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There is a scene in Lars Von Trier's Dancer in the Dark when Selma, the main character, is toiling away at her grueling factory job and the clanking rhythms of the room suddenly take her into an imaginative musical realm, where all work is for the sake of song and dance. The factory employees kick their heels and spread their arms; even the machines' dull thrumming seems to rise to an octave of joy.

Despite her misfortune later in the movie, it is impossible for music lovers not to recognize themselves in Selma--how many times have our own lives been suspended by a love song on the radio, an aria from the darkened stage, the rhythm from a handmade drum? For these moments we credit musicians and songwriters--forgetting that behind even one note on an album there are usually several ears and hands helping it along.

For this issue of Volume, we decided to look "all down the line," at the people who craft our music scene outside the spotlight's bright circle. We've had a great time talking to mastering engineers and hip-hop DJs, to a club proprietor who offers up his living room floor to struggling artists, and to two women who started a feminist music label in Durham. Their stories are varied, but their passion for music is the same--a force that transforms factory yards into stage sets, and the tedious passage of 40-hour weeks into moments we cannot forget.

  • Introduction to Volume

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