Thursday, April 29, 2010

San Francisco 1960s Rock: The Psychedelic Era presented by Richie Unterberger

On Saturday, May 1 from 2pm-4pm, rock music historian and author Richie Unterberger will show rare film clips by San Francisco Bay Area folk-rock and psychedelic rock performers from the mid-1960s through the early 1970s, in the Koret Auditorium of the San Francisco Public Library. Included will be footage by Jefferson Airplane, Big Brother & the Holding Company with Janis Joplin, Santana, Moby Grape, Country Joe & the Fish, Sly & the Family Stone, Creedence Clearwater Revival, the Grateful Dead, the Beau Brummels, and the Youngbloods.

Richie Unterberger is the author of many books including Eight Miles High: Folk-rock's Flight from Haight-Ashbury to Woodstock, Unknown Legends of Rock 'n' Roll: Psychedelic Unknowns, Mad Geniuses, Punk Pioneers, Lo-fi Mavericks & More, The Unreleased Beatles: Music & Film, Urban Spacemen and Wayfaring Strangers: Overlooked Innovators and Eccentric Visionaries of '60s Rock. His latest book is White Light/White Heat: The Velvet Underground Day-by-day.

Admission is free. This program is supported by the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Colin Russell-Jones and the Legat Legacy

Not unlike Billy Elliot, the Welch-born Colin Russell-Jones, the son of a railroad shunter, wanted to study dance in his hometown of Stafford, but not one of the town’s dance schools would take boys. By the age of 11, his family had moved to London where he saw a performance by the International Ballet and fell in love with the art. At 17, he walked three miles each way, three days in a row, to have an audience with Madame Nadine Nicoleava-Legat, a distinguished teacher and member of the celebrated Legat Ballet family. The Legat School was considered one of London’s finest. Mme Nicoleava-Legat was not in the first two times, but Russell-Jones found her there on the third try, and she accepted him as a student. In time, his studies led to a career that took him to several countries in Europe and then the United States.

Agnes De Mille, the famed choreographer described him as “An unusually fine pantomimist and comedian, and a well-trained dancer.”

Over the course of his career, the now 79-year-old Russell-Jones, also studied with Dame Marie Rambert, Stanislav Idzikovsky, and Lydia Kyact. He danced with the Royal Winnipeg , Yugoslav National, Irish National, Harlequin, Legat, and Royal Swedish Ballets, and with Peninsula Youth Ballet, Dancers Repertory Theatre, and in 23 musicals. His vast repertoire includes Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, Nutcracker, Coppélia, Romeo and Juliet, Giselle, Carnival, Harlequin Serenade and Les Sylphides. He has taught at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School, Connecticut College, Louisville College and Notre Dame, and Tanz Akademie in Marburg, Germany. He has directed the Icelandic National Ballet, the Israeli Bat Dor Dance Company, and has taught dance and theater in Bay Area high schools.

When a rent hike recently forced Russell-Jones to move to a smaller apartment, he decided to donate a substantial portion of his personal library to the Art and Music Center of the San Francisco Public Library. Among the nearly 200 books and other items donated by Russell-Jones are ballet music scores, Benesh Dance Notation books, Cecchetti, Vaganova and Bournonville curricula guides, biographies of notable British, U.S. and Soviet-era dancers, ballet programs in Russian, books on Modern, Folk and Jazz Dance, and a collection of caricature-like sketches of the demi-monde of the Early 20th Century London dance scene by Nikolai Legat. A selection of these, along with photographs, will be on exhibit during National Dance Month from April 23-May 31 on the Library’s Fourth Floor.

Mr. Russell-Jones will give a talk about the Legat School on Friday, April 30, at 1 p.m. in the Koret Auditorium.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Music Technology for Listeners and Musicians

Over the past few decades the relationship between music and technology has been fundamentally transformed the relationship between listeners and their music. It has also radically changed the nature of the music industry.

Perhaps the first book to look at early impact of the internet and digital technology on music was Sonic Boom: Napster, MP3, and the New Pioneers of Music by John Alderman, written nearly ten years ago.

Music downloading (legal or illegal) has become the norm for many music lovers and is seen by some as an alternative to homogenized radio industry. Quoted in Ripped: How the Wired Generation Revolutionized Music, songwriter and disc jockey Moby laments that these popular artists "have to fit a mold... if you're not a teen pop star, an R&B artist, a hip-hop artist, generic alternative rock band, or a female singer-songwriter, you might as well not even think about making records" (p. 9).

Ripped’s author, Greg Kot, traces these changes discussing pivotal moments like the December 1999 suit brought by the Record Industry Association of America (RIAA) against Napster, the strong arm tactics they used against individual downloaders, and the opening of the online ITunes store on April 28, 2003. He also examines musical forms like mashups that are at the cutting edge both from a musical and legal point of view.

Appetite for Self-Destruction: The Spectacular Crash of the Record Industry in the Digital Age by Steve Knopper traces this transformation of the music industry over three decades, often documenting the industry's miscalculations. He starts with the changes brought about by music video and compact discs, and continues to more recent developments like peer-to-peer sharing and portable digital music players.

William Duckworth’s Virtual Music: How the Web Got Wired for Sound takes a look at the rise of interactive musical technologies. He discusses innovative musicians of the digital age like John Oswald and Moby, as well as live interactive computer performance pioneered in the Bay Area by The Hub, and the creation of virtual instruments.

The Future of Music: Manifesto for the Digital Music Revolution by David Kusek and Gerd Leonhard notes that technology has made music more pervasive than ever. Examining the state of music technology and the music industry at the beginning of the 21st century the authors make forecasts for future business models of music.

iPod, Therefore I Am: Thinking Inside the White Box
by Dylan Jones looks at all of these developments from the music lover’s point of view. Jones admires the inventors and marketers of the iPod’s realization that the experience they have made is "all about individuality and personal space" (p. 67). He writes that with this device he is able to go beyond simply passively consuming music to actively “curating” it (p. 21).

The Library also offers a number of books oriented toward musicians trying to make their way professionally in this new era. The Future of the Music Business: How to Succeed with the New Digital Technologies: A Guide for Artists and Entrepreneurs by Steve Gordon looks at issues like digital music law, licensing for new media, webcasting, plus online distribution and promotion. Guerrilla Music Marketing Handbook: 201 Self-promotion Ideas for Songwriters, Musicians and Bands on a Budget by Bob Baker is a primer on marketing music online using resources like MySpace, Youtube, blogs, web design. Other guides for musicians who want to promote their music using social networking tools includes MySpace For Musicians: The Comprehensive Guide to Marketing Your Music Online by Fran Vincent and MySpace Music Profit Monster!: Proven Online Music Marketing Strategies! by Nicky Kalliongis.

Reading list:

Appetite for Self-Destruction: The Spectacular Crash of the Record Industry in the Digital Age by Steve Knopper (Free Press, 2009).

The Future of Music: Manifesto for the Digital Music Revolution by David Kusek and Gerd Leonhard (Berklee Press, 2005).

The Future of the Music Business: How to Succeed with the New Digital Technologies: A Guide for Artists and Entrepreneurs by Steve Gordon (Hal Leonard Books, 2008).

Guerrilla Music Marketing Handbook: 201 Self-promotion Ideas for Songwriters, Musicians and Bands on a Budget by Bob Baker (Spotlight Pub., 2007).

iPod, Therefore I Am: Thinking Inside the White Box
by Dylan Jones (Bloomsbury, 2005).

MySpace For Musicians: The Comprehensive Guide to Marketing Your Music Online by Fran Vincent (Course Technology/CENGAGE Learning, 2007).

MySpace Music Profit Monster!: Proven Online Music Marketing Strategies! by Nicky Kalliongis (MTV Press, 2008).

Ripped: How the Wired Generation Revolutionized Music by Greg Kot (Scribner, 2009).

Sonic Boom: Napster, MP3, and the New Pioneers of Music by John Alderman (Perseus Pub., 2001).

Virtual Music: How the Web Got Wired for Sound
by William Duckworth (Routledge, 2005).

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

For Those Who Love Yarn...

"Zuñi Spinning," from My Adventures in Zuni (all black and white images in this entry are taken from our department's Print and Picture File)

Handspinning is an ancient textile craft dating back thousands of years. Spinning is essentially the act of twisting together a number of fibers into a strong continuous thread. The majority of fibers used to spin are either plant based or from animals. Plant based fibers include flax, hemp, nettle, cotton, and more recently corn, soy and bamboo. Animal fibers include wool from sheep, hair and fur from camels, goats, rabbits, alpacas, and filaments produced by silkworms.

"The Romney Marsh Breed"

The earliest tool used for spinning was the spindle, which was basically a stick fitted with a disc shaped weight. Fibers were twisted by rotating the stick; the weight kept the spindle turning and the resulting thread was then wound onto the stick.

"Hindoo Woman Spinning"

The invention of the spinning wheel allowed for increased production by an individual spinner. Spinning wheels made their appearance in China and the Islamic world during the eleventh century and then moved on into Europe during the thirteenth century. This short space does not allow for an in-depth discussion of this craft’s development, but interested readers may learn more by checking out Spinning Wheels, Spinners and Spinning by Patricia Baines.

"The Old Romans At Home / Spinning"

In the last twenty years, the rise in popularity of knitting and crochet has led to a revival of the craft of spinning yarn. For some people the desire to spin may arise from an interest in spinning wheels triggered by seeing a wheel in a museum or antique store, or by inheriting one from a family member. Formerly a material exclusive to weavers, handspun yarn has much to offer today’s knitters and crocheters. Handspinning creates yarns in colors and blends that are not widely available in stores. Buying prepared fiber is cheaper than buying commercially spun yarn, so spinning one’s own yarn can produce luxurious knitwear at a fraction of the cost.

The library has many books that will appeal to both novice and seasoned handspinners. The following is just a sampling of the many titles the library has available to check out:

The Alden Amos Big Book of Handspinning
by Alden Amos (Interweave Press, 2001).

Color in Spinning by Deb Menz (Interweave Press, 2005).

A Fine Fleece: Knitting With Handspun Yarns by Lisa Lloyd (Potter Craft, 2008).

The Intentional Spinner by Judith MacKenzie McCuin (Interweave Press, 2009).

Spin Control: Techniques For Spinning the Yarn You Want by Amy King (Interweave Press, 2009).

Spin It! Making Yarn From Scratch by Lee Raven (Interweave Press, 2003).

Start Spinning: Everything You Need to Know to Make Great Yarn by Maggie Casey (Interweave Press, 2008).

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Resources for Educators - Music, Architecture and Clothing / Fashion

The principals of the San Francisco Unified School District recently visited the San Francisco Public Library to learn about supplemental resources for classroom learning for grades kindergarten through high school.

We presented the following titles to the principals as ‘hooks’ for social studies and history classes based on the premise that students can be engaged by how others live –- from the music they listen to, the clothing they wear, to their homes and the world around them. For this reason, the titles are divided into the sections: Music, Architecture, and Clothing / Fashion.


Alexander Street Press streaming music databases:

This resource includes “African American Song”; “American Song”; “Classical Music Library”; “Contemporary World Music”; and “Smithsonian Global Sound for Libraries.”

American Musical Traditions, edited by Jeff Todd Titon, Bob Carlin (Schirmer Reference, 2002). 5 volumes.

Includes volumes on Native American music, African American music, British Isles music, European American music, and a final volume on Latino American and Asian American music. In addition to chapters by folklorists, this set features material from the Smithsonian Institution’s Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. Each volume includes a bibliography, discography and a glossary.

Continuum Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World, edited by John Shepherd et al. (Continuum, 2003-2005)

This set provides a look at popular music of every style in every region of the world.

Oxford Music Online database:

This resource contains the full text of the The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (29 volumes), edited by Stanley Sadie (Grove, 2001), The Oxford Dictionary of Music by Michael Kennedy (Oxford University Press, 2006), and The Oxford Companion to Music, edited by Alison Latham (Oxford University Press, 2002). This database covers terminology, individual musicians, genres, and music history by geographic region.


Architecture of the California Missions by Kurt Baer (University of California Press, 1958).

Includes descriptive text plus black and white photographs.

California Missions: Measured Drawings by the Historic American Building Survey (Learning Windows Publications, 1999).

Consists of architectural drawings (often including ornamental detail) of all the California Missions.

Encyclopedia of Vernacular Architecture of the World, edited by Paul Oliver (Cambridge University Press, 1997). 3 volumes.

Explores how people construct, decorate and live in their homes. Volumes 2 and 3 are organized by geographic region.

The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Homes through American History, Thomas W. Paradis, general editor (Greenwood Press, 2008).

A chronological approach to U.S. domestic architecture.

History of World Architecture (New York : Electa/Rizzoli).

This 15 volumes series contains titles such as: Ancient Architecture; Pre-Columbian Architecture of Mesoamerica; Islamic Architecture; Renaissance Architecture.

The Seventy Wonders of the Ancient World: The Great Monuments and How They Were Built, edited by Chris Scarre (Thames & Hudson, 1999).

A survey of the ancient wonders of the world, “memorials of power” from ancient Egypt to Angkor Wat and the Great Wall of China.

The Seventy Wonders of the Modern World: 1500 Years of Extraordinary Feats of Engineering and Construction, edited by Neil Parkyn (Thames & Hudson, 2002).

Presents seventy great monumental works of architecture from around world since the sixth century.

Clothing / Fashion

Encyclopedia of Hair: A Cultural History by Victoria Sherrow. (Greenwood Press, 2006).

Covers hair in all its possibilities, from its history and customs to haircare, celebrity hair, tools and products for hair, and stylings.

Fashions of a Decade, series editor, Kathy Elgin (Chelsea House, 2007). 8 volumes.

Eight volumes covering western dress from the 1920s-1990s, including ties to popular culture such as film and music.

The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Clothing Through World History, edited by Jill Condra (Greenwood Press, 2008). 3 volumes.

A chronological and cultural survey of costume history.

The Worldwide History of Dress: With Over 1000 Illustrations, 900 in Color, by Patricia Rieff Anawalt (Thames & Hudson, 2007).

A visually-rich resource for non-western dress. Includes information on how spiritual and cultural practices, regional terrain and climate, and migration affect cultural dress.