A little while back, Public Radio did an excellent series of programs on American Music, called “American Mavericks.” Fortunately for us, you can read and listen to the great stuff online, even if you missed the radio broadcast (as many of you probably did). Ironically enough, many of these programs were used in my American […]

Oh! You Beautiful Doll

Oh, you’re such a beautiful doll!  This 1911 hit was a wartime favorite that shows how Barbershop harmony, ragtime, and popular music overlapped. [Audio clip: view full post to listen] This is sung by Bill Murray and The American Quartet in 1912.  Fantastic stuff here, very vintage.  It’s hard to imagine this being the height […]

Elvis Sings Amazing Grace

Pretty stellar stuff here — gospel with Elvis.  His roots were deep in the gospel tradition, and his success was largely due to his ability to sing in “black” styles while being socially acceptable to the white audience of the day.  Race has defined America in so many ways; this recording is well-suited to meditate […]

SmarterGuide: The art of song selection

Song selection is tricky business. It might not make or break your group, and each individual song choice might not matter that much, but a group’s audience and reputation are largely determined by the catalog of music they present. So before you decide on your group’s lineup for the year, or the semester, mull over your priorities.

Case Study: Subdivision, Basslines, and Memory in “Get Ready”

This case study is on subdivision in parts, both within the bass and the upper voices. Additionally, we’ll touch on a few other techniques, such as accommodating vocal backup parts within your arrangement, changing the feel of a tune, and arranging from memory instead of from a recording. Let’s shall, yes? The tune of the […]

Bing Crosby and David Bowie

Singing Christmas carols for you.  I am not kidding. If you can see this, then you might need a Flash Player upgrade or you need to install Flash Player if it’s missing. Get Flash Player from Adobe. If that doesn’t enrich your soul, I don’t know what will.

Sammy Davis Jr. – For Once In My Life

The more I see of Sammy Davis Jr., the more I have to love him.  He’s singing a classic tune, updated to some funk/disco hybrid, while wearing hideous striped pajamas and smoking a cigarette suggestively.  He’s so skinny at this point too.  I do wonder what the rest of the Rat Pack was up to […]

Jackson Five Rehearsal, 1970

If you have been involved in producing music for stage or recordings, you are probably well familiar with the trials and tribulations of rehearsal–especially when your bandmates have trouble focusing and a penchant for doodling around.  Or is that diddling?  Either way, I’m quite reassured to know that an act as high-quality and successful as […]

Stevie Wonder – I Don’t Know Why, For Once In My Life

Wow — the difference in quality in writing and composition between these two songs is pretty staggering, but Stevie absolutely was learning as he went.  The return of Diana Ross in this one, for those who were wondering what was about to happen after that last clip a few days ago. If you can see […]

Stevie Wonder – My Cherie Amour

The goodness just keeps coming.  Here’s more Stevie, live in his youth: If you can see this, then you might need a Flash Player upgrade or you need to install Flash Player if it’s missing. Get Flash Player from Adobe. More tongue-clicking at 1:29!  And he looks like he’s sitting particularly low at the keyboard; […]