Finals are approaching, if you need a soundtrack for your studying, we’ve got you covered. Need something to listen to on your long drive home, or while waiting in the airport? We can help you!
Our student workers and staff are constantly exploring our collection of CDs! Our new display shelf is featuring our favorites at the moment. Read about why we love these CDs below, and then come have a listen or check one of them out!
Music Library Coordinator
Lin-Manuel Miranda, In the Heights CD 9474
I’m completely obsessed with Hamilton, which led me to rediscover Lin-Manuel Miranda’s first Tony-award winning musical. In the Heights tells the story of a bodega owner and the people in his neighborhood, Washington Heights in northern Manhattan. Its mix of hip hop and more traditional musical theatre styles will sound familiar to Hamilton fans. My favorite part is “Blackout,” (“Look at the fireworks”) from the end of Act I.
Ben Folds and yMusic/Nashville Symphony, So There, CD 2154
I have been a Ben Folds fan for quite some time—I love his witty songs and unique style. This 2015 album features eight songs written and performed with yMusic, a chamber ensemble of strings and winds, in lieu of Ben’s typical rock style. It also includes a complete recording of the piano concerto he wrote and premiered with the Nashville Symphony in 2014. Ben Folds plays at the Kennedy Center with the National Symphony in June 2017.
Arvo Pärt Alina CD 9432
Take a break from studying to get lost in the music of Estonian composer Arvo Pärt. It’s meditative and poignantly beautiful. This CD has been continued to be one of my favorites in the library for the last three years. Alina consists of 3 interpretations of Pärt’s piece Spiegel im Spiegel, with 2 interpretations of his improvisatory Für Alina between. It’s the perfect album to listen to with eyes closed, and let everything else fall away.
Uniko Kimmo Pohjonen, Samuli Kosminen, Kronos Quartet CD 5887
The library has countless Kronos Quartet CDs to explore, but I have been liking their album Uniko which is a collaboration with Finnish musicians Kimmo Pohjonen (accordion, vocals) and Samuli Kosminen (processing and programming), who both composed the music and are active as performers on the tracks. The manipulations of the accordion, vocal and quartet samplings are incredible. The energy coming from these performers is unmistakable and the pieces are truly amazing and cohesive collaborations between talented musicians of different trainings.
Beyonce, Lemonade, CD 2756
If you haven’t heard this album yet, you should definitely give it a listen. I have always been a big fan of Beyonce, but one of the virtues of this album is that it combines so many genres: Pop, R&B, Rap, and even a little bit of Country! If you’re not a huge fan of Beyonce, some of the featured artists are Jack White, Kendrick Lamar, and The Weeknd, who make the album even more versatile. The Music Library copy of Lemonade also includes the Visual Album, which tells a compelling and relatable story through her music videos and poetry from Warsan Shire.
Dario Marianelli, Pride & Prejudice: Music from the Motion Picture, CD 2757
This is my favorite album to listen to while studying, which is why I chose it for the end of the semester. Aside from the military march, all the songs on the album are both relaxing and motivating if you have to get some work done but don’t want to be too stressed! This album was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Score, so it’s also worth listening to during a study break. My favorite track is probably “Your Hands Are Cold”, because I love the way it builds to a climax and it plays during my favorite scene in the movie.
Sophomore, Language & Area Studies
Kevin Murphy & Laurence O’Keefe, Heathers: The Musical, CD 1694
This musical is an adaptation of the 1988 cult film Heathers! It is about the trials of a teenage girl in her last year of high school, with common themes of love, teen angst, murder, and suicide pacts! It is a dark comedy and features fantastic vocals by Jessica Keenan Wynn, Barrett Wilbert Weed, and Ryan McCartan. I really enjoy the humor surrounding some very heavy topics, with powerful vocals to tie the production together. It is the perfect tragedy gone comedy. I would recommend listening to this musical if you’re feeling nostalgic and want to tap into some overcharged angst.
Astor Piazzolla, Soul of the Tango, CD 9741
I was introduced to this album through my coworkers who had played some of the pieces as violists in the AU orchestra! I really enjoy this distinct interpretation of Tango, and my favorite piece is “Mumuki”. It is a wonderful album that jumps between charged, intense tango to sad, romantic tango! Great stuff!
Senior Musical Theatre
Alan Menken, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, CD 2725
Taking a childhood Disney movie, and turning it into a more adult musical is basically my dream for any Disney movie. Alongside Alan Menken, the composer of countless Disney films, the book writers, James Lapine and Peter Parnell adapted the 1996 film to more fittingly follow the original Victor Hugo novel, creating a slightly darker story than that of the children’s animated film. In turning this iconic film into a more mature portrayal of its unfortunate story, the composition has also matured. While still holding on to a lot of the music from the original film, Menken has created a choir-esque atmosphere of nearly resembling a large aria. It is fun while also incredibly beautiful to listen to, and a fantastic story to listen to and follow. It’s also a great dramatic soundtrack for any exam that needs to be studied for.
Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton, CD 10488
Lin-Manuel Miranda has taken the American Musical Theatre world and turned it into a massive movement for diversity. Through his new musical Hamilton, he writes the story of Alexander Hamilton, an immigrant who rose the ranks in politics to become one of the most influential Founding Fathers. Through a combination of rap, hip-hop and contemporary musical theatre compositions, Manuel has created a piece of American History “as told by America today.” With a primarily minority cast, the story is told by the people who are still struggling today for equality and tolerance. The music is insanely energetic and fun to sing along to, while also being incredibly beautiful in some intense moments. It is a long soundtrack, but fantastic to listen to for those long, essay-writing nights.
Sophomore, Public Relations & Strategic Communications
Solange, A Seat at the Table, CD 2771
This 2016 album, is currently one of my favorites and has been a source of healing for me this year. It’s a discussion and meditation on what it means to be Black in America in 2016, it touches on independence, grief, healing and empowerment. Solange is able to use her light and melodic voice to balance the unapologetically opinionated album. Throughout the album, you hear connections to R&B artists that came before like Marvin Gaye, Janet Jackson, and Aaliyah. However, while the album is rooted in the Black musical tradition it’s still has a fresh and current sound. My favorite song is currently “Don’t Touch my Hair” but it changes every week.
OutKast, Speakerboxxx//The Love Below, CD 9898
This 2003 album, was essentially two albums in one: Andre 3000’s The Love Below and Big Boi’s Speakerboxx. Although, the album shows the growing divide between the two artists, when it was released, it moved hip hop into a new direction. Outkast was able to successfully combine funk, soul, R&B, disco, and rock into one lyrically strong album. This album brought in an era of hip-hop and pop cross-pollinating, that still exists today. My favorite song is “Prototype” on The Love Below.
Freshman, Audio Technology
Sufjan Stevens, Carrie & Lowell, CD 10467
Sufjan Stevens’ seventh studio album Carrie & Lowell is a coherent blend of soft, emotional indie folk music. Making a return to his roots in the folk music genre, Stevens tells the story of his troubled mother in the wake of her 2012 death. I first learned about Stevens in anticipation of his performance at a music festival I was about to attend in Boston. His deep understanding of orchestration and lyricism show in both his writing and his performance and his overall style give the album a very unique vibe to it. I highly recommend this record – it’s a great, chill album to listen to while studying or relaxing!
Steve Reich, Different Trains/Electric Counterpoint/Three Movements, CD 8752, no.8
I’m a huge fanatic of marching bands and drum corps – I first learned about Steve Reich when I saw a performance of the Bluecoats drum and bugle corps in 2015. They played a very interesting horn interpretation of Electric Counterpoint, and I was instantly hooked. With his use of phasing and repetitive motifs, he creates an amazing soundscape that pulls you in and puts you in a trance. The other two pieces on this CD – Different Trains and Three Movements are very similar in style and create a wonderful atmosphere that can help you focus.
Shrek (Motion Picture Soundtrack), CD 2634
This CD is full of classics, like The Baha Men. It’s a great soundtrack, and on your next study break you should have a dance party to “Bad Reputation” by Joan Jett.
Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812, CD 10160
This electro-pop opera is just now taking Broadway by storm, but it’s been around for over a year! It’s full of some incredible music (“No One Else” is one of my favorites), and it’s incredibly different yet familiar at the same time. The show is based off of Volume 2 Part 5 of War and Peace by Tolstoy, (in case you didn’t realize how epically long that book was, now you know), and the music is beautiful, fun, and inventive.