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What We’re Reading Now – Part 2

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This blog post was co-written with Jan McKee, Reference Librarian, Recorded Sound Section, Library of Congress.

In addition to providing access to the Library’s recorded sound collection, the Recorded Sound Research Center  also maintains a collection of reference books. These books include discographies, bio-discographies, directories, histories, and technical works about sound recording and radio broadcasting. They’re available without appointment to researchers using the Recorded Sound Research Center. Listed below are some of the most recent titles we’ve added.

Hip Hop Ukraine by Adriana N. Helbig, Recorded Sound Research Center
Hip Hop Ukraine by Adriana N. Helbig

Hip hop Ukraine: music, race, and African migration by Adriana N. Helbig (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2014)

Hip hop has become an international genre that serves as a voice for youth all around the world. More and more, hip hop is shedding its American influences and, by incorporating local languages and local issues, reshaping itself to reflect new contexts and identities. The author argues that today hip hop is no longer an issue of black or white but instead offers ways for relatively silenced populations to tell their stories while also addressing the larger issues of human rights and racial equality. To illustrate this, she explains how musical influences from Africa, the United States and Russia have contributed to the growth of hip hop and become a means for social protest and change. The text provides links to online audio and video examples which illustrate the author’s message.



The Death and Life of the Music Industry in the Digital Age by Jim Rogers (New York, NY: Bloomsbury, 2013)

This book challenges the decades-old perception that the music industry is dying because of the internet. While it’s true that the industry has taken many blows because of peer-to peer file sharing and other technological innovations, Rogers illustrates how the record companies have taken measures to counteract some of the more damaging consequences. Supported by extensive interviews with mostly European recording executives, the author states that the internet has not changed any of the existing power relations in the music industry. There are still three very large corporations which have an oligopolistic dominance. The author also contends that despite the perceived idea that online piracy is widespread, it actually helps these major music companies in their mission to strengthen their power and market share.


Records Ruin the Landscape: John Cage, the Sixties and Sound Recording.  Recorded Sound Research Center
Records Ruin the Landscape: John Cage, the Sixties and Sound Recording by David Grubbs.

Records Ruin the Landscape: John Cage, the Sixties, and Sound Recording by David Grubbs (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2014)

John Cage was well known for his contempt for records and how recorded music never could quite capture a live performance of his music, or as he put it, “a record is not faithful to the nature of music.” In Records Ruin the Landscape, David Grubbs argues that new genres such as the avant-garde and experimental music composed by Cage in the 1960s were not created to be represented in the form of a recording. These genres include long-duration minimalism, text scores, happenings, live electronic music, free jazz, and free improvisation among others. But, the author states, new ways of listening to recorded sound allow present-day listeners to know an earlier era’s experimental music through the recordings of composers and musicians who largely disavowed them. A selected discography is available at the end of the text.


Jerome Kern Encyclopedia. Recorded Sound Research Center
Jerome Kern Encyclopedia by Thomas S. Hischak.

The Jerome Kern Encyclopedia by Thomas S. Hischak (Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2013)

Jerome Kern, considered the dean of American theater composers, wrote more than 700 songs. They were used in over 100 stage works during his career, spanning the years 1916 to 1946. One of the most versatile and influential of all American composers, Kern created the sound of the American musical and influenced many of the great songwriters of the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s. Thomas Hischak uses the encyclopedia format to create the most complete reference work on Kern available. The book includes a brief biography of Kern and chronology of his life and work. The body of the book consists of alphabetically arranged entries on all of Kern’s stage and screen musicals, descriptions of over 100 of his songs and entries on various subjects including Kern’s working methods, collaborators, personal characteristics, style and themes. Appendices at the end include a list of Kern’s awards, his interpolations, and a discography. A selected bibliography is also included.


Below is a list of Other new titles recently added to the reference collection .  Stop by the Recorded Sound Research Center and browse through these new reference books or any others that make up our collection.

Louise Talma: A Life in Composition by Kendra Preston Leonard (Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing Company, 2014)

Sonobeat Records: Pioneering the Austin Sound in the ’60’s by Ricky Stein (Charleston, SC: History Press, 2014)

Bernstein Meets Broadway: Collaborative Art in a Time of War by Carol J. Oja (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2014)

Tin Pan Alley and the Philippines: American Songs of War and Love, 1898-1946, A Resource Guide by Thomas P. Walsh (Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2013)

Sleigh Rides, Jingle Bells, and Silent Nights: A Cultural History of American Christmas Songs by Ronald D. Lankford, Jr. (Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida, 2013).

Art Song in the United States, 1759-2011: An Annotated Bibliography by Judith E. Carman, William K. Gaeddert, Rita M. Resch; forward by Thomas Hampson (Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2013)

Eight Arms to Hold You: The Solo Beatles Compendium by Chip Madinger and Mark Easter (Chesterfield, MO: 44.1 Productions, LP, 2000)



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