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MUSIC LIBRARIAN


York University
4700 Keele St
Toronto, Ontario
M3J 1P3

bliek@yorku.ca

atacama

atacama

responsibilities and interests


As music librarian at the Sound and Moving Image Library (SMIL) at York University, I'm responsible for music reference and instruction and the acquisition of CDs, scores, books and online resources related to music.

As an associate faculty member of the Graduate Program in Music at York, I teach in the research methods and theoretical perspectives courses, supervise directed readings, and serve on thesis and dissertation committees.

My research interests include jazz, blues and popular music analysis and history and problems in the philosophy and aesthetics of music as they relate to recorded music.

I have been studying the music of Jimi Hendrix in the context of composition, performance, and production of popular music through (1) an examination of improvised variations and how they contribute towards the shaping of a piece, demonstrated through a tabulation and analysis of over 60 performances by Hendrix of his slow blues "Red House"; (2) thinking about the sound of the electric guitar through an analysis of the components that make up Hendrix's characteristic sound, in particular as exemplified in "Machine Gun"; (3) considering aspects of blues tonality through a study of Hendrix's use of the dominant seventh sharp ninth chord; (4) speculating on the nature of the musical work in the context of recorded music, facilitated through an examination of about 80 cover versions of "Purple Haze."

A second area of investigation is blues historiography. What we think of as the history of the blues is fraught with inconsistencies and logical fallacies, a result of general disagreement and confusion about the actual subject matter, its relation to other kinds of music, and a misunderstanding of the causal relations that contribute towards the development of a musical style. We can couch the musical evidence in peripherally related socio-economic evidence but the connections we need to establish in order to construct a coherent narrative can only go so far; there is simply too much evidence missing and too little agreement as to what the actual subject matter is. And this really is a problem endemic to the writing of a history of North American vernacular music in general, where marketing labels, media representations, and socio-economic barriers have obfuscated whatever historical narratives there might be.

I'm also involved with the Canadian Association of Music Libraries, Archives and Documentation Centres (CAML), an organization of music librarians from across the country who get together once a year to exchange ideas and information.