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The Medieval Apocalyptic Tradition: From the Twilight of the Roman Empire to the Dawn of Early Modern Europe (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2022))

The Medieval Apocalyptic Tradition: From the Twilight of the Roman Empire to the Dawn of Early Modern Europe

Edited by Lorenzo DiTommaso and Colin McAllister
Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2022

The correspondence among the apocalyptic texts of eastern Christianity, western Christianity, Judaism, and Islam during the “mediaeval millennium” (late fourth/fifth to fifteenth centuries) is so great in terms of its geographic extent and historical persistence that we can identify a “common mediaeval apocalyptic tradition” that transcended region, language, culture, religion, and social class.

The ubiquity of this common apocalyptic tradition was such that it may be regarded as an essential part of what defines the “mediaeval millennium” and the many societies that constituted it. We may detect two phases in its history: i) its genesis, spread, and zenith from the end of late antiquity to the twelfth century; and ii) its subsequent evolution, fragmentation, and dissolution, to the Reformation.

The model of the common mediaeval apocalyptic tradition explains the basic homogeneity of the texts, their literary features, and the high degree of correspondence in mediaeval apocalyptic speculation as it is represented across the totality of the evidence. It also suggests convincing explanations for the appearance of the tradition first in Christianity, and later in Judaism, Islam, and Zoroastrianism, as well its gradual dissolution in the late Middle Ages and into the Renaissance. The reasons for this dissolution are fundamental to understanding the seismic changes in the West that, among other things, resulted in the formation of the nation-states of Europe.

These two explanatory functions inform the purposes of this volume. Contributions will features studies that describe the contours of the common medieval apocalyptic tradition with attention to the “big questions” and special reference to case studies where apocalyptic texts, traditions, and themes crossed boundaries.

In its scope, functions, and purposes, the volume fits well with recent or emergent trends in scholarship, including:

•the rediscovery of the Middle Ages as a distinctive period and cultural entity (while recognizing its antecedents and diversity), and with it,

•the centrality of apocalyptic speculation throughout the mediaeval millennium;

•the shift in the focus of the investigation, from one that prioritizes issues regarding the origins of texts and ideas to one that seeks to explain their transmission, reception, and local adaptation;

•the recognition of the complicated networks of cross-cultural transmission of information throughout the mediaeval millennium, around the Mediterranean basin, along the Atlantic coastline, and across the Silk Road, which must be filtered in light of

•a reassessment of the processes of cultural diffusion, from a “high-culture” model to one that admits multiple avenues of transmission (social class, different media, and varieties of literary types and audiences);

•a renewed interest in the phenomenon of group identity – its nature, formation, and social functions – which, in part, reflects current, real-world trends towards ethnic-based nationalism that have led to;

•a similarly renewed interest in the origins of European nation-states and the emergence of “national identity” during the late Middle Ages.

The primary goal of this volume is to present a new model of mediaeval apocalypticism, considered in its panoramic sense. Much of the evidence that supports this model is not new. What is new is the interpretation, which allows us to see more clearly what the evidence suggests, comprehending mediaeval apocalypticism in its totality and in light of current scholarly currents and research attitudes. What is also new is the presentation of the model and its evidence in a comprehensive volume like this.

For this reason, and also on account of the breadth of its articles and the quality of its contributing authors, we anticipate that our volume will become a benchmark study and the starting-point for all future research on the subject of apocalyptic speculation in the mediaeval millennium.

Dies Irae, Dies Illa: Music in the Apocalyptic Mode (Brill, forthcoming 2021)

Dies Irae, Dies Illa: Music in the Apocalyptic Mode

Edited by Lorenzo DiTommaso and Colin McAllister
Brill, forthcoming 2021

This volume explores music “in the apocalyptic mode,” from the late Middle Ages to the present day, with a strong emphasis on the interplay between music and text. Although studies on specific apocalyptic musical works are not unknown, dedicated volumes on the subject are rare, and inevitably focus narrowly on contemporary popular music. None, to our knowledge, examines the often profound dialogue between the musical and lyrical elements of a work.

Our volume seeks to address these oversights. It features fifteen original papers that investigate the major expressions of apocalyptic words and music from the historical, thematic, musicological, and performative standpoints. Our volume will not (and cannot) be exhaustive – it is not an encyclopedia. But an international group of superb contributors will cover the topic coherently and in full dialogue with current research and methodologies. The result is a volume that will serve as a go-to textbook for university courses, an authoritative resource for scholars, and the starting point for future research.

Cambridge Gloss on the Apocalypse

The Cambridge Gloss on the Apocalypse

Introduction, translation and notes by Colin L. McAllister
(Brepols Press, Corpus Christianorum in Translation, 2020)

The Glossa in Apocalypsin (Cambridge Gloss on the Apocalypse) is a recently-discovered anonymous Hiberno-Latin (that is, authored by an Irish cleric writing in Latin) commentary on the Apocalypse of John found in a tenth-century manuscript at Cambridge University Library. This gloss is written in a similar style to other Irish-authored exegetical texts of the same period. That is, the author proceeds verse by verse through the entire Apocalypse, citing short phrases or even single words of the biblical text, followed by brief explanations that serve to clarify meaning and are often moral or allegorical in nature, as well as offering alternative interpretations of a given passage. The text has a marked dependence on the hermeneutical method of the fourth-century Donatist Tyconius as laid out in his Liber Regularum (Book of Rules), and applied in his Exposition on the Apocalypse. The Cambridge Gloss promotes an ecclesiological and spiritual interpretation of the Apocalypse, muting speculation about an imminent endtime scenario. The gloss contains numerous references to heretics, emphasises the hierarchy and the privileged role of teachers within the church, and likely dates from the eighth century, the ‘Northumbrian Golden Age’, exemplified by the works of Bede the Venerable and Alcuin of York. This English translation (accompanied by numerous notes) is intended to give readers an insight into understanding the viewpoint that medieval exegetes held in explaining the Apocalypse of John.

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Playing Guitar Like a Pro: Lead, Solo, and Group Performance

Playing Guitar Like a Pro: Lead, Solo, and Group Performance

with Colin McAllister
The Great Courses, 2018

Musicians have been performing for the public since time immemorial, inspiring people all over the world with their creativity, knowledge of theory, and subtle nuances that set them apart from the crowd. Embark on a wondrous trek around the world, through time, and into the hottest musical scenes in the last 100 years as you open your eyes and ears to the magic of playing guitar like a master.

This course provides a treasure trove of knowledge for both the guitarist and the music enthusiast who’s never picked up an axe. Dive in and learn the storied history of this diverse catalog of virtuosos onstage and off. Unearth the secrets of some of the world’s most influential rockers, including Eric Clapton and David Gilmour; then bone up on jazz pioneers like Django Reinhardt and Antonio Carlos Jobim. From the origins of bluegrass to the rich sounds of Joni Mitchell, explore over a century of music from artists spanning the globe. Whether you are a musician looking to play like the greats or a music fan wanting to enrich your experience of favorite performers and songs, you will treasure the experience of Playing Guitar like a Pro, and you’ll hear your favorite bands in a whole new light.

Hone Your Guitar Skills
No matter your preferred genre or skill level, Dr. McAllister has you covered. Adopt intermediate-level techniques like right-hand arpeggios, crosspicking, slurring, funk-style chord strumming, and slapping harmonics, and improvise them over the provided backing music tracks to truly make them your own. This course hands you a substantial toolbox full of ways to improve your rehearsals, live shows, and in-studio recordings.
As he walks you through each of the vital performing techniques in the course, Dr. McAllister makes use of several learning methods to ensure that you absorb everything you need to for improving your instrumentation. Throughout the course, for the hands-on or audiovisual-based learner (as many guitarists are), he performs on his guitar alone and with his band for a thorough demonstration of technique. Then, after showing you how it’s done, he provides backing music tracks in each lesson so you can practice what you have learned with the band! Further, Dr. McAllister explains every technique and playing style as you learn them, accompanied by onscreen notation and tablature.

Play like the Rock Stars
Dr. McAllister centers each lesson on one or two specific guitarists who excel at specific techniques—and you can choose which ones you want to master, and in what order. These real-world examples show the successful application of each discussion, inspiring you to apply the techniques that made the greats so great. The featured guitarists include dozens of well-known names whose trademark sounds are ripe for the picking.
A few of these include:

• Eddie Van Halen’s lightning-fast, two-handed tapping adds flair to any rock, metal, or even jazz solo. Conquer it for yourself and learn about KISS’s Gene Simmons scouting Eddie and his band at a nightclub in the 1970s.
• David Gilmour of Pink Floyd specializes in string bending. Sometimes he bends his string slowly, lending a bluesy and ethereal quality to his parts; other times he does so quickly, using vibrato to liven up otherwise monotone sections of solos. Acquire this strategy and you’ll improve your solo game faster than you can say, “We don’t need no education.”
• Wes Montgomery was widely known throughout the jazz circuit for his octave-based melodies and his odd habit of hitting the strings exclusively with his right thumb, earning him a distinct sound that’s yours for the taking.
• Celedonio Romero will inspire you to infuse classical influence into your musical arsenal—Dr. McAllister studied with Romero’s sons when he attended the University of California, San Diego. With techniques like rasgueado (using your fingernails to strum), and pizzicato (in which you rest the outer edge of your right hand on the strings and pluck with your thumb), your playing will overflow with texture and sophistication.

Each genre of music represented in Playing Guitar like a Proalso benefits from multiple subgenres explored throughout the course, which complement each other nicely and help widen your range. If the older jazz stylings of Wes Montgomery and Django Reinhardt aren’t enough, then you may appreciate the contemporary sounds of John McLaughlin’s jazz fusion and Pat Metheny’s technical jazz-blues combinations. Similar examples follow for rock, classical, and folk.

Radically Grow Your Music Appreciation
Did you know that Eric Clapton’s practice of simultaneously playing both lead and rhythm guitar parts mixed together was inspired by Jimi Hendrix? After Hendrix sat in with Clapton’s band Cream at a show in London in 1966, Clapton practiced to learn the amazing technique for himself. While Eric Clapton’s most obvious influences may have come from early 1900s Chicago and Delta bluesmen, after hearing the details of this story from Dr. McAllister, will you ever watch his landmark MTV Unplugged concert the same way again?

Often, knowing what went into the writing, recording, or performance of a song changes how we listen to it or what we hear when it plays. While you may or may not relate to the technical and performance-based stories, the history and context for your favorite musicians and songs will open your eyes to a whole new level of appreciation. The disciplines perfected by these legends become easy to notice in their own—and other bands’—songs.

Aside from the techniques themselves, Playing Guitar like a Proalso offers stories similar to that of Clapton and Hendrix for virtually every musician studied . Learning about these skills trains our ears to hear music in a way most of us are unfamiliar with. Connect the Grammy-winning song “The Girl from Ipanema” with its Brazilian jazz and samba origins, then listen to it again and understand why it is one of the most important songs of the early 1960s bossa nova movement. Or, explore the sounds of Rush, who have been called “The Canadian Led Zeppelin.” The changing time signatures and power arpeggios commonly used by their guitarist Alex Lifeson influenced future generations of progressive-rock groups.

You’ll also discover why certain musicians are so distinct and recognizable that you will know a song by them before they start to sing. For example, Dr. McAllister reveals why only Eric Clapton sounds like Eric Clapton, why Wes Montgomery’s recording of a song is impossible to mistake for anyone else’s, and why you can pick a Pink Floyd guitar solo out of a lineup—even if you haven’t put on one of their records since Nixon was in office. This enlightening course reveals the mysteries of professional guitar for performers, but it also evolves the listening ear of anyone who experiences it. Fortunately, refining our ears and brains with the understanding of this beautiful art form never ruins the special relationship we have with our record collections and six-string heroes. Contrary to learning how your favorite magician does his or her tricks, this peek behind the curtain is as enriching as it is rewarding. If you’ve ever wanted to go back and hear your favorite song again for the first time, this is your chance.

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The Cambridge Companion to Apocalyptic Literature

The Cambridge Companion to Apocalyptic Literature

Edited by Colin McAllister
Cambridge University Press, 2020

Abstract: Jewish and Christian apocalypses have captivated theologians, writers, artists, and the general public for centuries, and have had a profound influence on world history from their initial production by persecuted Jews during the second century BCE, to the birth of Christianity—through the demise of the Western Roman Empire and the medieval period, and continuing into modernity. Far from being an outlier concern, or an academic one that may be relegated to the dustbin of history, apocalyptic thinking is ubiquitous and continues to inform nearly all aspects of modern-day life. It addresses universal human concerns: the search for identity and belonging, speculation about the future, and (for some) a blueprint that provides meaning and structure to a seemingly chaotic world. The Cambridge Companion to Apocalyptic Literature brings together a field of leading experts to provide a comprehensive overview of the subject.

Table of Contents

1. Through a Glass Darkly: Time, the End, and the Essence of Apocalyptica (Colin McAllister, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs)
2. Apocalypticism as a Worldview in Ancient Judaism and Christianity (John J. Collins, Yale Divinity School)
3. Introduction to the Book of Revelation (Ian Paul, University of Nottingham)
4. The Gnostic Apocalypses (Dylan M. Burns, Free University of Berlin)
5. Exegeting the Apocalypse with the Donatist Communion (Jesse Hoover, Baylor University)
6. Tests of Faith, Rebirth out of Corruption, or Endless Cycles of Regeneration: Experiments in the Restoration of the Late Roman Empire (Brian Duvick, University
of Colorado, Colorado Springs)
7. Latin Reception of the Apocalypse in the Early Middle Ages (E. Ann Matter, University of Pennsylvania)
8. Exegesis of the Apocalypse in the Tenth Century (Francis X. Gumerlock, Colorado College)
9. The End of the World at the Ends of the Earth: Apocalyptic Thought in Medieval
Ireland (John Carey, University College, Cork)
10. Byzantine Apocalyptic Literature (András Kraft, Princeton University)
11. Joachim of Fiore and the Apocalyptic Revival of the Twelfth Century (Brett Edward Whalen, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill)
12. Apocalyptic Sensibility in Renaissance Europe (Ian Boxall, Catholic University
of America)
13. “Pride & Vanity of the imagination, That disdains to follow this World’s Fashion:” Apocalypticism in the Age of Reason (Christopher Rowland, Queen’s College, University of Oxford)
14. The Formation of Antichrist in Medieval Western Christian Thought (Kevin Hughes,
Villanova University)
15. From Jerusalem to Dabiq: Trajectories of Contemporary Salafi-jihadi Apocalypticism (David Cook, Rice University)
16. American Evangelicals and the Apocalypse (Daniel G. Hummel, University of Wisconsin, Madison)
17. Apocalypticism in the Contemporary World (Lorenzo DiTommaso, Concordia University Montréal)

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Learning to Play Guitar: Chords, Scales, and Solos

Learning to Play Guitar: Chords, Scales, and Solos

with Colin McAllister
The Great Courses, 2017

Brilliantly designed so you can learn from the ground up, Learning to Play Guitar: Chords, Scales, and Solos is a unique and effective way to rapidly access one of the most meaningful, enjoyable, and satisfying forms of self expression. You don’t need to know how to read a note when you start this course, but even if you do, you’ll quickly gain new techniques, knowledge, and understanding.
The highly original modular format of this course is designed to immediately get you from learning to playing. Each of the 24-lectures begins with an engaging historical narrative, or personal story, and then dives right in with five modular units of instruction:

-Technique: Learn the correct way to hold the guitar, how to move naturally around the instrument, and all of the core skills of guitar playing, from left hand fingering and shifting to right hand strumming, finger picking, and pick playing.

-Musicianship and Note Reading: Learn how to read three kinds of musical notation, and discover that reading music is actually quite simple if you learn it in short, easy steps; grasp how to play and read rhythms, and develop the ability to play by ear.

-Chords: Discover how to play a wide range of basic chords – the harmonic building blocks of music and the musical foundation under a melody; study chord theory, and the fundamentals of musical structure.

-Scales and Melodic Patterns: Study the fundamental scales for guitar – another vital building block of guitar playing – as well as guitar melodic patterns or “licks,” tools that give you the ability to play lead guitar lines and melodies.

-Putting it All Together: From the very first lesson, put together what you’ve learned in real guitar tunes and pieces, covering a variety of different musical styles. Each lesson is capped off with a song that puts all the material to use.

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Peter Scott Lewis – The Four Cycles

The Four Cycles

Peter Scott Lewis
Naxos-American Classics, 2016


“The music of San Francisco composer Peter Scott Lewis combines ingratiating surfaces – strong boned tonal harmonies and melodic gracefulness – with secure structural underpinnings that keep everything logically in place. The results come through handsomely in the compilation of four song cycles of various hues and scales, all of them performed with delicacy and vigor. But the tiny, sparkling gem here is “Three Songs from Ish River,” a gorgeous and maddeningly brief triptych delivered superbly by Soprano Susan Narucki and guitarist Colin McAllister. It’s painful to arrive so quickly at the end.”

-Joshua Kosman (San Francisco Chronicle)

“The versatile, accomplished Soprano Susan Narucki and dexterous guitarist Colin McAllister perform all three songs smoothly and persuasively.”

-Joshua Rosenblum (Opera News)
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Full Circle – NOISE Plays the Music of Stuart Saunders Smith (Centaur Records Inc., 2017)

Full Circle – NOISE Plays the Music of Stuart Saunders Smith

Centaur Records Inc., 2017

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NOISE Plays Burtner

NOISE Plays Burtner

Matthew Burtner
Innova Records, 2013

For over a decade, Alaskan composer Matthew Burtner has worked independently with both the San-Diego-based ensemble NOISE and St. Paul’s Innova Recordings. Now all three have joined forces to release NOISE Plays Burtner, the first published collection of his chamber music, and an album that bears the fruit of these collaborations: three substantial compositions that each explore a unique approach to noise in Burtner’s evocative and thoughtful music.

Burtner’s interest in the whole world of sound originated from his childhood experience growing up in Alaska where the snow, wind and sea create a ceaseless soundscape. This texture finds voice in the landmark ecoacoustic composition Snowprints (2001). In this work, an electronic part created using the sounds of recorded snow sets an environmental noise element in counterpoint with the acoustic instruments. The recorded sounds create a syntax of environmental energy – the result of wind, temperature, and time at play on the snow.

Based on Henry Cowell and Leon Theremin’s Rhythmicon instrument from the 1920s, the Polyrhythmicon is a computer instrument designed by Burtner that lies at the heart of Polyrhythmicana (2002). In the piece (dedicated to Cowell) the acoustic musicians perform to layered click tracks that generate polytemporal sonic geometries. The metaphorical ‘noise’ here arises from the tiny slippages between the constantly changing tempi, and is accentuated by the instruments, which are wrapped in tinfoil to generate sympathetic buzz and resonance.

(dis)Sensus (2008)takes inspiration from the political philosophy of Jacques Ranciere, creating a multi-movement work in which explosive energy arises from formal contrast. (dis)Sensus explores a variety of conflicting perspectives as “tonalities,” challenging the “sensible” by alternately embracing aesthetics of dissent and consensus. In this work the percussionist plays the role of a provocateur, mimicking the soloists alternately on a saxophone mouthpiece, a toy piano, and a bowed saw blade, and inserting bursts of snare drum noise at times to activate change. The percussionist also introduces the political philosophy into the music by writing with pencil on paper a Ranciere quote that is amplified live and fed into the interactive computer where it becomes amplified into a glitch rhythm.

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Maxwell’s Demon

Meticulous modern composition and analog production for the highest sound quality features only authentic instruments from the 70’s heyday of progressive rock: Guitar, Hammond B3, Mellotron, analog synthesizers, bass, symphonic percussion, and drums. Musically speaking, the album is dense. Rhythmically, harmonically, and every other way one can qualify music, it’s dense.

Produced by Jim Waters and Maxwell’s Demon Engineered by Jim Waters at Waterworks West Recording, Tucson, Arizona

Craig Beebe: Keyboards
John Galbraith: Guitars
Chris Johnson: Bass
Jeff Martinov: Drums and Percussion

Special Guests:
Opabinia String Quartet
Colin McAllister: Classical Guitar

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