by the farm's owners on Monday will be the unlikely first case to go before a regional appeals court set up to replace the colonial-era Privy Council in faraway London as the final legal arbiter for most former British territories in the Caribbean.

At the same time, the case carries important implications for free speech, and some people worry it could threaten the traditional role of "calypsonians" as the region's political satirists.

The plaintiffs, Ram and Asha Mirchandani, contend the scathing calypso songs forced them to close their farm in 1990 even though allegations by some employees that they were selling sick chickens never were proven.

In 1999, they won a judgment against Barbados Rediffusion, one of the radio stations that played the satirical songs, but the couple has not been awarded damages as the case is appealed.

On Monday, the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice will decide whether to consider the radio station's final attempt to have the lawsuit dismissed. The nine-judge panel has not disclosed when it will rule.

The hearing will offer the first glimpse at the workings of the court, which opened in April but so far has been formally adopted by only Barbados and Guyana as their final appeals tribunal. Other members of the 16-nation Caribbean Community are wrestling with legal obstacles or resistance from critics, who fear the court could be vulnerable to political pressure.

The push for the court arose when Britain's Privy Council began blocking attempts to impose the death penalty in the 1990s, angering people across the Caribbean fearful about a surge in violent crime as their islands became transit points for drug trafficking.

But while the court grew out of worries about criminals, its first case is a test of free speech.

Afro-Caribbean calypso music evolved in Trinidad as a means of spreading news — and of denouncing corruption and other problems. Calypsonians often were the target of censorship during British colonial rule.

"They function like lampoonists," said Gordon Rohlehr, a literature professor at the University of the West Indies who has written about the role of calypso. "The calypsonians are regarded as the people who sniff out the truth and who tell you what the man on the street thinks."

Attorneys for the Mirchandanis and the radio station declined to discuss the chicken controversy, which erupted in 1989 during carnival, a time when calypsonians traditionally debut their most acidic lyrics.

Several employees of the MacDonald Chicken Farm accused the Mirchandanis of processing and selling chickens that had died of illnesses. An explosion of calypso songs about questionable chicken meat flooded the airwaves, while carnival revelers donned chicken costumes or T-shirts with rude slogans about the couple's farm.

"I was concentrating on highlighting the way people were feeling at the time," said Mighty Gabby, Barbados' most venerated calypsonian. "The issue was to voice the people's opinion, not to hurt."

His song on the controversy, "Chicken and Ram," carried lyrics veiled enough that it was one of the few chicken calypsos that radio stations did not drop when the Mirchandanis filed their lawsuit.

Calypsonians say libel judgments involving their music will have a chilling effect on creativity.

"On 'Saturday Night Live,' in the United States, their performers do some things that we can't even think about doing here in Barbados," said Peter Boyce, a performer with the five-member calypso and comedy troupe MADD, whose "Madd Chicken Song" was among those banned because of the lawsuit.

"We need laws that allow for more freedom of expression."

Rohlehr isn't so sure. He believes the threat of censorship and lawsuits has inspired the veiled imagery and double-entendre that make for the best calypso songs.

A victory for the Mirchandanis might "simply make for better and more clever songs," he said.


Associated Press reporters Alexandra Olson in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Bert Wilkinson in Georgetown, Guyana, contributed to this report.

Ibrahim Ferrer (1927-2005)

Buena Vista Social Club Singer Ferrer Dies

By Anita Snow
The Associated Press
Sunday, August 7, 2005; 12:46 AM

HAVANA -- Ibrahim Ferrer, a leading voice with the hugely popular Buena Vista Social Club of vintage Cuban performers, died Saturday, his representative in Cuba said. He was 78.

The Montuno production company did not give a cause of death, but Ferrer's colleagues said he suffered from emphysema and was feeling ill earlier in the week.

Known for his trademark cap and graying mustache, Ferrer was a wiry, animated figure who clearly enjoyed performing Cuba's traditional "son" music of the 1940s and 1950s for new generations of fans.

Among a group of older Cuban performers recruited by U.S. musician Ry Cooder, Ferrer performed on the "Buena Vista Social Club album" that won a Grammy in 1999, and was among those appearing in the film of the same name.

"I felt like he was my brother," said fellow Buena Vista performer, the guitarist Manuel Galban. "He was a great musician and a great companion."

Also in 1999, Ferrer was featured in one of a string of albums that followed, "Buena Vista Social Club Presents Ibrahim Ferrer," and won a Latin Grammy for best new artist in 2000.

Two other well-known members of the original Buena Vista group, singer Compay Segundo and pianist Ruben Gonzalez, died in 2003.

Originally from Cuba's eastern city of Santiago, Ferrer was born on Feb. 20, 1927, during a dance at a social club after his mother unexpectedly went into labor.

Ferrer was still a boy when he began singing professional with Santiago groups in 1941. By the late 1950s, he was a well-known singer performing regularly with the late, great bandleader Pacho Alonso.

He also made guest appearances with other legendary names, including Benny More and Orquesta de Chepin.

Alonso's group moved to Havana in 1959, and Ferrer came along, remaining with the group for more than two decades. By the early 1980s, Ferrer had left the musical scene, but came out of retirement to perform with the Buena Vista group.
© 2005 The Associated Press

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

DJs go digital

Enter the digital rage
You can dump the vinyl, keep the tricks of the turntable trade.
By Susan Carpenter
Times Staff Writer

August 4, 2005

The entryway of Eddie Mendoza's North Hills home is stacked with unopened packages stuffed with records — advance copies a lot of fans would kill for. But DJ Eddie One, as he is known on his KIIS-FM (102.7) and Sirius Satellite Radio shows, doesn't care about those anymore.

"As of two months ago, I'm not collecting vinyl," said Mendoza, 26, a hip-hop/reggaeton DJ who switched to a digital DJ program this summer. "There's no point really. The new stuff I get, as long as I have the MP3s, I'm good."

Mendoza is one of a growing number of DJs who are going digital because it's so convenient. Using a computer-based system means he doesn't have to break his back carrying heavy crates of records or pre-select what he brings; he can carry his entire 5,000-song library in a compact, lightweight laptop. He also doesn't have to spend as much time looking for records or as much money buying them; MP3s are quick to download, easier to categorize and less expensive per song than vinyl. When he creates his own remixes, he doesn't have to go to the trouble of pressing them onto vinyl; he can immediately add them to his digital library.

Most important, he doesn't have to sacrifice any of the tricks of his trade, like scratching and matching beats. And listeners can't tell the difference.

When laptop DJing first came on the scene a few years back, there was a small handful of software programs for DJs to choose from, and none of them offered the same range of song manipulation options available with turntables or even CD DJ players. DJs could cross-fade (or blend) digital tracks, but the crucial function of shifting the pitch (or speed) of a song to match beats was unreliable. There was also the question of credibility. Vinyl was for purists. Digital was seen as cheating.

But in the last year, technology has finally caught up with DJs' expectations — and given them a way to keep it real. From techno to hip-hop, on the radio and in clubs, many of the genre's biggest names are ditching their vinyl and CD collections and going with audio files instead. All the DJs at hip-hop station Power 106 (KPWR-FM, 105.9) now use a digital DJ program to "spin" their shows. So do huge hip-hop DJs such as Snoop's DJ Jam, and techno/house DJs such as Paul van Dyk and Josh Wink.

Some of them are using laptops alone, others are using their computers in conjunction with the traditional two turntable (or CD DJ player) setup. This fall, even iPod users will be able to get in on the game with the help of an iPod mixing console that can overlap tracks, not just play them back to back. The cost of these systems: $200 to $800.

Digital DJing "is really catching fire," said Josh Levine, president of the Rebel Organization, a grass-roots marketing company affiliated with the dance music magazine Urb. "We've seen DJs from just about every genre using it — DJs like Jazzy Jeff, who are known for their turntable skills. So from our view, that's probably at least the near future of where the profession is going."

Jazzy Jeff, an old-school DJ who works with actor-singer Will Smith, was one of the early adopters of a program called Scratch Live. On the market for a year, the program is one of two turntable-based systems that uses vinyl "control records" to manipulate audio files on a computer. The records aren't engraved with songs but with a signal that controls the digital audio file on the computer and allows it to be manipulated. Scratch the record, and you scratch the computer file. Spin it backward, and the file plays backward. Speed it up, and it speeds up, and so on. The system works the same with control CDs and CD DJ players.

"It's weird," said Daniel Hall, a.k.a. DJ Haul of the duo DJ Haul and Mason. "If you told me two years ago that you're not going to bring out records anymore, that you're going to play on these digital records but not the real thing, I would have said, 'No. I don't believe you.' "

But in November, Jazzy Jeff urged Hall to check it out, and he hasn't looked back. Now, instead of bringing 150 pounds of records to a club or party, Hall brings two laptops and his control records.

"My back has stopped hurting ever since," he said.

Scratch Live is actually the second turntable-based computer DJ system. The first was Stanton FinalScratch, and it debuted in 2002. Although groundbreaking, the system also had its bugs. There was an audible lag between the time a DJ moved the vinyl and what he heard. Particularly for turntablist DJs, who work with extreme precision, slicing and dicing beats into milliseconds, that was a major problem. That issue has been fixed with subsequent versions of the system, including the most recent, FinalScratch 2.

FinalScratch was created with traditional vinyl DJs in mind, but it was developed with the input of DJs John Acquaviva and Richie Hawtin. Its software system is called Traktor DJ Studio, and it takes a different, less vinyl-centric approach. The program can be run either with the FinalScratch turntable/CD DJ player system or on its own with just a computer.

The program was originally developed in 2000 as "an answer to the phenomena of people transferring their music more and more into the MP3 realm," said Tobias Thon, press manager for Traktor's parent company, Native Instruments in Berlin. "It was obvious as soon as people had their music collections on their computer they would need a tool to DJ on their computer, and that tool could be way more powerful than a turntable."

The current incarnation of the program, Traktor DJ Studio 2.6, was released in February and allows DJs to create loops from a song while that song is already playing and to filter out individual components in a song, among other things.

Because it was developed with house and techno DJs in mind, Traktor has found a strong following in that scene. It recently partnered with the online club music store Beatport, which offers a free entry-level version of the program. In the future, the Beatport store will be integrated into the program itself, so DJs can preview and purchase new tracks directly from the software.

Club music or otherwise, not every song is available as a digital file or on paid websites like iTunes or Beatport. Many of the DJs who've switched to computer-based systems have spent hundreds, even thousands, of hours converting their vinyl and CD collections into MP3 and other digital-format audio files. Others are shortcutting the process by trading copied files.

That takes them in to dicey legal terrain. Distributing copies of licensed music is generally illegal. So is downloading music without proper payment or proper authorization. Some digital DJs are doing both. Although the Recording Industry Assn. of America doesn't seem concerned about this issue now — it hasn't yet sued a DJ on such grounds — the rapid rise of digital DJs may force the issue.

Next month will see the debut of the iDJ iPod mixing console in two versions — a mobile DJ model by Numark Industries and a consumer version from Ion Audio. Both are traditional mixing boards with volume control and a fader to segue from track to track; the only difference is that these mixers are built with docking stations for two iPods.

Both of the new iDJs were developed in conjunction with Apple — the Ion Audio version targeting iPod fans and amateur DJs, and the Numark version aimed at the mobile DJ market: the ones who play weddings, parties and bar mitzvahs.

Right now, iPod users with an itch to DJ are restricted by the limitations of the iPod itself. The current incarnation of the wildly popular hand-held digital music player allows the user to create playlists and to shuffle songs, but it doesn't allow users to overlap or change the speed of songs. Whether Apple will incorporate such features on future models, the company would not say, but Numark and Ion Audio are working on a second-generation iDJ that will enable more tricks.

In its present incarnation, however, the iPod remains an imperfect DJ tool on its own.

"It's work, work, work. The major detraction is that to cue up a song, you have to press play at the right second, so you're cutting off the last song that was playing," said Alfred Daedelus, 27, a Ninjatune record producer and DJ at the Dublab online radio station who occasionally uses an iPod to play shows.

"There's still something to vinyl. You can see your music," he added. "But gosh it's fun to play from 10,000 songs."
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