Thursday, December 29, 2005

As if Berklee College of Music grads weren't already unemployable enough 
...starting next year, you can study bluegrass at Berklee, too.

That's right, the genre of choice for people who like to practice long hours to master a technically demanding style that will qualify them to play at open mic night at the Korner Kafe on the second tuesday of every other month (football schedule permitting) may now plunk down tens of thousands of dollars per year and go deeply into debt for the priviledge.


So just how deeply does the reporter understand the music?

At Berklee College of Music, a school founded as an incubator of jazz and steeped in the syntax of cool, the pluck of the banjo was once a sound disdained. The bluegrass instrument was considered the stuff of Appalachian Mountains, not urbane Boston.

Well, the birthplace of bluegrass is not in the mountains of Appalachia at all, but in the broad plains and lakes of western Kentucky. The Appalachian sound is a distinct style and leans more toward older Irish modalities, and does not have the same blues/African influence. Appalachian music is also much older - bluegrass music as we know it today did not originate until the 1940s and 1950s, thanks to legendary mandolinist Bill Monroe. (How many other musicians are there that have all but singlehandedly INVENTED an entire genre?)

And see? According to the writer bluegrass combines both Celtic AND scottish sounds!

It's good to know, though, that the young fiddlers attending Berklee will be in good hands: Matt Glaser is a truly, truly outstanding musician.

I think that the influence of O Brother Where Art Thou isn't nearly as strong among this crowd as the rise of Alison Krauss and Union Station, and more recently, the outstanding Nickel Creek.

For what it's worth, Vanderbilt University had a fiddle degree program at least a decade ago - formerly headed by the great Mark O'Connor.

Splash, out


You've never lived until you've seen O'Conner tackling a speed-metalesque run on his fiddle. I saw him perform a live solo show in a little college chapel (Sewanee, TN) on top of a mountain one afternoon years and years ago, and to this day I mark it as a singular experience. And I saw Nickel Creek open for Vince Gill (in full bluegrass mode) at the Ryman in Nashville a couple of years back, too...what a pairing!
Yep. Mark's got tremendous technique. I've encountered him on a couple of occasions - once he was sitting on a stage in the afternoon doing a sound check and simply shredding on a mandolin. I had just popped in a venue he was performing in that night for lunch.

And then another time I actually saw one of his performances. It was a one man show during his Midnight on the Water tour in Nashville. Tremendous performance (unfortunately, it was unamplified, and the venue was just a hair too big to do it that way.

Actually sat at the bar and had a beer with Edgar Meyer, who is one of the nicest guys you can ever meet.

Mark was really nice too, and signed autographs, and I got to meet him and he indulged me in a musical question about improvisation. But I could tell he mostly wanted to eat his cheesecake.

History of Banjo exhibit.
Thank you for the informative blog
Here Is some additional
Classmates.com Resources. Find you old friends from way back when if you or your readers are interested.
Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Site Meter

Prev | List | Random | Next
Powered by RingSurf!

Prev | List | Random | Next
Powered by RingSurf!