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Tag Archives: Music

How to aid the arts during a pandemic

That is the topic of my latest Bloomberg column.  In addition to “the usual,” we might also consider arts vouchers: The second element of the arts rescue plan would take a different tack. Rather than giving money to arts institutions, the federal government could set aside some amount for a concept known as arts vouchers, originally developed by the British economist Alan Peacock. Arts vouchers are similar to education vouchers except that they cover the arts. The government...

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My excellent Conversation with Ashley Mears

Tired of lockdown, pandemic, and rioting?  Here is a podcast on some of their polar opposites, conducted by “a bridge and tunnel guy” with an accomplished sociologist.  Here is the audio and transcript, here is the summary: Ashley Mears is a former fashion model turned academic sociologist, and her book Very Important People: Status and Beauty in the Global Party Circuit is one of Tyler’s favorites of the year. The book, the result of eighteen months of field research, describes...

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Richard Davis requests

Here are some answers, I put his questions — from Request for Requests – in bold: Melancholy among academics. We’re a pretty sorry bunch, and many of us don’t have so much professionally to live for, at least not at the relevant margin — it is easy to lose forward momentum and never recover it, given the constraints and incentives in the profession and broader pressures toward conformity.  Rates of depression in academia, and especially in graduate school, are...

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That was then, this is now

Ali Akbar was two years younger than Robu [later named Ravi Shankar], but a couple of years ahead in his musical training.  He has been through a brutal regime: Baba had even tied him to a tree and beaten him when his progress was unsatisfactory.  Although Baba had arranged for Ali Akbar to marry at the age of fifteen, he still expected him to remain celibate — married to music.  Twice Ali Akbar ran away.  Ultimately the harsh discipline brought out his talent and made him into a master...

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The turn to “comfort music”

Pop music has become less popular during the pandemic. With millions stuck at home due to coronavirus shelter-in-place orders and searching for entertainment, data suggest that new releases by major pop artists are drawing fewer listeners than normal. Instead, streaming metrics show, listeners are tuning in to old favorites from the likes of Bob Marley, Dixie Chicks and Bill Withers—the singer of “Lean On Me,” who died last month. Several factors are denting pop-music listening. Major artists...

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My Conversation with John McWhorter

This one was done with an associated public event, ah the good ol’ days!  Here is the audio and transcript, here is the summary: Who can you ask about the Great American Songbook, the finer Jell-O flavors, and peculiar languages like Saramaccan all while expecting the same kind of fast, thoughtful, and energetic response? Listeners of Lexicon Valley might hazard a guess: John McWhorter. A prominent academic linguist, he’s also highly regarded for his podcast and popular writings across...

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