Monthly Archives: October 2014

Post for 10/30/14 Class

There was a lot of reading today, but I had already done most of the musical artist readings for the last class.

The densest reading for me was the one related to metadata. I think I get the big picture about metadata, but the way the article explained some details of it may quite possibly be the most boring thing I have ever read. As the reading got more specific in terms of library metadata and archive metadata though, it became more enjoyable, especially when it specified that the purpose of library metadata is for ease of access, which I guess makes sense; that is what libraries are for. It was also not hard to believe that cooperation in metadata development has been more difficult for museums than libraries, as museums can have more divergent motivations and purposes in comparison to libraries, which are united by a common interest. One thing that intrigued me is the possibility of a single metadata system, worldwide, like a materials dewey decimal system. How feasible would this be, and how long/much money would it take to develop? The advent of computers makes this seem more feasible, but the sheer labor requirement to enter new data (the development of the database and standards seems difficult but doable) would be the biggest challenge. It seems like it would be impossible for such a database to ever be complete.

As far as ethics go, and intellectual property, there seems to be lots of tension between archival recording dissemination/repatriation and copyright law. I think this is partly a function of the fact that recordings and what the things are that are being recorded are less tangible than say a logo or a piece of property as far as ownership goes, and when a piece of sound creatively comes from a culture or a group of people, it is difficult to decide who owns the item that previously had no need to have a legal ownership established. This is one ethical downside of archiving some cultures; it is disturbing and introducing a modern or possibly western concept of law to a culture that may not respect such a thing. It has the potential to create arguments and divides within a culture, and just for the sake of a piece of research? Weighing the costs and benefits, I’m going to say that one should find a different research topic or possibly reconsider making recordings of especially volatile cultures/groups, as anything can happen over time.

The musical artists were of course the most interesting, and they get more interesting as time goes on as I recognize more names and songs are available to be heard on the internet. I love Dave Lewis Trio’s “David’s Mood.”

Questions for 10/28/14

Freddie Dennis:

What was unique about the recording/release process in comparison with today, or as time went on?

How was the idea of starting a musical career/band received? Was it different for being in a band versus say pursuing an instrument in an orchestra or jazz band?

How was your music received? If negatively, by who, and why? Lyrically, stylistically, performance wise? Would they be more disturbed by a live performance or just the record playing?

Was it odd having your music resurface and regain popularity? Was the popularity more gratifying, or the fact that so many later acts said you were an influence (The Cramps, Pearl Jam, many more).

Jim Anderson:

How did you get started with recording the performances? What was your title/professional background?

Were the reactions by bands similar when learning they were recorded?

Posting for 10/23/14 Class

What I have found with the majority of the readings for today’s class was a huge step up in accesibility, mostly due to the increased name recognition (Guthrie, Ray Charles, Pete Seeger, Quincy Jones). I think as we go on through history, I will be more and more versed in what I am reading about.

I loved the essay about John Cage. I had not previously known about his work, and the idea that somebody was making electronic music/sampling and foretelling the rise of electronic music is astounding to me. I wonder if our library collection has a good amount of Cage’s work, or where I can find a definitive set. This may be a cool project idea if the collection is lacking.

The jazz essays from history link are a very satisfying length, with some reiterating the same histories regarding Quincy Jones and the Jackson Street scene. I am curious about what Jackson Street looks like today. Is it aware of its jazz backgrounds? What are the current demographics? If it is aware of its jazz history, is it openly proud of it? One interesting thing about Quincy Jones, and something that may just be true about musicians or workers during the depression, is the sheer number of directional and career changes these artists made in their careers. Quincy Jones sacrificed schooling at the Berklee School on the East Coast to travel with a band; the guts of these jazz and music pioneers in Seattle are astounding.

I always wonder how different our music scene would be without racism and segregation. On one hand, African Americans would have been able to play anywhere they wanted, able to earn a greater income and possibly increasing the number of black musicians and thus the number of great musicians. On the other hand, maybe some of the greatest parts of jazz and its development comes from it being born and raised in African American houses and minds, unadulterated. We’ll never know I guess.

The lasting success of Quincy Jones and Ernestine Anderson speaks to how the jazz music never really did die out, there is always a place for it. Even Anderson became disillusioned with the music industry, even trying to change with the times flirting with rock and roll records, until she came back in the 80s and 90s with a huge secon and lasting wind. If jazz has continued to be successful, which demographic has carried it? Presumably not the youth, as I think this would be easily seen. I guess what I’m asking is why aren’t a majority of kids listening to jazz, why aren’t people wanting to become jazz artists more than hip hop artists?

Questions for De Barros:

1) How did/does innovation in jazz work, especially in the jazz age? I understand we weren’t as big as other cities during the roaring twenties, but did this allow us more creative freedom? As far as innovation goes, were there clear individuals with clear differences in chronological recordings that could be heard, or was it more of a broad based, multi-person change that was harder to pin down? The evolution of music even into the modern day is something I am curious about.

2) Are there any new jazz artists that you are especially siked about? Where can I go (label and store and website wise) to learn about and purchase this music? Where are the quintessential jazz venues for today? Differences in “modern” venues and “classical” venues? Are these venues in similar locations as the past Jackson street venues? If not, why did they move?

3) How important was it that the pioneers of NW jazz/music such as Oscar Holden ended up here? What if different musicians that are pioneers for different areas (New Orleans, New York) were transported here back in time? Is jazz a genre that would not have much difference based on geography, or would this completely change the direction? Are there areas of jazz being probed today or in relative modernity that would be laughed out of a room in the 1920s? Or is the jazz genre a pretty closed of category without much wiggle room or boundary pushing?

Post for 10/21/14 Class

The articles related to copyright were fascinating.

One thing I had never thought about before is the value added by an archive and the possibility of their charging for a service. I had always wondered why rights holders would be up in arms if something is in a library for in-library only use (besides the value of viewing/hearing the media), but I never thought about how by archiving a piece and documenting metadata about it, as well as making that data searchable, value is added that the copyright holder feels like they have a claim to.

(repatriation) One thing I’ve also wondered about is if you are returning recordings to a “culture”, who do you return them to? Another in house archive? Does that create its own new set of problems? Also, I agreed with the notion that we shouldn’t return them unless there are facilities for preservation back in the site.

Can there be a new era of field recordings that is 100% free of “colonialism”? What steps must be made to ensure this? Who would evaluate? Is one person objecting enough?

Section 107, and Fair Use is something I have seen a lot with YouTube channels that critique various media. One of my guilty pleasures is watching video game playthroughs with commentary, something that content makers argue is fair use allowing the video and audio of games to be displayed. Despite this, many copyright strikes have taken a particular channel I like down from time to time, and another music review channel I like had much of its content removed due to playing songs he was critiquing in his videos. I personally love these critiques and believe they should be protected and allowed to have the subject of critique included in the videos. It is not up to me though 🙂

I appreciated the point made by Seeger about how much copyright law is based on a Western or modern sense of reality, but how do we reconcile copyrighting cultures who may not buy into our culture (for example, believe that spirits live on and are ever present, are they able to own things and advocate for things through a medium?)

The readings today made me a bit worried about my project, but I believe it had adequate info for drafting release forms and working with the library/you and the artist/owner to acquire materials in the right way. That being said, more research into specifics needs to be done by me.

Post for 10/14/14 Class

The Roaring Twenties/the Jazz age was one of my favorite periods to learn about in my high school US history class. Glad to be coming back to it here with a NW focus.

Both Armbruster and De Barros discuss apparent contradiction between the raucous new society developing while social reform institution such as prohibition also took hold. The specific NW form of this contradiction was the growing of jazz balanced by gilded blue laws and the banning of jazz music. Of course, lots of this was not as clear as it seemed with frequent payoffs of administration officials and policeman, who ended up making a pretty penny off of the illicit side of the same laws they passed/are obligated to enforce.

The development of women’s rights also took some tiptoes in the period as women entertained in jazz halls and even a few made it into symphonies, but as Armbruster describes, it was more of a spectacle than a real appreciation. This made me wonder about the state of music within the home. While some women were pioneering out in the performance side, what of the women who worked/kept house? Were they largely inspired by music and enjoyed playing it in their home? I imagine the women on the forefront of the temperance movement and other social reforms probably did not support women’s involvement in music, often seeing themselves as the keepers of morality in the home.

Back to the symphonies. The NW symphony circuit, according to Armbruster, fared much better than other major cities throughout the early years due to generous private funding. I am curious as to why this is the case. I imagine there were plenty, if not more wealthy individuals in the other major areas, but did they not possess the same ideals for the promotion of music? Was this a function of being in the NW, on the frontier, away from the status quo? I think this asks questions also about how our opinions about music can differ when with a large group/established hierarchy versus on our own or with a smaller group. I definitely think Seattle being kitty cornered up here on the frontier with its rainy weather led a lot of individuals to be a bit more eccentric and willing to discuss the weirder or more creative parts of life. I think the trends of supporting a multitude of musics (though not without some hate and resistance) shows up almost a century later too before and after the new millennium’s turn.

Posting for 10/9/14 Class

Now Playing: You’re Living All Over Me by Dinosaur Jr.

I loved the articles for today’s class because archiving shares so many aspects with one of my personal hobbies, which is collecting music. Maybe it is just my OCD talking, but I don’t think there is anything better than a well organized set of CD’s/records or a perfectly tagged iTunes library. Compared to the issues explored here, my musical collection and practices for adding to it are small scale. On the grand scale of an entire archive, and especially in the convoluted world of publicly funded university archives, issues of copyright and transaction costs come into play in a way that I don’t ever have to worry about (until I joined this class, that is).

The trend I enjoyed reading about most was the inclusion of targets of recording in the recording process and the celebration of their participation. The dismissing of the old record and run method of field research is great. The new mentality of making things as available as possible is great, but it raised questions for me about the feasibility of archiving sound recordings as their original date of publication/recording gets closer to the modern age (for example, adding late 30s jazz recordings versus recording a local jazz band today and asking to disseminate their recording). One ‘archive’ I use often is the KEXP in studio performance youtube page, which has its own rules that I find quite annoying (pulling the videos after a certain amount of time due to copyright, things like that). I guess the end of this rambling thought is the exploration of if there is a way to reconcile archiving recordings for public use and not jipping modern artists out of a paycheck (which it seems the modern music industry is doing a great job of anyway).

Another question I had involves the scope of archives: is it more valuable to have several specific archives or a large one for an entire institution? Some subquestions related to this:

  • At what point is specificity of archives, leading to a large number of archives, out of control?
  • If the institutional basis is adopted (meaning there is a single “UW musical archive”) would competition ensue, making adding to an archive more about sheer numbers and quality of additions with a trade off of losing sight of the original goal of making the archives for the purpose of a high quality dissemination experience? (We have all these recordings, have fun finding a way to check them out!)

Intellectual property, copyright, and many other factors can make archiving a tricky business. At its core is taking a sensual experience that probably holds special meaning for the performer/community/audience and making it publicly available, a lingering aspect of the dark “colonial” origins of the practice. I think we can do things to offset this practice though, which Vallier talks about in his article through community involvement, repeated permission requests, and allowing the performers the means to visit the archive and add to it themselves.

Post for 10/7/14 class

Now Playing: Several Shades of Why by J Mascis

Favorite quote from the Armbruster article, it is proto-hipster: “‘The menace of
the popular song looms big,’ warned the Town Crier, ‘and . . . the need for
its suppression is woefully apparent'” (83).

The Armbruster article raised many interesting points.

One thing that came up a lot was the role of unions and local government on music. I had never thought about this, and comparing it with the music performance scene in modern Seattle, I’d say it was much more restricted. These days it seems like somebody can drink a can of soda on a stool and it will be hailed by somebody as art, which I support; people should be encouraged to express themselves, create their own masterpiece. Back to the unions though. The upside of them was definitely there in terms of supporting musicians in terms of wages and protections, but the article made it sound like owners and Seattle residents had such a high demand for entertainment that the trade offs of having a union (restricted freedom, aggressive tactics for making musicians join, etc) seemed to maybe be not worth it. Government payoffs/regulation of local music were also abound, a climate that is definitely different from today. The social aspect of the unions such as Local 76 seems to have been beneficial though, as countless groups were named off in the article.

Race relation’s exploration through not just music, but Seattle music, was also interesting. I wonder how different the development of jazz and our Seattle sound would be if Local 76 had allowed full integration of colored members, rather than deny them entry, which allowed them to develop their own sounds free from mixing with the popular union styles.

The struggles of African American musicians were arguable small compared to the plight of Chinese workers on the West Coast, Seattle included. This begs the same question as before; what if our bigotry was eliminated and we had allowed a strong, thriving Chinese element to our musical scene?

The Blecha article was a nice macro review of some points started in the previous article in the context of the AYP. I don’t think the AYP’s positive effect on the NW music scene can be understated, with the exposure to so many different styles which undoubtedly mixed creating a unique Seattle sound, something that I think repeated in the late 1980s.

The other side of the coin is explored in the Yee article. While there was a blossoming music scene/city, this was not done without some casualties along the way, such is the story of American growth. The Japanese-American story is a unique one with the reader’s foreknowledge of WWII, as well as comparison’s with Chinese American’s and immigrant Whites in the area. One thought I had was that much of the early Seattle music scene was funded by wealthy elites who supposedly had closer mindsets to the middle and working class than Easter aristocracies. Therefore, the treatment of foreigners in music (and in other areas) by owner’s and donors may have been different than the treatment of foreigners by the consuming and working public, and of course these forces would interact and most likely converge to a mostly uniform sentiment. I’d be interested to read more into this.