Category Archives: Music

Collections Highlight: Audio Equipment Morgue at HMRC

Edison Amberola 75 cylinder player and cabinet. ca. 1915. Photo by Mark Menjivar.
Edison Amberola 75 cylinder player and cabinet. ca. 1915. Photo by Mark Menjivar.

The Historical Music Recordings Collection is the largest repository at the university for sound recordings (and one of the largest such collections in the United States) featuring a breadth of genres in almost every type of format utilized to store sound.

Due to the variety of formats, the HMRC also maintains an equipment morgue of anachronisms —  a collection of Victrolas, Edisons, wire recorders, reel-to-reels, tape recorders and other bygone audio recording and listening devices.

 

Students, Spaces, Collections, for a Win

Records in the Reia punk collection.
Records in the Reia punk collection.

A happy convergence of circumstances at the beginning of the recent academic year resulted in a creative endeavor that highlights the Libraries, its users and the students who represent the quality of talent at The University of Texas at Austin.

Early this fall, the Fine Arts Library’s (FAL) music librarian David Hunter received a generous donation of pristine and rare punk vinyl in the form of 700 LPs and 400 singles (45s) from a collection carefully amassed by the late Justin Gibran (Freud) Reia.

Justin Gibran (Freud) Reia

Reia was a guitarist for Berkeley-area punk band The Criminals in the 1990s, active during a time when the city was spawning a pop-punk revival that manifested bands that would go on to garner broad attention, such as Rancid, The Offspring and Green Day. His connection to the punk music scene and the various players in a place where record stores are in abundance made it possible for Reia to build an exceptional collection of genre-specific gems.

Reia’s collection was donated to the FAL’s Historical Music Recordings Collection (HMRC) by Reia’s mother, Flora Salyers, and his wife, Tamara Schatz, with the hope that the music he had spent his life compiling would benefit future students, faculty and researchers who rely on the archive as a resource. Salyers delivered the collection herself, hauling the records in her car on a road trip from Little Rock, Arkansas, after a series of consultations with Hunter.

Reia’s lifetime of collecting — and his family’s decision to make the donation of materials — serves to fill a genre gap in the HMRC. Punk music was notably underrepresented as a focus within the archive, but the addition of such a range of items, many of which are uncommon or even obscure, has opened a new avenue of development for the collection.

This fall also saw the opening of the new Learning Commons in PCL, including the new expanded Media Lab on the ground level of the building. The lab is designed to provide students and other users access to the tools needed to build creative multimedia projects that are increasingly the currency of productivity in the higher ed learning environment. The lab is managed by Libraries Teaching and Learning professionals, but is staffed by students — Media Lab Assistants — from the University Leadership Network, a program of the UT Provost’s office designed to help undergraduate students from historically disadvantaged communities develop leadership skills while achieving academic success consistent with graduating in four years.

Lab assistants come from a range of different fields of study across campus, and work in tandem with their supervisors to develop expertise in the use of hardware/software in order to share their skills with fellow students who use the lab. Some of the assistants were chosen by the Media Lab managers for skills and knowledge they already had, such as Charisma Soriano, a junior Marketing and Radio-Television-Film major, who has experience with filmmaking and production. Charisma brought with her an understanding of that process which has been invaluable for Libraries staff.

ULN lab assistant Charisma Soriano and Learning Technologies Librarian Cindy Fisher.
ULN lab assistant Charisma Soriano and Learning Technologies Librarian Cindy Fisher.

To expand the opportunities for the ULN students in the Media Lab, as well as to fill a need for the Libraries, Charisma and her fellow lab assistants Lucia Aremu — junior  Government major — and Jocelyn Mendoza — junior, Education — were approached by their  supervisors to see if they would be interested in making a short film to highlight some aspect of the Libraries efforts; the subject matter was left completely to the students’ own interests. All three enthusiastically agreed to take on the project, and settled on the Reia punk collection as the focus for their effort.

Working in coordination with Media Lab Manager Andy Wilbur, the students toured the HMRC collection (located at the Collections Deposit Library) with David Hunter, conducted preliminary interviews with Hunter and Katherine Strickland — PCL Map Collection manager and punk music aficionado — then organized, shot, edited and produced a short documentary film on the collection, which is viewable below.

The Libraries relies on the generosity of donors and the talent of students and staff to make efforts such as this possible.

The preliminary estimate for processing the Reia Punk Collection is estimated at $8,000 — covering the cost of a graduate research assistant and cataloging. Consider donating to the Fine Arts Library to make this collection available for use by students, faculty, researchers and scholars.

 

Thank You…

Thank you.We made it!

HornRaiser campaign to build the Fine Arts Library Recording Studio in numbers:

45 Days
8 matching gifts totaling $4,350
127 gifts
158% of our original goal
$15,895

We are very excited that this campaign not only exceeded our original goal of raising $10,000, but also exceeded our stretch-goal of raising $15,000.

We are very thankful for those who contributed and helped us broadcast our message throughout the campaign.

So what’s next?

A preliminary meeting has been scheduled to start brainstorming and planning for the actual construction of the Fine Arts Library Recording Studio. We hope to have everything ready for the fall 2015 semester.

As I have mentioned before, this project is a smaller piece of a larger project called the Creativity Commons. We are still fundraising for the other studios in the Creativity Commons:

  • Video Production Studio, $50,000
  • Game Developer Studio, $35,000
  • Maker Workshop, $25,000
  • 3D Design Workspace, $15,000
  • Recording Studio (funded!)

While these tools are available in other areas on campus, they are restricted to students or a certain major. The Creativity Commons will be fully accessible to all current UT students, faculty, and staff.

To give a gift to support the Creativity Commons, click here, or click here to read a previous post with more detailed funding opportunities for individuals or corporations.

Special thanks to our campus and community partners who supported us during our HornRaiser campaign to build the Fine Arts Library Recording Studio: Austin’s Pizza, Tom’s Tabooley, Waterloo Records, KUT, KMFA, Butler School of Music, and Hook ‘Em Arts.

Going the Extra Mile

Student posing in photoboothWhen we started planning for our HornRaiser (crowd-funding) project for the Fine Arts Library Recording Studio everyone said to make sure and have a stretch-goal.

A stretch-goal? That would imply that we would cross the finish line before our campaign was over!

Thankfully, we took their advice because this week we surged past our original goal of $10,000!

Since we about two weeks left, we have announced our stretch-goal: $15,000. That’s just $4,445 in the next 14 days. The extra funds will enable us to build an even better Fine Arts Library Recording Studio with better sound-proofing, software, and hopefully new carpet and furniture.

We’ve come so far, so please help us go even further by broadcasting our message through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, E-mail, or word of mouth, and consider making a contribution if you haven’t already.*

We’ve started planning an end-of-campaign show at Tom’s Tabooley on the last day of our campaign, Friday, May 1, so save the date! More details to come!

If you haven’t already, make sure and check out our most recent video featuring some images of what the Fine Arts Library Recording Studio might look like.


 

* If you or your company are interested in contributing a matching gift during the campaign, don’t worry, there is still time! Please contact Gregory Perrin for more information.

Help Build a Recording Studio at Fine Arts

Donate Button for the FAL Recording Studio As you may recall from my last post, UT Libraries has launched our very first HornRaiser (crowd-funding) campaign to raise $10,000 for the Fine Arts Library Recording Studio. The campaign has been active for just over a week now and 29 donors have helps us raise $2,400! That is 24% of our goal! Special thanks to Tom + Regina Nichols for generously matching $500 during the campaign. * Every dollar counts as we make our way closer and closer toward our goal. Are you a social media ninja? Help us spread the word through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Keep an eye out! We will have special contests throughout the campaign! Reactions from current UT students who can’t wait to start using the Fine Arts Library Recording Studio:

Justin Lavergne
Justin Lavergne

Justin LaVergne Theatre, fourth year student with two more years to go

Recording studio would benefit me by being able to create voice overs for theatrical productions. As well as record songs to send out as demos to help me pay for school.

Ian Price
Ian Price

Ian Price Theatre and Dance and Radio & Television, and Film, junior

As an aspiring Voice-Over Actor, I myself have my own Mic that I use for recording lines for audio-dramas, audiobooks, online-cartoons, ect. However, I also live with 3 other roommates, in an apartment that, well, isn’t soundproof. Whenever someone is simply watching TV in the living room, I cannot record. And don’t even get me started about recording lines that require yelling. Basically, a recording studio, open and free to students would not only clear up those types of problems, but could also give good startups for the next ‘Welcome to Night Vale’, or Beyonce. There are many here who have talent but just don’t have the money, or the space to record in their home or in a private recording studio. As a college who prides itself on changing the world, its only right for us to have the resources to get started.


*If you or your company are interested in contributing a matching gift during the campaign, please contact Gregory Perrin To learn more or to support this effort visit https://hornraiser.utexas.edu/createut

A Hidden Musicians’ History of the UT Libraries

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Being that we have a few music aficionados (and some practitioners, at that) on staff at the Libraries, we note that we’re once again amid the academic calendar timeout when the students take a (mostly) well-deserved break from classes and the city becomes a mobility nightmare as vectors from the tech, film and music industries converge on Austin to engage in a gathering of equal parts profile building and navel gazing.

South by Southwest is the place where The Next Big Thing is likely to happen, be it the social media juggernaut of the future (Twitter, SX2007), an Academy Award winner (The Hurt Locker, SX2009) or a game-changing musical act (White Stripes, SX2001).

It’s no easy task to break through, though — be it at an annual conference like SXSW, or just as a matter of standing out in a world where technology has been significantly democratized creating a flood of entertainment options. And refining your craft is somewhat easier when your passion is also your job; the tech sector tends to breed its own winners, and industry experience is almost a prerequisite for succeeding in Hollywood. That fact makes being a pure artist an almost Sisyphean undertaking in the modern world.

More often than not, people with creative dispositions need to find jobs among the ranks of the blue and pink collar working set in order to provide income to support themselves through early (or even permanent) periods of anonymity. In New York, fledgling thespians eye Broadway from behind the mirrored windows of cafes as baristas or bartenders. The young and attractive who trek west with eyes on Hollywood make ends meet working as waitstaff in LA’s swankiest hotspots, hoping to cross paths with an industry bigshot. And many visual artists bide their time in production jobs on Grand Avenue in Chicago waiting for their first big gallery show or positive review to launch their career.

So how do musicians who live in the “Live Music Capital of the World” sustain themselves while they hone their art and build an audience? At least one place you might find a featured act in a new music showcase or subject of a glowing Pitchfork review are among the staff in the libraries on the UT campus.

The Libraries have harbored a substantial lineage of musically-inclined talent among the ranks of its past and present staff, mostly in support positions that provide the heavy lifting — both literally and figuratively — of library work. Beloved Austin singer Marcia Ball worked as a clerk at the Collections Deposit Library on the edge of campus in the early 70s. Before he was placing his stamp on the scene with fellow True Believer Jon Dee Graham, Alejandro Escovedo was checking out books at the Perry-Castañeda Library circulation desk. And there’s a virtual catalog of other personalities from Austin’s music scene — both known and supposed — that have some connection to the libraries on the Forty Acres.

Photo provided by Katherine Strickland.
Photo provided by Katherine Strickland.

How an academic library became a magnet for creatives in Austin makes sense. As the city has grown in fits and starts, much of the wage-earning job opportunities have been in the retail and food service spaces that serve the university community and cater to the student demographic. Likewise, many of the low cost residential rentals have historically been clustered in north and west campus neighborhoods where it provided easy access to campus denizens who didn’t have access to vehicles, or artists who needed to be close to the arts and entertainment venues that afford the best opportunities for exposure. A university community tends to feed the intellectual curiosity of its host city’s population, and those with natural tendencies toward cerebral pursuits, in turn, gravitate to the campus.

Add in an ever-escalating cost of living — especially those costs associated with healthcare — and a university job with its relative security and benefits becomes a much more attractive prospect for an artist who needs income to support their creative habits than most of the other wage-based options available.

Then again, some folks just wind up here because they love the books, or the people, or the place.

Several past and current staffers who also happen to be musicians have offered perspectives on why they landed work at the library, and how that connection impacted their music. Continue reading

Save the Date!

In radio studio

Hi. I’m Natalie Moore, the development specialist for the Libraries.

Over the past few months, I’ve had the opportunity to participate in a grassroots effort to crowd-fundraise for the Fine Arts Library Recording Studio here at UT. At first mention, this seemed like a really great idea for a really unorthodox place. Don’t get me wrong, I love working in the Libraries, but it seemed like an unlikely place for a recording studio. As I started to identify students, faculty, and other staff members to help with this cause, it became apparent that the Fine Arts Library is the most appropriate place for a recording studio on UT’s campus. While this technology exists on campus, it is locked up, and saved for individuals in certain departments and colleges. Students, faculty, and even my fellow staff members’ eyes lit up as they learned that, “yes, the FAL Recording studio will be open to all current faculty, students, and staff,” and, “no, this isn’t just for musicians.”

I am excited about the Fine Arts Library hosting this incubator for creativity. I can only imagine what types of work will surface as a product of this great initiative.

UT Libraries HornRaiser site will become live Wednesday, March 18. Interested in getting involved? Email me at nmoore@austin.utexas.edu

As we gear up for our HornRaiser campaign, I want to share some reactions from current UT students. Here is the first one:

alex copy

Alex Smith

Music Production, Sophomore

“Well, I work in my shoddy home studio everyday. It’s very low key with the ultimate level of ‘just the essentials.’ Having a place to have access to more equipment, like 2 mics, different kind of mics, instruments, workstations, really awesome sound monitors, would make the biggest difference in the world. Having a professional area adds a level beyond hanging up egg cartons and stuffed animals to help reduce room noise. The possibilities are endless.”


UT Libraries is about to embark on a HornRaiser (crowd-funding) campaign to equip a recording studio in the Fine Arts Library.  You can check out our funding page here: https://hornraiser.utexas.edu/createut

Breaking the Silence: Excessive Noise

iIt’s a challenge to combat long-held stereotypes — especially those that have gained a foothold in cultural consciousness — but libraries are increasingly finding ways to overcome an accepted caricature as spaces where quiet contemplation is guarded by strict disciplinarians with fingers firmly pressed to pursed lips.

More and more, programs developed to redouble the idea of library as a community third place have cut through the silence and opened the space to utilization in unexpected ways. As gateways to information, libraries have always served as cultural hubs; the advent of the internet offers opportunities to reimagine how they can fit within a social framework where the written word has largely ceded prominence to ones and zeroes.

One such example of rethinking space is evident at the Fine Arts Library (FAL), thanks to its close ties with emerging artists at the Butler School of Music.

In 2011, Music Librarian David Hunter approached graduate research assistant and doctoral candidate Russell Podgorsek — also the evening and weekend desk manager for the library at the time — about launching a music series to take place in the Roberts Reading Room at the FAL.

Podgorsek ran with the idea, imagining an eclectic program that had its roots in classical techniques, but would be creatively free-form in substance. He began pitching the concept to his colleagues and contemporaries in the university and broader Austin music communities and recruiting artists for the series premiere that took place in early 2012 and featured three original compositions by students of the Butler School — including Podgorsek, who is himself an accomplished composer, violist and guitarist.

To date, concerts have featured an array of composers, artists and performers from both the School of Music and the Austin community, including the Cordova Quartet; university Middle Eastern Music Ensemble, Bereket; Duo Brucoco; alumna Pamela Wilkinson; and dancer Reema Bounajem.

“Excessive Noise” will resume its run with the seventh concert in the series on January 31, and Podgorsek continues his curatorial duties under the appellation of the recently-formed Pale Blue. collaborative.

The concert, “winter winds… by Pale Blue. part 1,” features chamber music for winds including “Jabberwock” by current Butler School of Music (BSOM) DMA student Chris Prosser; “Poco Adagio” by BSOM alumnus Russell Podgorsek; and performances by the Butler School of Music Graduate Saxophone Quartet, the Aero Quintet, and current DMA students Charlotte Daniel (flute) and Chad Ibison (guitar).

Russell Podgorsek.

Podgorsek took time recently to answer some questions about his experiences in developing “Excessive Noise.”

What spawned the idea for “Excessive Noise”?

Russell Podgorsek: Back in 2011 Dr. David Hunter asked me if I’d be interested in resurrecting a music series at the Fine Arts Library since one had been done years earlier but not in recent memory.

At the time “Excessive Noise” started I was a Graduate Research Assistant at the Fine Arts Library. (Fine Arts Head Librarian) Laura Schwartz, (Theater and Dance Librarian) Beth Kerr and David Hunter were kind enough to fold it into my responsibilities along with supervising and stacks maintenance. Once I graduated I stayed on as an hourly employee so it was easy to continue the series.

How do you come up with the programs?

RP: The programs are largely centered around players’ availability and interest in performing what they’re working on. Being a composer myself it also seemed natural to have several new works on each concert. UT and Austin in general are musically so rich that it’s almost too easy to fill up a program sometimes. Recently I’ve asked others at UT to collaborate with us in an effort to engage other libraries and collections as well as other departments. Last spring we did a joint event with the PCL Map Collection’s event series, “You Are Here,” that showcased works with ties to specific locales and the corresponding items in the Map Collection and at FAL. Later this semester we’re joining up with the Asian Studies department to present a concert exploring the intersection of Eastern and Western cultures. On smaller scales, we’ve had students from both Architecture and Theater and Dance perform or present on these concerts as well.

What sort of benefit does it provide for the performers/artists?

RP: Performing itself is an enjoyable activity but the audiences that these events draw are of a different composition than those at a “regular” recital or concert and connecting with a new part of the community is what it’s about. That being said, all of the performers are young professionals (the Butler School of Music is a great place), they know what they’re doing, and always present a high quality artistic product.

Laura Schwartz is really open to programs like “Excessive Noise” that make use of library space in an unexpected way. What’s it like holding the event in a library? Continue reading