“Welcome to the Sound Wellness Revolution”: Endel’s AI-Generated Soundscapes and the Commodification of Passive Listening
Musicology Now
by Andrea Bohlman
4M ago
In January 2019, Warner Music Group signed a twenty-album contract with the artist Endel. And then in May 2023, Endel came to an agreement with Universal Music Group to collaborate with the label’s artists. These major record label deals would be impressive under any circumstances, but what’s most striking is that Endel is not a living artist—it’s AI. Endel, a German company founded in 2018, has been described as “the first-ever algorithm to sign a deal with a major label.” Unlike music companies that use generative AI to write new songs, Endel is a standalone subscription service (currently 1 ..read more
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“We Are What They Grow Beyond”: Visions (and Sounds) of a Transnational Star Wars
Musicology Now
by Andrea Bohlman
5M ago
Relatively recently, in a galaxy quite close to home, literary scholar Gerry Canavan vividly captured the ambiguity that shrouded the release of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016). The second Star Wars feature film to be produced after Disney’s well-publicized acquisition of Lucasfilm in 2012, Rogue One was also the first of a planned series of Star Wars “anthology” films which, unlike the nine movies that constitute the mainline “Skywalker Saga,” would function more like standalone spin-offs, focusing more closely on the stories of individual characters and familiar narrative events. In his ..read more
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Vicente Fernández, Not Just for Latinx Students but for All
Musicology Now
by Andrea Bohlman
8M ago
“Y Volver, Volver~, Volver!” (And Come Back, Come Back~, Come Back!): as the explosive chorus of his signature song still mourns, Vicente Fernández Gómez, known as Chente, died on 12 December 2021 in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, after 60 prolific years as a singer, actor, and film producer. The English-language press, which rarely covered Fernández’s activities during his lifetime, has since rushed to follow his life and legacy as the “king of ranchera music.” Culturally and commercially responding to his global audiences, a couple of Spanish-language biopic drama series, El Último Rey (The L ..read more
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Five Variations on Music’s Ineffability
Musicology Now
by Andrea Bohlman
9M ago
Consider five variations on music’s ineffability: Disjunction. Music can be magnetic—attracting very specific meanings and affects in one moment in ways that seem so right on—and in another moment, seem to be quite indifferent to those meanings and affects. In a scene from Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous (1999), a fictional rock band named Stillwater, their roadies, and a 15-year-old journalist are riding a tour bus when Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer” (1971) emerges from the stereo. Spontaneously, everyone riding the tour bus begins to sing along with a sense of collective joy. In the middle of the ..read more
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Behind the Music Recommendation Curtain: Computing Taste with Nick Seaver
Musicology Now
by Andrea Bohlman
11M ago
In this conversation, Allison Jerzak spoke with cultural anthropologist Nick Seaver, who studies the intersection of people, technology, and culture. His 2022 book, Computing Taste: Algorithms and the Makers of Music Recommendation, draws on several years of ethnographic fieldwork at music recommendation companies in the United States. A transcript is provided for increased accessibility. Seaver’s project examines the people who create music recommendation systems: how they think about different kinds of listeners, how algorithmic recommendation creates new ways of listening, and th ..read more
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Errantry in Three Folds
Musicology Now
by Andrea Bohlman
1y ago
Reflections on the Errant Voices Conference, April 2022 Consider the adjective “errant.” The word might describe a misbehaving child careening through the galleries of the Uffizi in Florence, Italy, or a knight cresting the peak of a mountain in search of his dragon. An errant traveler might be pursuing a high-minded purpose or wandering aimlessly. They might be naughty or noble, resolute or dreamy, discreet or disruptive. As initially theorized by the Martinican writer and theorist Édouard Glissant in his 1990 book, Poetics of Relation, errantry is rhizomatic, a biological term that refers to ..read more
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Deadness and the Post-Mortem Imagination in Gabriela Ortiz’s ¡Únicamente la verdad!
Musicology Now
by Andrea Bohlman
1y ago
On the evening of August 8, 2008, the Buskirk-Chumley Theater of Bloomington, Indiana, opened its doors for the premiere of ¡Únicamente la verdad! (Only the Truth), the first opera by Mexican composer Gabriela Ortiz (b. 1964). The work is a video-opera that was announced as the authentic story of Camelia la Texana, the main character of Los Tigres del Norte’s classic narcocorrido (drug ballad) “Contrabando y traición” (Smuggling and Betrayal). The opera’s libretto was written by the composer’s brother, Rubén Ortiz Torres (b. 1964), a visual artist based in San Diego, California, and the premie ..read more
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Listening, Histories, and the Anthropocene
Musicology Now
by Andrea Bohlman
1y ago
Conferences are inflection points: moments where energies come together and reflect outward in new directions. The following is a report of the May 2022 “Ruptures and Convergences” Conference, hosted by the Music Studies and the Anthropocene Research Network. In the following recap of conference proceedings, I frame the comings and goings of energies with two sections that meditate on intersections of music and environmentalism. This review is intended as a partial state of the field, as journal entries, and as prompts for further action.  Past Presents/ce Pandemic-era concerns with racia ..read more
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On Conducting, Collaboration, and Curiosity in Early Music: Joshua Rifkin in Interview
Musicology Now
by Andrea Bohlman
1y ago
In this conversation, the first of a multi-part interview series with performers, scholars, and pedagogues of early music, historically informed performance, and related topics, David Miller spoke with conductor, instrumentalist, and musicologist Joshua Rifkin. A transcript is provided for increased accessibility. As a conductor and performer on various keyboard instruments, Rifkin has recorded the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, The Beatles, Antoine Busnois, Scott Joplin, Silvestre Revueltas, and many others. He is renowned for his leadership of groundbreaking one-on-a-part performances of B ..read more
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Ukraine’s Avantgarde: A Short History of a Long Tradition
Musicology Now
by Andrea Bohlman
1y ago
The international attention Ukraine has received in the 270 days since Russia’s full-scale invasion of its sovereign neighbor is unprecedented. The world has never before shown such support for and interest in Ukrainian culture, including the world of the performing arts. Countless benefit concerts have been organized by high-profile orchestras, opera houses, and concert halls from the Metropolitan Opera in New York City to the Perth Concert Hall in Australia. Many of these events, limited no doubt by the urgency of the situation, feature the performance of frequently performed works of Wester ..read more
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