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Blog Posts by Subject: Recorded Sound and Video

Dan Smith Will Teach You Guitar

He is arguably the most recognized musician in New York City. The slight smile, patient and reassuring, that greets you every morning as you wait in line at the corner bodega for your coffee and bagel.

Regardless of socioeconomic class or race, from Bed-Stuy to The Bronx, from East Village to the Upper East Side, all New Yorkers know: Dan Smith will teach you guitar.     It is a simple and honest advertisement. Like most good advertising, it is very memorable.  Maybe it is so memorable because these ... Read More ›

On the Shadows in Abraham's Cave: Thoughts on Beryl Korot and Steve Reich's 'The Cave'

The Cave, by wife and husband team Beryl Korot (video artist) and Steve Reich (composer), is an experimental multimedia piece featuring recorded interviews set to live music. Palestinians, Israelis, and Americans are all asked about the significance of the story of Abraham and his burial place, The Cave of Machpelah, which is held sacred by Muslims, Christians, and Jews.

Interviewees are asked about the significance of Abraham to their lives, the significance of his two sons Ishmael and Isaac, and their two 

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Mean Streets to Green Streets

Thomas Jefferson Park, 1939 Photo: Max UlrichIn the smoldering heat of summer, one of my greatest pleasures has been to find reprieve in New York City’s lush and thriving community gardens. For all the grandeur of the city’s more widely celebrated green spaces like Central Park and Prospect Park, there are hundreds of small-scale urban oases nestled in formerly decrepit lots across the five boroughs.

At one community garden that I visited in Alphabet City, a woman was simmering curry over the communal grill. “I love to cook outside in the 

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"You're gonna need a bigger boat." A Movie Quiz

For over two years now, as a blogger for the New York Public Library, I’ve written about books: as entertainment, as the foundations of personal identity, as reflections of the past, as physical artifacts, even as dust-collectors in an overcrowded apartment.   Today, however, I would like to celebrate another aspect of the library’s universe: its circulating DVD collection, which any avid cinephile would have to regard as one of the city’s great free resources.

As well as being a long-term employee of the library, I am also an eager and 

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Great Albums You May Have Missed: Highway to Hassake - Omar Souleyman

Years ago, while training my mind to think about deep and important stuff at university, I used to puff up my self-importance by reading books with the word "postmodern" in the title. I still couldn't explain what the term means exactly without launching into an hour-long babble that would leave you more confused than before; but if I could sum it up in one musician, I'd pick a one Mr. Omar Souleyman.

Omar Souleyman delivers the sounds to the people in the streets of Syria; he

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What Do the Ladies of SATC Have In Common With the Patrons of NYPL?

Okay so we can't all have a wedding at the beautiful Schwarzman Building like Carrie... but, we all can access the same great works of literature, cinema and music that the awesome and trendy ladies of SATC are seen enjoying throughout their movies.

Sex and the City (TV Series)

Click on the title to request the item from NYPL. 

Love Letters of Great Men

Edited by Ursula Doyle.


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Great Albums You May Have Missed: School of the Seven Bells - Alpinisms

With the seemingly endless expansion of musical terms and genres in the postmodern world, I have acquired some favorites, not least of which is a genre called "Shoegaze" music.

As may be obvious from the name, the music involves heavy use of effects, produces a dreamlike yet philosophical state, uses washed-out yet catchy melodies, whispery or otherwise idiosyncratic reverberated vocals, and often electronic drums and synths; and though bands often wander into experimental territory, they 

... Read More › - Writing Screenplays & Media Plays - Using online tools wherever you are

First in a series

Each day, professional, aspiring and student film and media-makers come through the doors of the Library for the Performing Arts (LPA) seeking resources that will aid in making their creativity become a reality.

If the 16th century focused on painting, the 19th on photography and the 20th on cinema, the 21st is all about integrated media.

Better stated, it is all about integrated performing arts media, and for the casual to the academic, there is no better place then

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Great Albums You May Have Missed: The O'Jays' Ship Ahoy (1973)

For bold, nuanced arrangements, classic songwriting chops, and the richness of gospel-inflected singers working together in perfect harmony, get your ears to Philadelphia.  Well, actually you don't have to leave New York--just listen to The O'Jays, one of the classic 1970s groups that developed Philly Soul.  A stylistic precursor to disco, the Quiet Storm sound, and smooth jazz, Philly Soul is rich, layered, and really, really hard not to dance to.  ... Read More ›

Welcome to Stuff for the Teen Age!

For 80 years, New York Public Library staff shared the best titles for teens in an annual list called Books for the Teen Age. Last year, Books for the Teen Age became Stuff for the Teen Age, a multimedia, multi-format, targeted, and teen-tested list of the best of the year in teen books, music, graphic novels, movies, games, and more. This year, Stuff for the Teen Age becomes a blog.

We started with a list of the 100 best titles of last year, and we’ll be posting about our picks 

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Great Albums You May Have Missed: The Wailing Wailers' Simmer Down (1963)

When a teenaged Bob Marley began recording in 1963 with The Wailing Wailers, Reggae did not exist yet. Back then Kingston Town, Jamaica was bubbling over with the jump-up-and-down energy of Ska, slowly maturing into the deliberate beats of Rocksteady.

The common thread binding these genres to Reggae is that unmistakable guitar chop on the upbeat, denoted by perhaps my favorite musical term: the 'skank'. There is simply no better example of a culture internalizing external influences and making it their own than when Jamaican artists took the shuffle of ... Read More ›

Great Albums You May Have Missed: Palestrina's 'Missa Papae Marcelli'

My favorite function of air, besides perhaps its ability to keep us all alive, is its ability to move beautiful sounds from place to place. For sound to travel, each molecule in the air must internalize the vibrations and pass that energy on to its neighbors in a fraction of second, and no piece of music can remind the air of this sacred purpose more than Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina's Pope Marcellus Mass. Read More ›

Great Albums You May Have Missed: Fela Kuti's 'Gentleman'

Afrobeat has been called the soundtrack to post-colonial Africa: reviving the indigenous rhythms eminating from the soil and from the blood, internalizing the best aspects of other cultures and molding them into something new, and making people dance with honest smiles on their faces even while addressing the issues of intense poverty and widespread human rights abuses at the hands of corrupt governments. Fela Kuti's 1973 release, Gentleman, is ... Read More ›

Great Albums You May Have Missed: Steve Miller Band

The Steve Miller Band's lesser known late 60's-era recordings might surprise you. In 1972, blues-rock guitarist Steve Miller broke his neck in a car accident. It put him out of commission for a full year, a time he used to write catchy blues-influenced pop songs. He emerged to become a huge success, with memorable songs like Fly Like an Eagle, and Take the Money and Run.

What many people don't realize is that the Steve Miller Band had a string of albums before Miller's more well-known era which were closer to psychedelic blues rock than the bouncy mellow pop 

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Where Is St. Marks? Investigating Place Names in the East Village

It is 8th Street, but from Third Avenue to Avenue A it is called St. Marks Place and is named for St. Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery, which is not even on 8th Street, or St. Marks Place, but at the intersection of 10th Street, Second Avenue, and Stuyvesant Street. The land there has been a site of Christian worship since 1660. The history of St. Marks Place doesn’t go back that far, but a surprising amount of history has happened on these four 

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Django Reinhardt Centennial Celebration - Sweet and Lowdown

January 23, 2010 marks the centennial of the birth of Django Reinhardt. Reinhardt grew up in gypsy camps outside Paris and began playing violin, banjo, and guitar at a young age. A fire destroyed his caravan when he was 18 and he was badly burned. The third and forth fingers of his left hand were partially paralyzed but he amazingly relearned how to play and by the early 1930s he was recording with his Hot Club of France Quintet. All of those solos were 

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East Village Landmarks – 96 and 98 St Marks Place

After a number of years in an historic Greenwich Village library I’ve spent the past few weeks in an equally historic East Village library. The Ottendorfer Branch of The New York Public Library is surrounded by literary, political, and musical history. From Leon Trotsky and

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An Evening of Polypoetry

Sound poetry, also known as polypoetry, is a performance art, a live show, which combines many elements, such as the written word, human voice, musical instruments, electronic sounds, movement, mime and projected images.

A major proponent of this art form is Enzo Minarelli, performer and scholar from Bologna, Italy, who developed a Manifesto of Polypoetry, containing his theories of the performance of sound poetry, touching on the rhythms of language, exploitation of sounds and use of electronic media.


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Student Reception at the NYP Library for the Performing Arts, Sept. 16, 2009

I've been on the planning committee for this year's student reception at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. It's a great opportunity to meet students who will be exploring the use of the library. Students get to meet each other from diverse schools who would not ordinarily encounter one another.

I enjoy showing off some of our unique items to students who never realized the Library had such things in its collections. It can be a great opportunity to inspire learning knowledge, while fostering a sense of community. Last year we had Thomas Kail 

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Sixteen[mm] and the City

Throughout these late winter and spring months, work crews have been feverishly drilling, planting, laying, grouting, irrigating, digging and welding outside of The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts in preparation for summer, when crowds of tourists and city dwellers will be looking for a shaded seat or a grassy knoll on which to perch with a sandwich or a friend.

The problem is, and has been, that Lincoln Center Plaza as it was conceptualized and built in the 1960s was neither shaded nor grassy and that one would be hard pressed to find a reason to 

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