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November 14, 2012 | By Randall Roberts, Los Angeles Times Pop Music Critic
Beck Hansen continued the process of introducing his new work "Song Reader" on Tuesday night with an essay in the New Yorker magazine. The collection, which Beck hasn't recorded but composed as sheet music to be played by others, arrives through the lauded McSweeney's publishing imprint on Dec. 7. In thoughtful and elegant prose, the Los Angeles native explained that the project began after his song publisher sent him the sheet music of one...
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ENTERTAINMENT
December 26, 2013 | By Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times Music Critic
It has been a number of years since the members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic pulled New Year's Eve duty, and none of them seem to be complaining about having the likes of Pink Martini, or this year, Sergio Mendes, take over at Walt Disney Concert Hall for the evening. Most orchestra musicians find a light-hearted holiday celebration a thankless chore when they'd rather be celebrating themselves. But the St. Louis Symphony does it differently, with music director David Robertson having turned New Year's Eve into a surprise party for the last seven years.
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ENTERTAINMENT
August 24, 2012 | By Randall Roberts, Times Pop Music Critic
Los Angeles singer and songwriter Beck has begun offering his new group of compositions, "Song Reader," for pre-order, his publisher announced on Friday. The 20 new songs might be called an album, except that Beck himself won't be performing them; rather, his new work will only be available via sheet music. That's right: As he announced last month, to hear "Song Reader," you'll either have to learn how to play the songs yourself or lower your standards and start hanging out with musicians.  Beck's new work will be released by San Francisco publisher McSweeney's in the format that drove the music industry before the arrival of recorded sound in the early 1900s.
ENTERTAINMENT
November 25, 2013 | By Randall Roberts, Los Angeles Times Pop Music Critic
On Sunday night in Los Angeles, two competing entertainments occupied downtown concert spaces to offer musical variety. At the Nokia Theatre at L.A. Live before a few thousand people and a few million TV viewers, the American Music Awards beamed high-tech pop to the masses, wide-open digital glitz packaged for those invested in the ephemeral. A dozen blocks north at Walt Disney Concert Hall in a stately space with strict rules against smartphone usage, Beck Hansen's "Song Reader" celebration offered similar star power in a more enclosed setting, one that honored both the permanence of printed matter and the open-sourced bliss of on-the-fly musical interpretation.
NEWS
May 15, 1986 | RONALD L. SOBLE, Times Staff Writer
Question: What tips do you have to enhance sheet music collections?--P.W. Answer: Collectors tell us that you should specialize--that is, your sheet music collection should focus on a particular subject, such as songs of a particular period, subject or composer. This can pay off because early sheet music by Scott Joplin, for example, has experienced strong demand in recent years.
ENTERTAINMENT
November 30, 1990 | From Associated Press
Curators at the Smithsonian Institution are busy cataloguing a monumental new collection of nearly 200 years of popular American sheet music, including stacks of rare, long-forgotten Broadway melodies by George Gershwin and Irving Berlin. This bonanza from the nation's musical past, a gift from Ft. Wayne, Ind.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 16, 1994 | AILEEN CHO, TIMES STAFF WRITER
Giving away 500 pieces of sheet music written for clarinet, oboe, bassoon, French horn and flute wasn't exactly George Waln's idea. It was, he said, Father Time's. "When you get to be 90, you have to think about the future," said the woodwinds virtuoso, who has taught, performed and composed for more than 50 years.
BUSINESS
April 7, 1993 | GREG JOHNSON, TIMES STAFF WRITER
Two California companies are betting that computer-driven technology can revolutionize the industry that puts sheet music in the hands of musicians and singers. For hundreds of years, the sheet-music industry has operated in largely the same fashion: Artists turn their creative efforts over to publishers, who print and distribute music and lyrics for sale to the public.
BUSINESS
February 23, 1998 | MARLA MATZER, SPECIAL TO THE TIMES
Few things could appear more dissimilar than the picture of a family singing together around a piano and that of a solitary user logging on to a computer. The images seem to be from different centuries. But companies in the traditional business of sheet music publishing are realizing they must adapt or become obsolete in the Information Age. Demonstrating an ability to use high technology in the service of a low-tech enterprise, Milwaukee-based Hal Leonard Corp.
ENTERTAINMENT
November 9, 2008 | Mindy Farabee
Early last month, behind the facades of Gower Gulch, that Old West town of Baskin-Robbins, Rite Aid and a Denny's restaurant facing Sunset Boulevard, some 46 vocalists and one showgirl poured into Hollywood Studio Bar and Grill, banding together for a cause the only way they know how -- by unleashing, for more than four hours, tunes about ducks that samba and personalizing the lyrics of "Sixteen Going on Seventeen."
ENTERTAINMENT
May 10, 2013 | By Gary Giddins
It's no big thing to play the music of Duke Ellington. That's done all the time: in cabarets, concert halls, movies, Broadway theaters and anywhere jazz musicians assemble. Ellingtonia, a word coined by admirers who realized that no existing musical category could contain him, is virtually inexhaustible: some 2,000 pieces, many in multiple versions and settings, often to the point of recomposed variations. Overall, he offers the modern musician those qualities that never wilt, from lavishly distinctive melodies to the richest harmonic palette in jazz or popular music to a rhythmic variety, reminding us that swing is infinitely supple and can be as uplifting, witty, fierce or romantic as a good tune.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
March 30, 2013 | By Kari Howard
When I clicked on the “Today's Great Read” banner on the L.A. Times home page at week's end, it hit me: The last five days of Column One stories, photos and videos - they were all presented like a gorgeous literary magazine. Wow. It was a eureka moment. This is where lovers of beautiful writing can come, and find a curated selection of the best narrative  journalism we offer. In these roundups of the week gone by, I'd like to offer the first paragraphs of each story--maybe they'll buy your eye, and you can settle in for a good weekend read.
ENTERTAINMENT
March 25, 2013 | By Randy Lewis, Los Angeles Times
The morning commute was like any other - almost. As cars flew by on the northbound 710, I hit "play" on my iPod and a melody swept over me. Rush hour melted away. "Ah-vey, ah-vey, veh-room corrrr-pooose," the choir began. The Latin words open "Ave Verum Corpus" (Hail true body), a choral composition that has captivated listeners for more than two centuries. I sang along, and I wasn't doing it alone. At that moment, two friends in New Jersey and Georgia were singing the words as well.
ENTERTAINMENT
January 3, 2013 | By Mikael Wood
As Times pop music critic Randall Roberts wrote earlier this week , much of the fun of Beck's new "Song Reader" project -- 20 songs released not as recordings, but as old-fashioned sheet music -- is beholding the variety of interpretations it's inspired. Hundreds of renditions of tunes from the set have been collected at songreader.net , where you can download the music for Beck's "Old Shanghai" for the price of your email address; countless more are available across SoundCloud and YouTube.
ENTERTAINMENT
January 1, 2013 | By Randall Roberts, Los Angeles Times Pop Music Critic
Some ideas that seem so simple unleash waves of creativity that expand in exquisitely complex ways. One such musical brainstorm is to offer a new body of work as notated sheet music, as Los Angeles songwriter Beck Hansen has done. His new work, "Song Reader," consists of 20 new pieces that the artist hasn't recorded. Rather, he teamed with the book publisher McSweeney's to unveil the songs in notated form. It is designed as a folio, and the hope is that the individually illustrated songbooks included within will inspire other musicians to interpret the written music and then share it. It was, describes writer Jody Rosen in the liner notes, "an experiment in ventriloquism": Provide the melodic and lyrical dialogue, but leave the aesthetic voice to strangers, who would head to parlors both real and virtual to perform the results.
ENTERTAINMENT
December 23, 2012 | By Marcia Adair
"Not so long ago," writes Beck Hansen in the introduction to his new collection of tunes, "Song Reader," "a song was only a piece of paper until it was played by someone. " Indeed, as far back as "Pride and Prejudice," all card-carrying members of the middle class had a piano in the parlor and a daughter or five with skills to play it. (Poor Mary. She did try.) It's been generations since gathering around the piano to sing the latest hits was a popular way to pass an evening, so why then are Beck's latest available only as sheet music?
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
December 19, 2005 | Adam Bernstein, The Washington Post
Sydney Leff, who depicted the moon-June-spoon romance of the Jazz Age through sheet music illustrations for hundreds of popular songs, died Dec. 10 at an assisted-living home in Ossining, N.Y. He was 104. In the 1920s and '30s, Leff was among the handful of pacesetters in a field that flourished until radio, film and television replaced family gatherings around the piano.
ENTERTAINMENT
April 25, 1990 | MARK CHALON SMITH
Larry Shue's popular comedy "The Foreigner" is about an unbelievably shy but likable European turned loose on a rural American household. In "The Nerd," at the Costa Mesa Civic Playhouse through May 6 (and soon to be produced at the Moulton Theatre in Laguna Beach), Shue again tosses an outsider into unfamiliar surroundings. In this go-round, though, the guy is unbearable, a walking dictionary of obnoxious mannerisms.
ENTERTAINMENT
November 14, 2012 | By Randall Roberts, Los Angeles Times Pop Music Critic
Beck Hansen continued the process of introducing his new work "Song Reader" on Tuesday night with an essay in the New Yorker magazine. The collection, which Beck hasn't recorded but composed as sheet music to be played by others, arrives through the lauded McSweeney's publishing imprint on Dec. 7. In thoughtful and elegant prose, the Los Angeles native explained that the project began after his song publisher sent him the sheet music of one...
ENTERTAINMENT
October 2, 2012 | By Todd Martens
Forget Daniel Craig or Javier Bardem. It appears that all the upcoming James Bond film needed to cause a promotional ruckus was a musical cameo from Adele. Currently the world's most popular singer, the not-so-closely-guarded secret that Adele would tackle the "Skyfall" theme was confirmed Monday , and already snippets of the song have appeared online.  Though only about 90 seconds, what's available of Adele's "Skyfall" seems to hint at the classic -- perhaps more traditional -- Bond themes of yore.
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