Tag: music

sax

How the saxophone got its name: an A-Z of instruments

6 November is World Saxophone Day, apparently. It’s the anniversary of the day the inventor was born – we’ll share his name a little later. We thought it was a good opportunity to produce an alphabet of interesting instrument names, from accordion to zither. As far as possible, we’ve tried to stick to common instruments […]

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Sheet Music

Foreign words and musical notes

Anyone who’s ever had to learn to read sheet music will know what I mean when I say that it can sometimes literally be like learning another language. Besides parsing those tricky lines, dots, tails, and bars, there are also the snatches of foreign languages – mostly Italian, along with the occasional word of French, […]

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beyonce

The many B’s of Bey: a Beyoncé appreciation post

When the Queen Bey herself gave a momentous performance at this year’s MTV VMAs, so close to her 4 September birthday, we knew that no self-respecting Beyoncé fan would let these two celebratory occasions go by unappreciated. So how does one (namely this Oxford Dictionaries editor) go about delving into the language of Beyoncé? With […]

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Swift Swift

Quiz: Taylor Swift or Jonathan Swift?

As Taylor Swift’s music video for her single “Shake It Off” goes viral, one question coming up on the Internet over and over again is whether or not it succeeds as a satire. Having previously received criticism about her dancing skills, the video follows Swift as she attempts ballet, break-dance, contemporary dance, rhythmic gymnastics, cheerleading, […]

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record player

James Brown in the OED

With the recent release of the James Brown biopic Get On Up, directed by Tate Taylor and starring Chadwick Boseman, I thought it might be worth reflecting on the legacy of Mr Dynamite. It goes without saying that James Brown contributed in enduring ways to the history of pop music; there’s good reason for his […]

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Georges

Quiz: George Orwell or George Michael?

Did you know that the novelist George Orwell and the singer George Michael share 25 June as their birthday? Unsurprisingly, they’re more than a few years apart – George Orwell (the pen name of Eric Arthur Blair) was born on 25 June 1903, while George Michael (originally Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou) followed exactly sixty years later. […]

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musical terminology

An A-Z of musical terms

Even if you’ve not picked up an instrument since you were eight and tootled away on a recorder, or stood at the back of a school hall holding a tambourine, you probably know the odd piece of musical terminology – forte, perhaps, or andante might ring a bell. Unsurprisingly, there are plenty more where those […]

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jeans

Can -core survive normcore?

What do President Obama, Steve Jobs, and the Toyota Camry have in common? In recent weeks all three have been described as “normcore,” a supposed fashion trend in which the sartorial elite eschew their usual sui generis styles for dowdy clothing of the type ordinary people wear. The concept may have originated as satire, but […]

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