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Cat in the Stax: Answering All Your Study Questions

By Ethan Shea

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It might seem like the semester just began, but believe it or not, in just a couple weeks it will be time for midterm exams. Luckily, that also means Fall Break will be at our doorstep in no time.

I hope everyone’s had the chance to get into the rhythm of their new daily routines. If so, we can all take advantage of this relatively calm time of the semester and prepare for the trials to come. One habit that’s crucial to surviving midterms is a productive study routine. At least for me, when it comes to lining up my idiosyncratic study tendencies neatly in a row, I’m always left with questions and concerns.

In general, I can never decide how I want to study. Where should I be studying? Should I be listening to music? What time is best to study?

For this week’s “Cat in the Stax” I decided to answer these questions once and for all. I hope you’re able to use the answers I found to improve your academic experience here at Villanova. Enjoy!

Does listening to music help or hurt study sessions?

A study carried out by the University of Wollongong in Australia concluded that the answer to this question depends on the music you’re listening to. Because music tends to reduce stress, students will be more likely to buckle down and focus with greater intensity when aurally occupied. This revelation disproved the complex theory that classical music stimulates specific parts of the human brain that make studying more efficient. Contrarily, just about any instrumental music can help you study if it improves your mood. Songs with lyrics tend to make reading comprehension a bit more difficult, so if possible, stay away from vocal performances.

Where is the best place to study?

At the risk of sounding a bit biased, I’ll posit that all the best places to study are located right here in Falvey Library, but I’m not just saying that because this is a Falvey blog. In fact, I’ve got science to back me up. The ability to retain information and concentration levels are increased when studying in new locations. Being in the same place over and over again does not stimulate the brain to the greatest possible extent in the same way that focusing on one subject for too long can lead to burnout. Studying in an area with very few distractions and relative quietude is also important to learning efficiently. Stimulation overload prevents you from focusing intently on anything because your focus spreads too thin.

Thankfully, Falvey Library has plenty of quiet spaces, such as Third and Fourth Floor Stacks in addition to the Reading Room. There are also many different places to study in Falvey, so you can try a new one everyday without rendering your mind weary!

When is the best time to study?

Odd as it may seem, research has shown that studying when you’re tired is actually helpful. For example, if you study right before bed, your brain will essentially be reviewing the material in your sleep, causing the information to soak in a bit deeper. On the other hand, studying after a workout session has its benefits as well. Because of the increased flow of oxygen and blood that exercise causes, our brains get neurological boosts immediately after exercise. With that being said, feel free to take a jog over to Falvey Memorial Library when it’s time to hit the books!


Headshot of Ethan SheaEthan Shea is a first-year English Graduate Student at Villanova University and Graduate Assistant at Falvey Memorial Library.


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Cat in the Stax: What are you listening to?

By Ethan Shea

"man listening to music in headphones while reading"

Here at Falvey Memorial Library, we certainly emphasize the importance of reading. Film is also given a fair amount of attention, especially when a beloved book is adapted to the screen.

In fact, Falvey’s “Flick or Flip” series is dedicated to discussing exactly that. The art form that isn’t mentioned quite as much in literary circles is music, and personally, music is something I couldn’t do without for even one day. Whether I’m driving, studying, exercising, or just hanging out, I almost always have music playing.

I realized I may have gone a bit overboard with my listening habits when Spotify notified me back in 2017 that I had listened to a total of 108,455 minutes of music that year, which according to my calculations is over 75 days of constant music consumption. Keep in mind that these stats only include time spent listening to a single streaming platform.

I’ve since re-evaluated my admittedly excessive level of music consumption. Nevertheless, I stand by my belief that music is an indispensable art that can not only increase your productivity but bring countless hours of pleasure. On that note, here are a few albums released this year that I’ve been listening to.

"Album cover of the album 'Mood Valiant" by Hiatus Kaiyote"

“Mood Valiant” album cover

Mood Valiant – Hiatus Kaiyote

Hiatus Kaiyote is a group based in Melbourne that manages to pop up more often than you may think. Even if you have not heard the name of this band, you may have heard their music sampled by superstars such as Drake, Kendrick Lamar, and Anderson .Paak. Their most recent release, Mood Valiant, stays true to their self-acclaimed “genre-fluid” style. This album’s neo-soul influence creates a groovy blend of natural sound that often feels like it was recorded by Mother Nature herself.

With song titles such as Flight of the Tiger LilyRose Water, and Stone and Lavender, the group is not shy about how they are influenced by the natural world and indigenous aboriginal imagery. My favorite track on this record is And We Go Gentle. I just can’t get enough of the lush, layered vocals and catchy bass line. This album’s relationship with nature is the reason why I believe this album is best listened to outdoors, so grab a pair of headphones and take a walk around campus while you soak in the tight 42-minute tracklist of Mood Valiant.

CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST – Tyler, the Creator

"Album cover of 'CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST' by Tyler, the Creator"

“CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST” album cover

Fortunately for his fans, the LA based rapper, producer, and fashion designer (amongst many other titles) known as Tyler, the Creator, releases an album every two years like clockwork. Tyler’s been on a hot streak for a while now, and CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST is no exception.

Tyler takes on yet another persona in this album. This time he calls himself Tyler Baudelaire, a man of class and exquisite taste who enjoys eating brioche in France and traveling in luxury cars across Europe. The theme of travel is present in this record from front to back. Admittedly, this thematic choice is rather odd given the fact that we’re in the middle of an ongoing pandemic, but I’ll allow the fictional Tyler Baudelaire to do as he pleases. The narrative of a messy love triangle that appears here and there throughout the record culminates on the track WILSHIRE, a spacey track that gives Tyler room to speak from the heart for over eight minutes.

My personal favorite, SWEET/I THOUGHT YOU WANTED TO DANCE, is two songs in one and blends smooth, soulful rap with bossa nova. Given the number of upbeat tunes on this record, I’d recommend playing this album at a party to give some life to the function.

"Album cover of 'The Turning Wheel' by Spellling"

“The Turning Wheel” album cover

The Turning Wheel – Spellling

The Turning Wheel is the first Spellling album I’ve listened to, and unfortunately, I have to admit that I never would have discovered the multitalented purveyor of progressive pop if it wasn’t for the famous internet critic Anthony Fantano giving her album a 10/10.

From the very beginning, in the opening track Little Deer, it is clear listeners are in for something special. Among an ensemble of strings and dreamy chimes, Spellling’s vocal performance is moving yet playful. My favorite song off The Turning Wheel, the 7 and a half minute track Boys at School, builds itself up with spiraling electric guitar riffs and eventually gives anxious audiences a breath of release with a triumphant bridge that makes use of a powerful horn section. This album is something you have to let marinate to fully appreciate, which is why I enjoy listening to it during long car rides.

Sling – Clairo

"Album cover of 'Sling' by Clairo"

“Sling” album cover

The second full-length album from Clairo, the 22-year-old songwriter who rose to fame after her single Pretty Girl went viral in 2017, is good news for her fans, as she stays true to her indie, bedroom pop roots while growing as a writer and vocalist alike. There is a healthy amount of folk influence in this album, which is especially apparent in the track Reaper. This track’s soothing guitar melody accompanies Clairo’s subtle and emotive voice. My personal favorite track, Amoeba, is in my opinion, the most danceable song on the record. I love the keys that are reminiscent of a ’70s funk song, and the flow of Clairo’s lyrics are unbelievably catchy. Because most of this album is relatively low-key, I’ve loved listening to it while studying. It can also set the tone for a relaxing night of playing board games with friends.

Now that I’ve shared a few recent releases I’ve been enjoying, it’s important to note that reading and music are not mutually exclusive. There is an entire section of Falvey’s subject guide dedicated to music, which can be found here, so rest assured that Falvey Library will have the answers to all your tuneful questions!

Feel free to share what you’ve been listening to lately in the comments below. I’m always looking for recommendations!


Headshot of Ethan SheaEthan Shea is a first-year English Graduate Student at Villanova University and Graduate Assistant at Falvey Memorial Library.

 


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Hark! The Falvey Staffers Sing!

By Shawn Proctor

 

staff singing at christmas party

Falvey staff members Brian Warren, Library Technology Developer, and John Banionis, Metrics and Assessment Librarian, part of the Faculty/Staff Choir at Villanova, raised the spirits of all in attendance of the University’s staff Christmas Party.

 


Shawn Proctor

Shawn Proctor, MFA, is the Communication and Marketing Program Manager at Falvey Memorial Library.


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Kallie’s Chords: The Mamas and the Papas


Celebrating Father’s Day, the latest installment of Kallie’s Chords features tracks celebrating the bond between parent and child. Check out the playlist above for father-daughter songs, father-son tunes, and melodies that capture the joys of parenthood. Happy Father’s Day to all the ‘Nova Nation Dads!

Kallie Stahl, MA ’17 CLAS, is communication and marketing specialist at Falvey Memorial Library. Her father ends every text message with the signature “From Dad.”

 


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Sean-nós singing in the Digital Library

Philadelphia Ceili GroupSean-nós (Irish for “the old way”) is a traditional style of unaccompanied singing native to Ireland. The Philadelphia Ceili Group audio collection in the Villanova University Digital Library contains a wealth of information and beautifully performed examples of this interesting and unique element of Irish culture.

Here is an introductory explanation of the craft by Irish musician and musicologist Mick Moloney, from an Irish Songs Workshop at the 3rd Annual Irish Traditional Music, Song and Dance Festival, held in Philadelphia in September 1977:

http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:305692

Mick Moloney, Johnny Moynihan, and Andy O’Brien are just a few of the prominent Irish artists who can be heard on recordings in the Philadelphia Ceili Group collection singing songs in the Sean-nós style. Try searching the Digital Library by subject on the term Sean-nós, and you will find a wealth of significant tracks available for streaming.

For a real treat, check out this incredible concert-length performance by traditional Irish singer Paddy Phelan, recorded at an event sponsored by the Philadelphia Ceili Group on March 6, 1992:

http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:347704

Enjoy!


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A Challenge to Irish Music Aficionados

Calling all Irish music enthusiasts, here is a challenge for you!

PORTAL_CEILIThe archive of traditional Irish music in the Philadelphia Ceili Group collection in Villanova University’s Digital Library is growing steadily, now featuring over 200 recordings of Irish jigs, reels, and other tunes from performances at the annual Philadelphia Ceili Group Traditional Irish Music and Dance Festival.

Growing alongside this list is….the list of unidentified titles. Listen to this excerpt of a 1977 performance by the group DeDanann, in which the title is obscured:

“We’re going to start with two jigs, the first is called ‘The Munster Buttermilk’, and the second is called….” (Huh?!)

Kudos to anyone who can discern the title of the second jig!

Even better, if you are able to listen to that jig and identify the tune by ear, here is a further challenge for you….

Check out this search of the Digital Library.

All of these recordings contain pieces unidentified by their performers. Can you help to name these tunes?

Please send any information to stephen.spatz@villanova.edu. Thank you!


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Help Solve A Special Collections Musical Mystery

Posted for Lisa Abra McColl, Digital Library Intern, Fall 2012

 

The first thing that struck me about the papers that were being pulled out of a pile from the special collections department was the artwork. Shapes with gold and silver metallic color, green leaves, and an orange face all decorated the first pages of each of the three thin booklets.

Zangetsu Azuma-Jishi Unknown

The second thing that struck me was the Japanese writing on the front cover. The third came when I opened it. This was sheet music. My task was to find out what this music is: who is the composer, what instrument is it written for, what is the name of it? Confident that my music background would guide me through this task I set out to find the answers.

Weeks later, having played the melodies on my clarinet, searched for the melody in Musipedia, and in ultimate desperation, tried the Japan Goggles app to read some of the writing, and gotten nowhere, I knew I needed human intervention.

A former clarinet student of mine, now living in Japan answered my call for help on Facebook. These three pieces are traditional Japanese music that were arranged by a man named Tozan Nakao (1876-1955), a famous Japanese shakuhachi player. The shakuhachi is a wooden instrument similar to the western flute. The first piece, Zangetsu (the moon seen in the morning), has a publication date of 1906 and the second, Azuma-Jishi, has a 1907 date on it.

I could still use more information. Were these pieces intended to be played by the shakuhachi, or by a stringed instrument as some of the bowing markings seem to indicate? What is the meaning of “Azuma-Jishi”? What is the title of the third piece? Is there any reason that Guillame de Machaut, a 14th century French composer, should be penciled on the back of the last piece? How did this music come to be part of the special collections at Villanova? After viewing this music in the Villanova Digital Libraries World Collection, please contact me or leave a comment if you have answers to any of these questions, or something to add about the music. Feel free to email me at lisa[dot]abra[dot]mccoll[at]gmail[dot]com.

Listen to a performance of Azuma-Jishi:


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Last Modified: October 25, 2012