Month: May 2021

Meet the Problem Solvers: Anne Adams, Senior Music Cataloger

Anne Adams is the senior music cataloger at Loeb Music, now in her 6th year here.  She holds advanced degrees in voice performance, music theory, and library science, as well as undergraduate degrees in German and English.  Before becoming a librarian, she taught voice at St. Olaf College, and she continues to work as a freelance translator (German to English). She and her three kids live in Belmont, Mass. 

Senior Music Cataloger Anne Adams is posed with a green-leaved tree behind her. She is wearing a black pantsuit with an I Voted Today sticker on the lapel.

Anne Adams

What does a music cataloger do?

I am responsible for creating or enhancing MARC records for all formats except books and finding aids. That means, basically, that I describe materials so that people can find them. How I do that  depends on what people are looking for. For regular collections I include pretty basic bibliographic information: composer, title, publisher, contents, etc. For rare materials, though, I’ll add much more information, including information on binding, paper type, provenance (who owned it), watermarks, that sort of thing, since many researchers are looking for this information. So description is a large part of what I do, but I also work on a lot of projects like database clean-up and a wide variety of metadata policy. And I communicate with music catalogers around Harvard to make sure we’re all on the same page about changes to the field. 

What’s your favorite thing about the Music Library?

The people. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an amazing collection. It never ceases to amaze me that if I’m looking for information in a resource, I can almost always find it on our shelves. But I think the people are the incredible thing about the Library. I’m always so impressed that people have this deep and varied background in music. We all bring something to the table that is unique and yet we have this shared language, love, and commitment to music. 

Plus, I love all the back doors and secret passageways in the building!

What’s a notable (interesting/challenging/unusual) project that you’ve worked on lately?

In the last year I haven’t had many actual things in my hands which is frustrating. I love to smell and hold and look at rare materials. But I did a big batch project that I designed from start to finish, which was, in a very geeky way, really fun. We had about seven thousand records for recordings that were preliminary: the materials had never been fully cataloged. I figured out how to overlay better records for about 4500 of them. It took me a long time and I had to teach myself several different applications,  like OpenRefine and Microsoft Access, but it was really fun. I likely wouldn’t have had the time to concentrate on this if it hadn’t been for the pandemic. This kind of project really appeals to to the crossword puzzle-solving part of me. 

What resource or service do you wish more people knew about?

The deep deep knowledge that all of the Music Library staff bring to their work. Josh has an amazing knowledge of jazz and popular music. Peter has an amazing love of all different types of music. Lingwei wrote a book about Lei Liang. Sandi-Jo is an amazing cellist. And I could go on… You just keep bumping into people here who have such amazing gifts.

What’s your mundane superpower? 

I make the world’s best cinnamon rolls, so I’m told.

Hudeidi, the Somali “King of Oud”: Celebrating a Musical Life Claimed by COVID-19

Spring 2021 marks the one year anniversary of Ahmed Ismail Hussein Hudeidi’s death as a result of complications from COVID-19. Since that time, the world has lost over three million people to the virus.  Hudeidi can be heard throughout the Archive of World Music’s Somali Songs Collection of approximately 500 audiocassettes comprising a range of popular music from the 1950s-1990s.

Who was Hudeidi?

A man dressed in a suit holding a lute.

Ahmed Ismail Hussein Hudeidi (1928-2020). Image courtesy BBC World Africa, 2020.

Born in Somalia in 1928, Hudeidi spent a significant portion of his childhood in Yemen. It was here that he learned to play the Arab lute known as the oud, or kaman/kaban in Somali, a type of short-necked plucked chordophone that is ubiquitous in music of the Middle East, North Africa, and Turkey (MENAT). Although symbolically tied to the MENAT, the oud is an important instrument in myriad genres and styles throughout the world, especially in Muslim societies such as Somalia.

When Hudeidi came of age, he moved back to Somalia and also spent time in Djibouti where he sometimes clashed with authorities for singing political songs. He made significant contributions to genres of hees, or Somali sung poetry. His boldness and virtuosity made him well-known amongst Somali musicians and audiences. Throughout his career, he accompanied some of Somalia’s most famous vocalists, such as Magool and Sara Ahmed, and worked alongside other lauded oud players, such as Omar Dhule, and composers such as Abdullahi Qarshe.  Here is a video of Hudeidi and Qarshe together in a Somali television interview, which concludes with a performance by the oud master:

One of Hudeidi’s most famous compositions was a song he wrote for his brother:

Uur Hooyo (Mother’s Womb) (AWM SC 12263)

(translation by linguist Martin Orvin, SOAS 2012).

Mother’s Womb

You, the abundant light

That my eyes graze on

Do not take me lightly

You who shared My mother’s womb

You born of my father’s back

Who shared the breast

We weaned from the same I shall never forget you… 

Qaraami (Love Songs)

Hudeidi is one of the most revered accompanists of qaraami (love songs), which form a large portion of the AWM’s Somali Songs Collection. The above song exemplifies the broad nature of the “love” theme in such music, which can include love of family, nature, or Allah (God), in addition to romantic love.

Celebrated and active until his death, Hudeidi collaborated with contemporary artists in traditional and hybrid genres throughout the world and in his London home, where he settled later in life.  One notable collaboration was with Aar Maanta, the British-Somali singer who reimagined Hudeidi’s famous song mentioned above, Uur Hooyo:

Music Across the Indian Ocean

Hudeidi’s work exemplifies the cross-cultural fusion resulting from centuries of trade relationships between Muslim societies connected by the Indian Ocean, an “Afro-Asiatic seascape” comprising “the Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal [that] is framed by Madagascar, the Horn of Africa, the Indian subcontinent, the Southeast Asian archipelago, and Australia” (Byl and Sykes 2020:395).

Map with red lines indicating connection between countries over ocean.

Map of Indian Ocean trade network   (Szczepanski 2019)

Having spent a significant portion of his early years in Yemen, Hudeidi learned the fundamentals of the Arabic melodic modal system, known as maqamat, which he applied to Somali genres and carried with him in his world travels. Although many Somali oud players adopted elements of Arabic maqamat and taqasim (solo melodic improvisation) in the development of Somali genres, Hudeidi studied these elements extensively during his time living in the Yemeni port city of Aden.

In his adult life, he was as much a teacher as performer, known for offering  musical instruction, often free of charge, to students from around the world.  His home in London was known as an “informal music school” where he offered lessons, strong Yemeni coffee, and “a bed to anyone who needed it” (BBC World Africa, 2020).

In 2003, Hudeidi was interviewed by BBC London. In one of the few English language interviews available of the musician, he describes his love of the oud:

In honor of Hudeidi, below is a playlist of qaraami songs from AWM Somali Songs Collection. We suggest you enjoy with some strong coffee. For more on the wider collection, see this previous blog post.

(Each track contains the link to the song in the Archive of World Music and another YouTube video version.)

Contributed by: Joe Kinzer, Senior Curatorial Assistant @ Archive of World Music

 

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