Thriller Nights: A cultural discussion on Michael Jackson hosted by the AU Library

Thriller Nights: A cultural discussion on Michael Jackson hosted by the AU Library

Darkness falls across the land…

The midnight hour is now at hand…

Calling all creatures of the night, Halloween fanatics, Michael Jackson lovers, and pop-culture connoisseurs! On October 25th, the American University Library will be presenting a cultural reading of Michael Jackson’s best-selling album, Thriller.

Director of American Studies, Dr. Tristan Cabello, will discuss Thriller on a deeper level than the mainstream popularity we’re all familiar with. Despite the fact that the opening synth chords in the album’s title track urge everyone to bust out its’ signature dance moves, the song, music video, and album also had a significant impact on pop-culture moving forward into the next three decades.

American pop has experienced many shifts in its musical evolution, but it has never seen anything quite like Michael Jackson’s influence after the release of Thriller on November 30th, 1982. “From the birth of the music video as an art form, to the participation of ballroom-trained black queer choreographers, to the negotiation of the digital turn in the recording industry,” there is much to learn about his contributions to society both during and after his lifetime.

If you’re interested in attending this event and wish to prepare, feel free to stop by the Music Library to check out our complete Michael Jackson Discography! CDs are available to check out for 1 week or you are more than welcome to use the CD player provided in the library to enjoy.

The discussion will be held in Bender Library Training and Events Room 150, and more information can be found on the University Library’s page:



New Sheet Music Arrivals!

Happy midterms, everyone!

To help ease the stress of everyone’s week, here are some new pieces of music to come in and check out:


H. Leslie Adams – Loving Touches: for Oboe and Piano, M246 .A33 L68 2014

C.P.E. Bach – Double-Choir Heilig, Wq 217 M3 .B103 v.V/Suppl. 3

Jason A. Chapman, arr. – Kendor Master Repertoire: 8 Grade 4 Works for B-flat Trumpet, M260 .K46 2013

Michael Daugherty – Lounge Lizards: for 2 pianos and 2 percussion, M485 .D38 L69 2014

Brian Fennelly – Tableux: for Piano and Ten Instruments, M947 .F327 T33 2014

Tom Flaherty – Wagon-Wheeling: for piano and percussion, M285 .P4 F615 2014

Johann Herbeck – Selected German Works Part 3: for unaccompanied mixed chorus, M2 .R23834 v.64

Kamran Ince – Road to Memphis: for viola and piano or harpsichord, M226.I53 R63 2014

Pierre Jalbert – Les Espaces Infinis: for chamber orchestra, M1045 .J34 E76 2014

Serge Prokofiev – Piano Concerto No. 5 in G, Op. 55: reduction for two pianos, M1011 .P95 op.55 1933

Michael Salzman, arr. – Kendor Master Repertoire: 8 Grade 4 Works for Tuba, M264 .K46 2013

Franz Xaver Süßmayr – Der Spiegel von Arkadien Act I and Act II: Piano/Vocal score, M2 .R2381 v.93-94

Loreto Vittori – Complete Solo Songs, M2 .R238 v.188


Feel free to come in any time and ask us about locating these items!

Good luck with the rest of your week, folks!

20 Feet From Stardom

Hello, readers new and old! If you’re reading this on the Media Services blog, my name is Jesse, nice to meet you! If you’re on the Music Library blog, you know me. Either way, it is my great honor to provide you with a review of a new DVD at Media Services: 20 Feet From Stardom.

20 Feet, released in 2013, is a documentary delving into the history, psychology and philosophy of background singing. Unique for focusing on background talents rather than the usual camera fodder (the stars), it won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in March, giving director Morgan Neville his first Oscar!

The film follows the careers of several background singers who have performed and recorded with a jaw-dropping amount of famous artists and helped shape the sound of popular music, often without realizing it. Singers such as Darlene Love, Merry Clayton, Lisa Fischer and quite a few more have spent their entire lives in the industry, and the documentary weaves their stories into the fabric of American music history. Judith Hill, a contemporary singer who represents a new generation of background singers, is also heavily featured.

In using the singers’ lives as a narrative, 20 Feet reveals a great amount of intensity. These are stories of a constant struggle with identity; the ups and downs of the industry, the conflict between simply surviving and striving for art, and the ramifications of trying to break out as a solo artist. I was surprised at how emotional it got when the singers spoke about their highest highs, lowest lows and the love of their art that kept them going.

While the idea behind 20 Feet is great, its execution is tremendous. The film features interviews with dozens of background singers, as well as with stars such as Bruce Springsteen, Mick Jagger and Stevie Wonder. It mixes these interviews with incredible archival footage of the likes of Ray Charles, Phil Spector, David Bowie, George Harrison, Talking Heads and many more. And, in perhaps my favorite aspect of the film, the featured singers were brought into L.A.’s legendary Ocean Way studios to sing together, and the footage of their recording sessions is downright inspiring.

Anyways, I’m gushing here. If you’re passionate about singing, music, or pop culture in general, then you should be rushing towards Media Services as I type, student ID in hand. 20 Feet From Stardom will scratch that itch in the best of ways.

New CDs!

Hey everyone! This cold weather may have stopped the spring dead in its tracks but it hasn’t stopped us! Just look at these new CDs, including a modern take on sacred choral music by Gregg Smith and one of Scott Walker’s more recent albums, the sinister avant-garde The Drift, far removed from his days as a baroque pop crooner in the ’60s.

Thomas Sleeper: Four Concerti – CD 10282

Scott Walker: The Drift – CD 10283

Gregg Smith: Music for an Urban Church – CD 10284

Jeffrey Mumford: Through A Stillness Brightening – CD 10285


Sweet New Arrivals: The Wire

If you’ve ever visited the Music Library (we hope so), you’ve probably noticed our fat stacks of Billboard magazines. These are magazines devoted to keeping up with the mainstream music industry, as measured by radio charts and articles about high-powered musicians and executives.

Now, we’ve begun a subscription to a music mag of an entirely different sort: The Wire. This UK-based magazine is devoted to music that flies more under the radar- experimental music in many genres.

The+Wire+%23022+December+1985      The+Wire+%23149+July+1996      The+Wire+%23178+December+1998    253+March+2005+cover

Evolution of The Wire

The Wire began in the early 1980s as a publication devoted to the jazz world. As it grew in fame and influence, it began to branch out into the worlds of hip hop, electronic music, folk, and even rock (albeit the experimental fringes of these genres).


This month’s cover features electronic artist Actress, as well as stories about instrument builder Ellen Fullman, saxophonist Steve Lacy, ambient musician William Basinski, and outsider folkie Jandek (who The Wire seems to love quite a bit). Come check it out, and come back every month for more challenging and exciting music insight, courtesy of The Wire and your very own Music Library!

Pop Up Music Library!

Hey everyone! This is just a quick post letting y’all know about our super-cool pop-up music library event. It’s happening tomorrow from 3-5 right smack in the middle of the main library!

Our mission for this event is to spread awareness of, well, us. We’re coming armed with hundreds of great CDs, our favorites from genres including pop, rock, jazz, R&B, rap, classical, folk and world music. We’ll even have some musicals!

Up to now, we have served mostly music students, who make use of our thousands of scores for practice and for their classes. However, we want to branch out to the whole student community! We hope that library-bound students will see our “fat stacks” of CDs and begin to use our collection as an opportunity to build their tastes and learn more about music.

Come by and say hey! There will be cool, friendly music library employees manning the desk, right in front of the globe on the library’s main floor. There will be hundreds of awesome CDs. There may even be snacks! (Not a guarantee). Get to know us!

Brokeback Mountain: The Opera

You read that title right: the story of Brokeback Mountain, adapted from a 1997 short story by Annie Proulx to the very well-known 2005 film by Ang Lee, now exists in a new form, that of an opera! After seeing the film, Pulitzer Prize-winning Charles Wuorinen decided to compose an opera based on the story, and enlisted none other than Proulx herself to write the libretto.

The salient tale of a cowboy and a ranch hand who fall in love and must hide it from their families for years will be the composer’s second opera, following Haroun and the Sea of Stories in 2004. It will star Daniel Okulitch and Tom Randle in the leading roles and is sure to bring out the intense emotion of the original story in grand, operatic drama.

Brokeback Mountain opera

If this is exciting to you, guess what? You can access it through your very own music library!, a streaming database which we subscribe to, is offering a live stream of the opera’s premiere on February 7 at 2 pm!

Here’s what you do:

-Go to the AU Music Library subject guide page (

-Then select the “Databases/Indexes” tab on the top of the page.

-Scroll down to the link to “ – Virtual Classics Concert Hall” and click it!

-Then, if you are using an off-campus computer, you will be prompted to enter your last name and AU ID.

-Once you do this, you’ll be able to watch the premiere live (on your computer). Enjoy!