You Study Long,…

Monday, March 7

I woke up in a hotel bed in Bloomington, Indiana.  I had one purpose for my stop-through there: to begin filling the holes in the information I had gathered on recordings of Negro Spirituals.  At this point, I’ve identified more than 4,000 entries that met my criteria for the project, but quite a few are missing data that I believe are critical to making the results useful to the singers and voice teachers I hope to inform.

Although a very early start would have given me more time to study, I decided not to push it since I was still tired from the MLA conference I’d just attended.  Still, I was pulling into the parking lot a block away from the School of Music at the Indiana University at around 11:15.  (Two things here: one, the students seem unconcerned about the potential of being run over by a person unfamiliar with their surroundings–a dangerous attitude in my opinion; two, parking fees are exorbitant, really exorbitant.)

cookThe head of the Cook Music Library was kind enough to not only help me get settled at a station with a turntable (again, the two-in-one computer would come into use, this time to play/copy CDs), but he made arrangements on my behalf with the Circulation staff to pull the many LPs and CDs I wanted to examine.  The recordings are not open access, so it was slow going but definitely not a waste of time.

I stayed until nearly 10 p.m.,  got my rental and found the place where I could buy a temp parking permit for day 2.  Wish I’d asked about it sooner and saved myself some money.

Tuesday, March 8

Got the same start Tuesday morning as I had on Monday except for taking the time to check out of the hotel room.  Picked up breakfast to go–someday someone must explain to me why it’s a good idea to serve a paying customer burnt bacon–and drove the short distance to my second destination.

IU’s Archives of African American Music and Culture is  clearly focused on popular music, but they hold enough concert music to make it worthwhile to visit.  The curator had a guest lecturer coming that afternoon, but she was still kind enough to sit down with me and talk about my project so she could recommend various resources that might be helpful to me.  The staff then pulled the recordings–including a former student’s first commercial recording that was not widely available–I requested and gave me full access to them.  I wish I’d been able to accept a dinner invitation from an IU music librarian, but I had a long drive back to Grinnell to look forward to, and they were calling for rain that evening.

The forecast was correct.  The stretch run from Peoria to Grinnell was rainy–sometimes blindingly so–windy and cold (but thankfully not snowy).  I finally reached the rental car drop-off just before midnight.  By the time I transferred luggage and other belongings back to RB and returned the rental’s keys, it was well after midnight.

Believe it or not, I was at work at 8:15 that Wednesday morning.

loudmusicThe drive from Bloomington to Grinnell took me about the same amount of time as that from Grinnell to Cincinnati because I spent a couple of hours driving on state roads at the beginning and in heavy rains and strong winds at the end, compared to the other route made in sunny weather and all on interstate highways. The music really helped me concentrate and stay on the task at hand.


Look Out, Cincinnati… The Music Librarians Are Here! (Part 2)

mla_logo_twitter-blackSaturday, March 5

Over the many years that I have either presented or attended a lecture, I have learned that you have to allow time for setup, especially if you are depending upon the available technology to work properly.  Well, for this lecture, I was heavily depending upon not only whatever equipment was available in the room, but my own computer–a two-in-one I had fairly recently purchased for occasions just like that.  Let’s just say I was unnerved and not a little pissed that my computer decided to do a 20-minute-long update only 25 minutes before my presentation was scheduled to start without asking me if that was okay.  IT WASN’T!!!!

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The MLA American Music Roundtable had invited me to give a demonstration of my nearly one-year-old online resource, The Spirituals Database.  I talked about how the site was organized and who the primary audience was–voice teachers and singers–plus how its contents could be searched.  For my part, I was hoping for ideas on how to better use Omeka, the open-source web-publishing platform I used to create the database and that I am still trying to learn.

Despite the shaky start, the presentation went quite well.  I got lots of great questions and several thought-provoking suggestions, especially from a colleague who shares my interest in researching Spirituals.  She has published two books on the subjects and was kind enough to chat for several minutes after the session about her experiences.

I’m afraid the only picture taken was one I took while I was waiting for the d*mned computer to update.  It was of a sun sculpture that seems to be the hotel’s theme since there are several of them throughout the conference rooms.  I was too otherwise occupied to ask someone else to get a picture during my lecture.

2016-03-05 21.01.15The rest of the day was again filled with meetings, so by the evening, I decided not to attend the closing reception.  Instead, I ordered room service–the closest I could come to getting food from the five-star restaurant the hotel proudly advertises.   I like my steak medium well and was disappointed that it was burnt.  But the dessert…  Oh my goodness, it was wonderful.  I feel like I can still taste the chocolate.

Didn’t realize until after the fact that I only ventured as far as the cafe just outside the hotel door for breakfast.  Thursday, it snowed, and Friday, I didn’t have the time.  By Saturday, I was just too tired.  Sunday would be my only chance to see the city.

Sunday, March 6

The conference was officially over, so my roomie and I were able to get a late start.  We had breakfast at a nearby restaurant and packed.  I invited her to join me on a visit to the Cincinnati Art Museum, which was a short drive away and had gotten some very high scores on Tripadvisor.  Since her flight was not scheduled to leave until the afternoon and I was feeling in no hurry to make the fairly short drive to Bloomington, we were able to enjoy a leisurely visit.

The museum had a very wide-ranging variety of works on display, from early sculpture to modern masters.

Below are some selfies taken with my phone.  Nice  butt.

We’d hoped to have lunch at a highly ranked BBQ restaurant, but we only had time to smell the food before I had to get Sarah to the airport.  After we parted company, I could’ve gone back to that restaurant, but it was to the east, and Bloomington was to the west.  So, I used the GPS on my phone to find a different BBQ restaurant nearby and ate there.  Fortunately, the smells that met me at the door promised good food, and I wasn’t disappointed with the food’s flavor.  I arrived between the lunch and dinner crowds, so I was able to relax and get pretty quick service, too. And I loved the signs they had up in the ladies restroom. My only complaint was there were only two tiny stalls in the ladies room. Only a guy would design a facility that small.

Got into Bloomington, Indiana, with no fuss or muss on Sunday evening.  I’d already made the room reservation, so I was in my room in short order.  Tried to get some work done in preparation for my visit to Indiana University the next day but didn’t get far.  Too tired, and the call of the bed was too loud.