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Mixtapes Are Back!

Vi Ha, Librarian III, Octavia Lab,

Not to show my age, but I recently put  together a mixtape after a decade long hiatus. For readers of this blog of the right age, this will bring back memories of sequencing, of listening to the radio to time the taping correctly, and of the joy of having a shared connection with friends through great music.

(And don’t worry; I’ll list the tracks on my playlist of my 60-minute cassette at the end of this blog and you are more than welcome to judge and comment on my taste in music.)

Nowadays, we still share music with each other, but are not limited only to physical formats. We now have in our hands access to so many more new forums to experience and share music with our friends and families. Through programming, digital platforms, and of course, books, the library facilitates and celebrates (legal) music sharing.

At some point in the not so recent past, homes of a certain means owned a piano. The piano was a form of home musical entertainment. Nowadays, old pianos, like old vintage cars, are more frequently scrapped than restored.

At Central Library, as far as I can tell, we don’t own a piano, but we do believe in informal music entertainment and are starting a Music Jam group that meets once a month starting in August.

Personally, I have been sharing music with others as far back as I can remember. As a classically trained cellist, I’ve played music with many people and deeply enjoy the mind-body exercise I get when I play chamber music in a string quartet. I’m not the only person who enjoys playing music with others, Condoleezza Rice has a long standing group of classical musicians that she plays with regularly. Even Brian Eno, avant-garde innovator of ambient music, plays music and builds community with amateurs through a capella singing.

How can a non-musician music lover experience and share music? One big question that I’ve been exploring is whether as a culture, our experience of live music has changed. Some argue that going to see live music is less about seeing the actual band, and more about the cultural and community experience.

However, how do we share recorded music? Some still do it with a physical CD or cassette, some do it through digital files and others do it through streaming files online. One of the nice things the Los Angeles Public Library offers is Freegal which allows library patrons to download three songs a month and create playlists to listen.

Freegal Playlist

There is no question that the digital format has changed the landscape of the music industry. For a reading about the giant change of the music industry that occurred through file sharing and MP3s, take a read of Stephen Witt’s How Music Got Free or the New Yorker piece that introduces Dell Glover as the man who broke the music industry.

For good teen reads about music obsessed teens, here are some suggested books. Some of these books have been so good they were made into movies, but the books are always better.

David Levithan’s Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist is a fun romp through New York through the eyes of two music-savvy teens suddenly cast into a relationship for one night and there is a movie.

Given that the cello is my primary musical instrument, I was moved by the tear-jerker story of a teenager’s fight to choose life after a devastating car accident in Gayle Forman’s If I Stay or the movie.

For the teen that wants the before the band became famous story about The Beatles, take a look at the charming graphic novel take about The Beatles’ time in Germany, figuring out their look and their chops in Arne Bellstorf’s Baby’s in Black: Astrid Kirchherr, Stuart Sutcliffe, and The Beatles in Hamburg.

For those of us who are going to go see Straight Outta Compton, please take a look at the wonderful Hip-Hop Family Tree, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2. This folio-sized graphic novel series that starts in New York and continues onward about how hip-hop started as equal parts social event, musical talent and one upmanship. The book is fantastic just for its playlists alone and explodes with so many details about dance crews, bad business decisions and marketing pizzazz.

Come visit Teen’Scape and see the display that I made about “Sharing Recorded Music”.

The Playlist

The Sound:
The Cookies - I Never Dreamed (2:41)
Stan Kenton ‘76 - Send in the Clowns (5:10)
Les Crescendos - Une étoile en plein jours (2:43)
Howard Tate - Girl of the North Country (3:44)
The Impressions - Potent Love (6:09)
Ralfi Pagan - Just One of Your Kisses (2:49)
The Commands - Hey It’s Love (2:22)
John Wizards - Maria (3:46)

The Fury:
Taana Gardner - Heartbeat (5:49)
The Fabulous Three - Recording 82 (3:20)
Dorothy Ashby - Soul Vibrations (3:22)
Phonophani - Animals (4:20)
George Gruntz - Ghitta (5:08)
Darkside - Paper Trails (4:49)
Todd Terje - Svensk Sås (2:43)

Music Festival