Studios Staff and Students Record “Protect the Pack”

Last winter, staff members, co-ops, and student employees of the Northeastern University Library Recording Studios joined their collective musical powers to record “Protect the Pack,” a song inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition to spreading the word about the importance of face masks and physical distancing to keep the campus community safe, the recording also serves as an example of the type of audio recording capability and support available to Northeastern students, faculty, and staff who need to make recordings while in quarantine.

Cover art of Protect the Pack by The Snell Family Band
Cover art of Protect the Pack by The Snell Family Band

The group, which calls itself The Snell Family Band and includes Ben DeUrso, Jonathan Iannone, Chris de Pierro, Patrick Sayers, Jared Zimiroski, Isaac Schutz, and Craig Short, began the project in late November 2020 and completed the initial recordings before the December break. Final mix and updates were completed by the end of February 2021, with cover art and credits by Antonio Banrey.

The group recorded a video on the creation and recording process, which is available in the Digital Repository Service. A music video, created over Zoom and including most of the contributors, was recorded and is in the editing process.

The Recording Studios has hosted a number of online workshops and one-on-one editing sessions over the past year, helping students, faculty, and staff create and edit high-quality audio and video recordings in their homes. Recordings of these workshops are available online.

CRRJ Archives Helps Bring Justice to Racially Motivated Crimes

As the broader American public has recently begun seeing the social, economic, and political impact of historical injustices in the United States, one thing has become clear—we don’t all have the same understanding of the events that brought us to this place. All too often, violence has been used to enforce boundaries on where people could live, work, and exercise their right to vote. Bringing that history to light and working toward justice for the victims of violence and their communities is imperative to achieving true equality for all.

The Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project (CRRJ) at the Northeastern University School of Law does this work, conducting research and supporting policy initiatives on anti-civil rights violence in the United States and other miscarriages of justice during the period of 1930-1970.

CRRJ Website Screenshot

CRRJ has come to serve as a resource for scholars, policymakers, and organizers involved in various initiatives seeking justice for their crimes. Since its founding in 2007, CRRJ has amassed thousands of investigative records about racial violence—death certificates, police reports, and Department of Justice and NAACP files, along with their own interviews and investigative reports. Those records reflect that hidden history, and CRRJ, in partnership with the Northeastern University Library, is taking the next step toward making this historical information available and accessible to victims’ families, researchers, and journalists through the CRRJ Burnham-Nobles Archive (BNA). Containing the records of over 1,100 violent incidents, the BNA is centered on record-keeping as accountability for past racial violence and its ongoing effects today.

Burnham-Nobles Reading Room Website Screenshot

The Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project Burnham-Nobles Archive consists of two main parts: a collection of the evidentiary records compiled by law clinic investigators, and a database of information captured from those records, both provided to users on a dedicated website.

As you might imagine, such a larger project requires the work of many. I was hired as Project Archivist in February 2020 to help transition CRRJ’s case records from a collection of individual cases to an aggregation of information from which patterns might emerge—about the victims, circumstances of their deaths, and the justice systems which failed to bring alleged perpetrators to account. Based in the Northeastern University Archives and Special Collections (UASC), I work as the bridge between the legal staff of CRRJ and the staff in the Northeastern University Library. Being part of the UASC allows me to access the expertise of colleagues with experience with other collections and digital processes.

Alongside UASC, many NU library staff are directly involved in bringing the project to life. These include the staffs of Resource and Discovery Services and the Digital Scholarship Group, as well as staff in other departments who have contributed their expertise through consultations.

We began our work by looking backward and forward—what structures and information we have to work with, the collection as it exists in the Digital Repository Service (DRS) and within CRRJ, and what structures of CRRJ’s ongoing work and library structures we can construct which might support the archive in the future.

While we have many tangible successes we can point to, underlying all that we have accomplished is a genuine sense of collaboration and an approach to our work through the lens of CRRJ’s mission of justice and respect for the victims of racially motivated homicide.

New Northeastern Commons Coordinator to Help Develop Online Community

Meg McMahon smilingin front of some plantsEarlier this month, Northeastern University Library welcomed Meg McMahon (they/she) as the inaugural Northeastern Commons Coordinator. In this new position, Meg will work to help shape the Northeastern Commons into a vibrant online community for users across the Northeastern campuses. Northeastern Commons is still in its initial creation stage, so most of Meg’s first months will be working with campus stakeholders to create a roadmap for its creation. To give an idea of what Northeastern Commons might be, here is a small list of its possible functionalities:
  • A platform where professors will be able to create classroom groups and sites for students to collaborate on class projects.
  • A platform where all users will be able to self-create campus interest groups to collaborate on similar research interests across departments and titles, leading to great interdisciplinary research.
  • A platform with a searchable directory of research happening at Northeastern, where if a research interest is searched, a list of people, groups, and articles would be yielded.
Most importantly, Northeastern Commons will be an online hub for students, faculty, researchers, and others to collaborate across the Northeastern Global Campuses while learning together. Meg completed her MS in Information Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in May 2020. There, they worked in multiple library departments, including the research and instruction department, the makerspace, and the user experience department. A unifying thread across her work was collaboration with others on creating programming or services that focused on user/student/research needs. They strongly believe that user experience, critical pedagogy, and accessibility should be a focus when creating any platform in higher education and plan to focus on all three while helping shape the Northeastern Commons. Being a born-and-raised Wisconsinite, Meg went to the University of Wisconsin at Madison and graduate with a BS in Art Education and Communication Arts—Communication Science and Rhetorical Studies. When she is not working, you can find her sewing her own clothes, rating movies on Letterboxd, attempting to roller skate, and shamelessly scrolling through Tiktok.

Music Online Databases Expand Access to Recordings and Scores

Echoes of Love Around the World album cover

Echoes of Love Around the World. Recorded January 1, 2019. ARC, 2019, Streaming Audio.

The Music Online database has long provided access to streaming recordings, scores, and scholarly information from the Jazz Library, Smithsonian Global Sound, Garland Encyclopedia of World Music, and Classical Scores collections. New content has recently been added to this repertoire. You may search each database separately or across the entire Music Online platform.

American Music is a history database that has songs by and about Native Americans, miners, immigrants, slaves, children, pioneers, and cowboys. Included are the songs of the Civil Rights movement, political campaigns, Prohibition, the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, anti-war protests, and more.

Classical Music Library includes more than 76,000 albums from the Medieval period through current times. This database is an excellent complement to the library’s Naxos and Database of Recorded American Music collections.

Classical Scores Library now contains Volumes 2-4, in addition to Volume 1. These scores provide a reliable and authoritative source for scores of the classical canon, as well as a resource for the discovery of lesser-known contemporary works. It includes full, study, piano, and vocal scores.

Contemporary World Music delivers the sounds of all regions from every continent. The database contains important genres such as reggae, worldbeat, neo-traditional world fusion, Balkanic jazz, African film, Bollywood, Arab swing and jazz, and other genres such as traditional music like Indian classical, fado, flamenco, klezmer, zydeco, gospel, gagaku, and more.

Popular Music Library contains a wide range of popular music from around the world, including hundreds of thousands of tracks from major genres in pop music, including alternative, country, electronic, hip-hop, metal, punk, new age, R&B, reggae, rock, soundtracks, and many more.

For more information about other library streaming media collections, check out the Streaming Media guide.

 

Recording At Home Part 2 Workshop Addendum

This workshop, presented on Wednesday, September 23rd, was the second workshop in a series focused on recording high-quality audio in your own home. Besides providing the basic information about the hardware and software required for recording audio, the motivation behind this workshop was to provide an effective framework for building one’s toolkit of audio recording equipment, with financial responsibility in mind.

Those who record their projects at home are most likely doing so out of necessity rather than choice. This is because recording in an untreated home is always less preferable to recording in a professional studio, even if for no other reason than concerns for acoustic quality. This also means that finances are very likely a concern when choosing what resources to buy/use for recording an audio project. The first thing one should consider when deciding which pieces of audio equipment (hardware or software) to invest in is the needs of the artist creating the project (or your own needs, if you are the artist). This will help determine which parts of a recording setup are most important to you, and therefore which pieces to invest the most money into.

For example, if you plan to do a lot of recording with vocals or acoustic instruments, it would be most wise to spend less (or no) money on things like a premium DAW (digital audio workstation) or third-party plugins. These software elements of a recording setup have no effect on the inherent quality of the audio that is being recorded. This would allow you to invest more of your budget into a high quality microphone and preamp combo, to ensure the captured audio is as clean as it can be. However, if you make most of your music using samples, electronic instruments, or recorded sounds to be edited, then the previously suggested scenario doesn’t make much sense for you. Instead, you would likely be much happier with a simple and inexpensive USB microphone, which eliminates the need for a preamp. This would allow you to instead invest into a premium DAW like Ableton, along with some third-party samplers, sample packs, MIDI peripherals, or other virtual add-ons to expand your electronic music toolkit.

Hopefully, this workshop as given those who are recording at home a more clear picture of which pieces of equipment are most important for their needs. This should help achieve high quality and also minimal cost for recording audio, regardless of the format or intended outcome.

Check here for info on future workshops:

Digital Media Toolkit: Workshops