DJ Challenge # 489: Charleston stuff

Posted by matthew on Apr 9, 2005 in dance, music

Crinkle wanted me to plumb the depths of my collection to find some songs for her that she could choreograph for. The challenge: “give me some nice Charleston stuff”. Now, I have an awful lot of stuff you can do the Charleston to, so I needed to think of some limitations myself. First of all I needed to limit my search to tunes that would possibly work for a performance. That removes a bunch of stuff already. Anything too long, boring, fast or slow is out. The second factor was more important — it really needs to have that authentic Charleston feel.

But what does that mean, and how do you go about finding it easily — particularly if you don’t have things categorised for different styles? I do, of course, for the purposes of teaching, but often what you use in a class isn’t what you’d use for a performance. So let’s just pretend there are no playlists helpfully grouping Charleston stuff. The two things I immediately searched on were “stomp” and “rag”. A lot of the songs from that Dixieland era were rags, of course. But I guess it wasn’t until getting that challenge that I’d really started to think about how you’d go about defining Dixieland jazz. This definition sums it up for me:

Dixieland combos usually have a rhythm section with a combination of drum kit, upright bass, piano, and banjo or guitar. The lead instruments are usually restricted trombone, trumpet, and clarinet. The definitive Dixieland sound is the simultaneous playing of the three lead instruments. [Wikipedia]

Naturally enough a lot of Dixieland tunes were rags, having grown out of ragtime. Of course, a heck of a lot of stuff was also blues, the other main jazz precursor. So what’s a stomp? Now, as every good geek knows, Google is always your friend in these circumstances, so I did a search on “definition jazz stomp”. The amusing article I turned up from Downbeat magazine is really interesting: check it out. In summary it’s a piece written in the name of Jelly Roll Morton claiming responsibility for creating “jazz and stomps”. This letter is entirely in keeping with Morton’s character if other historical accounts I’ve seen are right, so I think it may be real (notwithstanding the incorrect date at the top). But even if it’s not, it’s great reading. The first stomp was King Porter Stomp (1906), so stomps emerged after ragtime. Interesting.

Anyway my list for Crinkle is looking good. It has 4 or 5 of my favourites from Fletcher Henderson, various rags from Louis Armstrong and Sidney Bechet, and another 4 Charleston-style novelty songs from Spike Jones, who I love for his craziness. Fats Waller is in there with his performance of the Henderson Stomp, which for some reason I don’t have from Fletcher himself. That should get her started anyway.


Video pirates and pioneers

Posted by matthew on Apr 9, 2005 in technology, tv

The whole Napster story is set to repeat itself in the digital video world. With the proliferation of broadband and peer to peer network technology like eMule and Bittorrent, the cat is out of the bag. With digital video services now providing simple, consumer level products that allow video content to be captured instantly, it’s not difficult to imagine the revolution that is now taking shape. What is called TV Piracy today is an opportunity for someone to make a killing tomorrow.

Apple Computer was the big winner in the original Napster story, with the development of the iPod and iTunes Music Store. Despite the fact that there are significant questions about the way Apple has introduced its Digital Rights Management system, there’s no doubting the successful introduction of ITMS has changed the music industry forever. A profitable music on demand industry was born.

There seems no doubt that the video on demand industry will follow, but what remains to be seen is what shape a really tenable digital video download service will take. Personally, I’d have no problem at all with paying a reasonable fee for the convenience of downloading video on demand. Providing the DRM is not too restrictive, of course. Following the music example, I much prefer the DRM-free subscription service offered by eMusic.com, but Apple certainly has the better range of choice from the main labels on the ITMS. My wish is that someone would come up with a really forward-thinking download service that has minimal DRM (maybe hooked up to a set top box solution like TIVO) that makes it more worthwhile to use the legitimate service than resort to peer to peer networks.