Decolonise the Music Curriculum – Part 1

Resources for black ‘classical’ composers

This round up of some of the key black ‘classical’ composers is by no means a comprehensive list: but a starting point for music teachers and lecturers who want to know more about European and North American black classical composers. This is by no means a quick fix – the work of decolonising the curriculum is a big project that requires white people to think about how they have participated in structural racism and white supremacy. I have been asked by a couple of people to put together a starting point over a few categories: black ‘classical’ composers, black modernist composers, women composers, and a broader list of musical theatre composers. Over the next couple of weeks I will be sharing these resources and pointing you in the direction of key antiracist campaigns, particularly the work of teacher and anti-racism activist, Pran Patel, and musician and activist Nate Holder.

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Working with Maestra

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Cissie Loftus, after being asked why there’s no International Men’s Day

It’s been a little while since I last used this lovely site, leaving the delights of Simba the Not the Lion King up as my final statement, which clearly has to change! Lots to discuss, but most recently I’ve written a series of blog posts which started yesterday for Maestra on women composers who were part of Broadway’s early history. The first went up on #Internationalwomensday – and features the work of Cissie Loftus.

Spotlights on Women Composers in Early Broadway History: Week One, Cissie Loftus

As well as showcasing my stalker/detective/historian skills, it represents the first time her compositions have been listed in one place. In time – it means that it can be used to improve her Wikipedia page – and particularly for Nora Bayes, who doesn’t even have one yet!

To start off, I’ll explore the work of three of the most prolific women composers in early 20th century musical theatre: Clare KummerCecilia ‘Cissie’ Loftus, and Nora Bayes. They all worked at the beginning of the 20th century and all took on multiple roles in their professional careers, including: acting, music hall performance, composition, lyric-writing, and producing. The three women attracted extensive press coverage, not least because all three of them disobeyed expected social mores in their personal lives: Bayes had five husbands and Loftus’s divorce made international headlines. Yet their composition practice has largely been forgotten. Retracing their work is one way of changing that.

Maestra Music is an incredible organisation, working to support women composers and music professionals in musical theatre, led by Georgia Stitt. Next week will be Nora Bayes and the week after Clare Kummer, so stay tuned and sorry for leaving off-brand Simba for so long, all by himself.

Simba: The King Lion

Terrible fake disney picture for the Lion King, cleverly renamed 'Simba the King Lion'. Seagull (?) lion and deer.

This has very little to do with anything else, other than me discovering this and posting about it on Twitter:

So I decided to watch some of the episode, to find out how they’d worked the seagull in. Buckle up for a ride through off-brand Disney.

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Saturday Sondheim: Time falls apart (1)

Picture of Loveland sequence from 2011 Broadway production - front row girls in follies costume with chorus line at back. Fluffy pink and purple clouds behind

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So in last week’s Saturday Sondheim: I looked at the idea of knowing things, and what the cost of that is for the characters who learn things but pretty much always have to deal with the ambivalence that leads to.  This week – I want to go slightly further into the nerdy academic looking glass of how Sondheim sometimes messes with time. If you thought you were not going to get a Doctor Who reference here then I’m sorry, I’m so so sorry.

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Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: ‘Why else do you think I’m singing this reprise?’ 

If I’m going to invent blog post series for myself to write about, then getting to talk about Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is a serious perk. I’ve been wanting to do a nerdy take on dramaturgy in this show for a while, so let’s go. I’m going to start with a song and it’s reprise – ‘The New Guy’, as it’s a) ridiculous and b) delightful.

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Academic papers: graphic novel style?

 

0001Many moons ago – so long ago I can’t actually remember what the software was that I did it on – I got so stuck trying to write an academic paper that I tried a new way of writing the thing. Eventually (twins, and some years later) it became this: ‘Next you’re Franklin Shepard Inc.?’: Composing the Broadway musical, a study of Kurt Weill’s working practices published in Studies in Musical Theatre in 2017. I am still quite taken with it – because it forced me to distill my ideas into a very clear format.

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