Felicia Miyakawa (Round Rock, TX) When we think about protest music, we tend to think about music sung at political rallies or music created for a cause—the labor movement for example, or anti-war songs. But sometimes protest music is subtle. Sometimes performance itself—the getting up on stage in front of people, the very act of … Continue reading Poetic Protest: Women, Hip-hop, and Islam
By: Felicia M. Miyakawa (Round Rock, TX) // When labor agitators met for marches and rallies in the early twentieth century, they sang from songbooks. Their songbooks were inexpensively printed, pocket-sized, and usually included only the lyrics because the tunes were well-known. (A song set to a familiar tune is known as a contrafact.) They … Continue reading “Solidarity, Forever”: Zilphia Horton’s Labor Songs, Communism, and the CIO
In 2011, singer Joan Baez performed the song “Joe Hill” for a Veteran’s Day rally sponsored by Occupy Wall Street, a movement that began in New York City that same year in response to widespread financial corruption at banks and corporations. Baez has long been known for her work as an activist; although she might be new to younger generations, her voice is still respected at protests.
By: Felicia Miyakawa (Round Rock, TX) // The following essay discusses violence and brutality. Music videos contain news footage of violent acts, accompanied by strong, explicit language. In 2012, the New York Times offered a retrospective about Woody Guthrie’s life to honor his centenary, noting his legendary ability to sing truth to power, to embody protest … Continue reading “I Can’t Breathe”: Protest Music Now
By: Felicia Miyakawa (Round Rock, TX) // In 1965, documentary filmmaker Stefan Sharff captured the historic march from Selma to Montgomery, led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Sharff’s style is sonically sparse: in the entire 17-minute film, we hear only the chopping of helicopter blades; the voice of Dr. King, taken from a recording of … Continue reading Selma’s Music: The Politics of Commemorating Bloody Sunday
By: Felicia Miyakawa (Round Rock, TX) // On March 19, 2004, I had the good fortune to attend the West Coast premiere of Devolution, a new orchestral work by composer Anthony Paul DeRitis. I was compelled to buy a ticket after reading a feature essay by Andrew Gilbert called “New Work Brings DJ into Orchestral Mix” … Continue reading Improvisation vs. Notation: DJ Spooky Meets the Orchestra
The scene: Two teenage boys—doing their utmost to appear cool—loiter against a concrete wall in Patna, India. Two smiling teenage girls, deeply engaged in their own conversation, walk by the boys, who immediately start whistling, cat calling, and ogling, demanding the girls’ attention. The girls ignore them, but the boys follow them down the street with cries of “Oh, sexy!” and “What’s your name, baby?”