Archives for September 2014

Streaming Music: What’s Next?

I can recall with unusual clarity the day in 1976 when one of my older brothers took me (riding our bikes) to the K-Mart in Atlanta’s Broadview Plaza to buy my first LP. I had just inherited a self-contained “hi-fi” system for my room, and I was tremendously eager to have an album that was mine, purchased with my own allowance money, and not one borrowed from my brothers’ collections down the hall. The album was The Who’s Tommy,  the original double LP from 1969 rather than the movie soundtrack, though the relatively recent release of the film undoubtedly fueled my interest and enthusiasm.

Like many other budding music fans and emerging consumers, I listened to that one album many times. I developed a special connection to that music primarily because I had invested my own precious cash in it. I owned that recording, which included (in my mind) the music as well as the physical, tangible objects and corresponding information: the vinyl LPs which I cared for with the delicacy required to ensure their longevity, [Read more…]

Centering: My Vision for the CPM

In 1985 the Tennessee legislature established The Center for Popular Music at MTSU as a state “Center of Excellence,” now one of sixteen COEs in the TN Board of Regents system. This is significant in terms of funding and prestige, but it has also led me to think long and hard about what it means to be designated a center of anything.

Next year the Center for Popular Music will reach its 30th anniversary, a major milestone that I intend to celebrate with exciting public events. Indeed, there is much to celebrate about the remarkable institution which I am now fortunate enough to direct. The CPM is the oldest and largest archive devoted exclusively to the study of popular music in the world. Think for a moment about the gravity of that statement. Housing over a million items in its collection, [Read more…]

A Golden Opportunity

I first came to the Center for Popular Music at MTSU in the summer of 2010. Funded by a summer research grant from Roosevelt University (my institutional home at the time), I was in the midst of a two-week research trip studying old-time guitar styles at archives in Tennessee, Arkansas, and Kansas. My immediate goals at the CPM were to examine its substantial collection of 19th and early 20th century guitar sheet music and instructional materials, and to peruse its back catalog of rare serials such as Old-Time Music.

Compact shelving installation, 2010

Compact shelving installation, 2010

That summer was a time of major transition at the Center. Founding Director Paul Wells had just stepped down after twenty-five years at the helm. Dr. Dale Cockrell, having just retired from Vanderbilt University’s musicology faculty, was taking over as Interim Director with the intent to stay on for one year; he later became Director (no longer “Interim”) and stayed for four. Just a year earlier in 2009, the Center had become [Read more…]

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