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We Survived Boogie Fever!!

On Saturday, May 6, 2017, I had the pleasure to present some braille music scores and talk about the NLS Music program to many people in a short amount of time.  They were all very happy and streaming by the Main Reading Room desk in the Jefferson building at a very rapid pace.  However, they weren’t running…they were DANCING!

Mirror ball with Library of Congress logo.

And singing and smiling and laughing and boogieing. The Library of Congress presented a Bibliodiscotheque from April 12-May 6, culminating in a dance party to the music of Gloria Gaynor.

Gloria Gaynor singing at the Library of Congress, Great Hall

I saw many sequins, platform shoes, afros, medallions, polyester worn proudly, unbuttoned shirts, and some great dance moves, but my best take-away of the evening was watching people’s reactions when they realized they were reading braille music with their fingers.  And not only reading music, but reading Disco music!

Cover of braille music score, “I Will Survive” by Fekaris and Perren.

Their enthusiasm was gratifying, since at the Music Section our interactions are usually limited to telephone and e-mail.

As the dancers strolled down the aisle and circled the desk, other Library divisions displayed their treasures as well.

Librarians at the Main Reading Room Desk with information on hair and makeup of the disco era.

And while the dancers were moving non-stop, they were dancing and singing to disco music they heard on their headphones. They were all members of the Silent Disco Society, and rather than a funny hat with a tassel, they wore headphones that flashed colors and played classic disco music. I remember disco, and yes, I danced as much as possible. It was irresistible.

I’m happy our patrons can get their groove on with some of the classics of the disco era, like Stayin’ Alive (BRM 25125), I Will Survive (BRM 25487) Disco Duck (BRM 30622 prepare yourself;  there is some quacking called for in this song), and if you still want more, Disco Piano at BRM 28568.

The history of the Main Reading Room has seen its share of enlightenment, but I don’t think it has ever “gotten down” like this before.  And we survived!

NLS staff at Bibliodiscotheque. From left to right, Director Karen Keninger, Music Reader Librarian Mary Dell Jenkins, Acting Section Head for Publications and Media, David Pelizzari.

An American Classic: Irving Berlin

We’ve discussed show-tunes, Broadway, and the Great American Songbook on the blog before, but we have yet to talk about perhaps one of the most influential composers of American standards: Irving Berlin, who happens to celebrate his 129th birthday today. Along with penning a few Broadway scores, including the score for Annie Get Your Gun, […]

And For Your Listening Pleasure From the NLS Music Section

Everybody knows someone who gets a lot of mileage out of limited knowledge. People with this talent sound like experts and can dominate conversation at a gathering for 10-15 minutes until they have to leave to “refresh their drink” or to “catch up with a friend.” Well, I am here to offer you a chance […]

Over the Rainbow, and More: Part 2

This is a continuation of my survey of songs recently added to the LOC’s National Recording Registry, indicating where they may be found in the NLS music collection. (Note that Over the Rainbow was covered in last week’s blog.) Puttin’ on the Ritz Harry Richmond’s 1929 recording of this Irving Berlin song was added to […]

Over the Rainbow, and More: Part 1

Every year, 25 recordings are added to the LOC’s National Recording registry, recordings that are considered “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant.” The purpose of this blog is not to list all 25 of them, but to highlight those where the song is part of the NLS Music collection. Most of these items may be downloaded […]

Good Friday

The following post is from John Hanson, former Section Head of the NLS Music Section. Tomorrow is Good Friday. It is a major Christian holiday marking Jesus’ crucifixion. “Holiday” seems a little too joyful a term given its origin.  But the stock market is closed. Wall Street has a holiday. For me, growing up, Good Friday was […]

Women in the Arts

I have blogged previously about Women in Music  and although the official calendar date has passed for Women’s History Month, I would like to share my experience from a forum sponsored by the Library of Congress. Leaders in the Arts was a conversation held in the beautiful Members Room on March 22, 2017, with Librarian Carla Hayden […]

Ganne, Alford, Holst, and Others: Music of World War I

This April marks the 100th anniversary of the United States’ entry into World War I. The Library of Congress is commemorating that significant anniversary with exhibits, publications, and other various activities. As part of this commemoration, the NLS Music Section was asked to provide braille music for blind visitors. While going through the collection, we […]

Liessens Music Writer, Part 2

Continued from last week August Liessens was born in 1894 in Ninove, Belgium. When he was seven years old, he enrolled at the local school for the blind, headed by the Brothers of Charity (Frères de la Charité).  Following that, Liessens was admitted to Conservatoire Royal de Bruxelle, a music school that boasts such famous faculty […]

Liessens Music Writer, Part 1

A few weeks ago, I read a discussion on a listserv about different ways for blind musicians to notate and print music. There were many helpful suggestions, mostly on music notational software.  As the discussion participants noted, these software can be costly and require tech savvy to use. This post is about a music notation […]