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Lecture

Lec 2 - Sept 18:2012.docx

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Department
Music
Course
MUS111H1
Professor
Joshua Pilzer
Semester
Fall

Description
Tuesday, September 18, 2012 I. Key Issues: Publicity and intimacy – with popular music (love songs), personal feelings are always presented as opposed to regular, everyday life, where it can be harder and/or less „important‟ to do so  You identify with the songs as they use pronouns Media, mediation Revolution of sense consciousness; discreteness of the senses, music as sound only  Mediation and authenticity; „place‟: „North American Popular Music‟ II. Social Poetics and Tools for Close Listening How music reflects, critiques, references social life, how it imagines alternatives “Social Poetics” Poetics: „The creative principles informing any literary, social or cultural construction, or the theoretical study of these; a theory of form‟ (OED) Social poetics: such creative principles that pertain to (reflect, reference, etc.) social life  How an expressive form is organized Example:  Billy Chambers, “Fallout Shelter” (1962) o Signifying terror or paranoia of the Cold War, or any other kind of threat o Certain times when a social condition is very new (Cuban Missile Crisis 1961) – keep paranoia in check  as we go through the 50s-70s, by the time we get to the 80s, we have songs where the nuclear terror has made everything impossible…wormed its way more deeply into the quality of cultural life  Pere Ubu: “Nonalignment Pact” (1978) o „Nonalignment Pact‟ = the pact of countries that didn‟t want to ally with the Soviet Union or the United States and Nato o Becomes an expression for a love relationship – not that you have the autonomy to say “I‟m going to stay outside and die with you”, but the tragedy of an individual that‟s still an individual; the conditions of your love relationship (need signatures); Cold War has become a condition for your love o These songs show how a New social condition such as a nuclear threat becomes a regular part of normal, everyday life Tools for Discussing the Social Poetics of Music Parameters of Musical Organization  Instrumentation (physical musical instruments and voices)  Pitch (melody, song-speech relations, etc.)  Timbre (tone colour – not shown on a regular music staff)  Rhythm (the time element in music; most popular music breaks down into groups of beats = metre)  Texture (horizontal melodies within parts) – melodic texture: relationship between parts happening simultaneously  Form Text/non-lexicality (words in songs that aren‟t actual words – i.e. nananana, obladi-oblada); words that don‟t necessarily suggest a meaning; regular words that are used as sounds Performance manner, costume, etc. Possible in each of these: iconicity Example: Lambs in the Greenfield – The Chieftains & Emmylou Harris  Timbre: scratchy, thin, clear voice to signify pain; changes in vocal presentation – contrast between lower and higher notes, total purity and clarity of her voice then straining it to an almost breaking point  in this song‟s context, the ch
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