Every month should be Music Month

PhotoNow that the excitement of the Auckland Readers and Writers Festival has simmered down a bit it’s worth taking a bit of a retrospective on New Zealand Music Month (NZMM) and looking at CHARTFEST which was a one-day event held in Christchurch.

Amidst all the workshops, demos and performances programmed to introduce the youth of Christchurch to the New Zealand music scene, sat a panel of three guys with loads of experience (guitarist Graeme Downes from the Verlaines, sound artist Bruce Russell of The Dead C and Flying Nun pioneer Roger Shepherd) having a session discussing it all. They were thrown a few questions along the lines of ‘how’s it been’ and ‘where’s it all going’ for making music in NZ.

In a nutshell, it’s been massive and not especially easy, and it will continue to go that way for those who are serious about making music. That has always been the case ever since Beethoven (and before) to the likes of the Ramones and the Rolling Stones (it wasn’t always easy for them and who remembers when they last wrote a good album anyway..! Ludwig you are excused…and I guess the Ramones are too…how many are left!).

Some things get easier. Graeme reckons that after more than 20 years, he’s a bit faster at writing music now. Technology and its availability can make some things a bit easier too but there is nothing that can replace the unique thing inside you that drives you to make music.

This was echoed by Bruce who talked at length about determination and to ignore the music market and do what you believe in. I have just finished ploughing through his book Left-Handed Blows, and his passion for creativity and being ‘in the moment’ is very clear, although it was a fine line between pleasure and pain trying to get my head around some of those really dense phrases that he loves to use.

Back to the panel …

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String it up @Central Library! Stringophilia

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During one of the last glorious days of autumn on the 15th of May, Cathy Irons and Tomas Hurik treated us to a sublime performance in the Central Library’s first floor red lounge. The richness and warmth of the string sound was reflected in Tomas’s face by the end of an hour programme in such a lovely sun trap.

Both tenured members of the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra performed a varied repertoire of pieces with something for everyone from Beethoven to Joplin with Alinoni, Stamitz, Bach, Handel-Halvorsen and Prokofiev sprinkled in between. Audience members appreciated the depth of skill and talent on show by turning out in large numbers navigating the maze of obstacles set before them by the building refurbishments to find their way upstairs. Their efforts were rewarded by an outstanding display of talent by two senior members of our city’s orchestra. Rarely do we get to hear members the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra close up and personal in such an intimate setting and this duet pairing of violin and cello was a delicious treat.

Many audience members took the chance to hear classical and rag time music played live in concert with Scot Joplin’s rag The Entertainer from the 1973 movie The Sting being a particular crowd pleaser to those new to concert music. If you missed the concert or want to hear more why not listen to  Cathy Iron’s CD Inspired.

Did you attend any Music Month concerts? What was your favourite Music Month moment?

  • Music resources at Christchurch City Libraries
  • Profiles of Christchurch musicians
  • Make some noise with Pandemonium this Sunday!

    Don’t stay stuck inside on a cold and wet Sunday afternoon.  Come along to the Centre for the Child this Sunday, 23 May and make some noise!  Watch the awesome percussion group Pandemonium make weird and wonderful music from recycled junk.   You can even make your own music and join in with a group jam as instruments are supplied by Pandemonium.

    Come along and join us at Central Library, 2-3pm this Sunday, 23 May.

    It’s all Pandemonium at Central Library

    If you thought our renovations in Central library were pandemonium wait until you see who we have in Central Library this Sunday.  The fabulous Christchurch percussion group, Pandemonium, are going to join us in the Centre for the Child for a musical spectacular, especially for families, to celebrate NZ Music Month. 

    You can bring the whole family for this interactive Junk Jam concert where you can listen to Pandemonium perform some weird and wonderful music on their recycled instruments and then you can have the chance to join them in bashing and clanking some junk.  They supply all the instruments and will teach you how to use them so you can help create a musical masterpiece and try to bring down the library roof.

    This is a free event so just come down to the Centre for the Child in Central Library, this Sunday 23 May from 2-3pm.

    Another electronic musical resource for Music Month

    Christchurch City Libraires is not just about books – we can bring you electronic resources that as an individual you could not access.

    One of these many resources is Music Online which brings together on a single cross-searchable platform, the entire suite of Alexander Street Press music products that we subscribe to. Music Online can potentially cross-search all of these or using the drop down box, any of these individual databases:

    • American Song – an eclectic collection of music from America’s past and present. Songs from American Indians, slaves and singing cowboys! Content includes protest songs, folk, blues, Motown, funk and more….
    • Classical Music Library – Tens of thousands of licensed recordings that users can listen to. The audio selections are cross referenced to a database of supplementary reference information. Hear the music and also understand what they are on about.
    • Contemporary World Music – Global sounds? How about some Arab swing or Balkanic jazz? Perhaps the flamenco and a bit of Bollywood to have us dancing in the aisles.
    • Jazz Music Library – An Alexander Street strength. Provides online listening to thousands of jazz artists, albums and genres. Listen to New Orleans Jazz, Big Bands, Acid Jazz and more (am I the only one who knew nothing about Acid Jazz?)
    • Smithsonian Global Sound for Libraries – A virtual encyclopaedia of the world’s musical and aural traditions. Includes more than 35,000 individual tracks of music, spoken word and natural and human made sounds.

    This database complements our music collection such as the  Naxos Music Library.

    You can access these resources and many others  from home with your library card number and PIN, or at our community libraries through our premium sites.

    Enjoy New Zealand Music Month and “get down” with Christchurch City Libraries music resources!

    A Puffin in the library

    Lindon Puffin is one of those names that’s hard to forget.  It has a great ring to it and it’s totally unique, much like the man himself.  Lindon Puffin, for those who haven’t heard of him, is a local lad who calls Lyttelton home.  He’s been part of the Christchurch music scene for years, starting off in the glam rock band The Puffins, before starting a solo career and releasing Stuff Like That in 2003.  His music is described as  ‘a blend of heartfelt acoustic, country, rock and folk music,’ and his performances are always entertaining.

    If you want to catch Lindon Puffin you can see him this Wednesday (12 May) with performances in Central Library at 12:30pm and the Christchurch Art Gallery from 7-8pm.   You can find out more about Lindon by reading his profile on the library website which also has links to his website and MySpace page.

    You’re having a bad hair day, idiot

    coverYou know you’re having a bad day when a colleague suggests your new haircut makes you look like a used car salesman. And that it’s an improvement. And you know your day is getting worse when the spell checker decides your last name should be replaced with the word idiot.

    Oh well, the bumpier the ride, the more interesting the story. And it’s good to bear that in mind as we head into the Auckland Writers and Readers festival – an event that, like New Zealand Music Month, is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year. Festival artistic director Jill Rawnsley tells her story in our just-published interview – how she’s given a large chunk of her life to the festival, and how determined she is that youth connect with literature and writers.

    We’ll be doing our best to make the most of our opportunities at the festival and invite you to follow us and ask questions along the way. Other places you can read about the festival include:

    Got a bad hair day story, or an idiot moment to share? If you’ve been flushed from the bathroom of someone’s heart, cheer yourself up and get to a music month gig, and follow our festival coverage from tomorrow. In the meantime, you can find out the science of why bad days happen, or ease the burden by commenting your blues away …

    The blistering Phoenix Foundation burn up the Bedford

    LogoOooh, I love a cheesy alliterative Sun-esque headline, and I also like very muchly Wellington band The Phoenix Foundation.

    They played the Bedford last night as part of a nationwide tour to promote their new album Buffalo. The Phoenix Foundation confound the indie rock stereotype. Not  for them unfeasibly tight trousers, a sneer and dicky little neckties (yup, I am thinking of you Pluto). Instead they look like their mother, aided by a pudding bowl, cut their hair at the kitchen table and that they threw some skody old tie-dye t-shirts on mere seconds before galloping on-stage.  

    Sartorial elegance may have eluded them but where they excel at are delivering intelligent, catchy tunes counter-balanced by moody “prog-rock”  epics. They played several tracks from the new album,  including  Bitte Bitte, Buffalo and Pot, and many more from previous albums  including Krisk from their Merry Kriskmass EP, Slightest shift in the weather and Hitchcock from Pegasus, and 40 years and Bleaching Sun from Happy Ending. The finale was a touching rendition of TVNZ’s Goodnight Kiwi song, wasted on a Scot such as me, but eliciting  happy, nostalgic little sighs from everyone else.

    With a new line-up, introducing bass guitarist Tom Callwood, the band have recently recorded the soundtrack for Taika Waititi’s new movie Boy, having previously worked with him on the movie  Eagle Vs Shark.

    If you want your kiwi folk rock, intelligent, emotionally potent and badly dressed,  listen to Phoenix Foundation!

    Taonga Puoro

    CoverRecently the Robert McDougall Art Gallery hosted a show by Brian Flintoff and Richard Nunns. These two men – introduced by none other than the esteemed Sir Tipene O’Regan – have spent the better part of their careers learning about traditional Māori musical instruments and the musical expression of pre-colonial Aotearoa.

    We were treated to a retelling of the creation story complete with sound effects incorporated into beautiful and haunting songs sung by Ariana Tikao. Brian tells a good story. It starts with the separating of Sky Father Rangi – for whom tunes are named after – and Earth Mother Papatuanuku – who provides the heartbeat and rhythm. This is the work of their eldest son Tane, who then filled the new space with sounds, breath of the birds – haumanu, and things from which to make these sounds. This connection with the ‘cosmogony‘ (cor, what a word!) is why they are called singing treasures.

    Richard and Brian have been hanging out for years and their hilarious banter gave some extra personal flavour to the storytelling.

    The instruments themselves were amazing to hear and see. Carved and decorated whales teeth and bones, shells, hardwoods, soft stones, gourds, pounamu and even kelp are then blown, struck or swung to create sounds that mimic those made by nature. My favourite instrument is the ‘hue puruhau’. It is a gourd that when swung in a big circle, emulates the low boom of the male kakapo. Way cool!

    And how about this for a true story… a flute with one hole, the pumotomoto, is played over the fontanelle of a new-born baby’s head to implant songs and information on tribal heritage directly into the child’s subconscious. Now that’s an idea.

    The echo of the marbled art gallery chamber made the sounds and songs come alive. Another thing that really struck me was how eerie some of this was. If I was about to go for a walk in the woods at night, I’d be scared!

    See the library website for more on Maori music: contemporary Maori music, waiata, kapa haka and more information on taoka puoro (traditional Maori music).

    In this Radio NZ programme Richard Nunns plays the instruments and talks about them too.

    Feverish fretting in the key of D

    CD coverI’m supposed to be feverishly fretting about the Auckland Writers and Readers Festival, but I’ve found myself a little distracted by fretting of a different kind. Guitar frets, to be precise.

    James Wilkinson is a guitarist and composer who has been on the Canterbury scene for a while now. We’ve just posted Nicole Reddington’s short interview with him on the library website. We add new musician profiles each year when music month rolls around.

    You might remember him from Rua, or Hampster, or The Two Jimmies. I remember him playing solo at the Harbourlight with his fingers flying and the frets melting as he riffed off in one direction, then another, then another.

    And thanks to the Naxos Music Library, I can listen to those wonderful guitar sounds whenever I feel the need. Two of his albums are included:

    If you want to listen, you’ll need your library card and PIN, but be warned – next time he’s playing live, you’ll probably want to go and see him.