Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Music of the Caribbean: passion, rhythm, and celebration!


File:CIA map of the Caribbean.png
The Caribbean, a crescent-shaped group of islands stretching from the tip of Florida south to Venezuela, is one of the most culturally and ethnically diverse regions in the world. Coming from Africa, the Americas, Asia, and Europe, its people have created musical styles found nowhere else.  Jamaica's reggae and ska, Trinidad's calypso and soca, Puerto Rico's bomba and plena, Cuba's mambo and cha-cha-chá, and many other styles were born in this musically potent area. Below is a listening list of CDs available at your Glendale Public Library. 

Send comments, corrections, and suggestions to mschmidt@glendaleaz.com

Friday, February 28, 2014


Happy birthday to Frederic Chopin! 

Chopin, born March 1, 1810, was a Romantic-era pianist and 
composer. He was born in Warsaw, Poland, and spent the first 20 years of his life there. He then settled in Paris, France, where he lived until passing away at the very young age of 39.

Chopin is most remembered as a piano virtuoso, and a composer of solo piano pieces. He composed his piano works in a very individualistic style, often making references to his Polish heritage. Very well known, and performed and recorded often to this day, are his sets of preludes, etudes, nocturnes, and mazurkas. Chopin gave relatively few large public performances, preferring instead the more intimate setting of the salon, and made most of his living teaching, and selling his compositions.

Chopin was very much a socialite. Considered a bit of a dandy, he enjoyed interacting with fellow musicians, artists, and other distinguished company. Among his friends were Franz Liszt, and Hector Berlioz. He had a well-known, intense, and often stormy relationship with French writer George Sand.

Chopin died, probably of pulmonary tuberculosis, on Oct 17, 1849. Performed during his funeral were two of his piano preludes. The Funeral March from his second piano sonata was performed at his graveside. Before burial, Chopin's body was opened and his heart was removed, for it was his wish that his heart be returned to his beloved Poland.

As well as having many recording of Chopin's works, the Glendale Public Library also some of his piano scores. Click on the link below to view a partial list of Chopin resources available at your Glendale Public Library!

Please send comments, corrections, and suggestions to mschmidt@glendaleaz.com.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Delta Blues: I went down to the crossroads, fell down on my knees

Delta Blues refers to a blues style originating in a section of the Mississippi Delta at the turn of the 20th century. The Delta region of Mississippi, the northwestern part of the state, was covered with plantations. Owned by Whites, but worked by African American sharecroppers, these plantations were conducive to the development of the blues: Large numbers of African Americans lived and worked in close proximity, exchanging music and stories, and isolation and inability to travel outside of the area allowed the Delta Blues to develop into an indigenous and distinctive style. The solo singer/acoustic guitarist became the genre's predominant performer type: The acoustic guitar was inexpensive and portable, the latter trait allowing blues musicians to move spontaneously from plantation to plantation to provide entertainment. The guitar style, at times deceptively simple sounding, often contained complex layered rhythms, and intricate slide work.The Delta Blues vocal style, which sprang from plantation field hollering, was richly ornamented, and powerfully projected. Below is a list of some recommended artists, followed by a link to recommended recordings available at the Glendale Public Library.
Recommended Artists
     Bo Carter (1893-1964), an influential Delta bluesman, was known for lacing his songs with sexual innuendo.
     Son House (1902-1988) was a main source of inspiration for Muddy Waters and Robert Johnson, and was a major innovator of the Delta style.
     Probably the most iconic blues figure ever, legend has it that Robert Johnson (1911-1938) sold his soul to the devil in exchange for extraordinary guitar playing skills.
     Tommy Johnson (1896-1956) was know for his musicality and showmanship, playing blistering blues riffs behind his head decades before Hendrix took the move worldwide.
     The first star of the Delta Blues, Charley Patton (1891-1934) had such celebrity and musical prowess that, to the dismay of plantation owners, workers would simply walk away from field work whenever he picked up his guitar to play.
     Muddy Waters (1913-1983) is closely associated with Chicago blues, but before moving to Chicago he lived in the Delta region and played acoustic blues.
     Bukka White (1906-1977) was recorded by folklorists John and Alan Lomax while serving time in Mississippi's Parchman farm prison. During his incarceration Shake 'em on Down, a song White recorded earlier, became a hit.
    Big Jo Williams (1903-1982) had a unique approach to the guitar: He added three strings, bringing the total to nine, and wore picks on his thumb and index finger.
   Not all blues practitioners were men. Performers like Mattie Delaney (c.1905-?), Rosie Mae Moore (active during the 1920s), and Elvie Thomas (active during the 1930s) also made names for themselves.

Send comments, questions, and corrections to mschmidt@glendaleaz.com.