Rahman Responds To Fatwa Issued For Muhammad Biopic

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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

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

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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

Why Can’t Artist Bios Be Better?

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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

Music Education Can Help Children Improve Reading Skills

Children exposed to a multi-year programme of music tuition involving training in increasingly complex rhythmic, tonal, and practical skills display superior cognitive performance in reading skills compared with their non-musically trained peers, according to a study published in the journal Psychology of Music.

According to authors Joseph M Piro and Camilo Ortiz from Long Island University, USA, data from this study will help to clarify the role of music study on cognition and shed light on the question of the potential of music to enhance school performance in language and literacy.

Studying children the two US elementary schools, one of which routinely trained children in music and one that did not, Piro and Ortiz aimed to investigate the hypothesis that children who have received keyboard instruction as part of a music curriculum increasing in difficulty over successive years would demonstrate significantly better performance on measures of vocabulary and verbal sequencing than students who did not receive keyboard instruction.

Several studies have reported positive associations between music education and increased abilities in non-musical (eg, linguistic, mathematical, and spatial) domains in children. The authors say there are similarities in the way that individuals interpret music and language and “because neural response to

Music… The Perfect Remedy To A Long & Tiring Day

There is background and “mood” music in sitcoms and TV showsthat you watch everyday. We have all heard those catchycommercial jingles that stick with us throughout the day.These are just some examples of music.

Types of Music

There are so many types of music out there. You can buy CDs,listen to the radio and even listen to music or learn aboutmusic on TV. MTV, VH1 and various other television channelsare geared towards music. You can turn on your radio andpick up the waves of many local and some even distantstations that play different types of music. Music is reallyeverywhere and there is so much to choose from.

Some of the more common types of music are country, R&B, hiphop, rock, classical and pop or dance. Many other categorieshave came from these basic genres. There are also manydifferent categories according to decade. For example, youcan get hits of the 70s, 80s, 90s and today. These will playyou all the hits and chart toppers from that era.

Digital Music

Just like many other things in life today, music has wentdigital and there are many more opportunities now for you toenjoy it. You can download music online and store it on yourcomputer. You can also listen to music

The History Of Music: From Grunts To Guitars

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 first sounds that modern man could easily recognize as music. The oldest known song is over 4000 years old, written in cuneiform, and uses the diatonic scale. This period is referred to as “ancient” music.

Further developments created more regional sound, as different technology discoveries in different areas

The Problem With Music Advocacy

The word, “advocacy,” indicates helping an underdog. It places it in a category of sympathetic efforts toward something worthwhile in need of saving. Contemplate the term, “child advocate.” What pictures come to mind? Visual images of children in need pulling on your heart-strings of giving, right? We love them and want to do more for them, but invoking emotions of sympathy only reaches a few. Think of all the phrases that include the word, “advocate,” or “advocacy.” What is your instant emotion? pity? charity? sympathy? empathy? left-wing? righteous? desire to fight for the cause?

Why do we feel that way? It indicates a need to fight for the defenseless, vulnerable, needy. Who puts on the gloves and does the defending? The one’s closest to the underdog. Those with a deep compassion and emotion connected to the victim.How do they fight for the victim? They work to bring the world’s attention to the problem. They paint graphic pictures through word and images that guilt people into giving. Those most passionate for the defenseless work tirelessly, attempting multiple methods to reach the masses, but only winning a few.

Music is not the underdog in reality, just in the education system, and in lack of

The Problem With Music Advocacy

The word, “advocacy,” indicates helping an underdog. It places it in a category of sympathetic efforts toward something worthwhile in need of saving. Contemplate the term, “child advocate.” What pictures come to mind? Visual images of children in need pulling on your heart-strings of giving, right? We love them and want to do more for them, but invoking emotions of sympathy only reaches a few. Think of all the phrases that include the word, “advocate,” or “advocacy.” What is your instant emotion? pity? charity? sympathy? empathy? left-wing? righteous? desire to fight for the cause?

Why do we feel that way? It indicates a need to fight for the defenseless, vulnerable, needy. Who puts on the gloves and does the defending? The one’s closest to the underdog. Those with a deep compassion and emotion connected to the victim.How do they fight for the victim? They work to bring the world’s attention to the problem. They paint graphic pictures through word and images that guilt people into giving. Those most passionate for the defenseless work tirelessly, attempting multiple methods to reach the masses, but only winning a few.

Music is not the underdog in reality, just in the education system, and in lack of

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

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Dolly In Nashville Authenticity That Makes Room For Rhinestones

When the renowned radio personality and Grand Ole Opry fixture Bill Cody walked onto the stage at the Ryman Auditorioum to welcome Dolly Parton there for the first time in twelve years, he called her “the most beloved artist of all time.” Then he quickly, almost imperceptibly, corrected himself, adding a qualifier: female artist.” Who knows what flashed in Cody’s mind in that moment — perhaps the face of Johnny Cash, the patron saint of believers in musical authenticity, or of hallowed originator Hank Williams, or affable current standard-bearer George Strait. Or maybe the thought wasn’t even that formed. His words simply reflected the status quo. Country, like rock, rap, symphonic music, literary writing and virtually every other art world whose reach goes beyond the domestic sphere, has always honored men as more central and more real, defenders of the paradigms that women may expand or even challenge, but never originate.

On this night, however, Dolly Parton and her fans didn’t let those presumptions bother them, not for one minute. The Mother Church of Country Music became the Church of Dolly. It was a wide-open space, one with room for dulcimers and drum machines, dirty jokes and gospel songs and a

Cumberland Caverns A Subterranean Concert Venue In Tennessee

In Tennessee, a four-lane highway turns into a winding strip of asphalt called Dark Hollow Road. That becomes a driveway, and once out of the car, there’s still a ways to go through the dense forest on a hillside. There, we find Cumberland Caverns, now host to a stage 333 feet underground.

Water and time carved out a rotunda nicknamed the Volcano Room that accommodates 600 people, albeit barely. Some perch on rock outcroppings by the stage. Neon lights accent the limestone walls. A giant chandelier hangs from the craggy ceiling.

Today’s headliner is the Annie Moses Band. Fiddle player Gretchen Wolaver says she assumed the venue would be more like an outdoor stage under a rock overhang.

“When you first walk in, you think, ‘Wow, this is really a cave,'” Wolaver says. “Which you would think you would have thought that anyway, but I didn’t.”

There are pros and cons to the subterranean setting. The sound, for one, is unexpected. This vaulted cavern doesn’t create the echo-y hall you’d expect. House sound engineer Andy Kern says the cave’s uneven surfaces scatter the sound waves and break them up just like in a specially designed studio.

“You know, you always think of the three-second reverb

Unwound’s Justin Trosper Explains Peel Sessions Track By Track

In 1998, Unwound was closing in on the height of its powers. Two years earlier, the Olympia band had released the career-defining Repetition, which dug into Unwound’s weirder grooves with a muscle-constricting tension that, when released, made it feel as if the world was opening up. Challenge For A Civilized Society explored that mode with more studio experimentation, as the band added synths, saxophone and samples. The result was pulsing, ecstatic.

It’s during this time that the band was booked to record a Peel Session in London. As guitarist and vocalist Justin Trosper writes in an email to NPR, “We were pretty damn excited to be asked to do a Peel Session, as that was definitely an indicator that we had ‘arrived.’ But really, being a record collector and music fan, it was an honor!”

As most bands know or discover when they arrive at the BBC, John Peel rarely attended the recording sessions bearing the influential DJ’s name. At the time, “We chose these songs as they were basically a whole section of the set we had been grinding out on the Challenge tours,” Trosper writes.

“‘Hexenszene’ and ‘Kantina’ were older numbers that had endured and evolved to higher forms. ‘Side Effects

In The Middle Of A Whirlwind Miranda Lambert Shares The Spotlight

There was a time when rock critics regularly described Miranda Lambert as some sort of vengeful, arson-happy, petite, blond Amazonion, thanks both to the potent imagery in some of her early singles and the critical tendency to view the characters which inhabit country songs in a narrow, literalistic light, as opposed to an imaginative one. It took several years, and a decidedly reflective radio hit or three, for her to supplant the cartoon version of her with the identity of a gutsy, complex woman and a songwriter of consequence. At this point, only one other female artist, Carrie Underwood, rivals her country superstar status.

There is one aspect of those early impressions that continues to ring true, though, and that’s Lambert’s readiness to summon a sense of purposeful moral outrage, to take up for people in vulnerable or powerless positions, be they survivors of domestic abuse or herself, particularly when she felt bullied by the media for being anything other than rail thin. Lambert has always found ways to champion female colleagues; Natalie Hemby has long been her go-to co-writer, Angaleena Presley and Ashley Monroe, both still in the audience-building phases of their careers, are Lambert’s sometime-band mates in the Pistol

Music Journalist Chronicles The Wild Obsessive Hunt For Rare 78 RPM Records

With almost all the music you’d ever want to listen to available online digitally, the obsessive hunt for scratchy, fragile 78 RPM records may seem anachronistic. But author Amanda Petrusich says that those early records, which hold between two and three minutes of music per side, showcase the sound and spontaneity of a time before second takes were common in record studios.

“There was a red light that could come on in the studio often when a performer was sort of reaching the end of his or her three minutes. So on a lot of these records, you can hear someone sort of start to hurry up and panic when the light came on [indicating] that they had to finish up,” Petrusich tells Fresh Air producer Sam Briger. “Then the record just kind of went out into the world that way.”

In her new book, Do Not Sell At Any Price, Petrusich writes about the extreme measures music collectors take in pursuit of rare 78 RPM records. Some, she says, have been known to take jobs specifically because they allow access to strangers’ basements, where rare records may be collecting dust.

“You would hear stories of collectors getting jobs like census worker or

Is It Rolling, Bob Remembering Producer Bob Johnston

This past Friday, Aug. 14, the record producer Bob Johnston died in hospice care near his home in Nashville, Tenn. He was 83 years old.

More than any other single practitioner of that post, Johnston helped give shape, heft and durability to some of the most transformative American music of the past five decades, framing the sounds and intentions of an era — when invention was valued on par with accessibility; lines were confused and maps were being redrawn — and helping to foster a culture of autonomy and liberation for visionary artists that remains vital to this day, and continues to evolve.

As a staff producer for Columbia Records (and then as a free agent) Bob Johnston was a guiding force behind the artists on his watch — playing priest and lifeguard, counselor and agitator to such standard-bearers and upstarts as Johnny Cash, Marty Robbins, Leonard Cohen, Simon and Garfunkel, and The Byrds, to name a scant few.

On behalf of Cash, Johnston stood up fearlessly against Columbia’s executives — who had threatened both men’s continued affiliation with the label should they follow through with the singer’s outlandish desire to record live concert albums at the maximum security prisons at Folsom and

Syrian Rockers Fleeing War Find Safety And New Fans In Beirut

At the launch party of his band’s first album in a crowded Beirut café, singer Anas Maghrebi steps up to the microphone in front of a crowd of hip guys and women in vintage glasses, sipping icy drinks in the sultry evening.

The songs swell; the audience cheers and sings along. Maghrebi is 26 years old, tall and thin with a beard and cap, soaking up the adulation. He’s not, perhaps, a typical Syrian refugee, but his journey to realize a dream of making a rock record has been fraught with hardship.

His story begins at Damascus University, where he was a student in 2010. The small-town boy listened to Pink Floyd with his friends and formed a progressive rock band that rehearsed in a basement. But police were suspicious, so they never played a gig.

“They want to know what you’re trying to say in this gig,” says Maghrebi. “You’re gathering people and you’re telling them stuff, so what kind of stuff are you telling them? ‘We need to know. We’re the government.’ ”

Then, 2011 brought the wave of uprisings known as the Arab Spring.

“When it started, it was more clear,” says Maghrebi. Before patchworks of gunmen took over Syria, he says

In Classic Pop Destroyer’s Dan Bejar Finds A New Voice

For nearly two decades now, Dan Bejar — the mind behind the enigmatic rock enterprise Destroyer — has put out albums that double as propositions to consider what this thing called Destroyer has been and what it might continue to be. There have been a good number so far, including the new Poison Season, the 11th full-length release under the beguiling Destroyer name. The project started as a more or less standard indie-rock affair, with a tweedy bohemian slinging words in a bare bones fashion that couldn’t have been less “destroyer”-like. (One imagines a big metal band, or at least some brute rock fantasia.) But Bejar’s existential restlessness quickly became part of the arrangement, leading to swerves and zags through which he has managed to make himself sound somehow interesting and new with every shape-shifting move — always with suggestive questions implied. Lines of inquiry surrounding Bejar this time: Crooner? Conniver? Unlikely but also surprisingly convincing champion of the classic American songbook?

For a songwriter with a puckish bard persona and a highly idiosyncratic voice (some might say harsh, biting, distancing, adenoidal), Bejar has come to think surprisingly agreeably about singing in recent years. “There are traditional song structures in Destroyer,

Why Is Billboard Asking Industry Execs If They Believe Kesha?

Billboard magazine used to be known as “the bible of the music business,” a trade publication trusted for its straightforward analysis of industry trends. But an anonymous questionnaire that leaked online last Thursday has some readers questioning Billboard‘s journalistic skills and integrity.

The first page of Billboard‘s current survey.

Billboard

The magazine regularly solicits reflections from music business executives. At the end of 2013, Billboard‘s industry survey included such sober questions as “What was the most important/influential/impactful event to happen in the music business [this year], and why?”

But many of the queries in the magazine’s current survey, which was conducted via Google Doc and was meant to be seen by “a select group of top music-industry executives,” read more as attempts at score-settling rather than paths to generating genuine reporting leads. Questions include “Who is the most devious executive in the music industry?” and “Which artist’s private behavior belies his/her sterling public persona?”

The survey was taken down on Thursday after the deadline for responding had passed, but captures of its contents are circulating online.

An introduction to the questionnaire states that Billboard plans to publish the answers in the Sept. 19 issue of the magazine.