Tuesday, July 27, 2010

CLUB FOOT Presents: A Generous Illusion, Post-Punk SF (1978-82)

After new wave punk first hit North Beach in 1976 and before 80's hardcore took over The Vats, San Francisco's heaviest neighborhoods saw a brilliant flurry of Do-It-Yourself artist-run venues. Target Video, Tool & Die, Survival Research Labs in the Mission. Club Generic in the Tenderloin. CLUB FOOT in Dogpatch. To name just a few. This program presents films and performances from these often overlooked locations where rock aesthetics meet live art action.

Featuring Bruce Geduldig's beautiful black-and-white 8mm short, Childhood Prostitute, starring JoJo Planteen (Inflatable Boy Clams) and Winston Tong (Tuxedomoon). Includes music by Tuxedomoon, The Units, Pink Section, Minimal Man, Invertebrates, Factrix, Richard Kelly, and Snuky Tate (live at the 1979 Gay Freedom Day Parade).

Plus, special guest actor/musician Richard Edson, one of the original CLUB FOOT founders who later went on to a big time Hollywood career.

Thursday, July 29 at 6:00-7:30 PM at the Koret Auditorium, Lower Level, San Francisco Public Library. All programs at the Library are free and open to the public.


The CLUB FOOT webpage.

The CLUB FOOT Facebook group.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Cries of Joy, Songs of Sorrow: Chinese Pop Music and Its Cultural Connotations

25 years ago Liang Mingyue wrote an overview of the several thousand year old music traditions of China entitled Music of the Billion: An Introduction to Chinese Musical Culture. The author focused his attention almost entirely upon the folk and traditional musics of China that remained uninfluenced by contact with the West. However, even in 1985 he had to acknowledge that "hybridized pop music" from Taiwan and Hong Kong had spread all over China nearly overwhelmed interest in these traditions.

At present popular songs written with Mandarin Chinese lyrics are the actual "music of the billion" and perhaps represent the most widely listened to music in the world. This makes Cries of Joy, Songs of Sorrow by Marc L. Moskovitz an important book in helping Western readers understand the history and cultural significance of Western-influenced popular song in the Chinese speaking world.

Moskovitz writes primarily about the music produced in Taiwan over the past four decades or so that has proven very influential in the Chinese speaking world. This was because popular music was banned from China during the rule of Mao Tse Tung and up to the 1980s could only be produced in the Chinese communities outside the Mainland like Taiwan and Hong Kong. This music is a transnational commercial force that is popular in Chinese communities all over the globe. He argues that the music brings a “commonality” to these scattered, disparate communities in the same way that Hollywood movies might to an English-language community.

This music which he calls Mandopop (other writers have used the term Mandapop) does not strive to use an authentically Chinese musical language and unabashedly incorporates Western influences. Moskowitz finds the significance of this genre primarily in the lyrics and how the meanings therein help listeners in their adjusting to new situations they encounter the modern, globalized world.

He notes that in “traditional Chinese etiquette” it is difficult, even rude to speak directly. Yet in these songs, the protagonists articulate often suppressed thoughts, especially thoughts of an intimate nature. He writes that “Mandopop can be used as a means of expressing oneself more directly, which provides a safety buffer should one's confession be met with rejection or awkwardness.”

Moskowitz also examines topics gender roles and nationalism as well as the music’s relationship to the culturally conservative Communist Chinese state. From his personal homepage he also links to videos to which he provides lyrics with English language translations. If you want to learn about the music that a plurality of the earth’s people listen to Moskowitz’s book and webpage are an excellent starting point.

Cries of Joy, Songs of Sorrow: Chinese Pop Music and Its Cultural Connotations by Marc L. Moskowitz (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2010).

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Parts for String Quartet - New Arrivals

San Francisco is a very active chamber music city with many professional, amateur and student ensembles. The San Francisco Public Library has a very large collection of chamber music parts written for every kind of ensemble. We strive to have the standard, classic chamber music literature and to find out new works for our City's musicians. In our most recent batch of new scores we received a number of new sets of parts for string quartet.

There are four new sets of Mendelssohn String Quartets: the Quartet no. 2 (op. 13 in A minor), the Quartet no. 4 (op. 44, no. 2 in E minor), the Quartet no. 5 (op. 44, no. 3, in Eb major), and a posthumous Quartet in F minor.

We have also received the parts of Grieg's posthumous Quartet Movement in F major, and for Britten's String Quartet no. 3, op. 94.

For more contemporary repertoire we have received Górecki's String Quartet no. 3, op. 67, entitled "Songs are Sung." In additional to that we also have arrangements of two Radiohead songs, "Paranoid Android," and "House of Cards." We also have a new work, Leyendas, An Andean Walkabout, by Bay Area native, Gabriela Lena Frank.

This music can be requested to be sent to any San Francisco Public Library branch by library card holders. It is also available to many other California library users through the Link+ network.


Leyendas, An Andean Walkabout by Gabriela Lena Frank (G. Schirmer, 2005).

Paranoid Android and House of Cards: Radiohead Hits for String Quartet
arranged by Eric Gorfain (String Letter Publishing, 2009).

Quartet Movement in F (1891) for two violins, viola and violoncello, op. posth. by Edvard Grieg (Masters Music Publications, 2002).

Songs are sung = Pieśni śpiewają: String Quartet no 3, op 67 by Henryk Mikolaj Gorecki (Boosey & Hawkes, 2009).

String Quartet no. 3, op. 94 (1975) by Benjamin Britten (Faber Music, 2006).

Streichquartett a-Moll, op. 13 by Mendelssohn (Deutscher Verlag für Musik, 1976).

Streichquartett e-Moll, op. 44,2 by Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy (Deutscher Verlag für Musik, 1977).

Streichquartett Es-Dur, op. 44,3 by Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy (Deutscher Verlag für Musik, 1977).

Streichquartette f-Moll, Opus post. 80 by Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy (G. Henle, 2000).

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Ten Thousand Years of Pottery

Ten Thousand Years of Pottery is an excellent source for obtaining an overview of the innovations of pottery over the millennia. The author, Emmanuel Cooper, gives context to the achievements in ceramics by underlining the needs of each culture, setting these achievements within a historical context. The chapters advance both chronologically and geographically. In the case of the New World, the American Indian chapter groups both continents together since outside influences were not experienced until quite late.

The first chapter details the first civilizations to use clay and kilns. The author states that pottery seemed to appear around the same time that a society became less nomadic. The more sedentary way of life of farming civilizations required storage units for grains and other produce, and that could also be used for cooking. As containers, pottery was superior to other materials such as woven grasses and animals skins.

The technological leap from these less durable means to the firing of clay to change its properties has not been discovered. The most likely theory is that where fires were tended for cooking and protection, clay may have been used to insulate the area from moisture. This, in turn, transformed the clay from porous to a non-porous, hard medium. It is not until the introduction of fire into the process that pottery became much more long lived: this is when the history of pottery begins.

The invention of the wheel in Mesopotamian culture around 4000-3000 years before the Common Era gave the world the potter’s wheel and changed many aspects of how the clay was formed. The clay could be shaped much more quickly, and because of this it also needed to be more pliable with impurities removed before the potter began to throw. Since this new process involved a higher degree of skill, the potter enjoyed a higher status in society. Though the wheel allowed greater speed in creating pottery, the revolving motion did limit form. Using this method also changed decoration, as horizontal lines were much easier to create. This type of decoration prevailed throughout the area.

In the following chapters the author shows how culture, religion and technological advances influence the methods and forms of pottery. The ample use of color photographs underscores the variety of ceramics forms and decoration within and between cultures.

Un atelier de Céramistes, from the San Francisco Public Library Print and Picture Collection

The last chapter entitled Studio Ceramics Today details the work of ceramicists whose work is a merging of craft and art. Cooper states that “the broad spectrum of ceramics is often referred to as ‘clay work’ to avoid such potentially emotive labeling as potter, ceramicist, or maker.” Back matter includes a glossary, a listing of museum and national collections of pottery, a bibliography, illustration references and an index of names. Unfortunately, the book lacks a general index which would have been very useful.

Ten Thousand Years of Pottery by Emmanuel Cooper (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2000).