A family friendly free show! Come early, or else you’ll end up sitting on the floor (the toy piano performers have to sit on the floor, though, so you’ll be in good company!) Hope to see you at 12:00 p.m. on Wednesday, September 5, 2012 for the Twelfth Annual Toy Piano Festival!
Serious music for toy piano?
The first composer to write a “serious” piece for toy piano was American composer John Cage. His Suite for Toy Piano, written in 1948, uses nine consecutive white notes of a piano keyboard. This is significant because some toy pianos only have white notes (the black notes are sometimes merely painted on as a reference point so that players will know where “C” and all the other notes are.) Composer George Crumb used toy piano to great effect in his chamber music piece Ancient Voices of Children (1970). The score of this piece even shows a diagram of where to place the toy piano on stage.
Here in San Diego, toy pianos are celebrated with great fanfare in the month of September (because John Cage’s birthday is September 5!!) at UC San D’iego’s Geisel Library. It is there that Scott Paulson and his colleagues at the UCSD Arts Library host an annual toy piano festival. Composers visit the Library and pick a specific toy piano from the collection, and a piece is written specially for that instrument. Some toy pianos only have nine notes, some three octaves—so each piece has its own special charm and special limitations.
The Toy Piano Collection at Geisel Library consists of actual instruments, recordings, extant literature and commissioned scores. In 2001, because of the Toy Piano Collection’s activities, the Library of Congress issued a special call number and subject heading for Toy Piano Scores: M 175 T69
UCSD has a history with toy pianos that pre-dates the annual toy piano festival. Composer Robert Erickson, a founder of UCSD’s Music Department wrote a piece for toy pianos and bells that was premiered on California’s PBS television stations in 1966, just months before Erickson’s arrival at UCSD.
Featured: new works from local composers, a work from John Cage and songs from The Cat in the Hat Songbook.
Performers and composers this year include: Sue Palmer (the Queen of Boogie Woogie!) Ryoko Amadee Goguen, Christian Hertzog, Kenneth Herman, Gail Gipson, Ellen Lawson, Dana Mambourg Zimbric & of course, Scott Paulson!
The images and their associated information will join our collection of more than 12 million freely usable media files, which serves as the repository for the 285 language editions of Wikipedia. Check it out!!
A decade after his death technology has finally caught up to Lomax’s imagination. Just as he dreamed, his vast archive — some 5,000 hours of sound recordings, 400,000 feet of film, 3,000 videotapes, 5,000 photographs and piles of manuscripts, much of it tucked away in forgotten or inaccessible corners — is being digitized so that the collection can be accessed online. About 17,000 music tracks will be available for free streaming by the end of February, and later some of that music may be for sale as CDs or digital downloads.
On Tuesday, to commemorate what would have been Lomax’s 97th birthday, the Global Jukebox label is releasing “The Alan Lomax Collection From the American Folklife Center,” a digital download sampler of 16 field recordings from different locales and stages of Lomax’s career.
Jan. 28 is celebrated as National Kazoo Day,a day when, according to organizers, Americans are supposed to take time to recognize the kazoo, that musical instrument that takes only a minute to master for a lifetime to annoy.
But while the kazoo can be irritating when played by a hyperactive 5-year-old, it is a legitimate musical instrument, according to Scott Paulson, who uses kazoos to help provide soundtracks at silent movie screenings.
“It can be annoying, but it can be a delightful instrument,” Paulson told HuffPost Weird News. “It’s known mostly as a child’s toy, but it has a history of being a ritual instrument in Africa.”
Paulson says those early kazoos were used in rituals where the natives would disguise their voices using an animal horn and the membrane from spider eggs.
“It’s basically a mask of the voice,” he said.
Legend has it that the modern kazoo was invented in 1850 by former slave Alabama Vest of Macon, Ga., who devised the plans and than had it built by clockmaker Thaddeus von Clegg, a German immigrant. It was introduced two years later at the 1852 Georgia State Fair, but the familiar sub shape wasn’t created until 1902.
Eva Zeisel, who designed and produced stylish but simple lines of tableware that were credited with bringing a sense of serenity to American dinnertime, died Dec. 30 at her home in New City, N.Y.
Mrs. Zeisel was 105 and had come to America just before World War II, after a harrowing series of adventures in the turbulent Europe of the 1930s.
Her daughter, Jean Richards, confirmed the death but said she did not know the medical cause.
Mrs. Zeisel was widely regarded as a master of modern design. Her salt and pepper shakers, creamers and ladles are included in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Yet she resisted being characterized as an artist. “Art has more ego to it than what I do,” she once told the New Yorker.
What Mrs. Zeisel did was create everyday objects that fundamentally changed the look of American kitchens and dining rooms.
She brought “a trained designer’s eye and touch to the kind of inexpensive daily goods that were available to everyone,” said Karen Kettering, vice president for Russian art at Sotheby’s and a former curator at the Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens in the District, which featured a retrospective of Mrs. Zeisel’s work in 2005.
Mrs. Zeisel received artistic training in her native Hungary in the years after World War I. She moved to the Soviet Union, where she worked in a factory and, after building a reputation as a talented ceramicist, landed a job as art director of the state-run porcelain and glass industries.
While in that position, Mrs. Zeisel was falsely accused of conspiring to assassinate Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin. Read more…
Check out the online art resource dedicated to the creation, presentation, preservation, and critique of emerging artistic practices that engage technology through open platforms for exchange and collaboration at http://rhizome.org/. Rhizome, an affiliate of the New Museum (New York City) includes Artbase (online archive of new media art), Community (artists’ portfolios, etc.), and Programs (publications, exhibits).
The UCSD Libraries initiated a subscription to Rhizome, enabling UCSD students, faculty and staff using their UCSD email to register for full access to the powerful and interactive features of Rhizome.
VIA The Film Archive
After a world-wide search, a large part of The White Shadow (1923), thought to be the earliest surviving feature by Alfred Hitchcock (1899-1990), the celebrated master of suspense has been found in New Zealand – just in time for the filmmaker’s 112th birthday.
A wild, atmospheric melodrama starring Betty Compson in a dual role as twin sisters, one angelic and the other “without a soul,” the lost film turned up among the cache of unidentified American nitrate prints safeguarded for the last 23 years by the New Zealand Film Archive. So far, only the first three reels of the six-reel feature have been found; no other copy is known to exist. Read more…
Robert Sklar, a film scholar whose 1975 book “Movie-Made America” was one of the first histories to place Hollywood films in a social and political context, finding them a key to understanding how modern American values and beliefs have been shaped, died on Saturday in Barcelona. He was 74.
The cause was a brain injury sustained in a bicycle accident, his son Leonard said.
Mr. Sklar, who was a professor of cinema studies at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts for more than 30 years, came to film in the 1960s, when he was asked to serve as a faculty adviser to the Cinema Guild, the student film society at the University of Michigan, where he taught in the American culture program.
He found the proposal enticing. After publishing a cultural study of F. Scott Fitzgerald, he had begun focusing on Hollywood film as a lens for analyzing American society in the 1920s and 1930s.
When he could not find a satisfactory history of American film, he decided to fill the gap himself and wrote “Movie-Made America: A History of American Movies.” It immediately became a standard work on the subject and has never been out of print. In 1994 it was reissued in a revised and expanded version.