Amoeblog

26 women's history fictional films

Posted by Eric Brightwell, March 10, 2009 11:06pm | Post a Comment
Aelita Queen of Mars  Diary of a Lost Girl
 

   

     

   

   

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Delia Derbyshire - electronic music pioneer

Posted by Eric Brightwell, March 6, 2009 07:33pm | Post a Comment
Delia Derbyshire

The Guardian once described Delia Derbyshire as “The unsung heroine of British electronic music,” seemingly implying that there are other heroines of British electronic music that are more widely… sung. I suppose there is Daphne Oram but the English never use less than three adjectives when one will suffice, so let’s just say that Delia Derbyshire is an unsung heroine of music. That she happens to have worked primarily in electronic music is secondary and that she was British shouldn't be held against her. She was a wizard and pioneer who, instead of guarding her magical abililties, eagerly shared her techniques and discoveries, but was stifled by the BBC’s draconian demands that their artists work and die in anonymity.


Delia was born in Coventry on May 5th, 1937. As a girl, she learned piano and violin and attended Barr's Hill School. She later attended college at Girton in Cambridge. After initially pursuing studies in math, she switched courses to music before graduation. After graduation, she began to look for work in the music field, quickly butting up against the deeply entrenched sexism of the field. In fact, in 1959, upon applying for a job at Decca, she was flatly told that their policy was to not hire women to work in the studios. The United Nations proved more diplomatic than the folks at Decca, and she worked there for a short while. Then she returned to England and found employment at the London-based music publisher, Boosey & Hawkes. She didn’t stay long.
In 1960, she was hired as a trainee studio manager at the BBC, working with the Radiophonic Workshop, then just a few years old. It was an organization charged with producing experimental incidental music and sound effects for the BBC Third Programme’s radio plays in cases where the normal orchestral score was deemed inappropriate. Her predecessors had included Harry Desmond Briscoe and Daphne Oram, two noted pioneers of electronic music and musique concrète.
Derbyshire came on board following Oram’s departure, as part of a group of young artists that also included Brian Hodgson and John Baker. Many of her initial pieces were collaborations with artist/playwright Barry Bermange. One such piece was 1964’s The Dreams, a sound collage of people describing their dreams with Derbyshire's electronic sounds.


Gradually, the Radiophonic Workshop began producing more music and sound effects for television than radio. One year earlier, in 1963, Derbyshire performed her mostly widely-heard work when given the score for Ron Grainer’s theme to a new science-fiction series, Doctor Who. Incorporating filters, tape loops and valve oscillators, she fashioned one of the most memorable pieces of electronic music ever, and one that's especially dear to Whovians. Grainer was so impressed he sought to give Derbyshire co-author credit but the BBC prevented it. Although officially uncredited, the popularity of the theme resulted in her employers giving her many other assignments and she ultimately produced over 200 pieces including noteworthy scores for Great Zoos of the World and Cyprian Queen. The BBC was, however, by no means entirely supportive of her work, rejecting many of her compositions, claiming they were too bizarre, “too lascivious for 11 year olds” and “too sophisticated for the BBC2 audience.”

Love Story - The Band Love and Arthur Lee's Skewed Genius

Posted by Miss Ess, February 17, 2009 10:45am | Post a Comment
love with arthur lee

One of my favorite bands from the 60s has to be Love. Their music is so unexpected and so unconventional, both lyrically and sonically. I give Arthur Lee the lion's share of credit for this (slove storyorry Bryan MacLean). Lee was truly one of a kind.

I've just watched the recent documentary about Love, Love Story.

Lee formed the band under various names in Los Angeles in the early 60s. It was one of the very first integrated rock bands to hit the scene and gain popularity -- something that is discussed in the film quite a bit, as band members feel they were arthur lee of loverepresented to the press/public early on by colorful psychedelic drawings as a way for the record company to avoid presenting the potentially "risky" fact that the band was made up of both black and white musicians. 

Love was one of the first rock bands to sign to Jac Holzman's Elektra Records and it was not to be a simple relationship between the band and their label. The band members spend a great deal of time in Love Story accusing Holzman of not promoting their work enough. Holzman counters this by pointing out Lee's aversion to touring outside of California. Regardless, the band made three brilliant albums within a span of a year and a half (!) -- Love, Da Capo and Forever Changes -- and increasingly, Lee's moments of brilliance were aggravated by longer and longer durations of virtual insanity because of his drug use.

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No Direction Home: Dylan Was Always Bound for Glory

Posted by Miss Ess, February 11, 2009 07:05pm | Post a Comment
I rewatched Scorsese's No Direction Home, the documentary about Bob Dylan, last night for the first time since it aired on TV a few years back. The DVD is 3 and half hours long! But fabulous, through and through.

no direction home

The most interesting points in the movie for me were the moments where Dylan's self creation was discussed. He's long been known as something of a shape shifter and it was interesting to think about the concept of home through his eyes -- where it is and how one gets there. I still wouldn't call Dylan a straight bob dylan and joan baezshooter or anything after watching the documentary, but my interest was piqued by both his comments and those of his many friends and collegues who were interviewed for the project, among them: Dave Van Ronk, Joan Baez, Mark Spoelstra, Al Kooper, Liam Clancy, Allen Ginsberg, Pete Seeger, Mavis Staples and Suze Rotolo.

Dylan says he was "born a long way from where [he was] supposed to be" and that he's been looking for his home, forging his own version of it ever since -- and he definitely doesn't look back. He's been inventing his own truth, his own identity throughout his career, allowing no one to pin him down at any one moment. Even his last name is an invention, purely his way of creating an identity for himself.  Dylan believes he had no past, and totally seperated himself from his Hibbing, MN upbringing. He only looked to the present moment, and did what pleased him then. This goes a long way toward explaining his career and its diversity as well as the period in the mid-60s where he took a lot of heat for "going electric." The film covers this period with dynamic energy, interviewing those who were on the side of Dylan's "authentic" folk music/protest songs and those whose eyes were fixed on the future of rock in 1965. It's thrilling to watch the portion of the film where the audacio1965 newport folk festivalus 1965 Newport Folk Festival performance is discussed, but then again, I always seem to find this a thrilling moment in musical history.

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Otis Redding, The Big O

Posted by Miss Ess, February 1, 2009 06:11am | Post a Comment
Otis Redding has inarguably one of the most evocative voices in all our country's history, and like so many with such enormous talent, he died too young.

otis redding

I think I first heard Otis in high school when I became obsessed with the Monterey Pop Festival, Otis' first big splash onto the pop scene. I was overwhelmed by his voice and energy during his famous performance there, including and especially a song he cowrote called "I've Been Loving You Too Long." In fact, one of my very first purchases at Amoeba quite a few years ago, and long before I ever worked here was the Reprise release of Redding's Monterey Pop set with Hendrix' on the flip side. I had never been able to find it anywhere else.


Otis came from Georgia, and he wrote and recorded for Stax/Volt, the famous Southern label. Not many people in his day were writing their own songs. Otis would write many with the legendary Steveotis redding Cropper, including "(Sittin On) The Dock of the Bay." Additionally, the many songs that he chose to cover were infused with a sprit and fortitude that made them all his own. Otis' career gained momentum throughout the 60s due to his incessant touring and massive talent for entertaining and moving crowds. He released a string of essential albums, including Pain in My Heart, The Great Otis Redding Sings Soul Ballads, Otis Blue, The Soul Album, Complete & Unbelievable: The Otis Redding Dictionary of Soul and King & Queen.

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