Lectures

Class of 1960 Lecture
Prof. David Metzer
Bach and Bongos: Musical Borrowing from Baroque to Hip Hop

Metzer.inddProfessor David Metzer of University of British Columbia gives a lecture titled Bach and Bongos: Musical Borrowing from Baroque to Hip Hop on Tuesday, March 1, at 4:15 p.m. in Bernhard Music Center Room 30 on the Williams College campus. This lecture is sponsored by the Class of 1960 Scholars Fund and is free and open to the public.

Perhaps the only thing that could bring Bach and bongos together is borrowing, which refers to a musician integrating an existing work into a new piece. Prof. Metzer will discuss the borrowing of two songs: the chorale Es ist genug used by Bach and the Incredible Bongo Band’s recording of Apache. As different as they may be, the two have one thing in common: they have been borrowed frequently by musicians. In fact, Apache may be the most sampled track in hip hop history. Prof. Metzer will look at why musicians have drawn upon these songs over and over again and what they have made of them. In particular, the repeated borrowings have added meanings to the songs that would have been unthinkable when they first appeared. A funereal chorale, for example, now celebrates the nonsense of death in an upside down world and a fun dance song has been turned into a symbol of both the past and future of hip hop.

Prof. Metzger’s work explores a range of twentieth and twenty-first century styles, including classical, jazz, and pop. He is currently working on a book dealing with this history of the ballad in American popular music from the 1950s to the present.

Dr. Metzer’s publications included Musical Modernism at the Turn of the Twenty-First Century (Cambridge University Press, 2009) and Quotation and Cultural Meaning in Twentieth-Century Music (Cambridge University Press, 2003). He has had articles published in Popular Music, Journal of the American Musicological Society, Journal of Musicology, Black Music Research Journal, and Modernism/Modernity, among other journals.

The Class of 1960 Scholars Fund, established at their 25th Reunion, brings eminent researchers from other colleges and universities to campus to give colloquia and work with students in the classroom.