Fake Muse? The Revenge of Milli Vanilli

Musicking (verb): To music is to take part, in any capacity, in a musical performance, whether by performing, by listening, by rehearsing or practicing, by providing material for performance (what is called composition), or by dancing. From “Musicking: The Meanings of Performance and Listening” by Christopher Small It’s been almost 20 years since Rob Pilatus, […]

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Ghosts in the Machine, Part V: “Jazz in Academia”

This is the fifth and final article on jazz musicians in popular music and the study of jazz in higher education. Ghosts in the Machine, Part V: Ghosts in the Education Machine Jazz musicians have, I think, always been acutely aware of the “byproduct” of becoming proficient in jazz—jazz training, even if rudimentary, provides the […]

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Ghosts in the Machine, Part IV: Jazz in the Trenches

This is the fourth in a series of articles on jazz musicians in popular music and jazz and popular music as fields of study in higher education. In my previous articles, I detailed the enormous influence that jazz musicians have had on popular music since the 1960s. This may, early on, have been a matter […]

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Fake News in Academia

Most universities have procedures for reporting “Bias Incidents” on campus, including my own, whose description (below) is typical: Our commitment to addressing bias on campus: Grand Valley State University strives to create an inclusive and equitable campus community where people are treated with dignity and respect.  If anyone in the Grand Valley community feels belittled, […]

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Ghosts in the Machine, Part III: The Ghosts

This is the third in a series of articles on jazz musicians in popular music and jazz and popular music as fields of study in higher education. Ghosts in the Machine, Part III: The Ghosts In a recent essay in Commentary, Terry Teachout, arts and culture critic for the Wall Street Journal, makes an argument for […]

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Ghosts in the Machine, Part II: “The Machinery”

This is the second in a series of articles on jazz musicians in popular music and jazz and popular music as fields of study in higher education. Part II: The Machinery Jazz musicians have played an important role in the development of popular music from the 1960s until today (we should also remember that jazz actually […]

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Ghosts in the Machine, Part I: “Jazz Musicians and Popular Music”

Part I: The Machine(s) Jazz and classical musicians have long had a troubled relationship with pop music. (By “pop music,” I mean all styles outside of classical and jazz—country, rock, hip-hop, rap, etc.—any style that enjoys a double-digit market share is properly called “popular”, as opposed to the dismal 4-6% (combined) that is shared by […]

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Tuition in Wonderland: Higher Education Funding in the United States and Europe

College tuition and student loans have been in the news a great deal in recent years, largely because of the alarming amount of student debt in the United States. Currently, student debt is more than $1.2 Trillion dollars, higher than both credit card debt and auto loans. This debt is no longer held by private […]

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Hero: Thoughts on the Music and Career of David Bowie

I was truly shocked and saddened by the news of David Bowie’s passing. I had an immediate flashback to the 10th grade, Mr. Ogorman’s French class at Riverside High School in Windsor, Ontario, where I had a classmate named Morven, who I didn’t know at all (in fact, I doubt I ever even talked to […]

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Ted Gioia’s Bar Talk: Can a Musicologist Make Club Owners Pay More?

Ted Gioia’s recent article entitled Can Club Owners Make Musicians Play for Free? is, like many of his other posts, quickly going viral on social media with the jazz community. The premise is tailor-made for the times—evil bar owners (corporate elite), poor musicians (downtrodden proletariat), government (selfless saviors) via the courts will ride in on a white […]

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And She’s Buying a Lawsuit to Heaven

The Song (or at least the bass line) remains the same. Another second-tier band wants a piece of the first-tier pie, and thus, the battle for ownership of one of the most iconic songs from the classic rock era, Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” is heating up. The surviving family members of Randy California, the late […]

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Ghost of a Chance: A New Paradigm for Pop Music Success?

I’ve been in Europe since early August as a Fulbright Scholar. Most of that time has been in the beautiful city of Graz, which is in southeast Austria. I am teaching a course at the Jazz Institute at the Kunstuniversität Graz (Graz University of the Arts). As part of this work, I was invited by […]

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Beggars’ Banquet: New Music Schemes for New Music Dreams

Over the last decade, we’ve heard a lot about new marketing and funding strategies for music and musicians that were emerging in the age of near ubiquitous internet access. Streaming music and video, Youtube, email lists, artist/group websites and blogs, fanzines, Facebook, digital and hardcopy sales, self-publishing, on-demand publishing and others. Using these new tools, […]

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Ghost Story: Something Wicked This Way Comes?

As a jazz musician and composer who grew up in the “classic rock” era, I found myself more attracted to those groups that were working with longer forms, complicated or unpredictable harmonies, meters, and rhythms, and strong musicianship; in other words, I listened to a lot of what we now call “progressive rock.” I still […]

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Bureaucracy ad NAuSeuM: Is The Unaccredited Life Worth Living?

  The National Association of Schools of Music (NASM) is an organization that assesses and accredits music schools and music departments across the United States. Towards that end, NASM develops and articulates general curriculum guidelines for music programs in higher education. Music departments must then adhere to these guidelines if they wish to be accredited, […]

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