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MUS111H1 (74)

Lec 4 - Oct 2:2012.docx

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Joshua Pilzer

Tuesday, October 2, 2012 Genres cont’d Idea of genre in early North American folk-music landscape Problems: Folk – term associated with rural peasantry, which North America has never really had Often the idea of folk music is associated with the simple ideas of the origin of popular music, but it‟s more complicated than that – banjo, being a recreation of an Af. Am. instrument, somehow finds its way into „white music‟, how? We think of „folk music‟ as something that isn‟t mass mediated but orally transmitted, yet what we have in NA is some aspects of perhaps folk culture that circulate through mass media and popular music (MINSTRELSY)  in order for the concept of the NA folk to be created, that concept relies on the process of mass mediation … PARADOX? Impression these processes of mass mediation played in the origin of folk Example: Different versions of “I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow”  Old version: Changing metres – lyrics are primary – „solo performance‟ o Tradition of solo ballad singers who have the ability and skill to adjust the music to suit the lyrics – as you count through the original song, the metre changes; modern version is strictly 4/4 time  Older version has pretty minimal variation; modern version takes on a different form and incorporates more instruments (role of instruments is much more important)  Older version: older version is more „stoic‟ Form & Content Person: 1 / Form: Light / Content: Sad, tragic, etc. rd 3 / Melancholy / Sad, tragic, etc.  Direct expression requires device of emotional restraint – “Protestant cultures”, allows for a certain kind of pained expression  Vicarious expression more direct Content expresses one meaning, but the form relays a different aesthetic „style‟  in the contrast, the meaning is more effective Form (not covered in class) cont’d Hymns/spirituals and derivative music  ABCB etc. (refrains)  Priority variously given to text and expression becomes “verse/refrain” form in popular song Ballads:  A‟A”A”‟ etc. – varied repetition  Priority given to text  Drones provide backdrop for text and melody th  Irregular metric structures to accommodate text  “rationalized” over 20 century; ex: “I‟m a Man of Constant Sorrow” o Social poetics: constant sorrow … why performed in an upbeat way?  processes of cultural exchange … there is a shape a song takes, the overall feel, and then there‟s the content Dance music: contrastive forms  AB, etc. – AABBA‟A‟  Variation (‟)  Drones  All are aspects of the urbanization and popularization of folk music One reason why the ballad form disappears from popular music at this time is because it‟s hard to dance to – no proper refrain deterring the ability for the listener to sing along or dance to Country Blues, City Blues, Urban Blues This kind of collective music finds its way to becoming a template for American Popular Music – the template first for the blues Example: “Love In Vain” Form: 12-bar blues; regular 4/4 time; stable form we end up with by mid-century, and remains the pattern for the blues genre as well as other contemporary genres Harmonic movement: based on the chords I-IV-V (CFG) – pattern of regular harmonic movement comes from the spiritual tradition Example: “Dark Was the Night” Constant drone sound There is no text; completely non-lexical, no referential meaning Title, however, gives us text: “Dark Was the Night” was an Af. Am. spiritual – original spiritual did have a text, but the Blind Willy Johnson song doesn‟t Religion: Why so popular when things go wrong? Brings people together who have mutual
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