Performance Space

July 25, 2011
IMG_3439 by pjbishop93
IMG_3439, a photo by pjbishop93 on Flickr.

Saxophone player along the banks of the Seine River in Paris.


Hello Goodbye

July 16, 2011

Jon Pareles of the New York Times wrote an interesting Review of Paul McCartney’s concert at Yankee Stadium. I found myself singing along to it, but feeling a wee bit old at the same time. I’m encouraged, though, That I can keep rocking “when I’m 64” (or 69, as he is). Thanks, Sir Paul.

And yes, Jon, that Don and Phil reference is to the Everly Brothers, whom Paul and John studied carefully in their formative years.

Trumpet Warmup

July 8, 2011
IMG_1182 by Foxboro Music Photos
IMG_1182, a photo by Foxboro Music Photos on Flickr.

The door

July 5, 2011
The door by pjbishop93
The door, a photo by pjbishop93 on Flickr.

If you shut the door to all errors, truth will be shut out.
– Rabindranath Tagore

WordPress for iPad

June 6, 2011

I downloaded the WordPress app for the iPad. I’ll be blunt–I dont like it. The first problem I have with it is that I can’t figure out how to simply look at my blog. When creating a new post, it’s not obvious how to add links, bold, and all those things that make the online version so easy to use. Instead you have to hand code the HTML. Or maybe, like the preview and add photo feature, it’s just not clear to me. I would also feel more comfortable if there were a Save Draft button. Instead you have to hit Cancel, then save draft.


Writing Music History

April 18, 2011

My American popular music classes will be discussing what acts from the first decade of the twenty-first century should be included in a future textbook on the subject. We have taken a poll within the classes, but we would like to expand the pool of responses. Can you help us by taking a short survey?

Click here to take survey

or go to

If the link doesn’t take you to a survey page, you can answer the question here in the comments section. Just list the 5 acts (individual or group) that you think must be included. You can also tell us what criteria you used to make your selections (optional).


Creating an Arts Spirit

October 22, 2010

I was only there to video the workshop, but I found myself entranced by Bill Rowell’s opening remarks and by the other speakers during the day. I recommend this video to anyone interested in any kind of teaching, music or otherwise.

I have been reflecting on the portion of the talk where Rowell referenced William Schuman and I wondered how we might apply that to musicologists. Are we musicians first, and teachers and historians second? Is it necessary in our field? Why is teaching so rarely discussed in our dozens of graduate-level musicology courses, when that is ultimately what most of us will do?

Pete Peterson

February 9, 2010

I am saddened to read of the passing of Pete Peterson, eminent sociologist and scholar of country music. My library copy of his book Creating Country Music is full of yellow stickies with notes on them. In his writings on the cultural history of country music, he explores the intersections of business, technology, society, music, and culture in a way that both informs us about country music itself and provides a model for the study of any type of American music in the twentieth century. His voice will be sorely missed.

Another Cloudy Day

February 4, 2010

I couldn’t help it, I just had to run my Python word cloud script on the answers to one of the survey questions. No surprise that the word used most often to describe the Everly Brothers’ music is HARMONY.

I, IV, V and Beyond

January 27, 2010

Joe Burns’s analysis of one hundred rock and roll songs from 1955 to 1959 shows that forty-nine percent of the songs in his sample relied on the tonic, subdominant, and dominant chords (I, IV, V).[1] Burns’s study focuses on progressions and their frequency of occurrence. He includes all list of the songs in the study and the distinct progressions or each (for example, I-IV-V or I-ii-V-I). Using his data, I calculated that the average number of chords in the songs in this repertoire is 3.55; narrowing it to the years that coincide with the Everly Brothers (1957-1959) yields an average of 3.63. Richard J. Ripani analyzed twenty-five of the top R&B singles for 1950 to 1959. He calculated the average number of chords in use to be 4.68.[2] The average number of chords used in the Everly Brothers’ songs is 4.65, more closely matching that of rhythm and blues than rock and roll. (A comparable study of country or pop music hits of the same period does not appear to exist so no comparison is readily available.) Nine of their singles rely on the standard I-IV-V progression: “Maybe Tomorrow,” “Should We Tell Him,” “When Will I Be Loved,” “Problems,” “This Little Girl of Mine,” “Claudette,” “Be Bop A Lula,” “Leave My Woman Alone,” “I’m Here to Get My Baby Out of Jail.” The Everlys wrote the first three, “Problems” was written by the Bryants, and the rest were written by others. “(‘Til) I Kissed You” is a three-chord song, but it uses I, V7, and vi, the vi acting as a tonic substitute. The nine I-IV-V singles represent about thirty-five percent of their singles; using Burns’s data and calculating a comparable percentage for the years 1957-1959 shows that approximately forty-four percent of the rock and roll songs in his study relied on this set of chords (Table 7‑6).

Year # songs with I, IV, and V only # songs total percentage with I, IV, and V only
1955 6 9 67%
1956 11 19 58%
1957 11 20 55%
1958 11 25 44%
1959 10 27 37%
1955-1957 49 100 49%
1957-1959 32 72 44%

Early Rock and Roll Chord Analysis

[1] Joe Burns, “The Music Matters: An Analysis of Early Rock and Roll,” Soundscapes – Journal on Media Culture 6 (April, 2003).

[2] Richard J. Ripani, The New Blue Music: Changes in Rhythm & Blues, 1950-1999 (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2006).