Rahman Responds To Fatwa Issued For Muhammad Biopic


A big-budget Iranian biopic depicting the childhood of the Prophet Muhammad has already faced a fair amount of backlash. But now the film’s director and its composer — the hugely popular Indian musician A.R. Rahman — have had a fatwa, or religious edict, issued against them by the Raza Academy, a Mumbai-based Sunni Muslim organization.

The director of Muhammad: The Messenger of God is Iran’s Majid Majidi, who has released this as the first in a planned trilogy chronicling Muhammad’s life. According to the BBC, the Raza Academy has also asked the Indian government to ban the film, which cost a reported $40 million to make. It was released in Iran and was screened at the Montreal World Film Festival in August.

In its fatwa, the Raza Academy says that both Majidi and Rahman must recite the kalimas, or professions of Muslim belief, and repeat their marriage ceremonies — in essence, reestablish themselves as Muslims. The film project has also been denounced by Al-Azhar University in Cairo, according to the Guardian in the U.K.

Outside the Muslim world, a fatwa is often misinterpreted as a threat of violence, particularly after the infamous fatwa issued

With Stereotypes A Duo Raised On Hip-Hop And Classical Has It Both Ways


Kevin Sylvester says that when most people see a 6-foot-2-inch, 260-pound black man, they don’t expect him to also be a classically trained violinist. A recent exchange with a woman in an elevator, when he happened to have his instrument with him in its case, drove that point home.

“She’s like, ‘What do you play?’ ” he recalls. “I’m like, ‘I’m a violinist.’ And she was like, ‘Well, obviously you don’t play classical, so what kind of style do you play?’ ”

Sylvester says he explained that while he does have a degree in classical music, he plays all kinds of styles. “She didn’t mean it maliciously,” he says, “but I hope she gets to see us in concert and we can change her perception.”

Moments like this inspired Sylvester and his partner, violist Wilner Baptiste, to call their new album Stereotypes. It’s the latest release by their duo Black Violin, whose seeds were planted years ago when the two met as high school students in Florida.

Both men say that when they were kids, studying stringed instruments wasn’t exactly Plan A. Sylvester was nudged into music classes by his mother in fifth grade, and

Why Can’t Artist Bios Be Better?


Over in London, the Independent‘s arts editor, David Lister, recently published a scathing commentary about the paucity of valuable or even interesting information in artist biographies. He wrote it in a fury after paying £4 to obtain the program for a Proms concert he attended, featuring the excellent German violinist Julia Fischer. (Yes, one pays for the privilege of reading about programs and performers at various international halls.)

What did he find? “A mine of useless information,” he says — a list of where Fischer had played in recent seasons, where she going to be performing over the next several months and a list of her recordings.

Sound familiar? It should. A whole lot of biographies provided by artists and their teams read exactly that way. And in the aftermath of Lister’s commentary, quite a lot of lively conversation has erupted online about his complaints, both on Facebook and Twitter.

To me, it’s not just an issue of trite phrasing or poor grammar, though those problems exist. It’s a larger matter of conception and approach. Even soloists and groups who go to great lengths to project a bleeding edge artistic image fall, all too often,

The History Of Music From Grunts To Guitars

Where did music begin, and where is it going? How did we get to the type of music we have today? Is radio and recorded music improving music? This piece examines the history of music, and provides predictions for the types of music to expect in the future.

Where did music begin, and where is it going? The answers are surprising. There is a modern movement leading humanity back to the music it first created tens of thousands of years ago. A conflicting movement is creating ever more complex sounds, and creating a world of smaller audiences for more musicians.

Before humanity could write, and even before they could speak, rhythm and single tones were used to communicate. The song of a bird may have inspired a prehistoric man to mimic and improve on the noise. Evidence of prehistoric music is sparse, since there was no language to describe the sound to descendants. Drumming objects and mimicking are considered to be the first “music”. This continued with words being added as speech was discovered.

After the development of writing, music became more refined. Crafted instruments were added. Harmonies were created. Pipes, flutes, basic stringed instruments, and similar tools were used to create the

Laugh for cause at Packard Music Hall

AARP members and their friends are invited come together to laugh for a charitable cause when Menopause: The Musical takes the stage at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 13 at the Packard Musical Hall in Warren.

Meet and mingle with AARP members and their guests at a pre-show reception at Bourbon 45 prior to the musical starting at 6:00 pm. The performance begins at 8:00 pm.

This musical parody staged to classic tunes from the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s features four professional actresses each of whom are cancer survivors. For every ticket sold to this event $2.00 will be donated to a locally based chapter of the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

Set in a department store, Menopause: The Musical brings together four women with seemingly nothing in common but a black lace bra on sale who come to find they have more to share than ever imagined. The cast makes fun of their woeful hot flashes, forgetfulness, mood swings, wrinkles, night sweats and chocolate binges. A sisterhood is created between these diverse women as they realize that menopause is no longer The Silent Passage, but a stage in every woman’s life that is perfectly normal!

The Survivor Tour ® is a fundraiser for

First of its kind study finds music therapy lowers anxiety during surgical breast biopsies

A first-of-its-kind study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology finds that music therapy lessened anxiety for women undergoing surgical breast biopsies for cancer diagnosis and treatment. The two-year study out of University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center involved 207 patients.

“To the best of our knowledge, this is the first randomized controlled trial to test music therapy for anxiety management with women undergoing outpatient breast cancer surgery, and the largest study of its kind to use live music therapy in the surgical arena,” said lead author Jaclyn Bradley Palmer, music therapist at UH. “Our aim was to determine if music therapy affected anxiety levels, anesthesia requirements, recovery time and patient satisfaction with the surgical experience,” she said.

Patients were randomly assigned to one of three study groups. One group listened to preferred live music before surgery, one listened to preferred recorded music, and one experienced usual care with no music before surgery. The participants who listened to either recorded or live music, selected their song choice, which was downloaded and played or learned and performed by the music therapist preoperatively.

“We discovered that anxiety levels dropped significantly from pre-test to post-test in patients who heard one preferred song of either

MP3 Technology

MP3, in full MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3 ,  a data compression format for encoding digital audio, most commonly music. MP3 files offer substantial fidelity to compact disc (CD) sources at vastly reduced file sizes.

In 1993 the Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG) at the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) released the MPEG-1 standard for video and audio compression. MPEG-1 included three schemes, or layers, for audio encoding, of which the third—called MP3—quickly became the most popular through the wide availability of simple computer programs for compressing music files.

MP3 encoding reduces the size of a CD audio file by discarding certain sounds based on assumptions of what the ear is least likely to miss. Different levels of compression are available, with higher-fidelity encoding yielding larger files. An MP3 file can be played directly on a personal computer (PC) or portable digital music player, such as Apple Inc.’s iPod, or written onto a standard audio CD, although the data loss from compression is not reversible.

By the early 21st century the average consumer could store millions of songs in the MP3 format on a PC or MP3 player. Online services allowed computer users to share their music files with millions

Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, The Only System We’ve Got

Every October, when the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announces the nominees for next year’s inductions, there’s a phrase that seems to come up organically in discussions of the shortlist. Indeed, I’ve used it several times myself. The phrase is “out of committee.” It’s an acknowledgment of the central role played by the Rock Hall’s semi-secret Nominating Committee in the selection process. Before the Hall’s hundreds of voters, or its millions of fans, can vote on their favorites — this year’s shortlist ranges from first-timers Chicago and Janet Jackson to perennials Deep Purple and Chic — an elite committee of a few dozen critics, musicians and Hall insiders determines who is worthy of the vote in the first place.

Of course, you know what other byzantine institution uses the phrase “out of committee” as part of its sausage-making rules? The U.S. Congress.

To anyone who has followed the maneuverings of either the Rock Hall or the Federal government, the analogy feels apt. Both systems began with the best of intentions, conceived by founding fathers who felt they knew best. Each system is prone to lobbying and driven by insider maneuvering and partisan bickering. The voting body’s leaders have to contend with