Matt's Blog

Weblog of New York City based Jewish Musician.

Friday, June 20, 2003

Sex and the City

Yesterday was my last day in the sound archives for the next month. I am taking some time off to do the YIVO summer institute to improve my Yiddish. The interesting music that I heard was a recording by Abe Schwartz from 1923 on the Strong Label. The version of the Russian Sher, a Russian Sher. The other side was a nice little Fun Der Chupe Tantz that I have never heard before. One of those nice little tunes that needs to come back into the standard playlists. Hopefully someone, or three will come into the sound archive to learn it.

On other notes, the Klezmatics will be appearing on an upcoming episode of the HBO show Sex and the City. Don't worry I won't give the reason that they will be on the show away, it is up for you to find a place to watch it if you don't get HBO.

Thursday, June 12, 2003

Your boss is out of the country, your bosses boss stops in to talk with you. Your working in the database set up for you. They have lots of questions, which you try to explain. You didn't set up the database, and their are things that you would have done differently. But it does follow standards for the type of medium, sound recordings, that you are working in. Many of the problems that they had are the ones that you deal with on a regular basis. How do you deal with it?

Here is the main issue. Sound recordings are treated like books. Each track is equal to a chapter in a book. In a book it is not a big deal to search by keywords, and not be able to search by individual chapter titles. In sound recordings being able to search by by song titles while still looking at full recordings is important. Though it is still not a perfect solution, you will still miss things. EX. Ikh bin a Rothchild by Sholom Alekheim, by searching for Rothchild you will bring up all the examples of the short story in Yidish, and of any Yidish productions of "Fiddler on the Roof," but not the English version of "Fiddler on the Roof." Ikh bin a Rothchild is If I were a richman in Yidish.

While not an elegant solution my boss did come up with one with the software that he has. Using the older version of a database program, which at that point was still flat file and not relational, and having the records look the same as standard library records of sound files, one can search by track. It isn't user friendly but it does get the job done.

I sure hope that they don't switch to the proprietary library software that they are moving the rest of the institution to. It will go from being hard to find what you want to nearly impossible. What they need to do is give us the type of funding, that all institutions neglect to do, to full catalog our collections. Upgrading the software would help, but at some point you need to catalog it fully. This is an institution where the main catalog is still on note cards. Their are reasons, but technology is at the point where it can move to computers.

As a researcher I ask that you don't use proprietary systems that are only used for library cataloging. On one hand you are putting all our eggs in that one software companies basket. This is something that you are doing in any case, so you might as well use something that is used in lots of applications, because that software has a better chance of being supported long term. Two, I don't want to be limited to how I can manipulate my data like it is books. I want multi level searching where I can exclude data. I also want to be able to save my searches and sorts so that I can revisit them and continue to manipulate them.

I wish that I could tell you about some of the music that I listened to today at work, but the recordings that I wanted to listen to were listed in the catalog as being missing. And they were. It is a shame, even though they didn't have a complete set, they had the most complete set listed that I had ever seen. 8 out of the 10 sides. I have only heard 4. The 2 sides they did, I have heard.

Monday, June 09, 2003

More YIVO Gems
While working in the sound archives I like to listen to different recordings. Todays selections were mixed as always. Here are some of the ones that stuck with me;

Chassidico Fever - When I saw the cover I had to take a listen. Remember in "Mr. Saturday Night" when Buddy Young Jr. is showing his apartment to Annie, he shows her a record of DiscoJew. The cover looked like that, except for it was three guys in beards and payes with fur hats on. It was ok, nothing special.

Fiddler on the Roof Goes Latin - I wish I could remember the name of the band leader, it was not a bad record, I like it. They are great tunes, and most of the Jewish-Latin projects that I have listened to work.

Last but not least I put on a recorded where the first side was by the Barton Brothers. You remember them from the Yiddish Radio Project, they are the guys that had the hit with "Joe and Paul's." What Henry didn't tell you is that their is a second side to that record, it goes on for like 7 and a half minutes. This record had three or four nice skits. One of them was memorable, it was a "jewish" version of the Midnight Ride of Paul Revere. One of the other cuts was this latin ditty that went all the place, not two verses went together. One of them had to do something with the cup sizes of womens' bras. Their stuff is just not up to the level that Mickey Katz material is.

Well, I should be back in the vault latter this week, and at that point another report of YIVO Gems will come out.

Thursday, June 05, 2003

Sorry about the lack of Updates
Between the high-speed access at my place going down, and working on the Folksbiene Gala that was held last night at the 92nd Street Y. For those of you who were at the Folksbiene Gala, wow.

How about Ian Finkel, man was it fun to watch him play. Along with his brother Elliot and their father Fyvush they proved to be one of the great acts in an all star studded cast. The chops of the two brothers have to be seen to be believed, Elliot's piano playing is just amazing. Admittedly they are large guys, but to see someone who can play both extreme octaves at the same time, and then move back fast to the middle octaves are amazing. It was a shame that the cigar that graced Ian mouth for the reh.
during the day didn't stay for the evening show. But at least he kept up with the loud cave man auditory accompaniment / conducting during the show.

Other acts of note where the staged version of Ghetto Tango, Claire Barry, Lisa Fishman, and the film put together by Josh Waletsky. It was great to see 900+ people come together to celebrate an evening of Yiddish Theatre. The stories that Fyvush, Mike Burstyn, Claire Barry, and Alan King told about their time spent in the Yiddish Theatre of old were great.

And as the producer of the slide show accompaniment it was great to actually see pictures of people that I had only seen names of before. It was also great to get the opportunity to see so many great theater ads, and posters.

  • The one and only Klezmershack
  • A blog on Yiddish and Jewish Music
  • Living Traditions
  • The Folksbiene Yiddish Theater
  • YIVO