Musical Gals: Barbara Strozzi

Music Period: Baroque era (1600 – 1750) Location: Venice, Italy Claim to Fame: Barbara published eight collections of her works and her music used the words with the music to portray meaning. There lies an air of mystery when looking at Barbara Strozzi (1619 – 1677). What we do know, however, brings to light an intriguing musical figure who is one of the most outstanding female composers in history. From a young age, she studied under respected musicians, and went on to publish eight collections of her music within her lifetime. This was an incredible achievement in the male-dominated world...

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Musical Gals: Francesca Caccini 

Music Period: Baroque era (1600 – 1750) Location: Florence, Italy Claim to Fame: the first woman known to have written an opera. She pushed boundaries with her book specifically written for women performers. Francesca Caccini was born on 18th September 1587 to two musicians. Her mother, Lucia di Filippo Gagnolanti, was a singer and her father, Giulio Caccini, was a renowned composer. At the time, her father was the second most highly paid composer and musician for the Medici family. Giulio was also the celebrated author of the most influential singing manual of the 1600s. Due to her...

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Musical Gals: Hildegard von Bingen

Music Period: Early Music (500 – 1400) Location: Bermersheim, Germany Claim to Fame: using repeated motifs within her music and giving religious music a freer, almost improvisatory, feel. As Maria von Trapp sings in The Sound of Music, “let’s start at the very beginning”, and discover the story of a female composer from the 1100s. We are talking of Hildegard von Bingen and today we think of her as one of the first identifiable female composers of Western music. Yet, before 1979, there was no mention of her name. You would not find her in any reference book if searching the university library...

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A Virginal and a Queen

  Do you play the piano? What about the harpsichord? Have you heard of a virginal before? If you haven’t, you’re not alone, but virginals used to be common household instruments, and anyone who was anyone had one. Virginals are in the same family of instruments as the harpsichord. And though harpsichords look very similar to pianos and are played in the same way, the way they make sounds are different. While pianos produce sound by striking the strings with a hammer, the strings in harpsichords and virginals are plucked. The placement of the keyboard determines where the...

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Musicians AND Mothers

It’s no secret that the music industries, well, all creative industries really, rely pretty heavily on stereotypes. You’ve got the whirlwind tornadoes with a rock n roll lifestyle not ready to be tamed, the ones considered crazy or weird, the angelic group of soppy crushes, and then strangely as women reach an age; the childless. I’ve noticed that it’s rarely noted if a male has a child or not. Yet for women artists in the mainstream, the gossip magazines question the sex life and even the fertility of a female, and are quick to assume a small bloat is the making of a baby bump. Though I...

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Interview with a Music Journalist: Leonie Cooper

Leonie Cooper used to send reviews of every gig she attended to NME, until they published them. That was fourteen years ago, and now she’s a senior staff writer at one of the UK’s biggest new music magazines, online and in print. Some things are just meant to be. “I don’t ever remember taking an active decision to work in music journalism,” says Leonie, “but things just kind of wonderfully fell into place.” From starting up a sixth form newspaper, to undertaking a number of work experience placements and internships, Leonie notes that “by staying in contact with people at those titles, [she]...

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Experiences of a Music Journalist

It’s the same almost every time. Hours before the show is about to start, I’m hanging around the stage door. The tour bus has verified that the artist is just behind the wall in front of me, and I’m in good company. Sometimes it’s a couple of people, sometimes it’s a swarm. I pull out my phone, scroll through emails and screenshot them ready. With a deep breath I approach the yellow coat wearing security guy, and reel off the correct information as though I’m in an exam. Doubtful, my phone is always checked, an eye often rolled. All before I’m let in to do my job. As a music journalist, I’m...

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Riot Girls Part Three: Today’s Riot Grrrls

Kathleen Hanna and Bikini Kill’s music hasn’t been forgotten, and their values are still embedded into many musicians and their work, and rightly so. The Riot Grrrl movement proved that music is fluid and has no barriers or limits of who is making it and who is listening to it. Music is a universal communicator and should be used to its potential. To talk about feminism and equality, and in turn expressing real emotion. This has been the beating heart for many musicians, and isn’t exclusive to punk music. Take Beyoncé for example. An icon, a songstress, an outspoken feminist, Beyoncé is...

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Riot Girls Part Two: The Original Riot Grrrls

1990s America was stale, laddish and male dominated. It was littered with double standards. In 2015, The New York Times’ Kurt Anderson reminisced on the era as ‘The Best Decade Ever’. In doing so, he thanked Starbucks for the ‘sudden availability of excellent coffee.’ Anderson however, made no reference to the Riot Grrrls. An underground subculture that emerged in the West Coast, the Riot Grrrls combined feminist consciousness with a punk style. At the time that Nirvana were exploding with the legendary album  Nevermind, the girls were rebelling for their voices to be heard in their music,...

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Riot Girls Part One: Who were Riot Grrrls?

Not so long ago, and even to some extent today, music was and still is believed to have a gender. It’s weird, isn’t it? This unwritten rule/idea that certain styles of music can only be performed by or listened to by a certain gender. In the 1990s, punk was considered to be for the boys. It’s loud, it’s angry and it requires strength and fire in its delivery, and to be at the receiving end. These traits are considered as being masculine. However, punk has always been political. Punk talks about current events and likes to get angry about it. Girls can do that too. It was ironic that in this...

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