Music Magazine Articles

August 24, 2021


Corbie Hill

I make my living with words, and that’s what rap is—words—but I can’t freestyle. I nerd out on the linguistic intricacies, the staggering poetry and ironclad rhetoric, the references-within-references-within-references of billy woods and Jean Grae and Quelle Chris and Open Mike Eagle; of Q-Tip and GZA and MF Doom and Andre 3000. But I can’t freestyle.

August 23, 2021


Ed Magee

We began a conversation with Ed Magee M.B.A. ’04 on another topic, and we ended up deep in discussion about racism, anti-racism, and the enormous complexity of our moment. So when the topic of freedom came up, we naturally reached out to him, and he leapt at the chance to share his thoughts. “I’d kick off the conversation with the Nina Simone quote that the meaning of freedom is simply ‘no fear,’ ” he said in an email.

June 28, 2021

JOHN BROWN was named vice provost for the arts last summer. A native North Carolinian, Brown came to the university in 2001 as an adjunct faculty member in the music department and went on to head Duke’s jazz program, along with his own jazz groups. “It’s hard to believe it’s already been a year, and what a year it has been,” he says.

You were the faculty sponsor for John Legend over Graduation Weekend. What was it like engaging with him?

May 17, 2019


Scott Huler

Start with scales.

You’re playing the cello, and you want to get used to new players, so you go back to the beginning. And you play scales.

“Scales are something you do your entire life,” says Ciompi Quartet violist Jonathan Bagg. “So it’s kind of like calisthenics. But we weren’t in the habit of doing that as a quartet before Carrie came.”

July 30, 2014

Produced for the Motion Design course taught by Raquel Salvatella de Prada, assistant professor of the practice of art, art history & visual studies, and arts of the moving image.

July 30, 2014

Produced for the Motion Design course taught by Raquel Salvatella de Prada, assistant professor of the practice of art, art history & visual studies, and arts of the moving image.

July 29, 2014

Music can bring us back not only to where we once lived, but to places in which we’ve thrived, felt comfortable, and had a niche. Laura journeys to several homes using audio and imagination.

Phil Watson performs An Iliad

April 28, 2014

“Nine years,” the Poet begins intensely, in media res. “Fighting on and off, fighting to the wall and back. Greeks win one day, Trojans win the next, like a game of tug-of-war.” He pulls at a black rope hung ominously from a scaffold. “And nothing to show for it but exhaustion, poverty, and loneliness,” he says, articulating each word with a maniacal kick to the air.

Duke Coffeehouse

February 11, 2014

On stage, a woman taps at synthesizers and drum boxes, creating alien noises with her fingertips. Across the room, behind the soundboard, senior Jack Tarpey listens with earphones askew. He tweaks dials that correspond to synths, drums, and vocals, transforming a tangled racket into a starry, liquid melody.

February 13, 2013

Steve Johnson M.H.S. ’02 is the new artist-relations’ manager for MerleFest, a four-day celebration of bluegrass, old-time music, Americana, country, blues, and rock. He’ll be in charge of selecting and scheduling the nearly 100 artists who perform on fourteen stages during the April event in Wilkesboro, North Carolina. MerleFest was founded in 1988 in memory of the late Eddy Merle Watson, son of Doc Watson, the American music legend who died this past May.

February 13, 2013

When the Swiss-based group ensemBle baBel began planning its headline presentation for the 20 Heures de Musiques-Romont music festival this past fall, it first considered performing a work by avant-garde French composer Erik Satie, whose abstract, minimalist works have inspired artists ranging from John Cage and Philip Glass to Coldplay and Lana del Ray.

November 29, 2012

Opera singer: not the first career choice of your average Blue Devil. The typical opera singer, if there is such a thing, goes to conservatory, followed by a master's in singing, then a preprofessional program at an opera house, and finally, a career. But Talya Lieberman '07 has been forging her own path, one that will take her to Latvia on a Fulbright Scholarship to study her craft in a country with a little-known penchant for the musical form.

Sharp pitch: Music department graduate students Karen Cook and Stephen Pysnik A.M. '10 play crumhorns from the instruments collection. [Credit: Les Todd]

November 7, 2012

In the late 1950s, an emerging early-music movement sought to develop a richer appreciation for the instruments and performance methods of centuries past. Musicologists delved into the difficulties of guessing a composer’s intent based on limited historical evidence, while instrument makers worked meticulously to create authentic reproductions of the original instruments.

Rewriting musical history: Mace's discovery proves Hensel's compositional authorship. Credit: Megan Morr

November 5, 2012

When Angela Mace A.M. ’08 sat down at a piano in the Nelson Music Room in early September, she awakened a forgotten bit of musical history. The sonata she played, a lyrical nineteenth-century composition known as Ostersonate, or “Easter Sonata,” had been performed before— but possibly never under the name of its rightful composer, Fanny Hensel.

October 2, 2012

When composer George Lam A.M. ’08, Ph.D. ’11 wanted to produce an original opera as part of his dissertation, he started the Duke New Music Ensemble to ensure the work would be presented to a wider audience than just his peers and professors. “The Persistence of Smoke,” which ultimately involved several Duke departments and programs, meshed music with oral history and documentary to tell the story of Durham’s tobacco industry.

June 4, 2012


Garbage Can-Can

When choreographer Allison Orr approached a group of Austin, Texas, trash collectors about creating a dance performance, she was met with silence and skepticism. A year later, on an abandoned airport runway, two dozen workers and a fleet of trucks—accompanied by a live music combo—presented a spectacle of sound and movement for an audience of more than 2,000 people.

April 1, 2012

When Don Young needed a biopsy to test for prostate cancer, he was ap- prehensive about the procedure. But he got some help from an unexpected source.

Johann Sebastian Bach.