Sound engineer for Prince to talk about brilliant partnership

Now a professor of music psychology, Susan Rogers will also discuss music and psychology in two virtual presentations for the U of A’s music department

Sound engineer for Prince to talk about brilliant partnershipSusan Rogers needed just one more lucrative gig to go back to school. It wasn’t that she didn’t already have a hugely successful career. She cut her teeth as a studio technician with David Crosby and Graham Nash after dropping out of high school, and was hired by Prince as staff technician in the early…

Choir director aims to find out if singing spreads COVID-19

U of A vocal acoustics expert recruiting singers and infectious disease specialists to assess risk of transmission

Choir director aims to find out if singing spreads COVID-19The director of the University of Alberta’s Chorale Saint-Jean is doing research to determine the risk of transmitting COVID-19 through singing. Skeptical of what he calls the “anecdotal hysteria” about the dangers of choral singing, Laurier Fagnan points to a high-profile case of infection among members of a Washington State choir in early March, before social distancing and other…

Was Beethoven Black?

A Twitter meme reveals more about race and music than the composer’s origins. Social media trend is a new twist on a century-old question

Was Beethoven Black?The year 2020 marks the 250th anniversary of Ludwig van Beethoven’s birth, and in mid-June this year, he started trending on Twitter. Perhaps it wasn’t so strange that Beethoven was popping up on social media platforms, but what was unusual and certainly unforeseen: the claim that “Beethoven was Black.” Where did this idea come from?…

Exposing the roots of racism through song

As an artist and an academic, Arsh Khaira explores the power of music to overcome divisions

Exposing the roots of racism through songMusic has a major role to play in the fight against systemic racism, according to newly minted music PhD Arsh Khaira. The Edmonton-based musician and University of Alberta instructor, who graduated on June 12, wrote his thesis on how the trauma of ethnic conflict is passed down through generations. He focused specifically on the ways…

Celebrating the human spirit can change the world

The Specials helped calm racial tensions and drew broad attention to the unjust imprisonment of Nelson Mandela

Celebrating the human spirit can change the worldIt has long been debated whether you can change the world with a song. If it’s not possible, one band came incredibly close. The Specials (or The Special AKA) rose to prominence in England in the late 1970s and achieved international fame in the early 1980s.  Their sound fused the music of Jamaican immigrants with…

Calling Elvis: When the King came home from the army

Calling Elvis: When the King came home from the armyElvis Presley was no more immune to the draft than other young American men of his era. Having reached eligible age, he was medically examined, declared physically fit and duly called up. Apart from his training period, his entire two-year army stint was spent in what was then West Germany. And the lead up to…

Talking to my elders about coping with anxiety

When crisis strikes, I instinctively wonder if there are any parallels and guidance I can take from my elders’ lives

Talking to my elders about coping with anxietyThere’s no shortage of anxiety right now. The reasons are ample: little children are aware of the climate change crisis; adolescents are boldly marching with Greta Thunberg to draw attention to the need to decarbonize our world; for months, financial analysts have been speculating on when the great stock market boom would end; the job…

Keith Richards was wrong – the message does matter

There are many great teachers who instruct us on how to achieve true happiness and success. You're just not likely to find them in popular culture

Keith Richards was wrong – the message does matterI often reflect on where my beliefs come from. I can see they’ve changed significantly over time. As I’ve altered who I listen to, my thoughts and beliefs have changed, and I’ve changed for the better. In my teen years I was strongly influenced by popular culture. I loved the Who, the Rolling Stones, the…

Christmas songs and the power of nostalgia

Bing Crosby's version of White Christmas is recognized as the best-selling single record ever

Christmas songs and the power of nostalgiaIt’s surely a personal quirk, but I must confess that the relatively modern Christmas songs, like All I Want for Christmas Is You and Fairytale of New York leave me cold. Yes, I know they’re critically acclaimed and immensely popular, not to mention enormous money-spinners. However, they don’t tickle my fancy at all. Perhaps it’s a…

O Tannenbaum symbolizes the entire celebration of Christmas

The Christmas tree is a universal symbol that delivers a message of endurance and light during the dark winter months

O Tannenbaum symbolizes the entire celebration of ChristmasThe traditional German song O Tannenbaum is often translated as O Christmas Tree. This is only partly true, however. The English version is quite different from the German. The essence of the German song is far more universal. One of the beauties of learning languages is discovering what words and poetry mean to the people…
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