I grew up with the records of my uncle’s (him performing, that is)—most memorably Scarlatti sonatas and some baroque sonatas for harpsichord and recorder. A few years ago I stumbled across a stack of copied CDs—taken from those out-of-print LPs and home-recordings—and grabbed them for memory’s sake. To my great intrigue, I found several discs devoted to works from the 20th century… which made me
Donald Macleod explores the music and life of Gustav Mahler through five key themes.
This week’s episode begins with an exploration of love – a potent force in Mahler’s creative armoury, but, for Mahler’s wife Alma, it came at a heavy price. Mahler was also obsessed with human mortality, but that became all too real with the tragic death of his daughter Maria. We’ll also hear about the composer’s ambivalent relationship to religion. Despite his lack of adherence to a particular creed, Mahler’s work is shot through with a genuine religious sense. Next, Donald discusses the vein of tart humour in Mahler’s music, from the gently sardonic to the out-and-out grotesque. Finally Donald tells how Mahler’s profound love of the natural world seeped into almost everything he wrote.
Liebst du um Schönheit
Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (No 4, ‘Die zwei blauen Augen’)
Wo die schönen Trompeten blasen
Symphony No 5 (4th mvt, Adagietto)
Symphony No 6 (1st movement, Allegro energico, ma non troppo)
Rückert-Lieder (Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen)
Symphony No 4 (2nd movement, In gemächlicher Bewegung, ohne Hast)
Kindertotenlieder (Nun will die Sonn’ so hell aufgeh’n)
Symphony No 6 (4th movement, Finale. Allegro moderato – Allegro energico)
Symphony No 8 (Part 1, extract – ‘Veni creator spiritus’)
Symphony No 4 (4th movement, Sehr behaglich)
Symphony No 10 (3rd movement, Purgatorio – Unheimlich bewegt)
Symphony No 2 (‘Resurrection’) (5th movement, Finale)
Des Knaben Wunderhorn (Des Antonius von Padua Fischpredigt)
Symphony No 1 in D (‘Titan’) (3rd movement, Feierlich und gemessen, ohne zu schleppen)
Symphony No 2 (3rd movement, In ruhig fliessender Bewegung)
Symphony No 7 (3rd movement, Scherzo: Schatternhaft)
Symphony No 9 (3rd movement, Rondo-Burleske)
Lieder und gesänge aus Jugendzeit (Ablösung im Sommer)
Symphony No 3 (3rd movement, Comodo)
Das Lied von der Erde (6. Der Abschied)
Presented by Donald Macleod
Produced by Chris Barstow for BBC Wales
For full tracklistings, including artist and recording details, and to listen to the pieces featured in full (for 30 days after broadcast) head to the series page for Gustav Mahler https://ift.tt/2mh1kDR
And you can delve into the A-Z of all the composers we’ve featured on Composer of the Week here: https://ift.tt/2vwHS8q
This autumn will see extensive coverage of the EGM London Jazz festival on the BBC. Taking place from the 15 to 24 November, the festival brings musicians from all over the world to the UK capital, comprising hundreds of gigs across the city.
The grand opening gala concert, Jazz Voice, will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3. It promises to be a spectacular showcase of some of the biggest names in vocal jazz with the EFG London Jazz Festival Orchestra providing an excellent setting for a range of singers. The line up is set to include the multiple Grammy Award Winning artist Cécile McLorin Salvant and Jazz FM’s Vocalist of the Year, Cherise Adams-Burnett, amongst others.
There will be further coverage of the festival on BBC Radio 2 on The Jazz Show with Jamie Cullum. Drawing upon the eclectic mix of performers at the festival, he will invite a range of guests to perform live on the programme. It has also been confirmed that the final of BBC Young Jazz Musician on BBC Four is to be held at the festival in 2020.
Alongside this, there will be a new programme of collaboration between BBC Radio 3 and Jazz FM with content shared between the two platforms. This will involve a six-hour overnight jazz takeover on BBC Radio 3, broadcasting the best jazz concerts from around Europe as well as sessions from BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artists and the London Jazz Festival. Content will be available on demand on BBC Sounds in a dedicated 'jazz collection'.
As part of the BBC’s dedication to showcasing the outer fringes of jazz, the composer and vibraphone player, Corey Mwamba, will be presenting Freeness, a new programme on BBC Radio 3 which will showcase the newest developments in improvised music in all its forms. It will air on Saturday nights from 2 November.
The show J to Z on Radio 3 offers an ideal starting point for those who want to find out more about jazz, featuring a range of new and old tracks alongside specially recorded music. New for this year, there will be a two-hour long J to Z event at the Royal Institute of British Architects, hosted by Jumoké Fashola.
Also aimed at those new to the genre, there will be a new jazz fix programme on Radio 3, presented by Tina Edwards. the show will be presented in a similar format to Radio 3’s Classical Fix, where Clemmie Burton-Hill mixes classical playlists for music-loving guests.
Finally, there are several high-profile TV documentaries scheduled to run on BBC Two and Four, including a new feature documentary on Miles Davis by Stanley Nelson. A highly influential composer, trumpeter and bandleader, Davis is regarded as one of the greatest pioneers in jazz. The documentary will cover key milestones and artistic developments in Davis’ five-decade career, including unseen archive and contributions from greats including Herbie Hancock, Quincy Jones and Wayne Shorter amongst others.
In a new documentary on BBC 4, Sophie Huber will be chronicling the story of Blue Note Records, one of jazz’s most influential record companies. The documentary will include first-hand accounts from musicians associated with the label. There will be a focus on the continued relevance of Blue Note records today as shown by Huber's focus on hip-hop and its practice of sampling old records for new beats.
Further to this, a documenary on the jazz singer, Billie Holiday has been comissioned for next year.
In the programme note at the premiere of the Enigma Variations, Elgar laid down the gauntlet for music detectives: ‘The Enigma I will not explain – its “dark saying” must be left unguessed, and I warn you that the apparent connection between the Variations and the Theme is often of the slightest texture; further, through and over the whole set, another and larger theme “goes” but is not played.’ To this day the enigma remains ‘unsolved’. Here are five of the most popular theories…
Auld Lang Syne
A long-time favourite of the counterpoint theorists, who feel the solution lies with a melody that can be played at the same time as Elgar’s original theme. It was first suggested by Dora Penny, but refuted by the composer.
The National Anthem
Another counterpoint solution, offered by Troyte Griffith. Again, Elgar dismissed it.
Mozart’s ‘Prague’ Symphony
Beethoven’s ‘Pathétique’ Sonata
Combining counterpoint and connectivism, another favourite is the ‘Pathétique’ Sonata’s central slow movement, which opens with a theme that (when transposed into E flat) can initially be played alongside Elgar’s.
Applying the decimal approximation of Pi (3.142) to the degrees of the scale, you get Elgar’s theme. And his love of puns is satisfied by the nursery rhyme quote ‘Four-and-twenty blackbirds baked in a pi(e),’ which gives you his ‘dark saying’..
We are near the end of the 2019 S.P.IN. submission drive. Thanks to everyone who has contributed. Don’t forget to check out the total number of submissions, leaderboard, and recent submissions here. You can see the positive impact of S.P.IN. on driving more submissions below.
However, there have been fewer submissions in 2019 compared to last year, a first for Discogs.
Earlier this year, we examined this trend to see if we could identify where the growth is slowing down. Some suspicions for the decrease included the blocking of bootlegs in 2017, an ever-shrinking amount of releases not in the Database as it grows, and censorship in some countries. However, we learned quite a bit and uncovered new trends while investigating, and wanted to share an update here.
To start, we have not seen a dip in unique contributors. We have seen a 1.1% increase in unique contributors to Discogs in 2019 compared to 2018.
And those contributors are still adding to the Database, albeit many of those contributions are starting to shift from new release submissions to filling in missing information, like credits and images. In fact, Image Additions are up by 2.5% YOY.
While Release Edits are up by 16%!
These edits are incredibly valuable. Often times even more information is added during second or third edits than during the initial submission. Diognes_The_Fox was able to provide an example of when Release Edits provide more information than the Release submissions itself.
Releases by Year of Submission
We first looked at how the year of publication for releases was distributed. In the graph below, the X-axis is the year the submission was added to the DB. Each block of color is a decade. We can see here that there is a “cooling off” regarding submissions of catalog releases (defined as releases older than 18 months from initial release date) since 2017.
When we break down the same stats as the last graph but unstack the years, we can see that by far the largest percentage of submissions in a year are from that year. For example, in 2018, the highest share of submissions by year of release was 2018. In addition, each year of release decays to a lower level in following submission years.
It has never been easier to release music. With distribution services like Soundcloud and Bandcamp, affordable home recording options and audiences that are receptive to diverse sounds there is more music being released this year than any other year in history. We can see the culmination of this by looking at the share of releases in the Database by year. This trend appears to accelerate as early as 2010.
Sub-Pop Catalog Case Study
We also wanted to get a sense of how accurate and complete the Database is for newer releases. To inspect this, we matched the Database entries for famed Seattle-label Sub-Pop with their official 2019 release list.
When we pulled this reporting, the Sub Pop label had reported 42 releases for 2019. 86% of those 2019 releases were cataloged in Discogs already. The 6 not in Discogs were all digital releases. Surprisingly – the average time for the release to be submitted to Discogs is 2 days prior to the official release date! Some might cry out web subs!, but keep in mind that some Discogs users work at record shops, content houses, labels, etc. and have access to albums earlier than the official release date.
Releases by Country
We also inspected submissions by country. If you haven’t heard, we’ve officially translated Discogs into eight languages, including many of the Help and Support documents regarding submissions. This was prioritized after finding that users from countries where English is not the native language are much more likely to land in CIP. Our hope is by translating these guidelines, we can help users in countries that are underrepresented, which was a goal of last year’s S.P.IN. drive.
Below is a graph of the country of release vs the date that release was submitted. Keep in mind that country is not a required field, so earlier submissions typically have more country information.
We can see that releases from the UK were dominant in the early and Electronic-centric years (2000 to 2006), then the USA took over. The top three by a substantial margin are the USA, the UK and Germany. Japan was showing growth but has been dropping as of late.
Looking at countries 11-20, we see some bigger swings. The blue in the graph below is Russia – what could be going on? We can see that Greece dips then recovers. Also, what could be happening with Jamaican releases? Their last remaining pressing plant closed 2015 but opened its doors up again recently, albeit it looks like at a much lower volume?
The distribution between the top 43 countries, as shown below, is starkly uneven. Discogs has traditionally been an English-dominant website. Our hope is making the website more accessible to users of more languages will help diversify the information available in the Database. If you think you can help translate Discogs, join our translator community. It could be that we’re reaching a threshold in some of these countries but have ample opportunity to find undocumented releases in others.
It’s likely no coincidence that our Marketplace policy banning bootlegs, launched mid-2017, coincided with a drop in unofficial release submissions.
Are we worried? Low-quality bootleg CDs etc, possibly even created for selling on Discogs, are not something we want to encourage or be complicit in.
When we segmented by genres, we also found some changing trends. Below are release totals of those tagged with the top-4 genres in the Database. We can see the number of Rock submissions falling. Have we reached ‘peak rock’? It’s definitely something that is possible, but we need to dig in more on this to be sure.
Inspecting some of the other genres turns up some interesting finds too. Classical music has been climbing and recently surpassed Funk/Soul. The Jamaican drop mentioned above, here connected to the Reggae genre, is apparent.
We’re seeing a similar downturn in our two most-prevalent formats – Vinyl and CDs. Cassettes, however, are looking strong in 2019!
So, an interesting state of the Database in 2019. A dip in new submissions, surging release edits as contributors fill in some of the missing fields, and a look into unequal distribution by country and genre. Do you have any observations on the state of the Database in 2019? Share them with us below!
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