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Lecture 002 - Elvis Presley.docx

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Western University
Music 2734A/B
James Grier

Lecture 002 – September 19, 2012 Elvis Presley – Golden Records Rural and Urban Blues Descending melodic motion (prevalent in blues stylings, both in urban and rural manifestations) Pentatonic Scale (ft. blue notes) Anglo-American Ballads - Second principle source of rock music (first being the blues) - Filtered also through tin pan alley - Many of the elements of tin pan alley are directly descendent of Anglo-American ballads - Ballad tradition had its origins in the British isles, recognizing specific historical context - 17 c. if not earlier, many of these songs were transported to North America with the immigration Barbara Allen - The blues singer in the African-American tradition had a symbolic place for the position of the male in society; many of the songs have some overt sexual tones - Singing the blues in the rural and urban is primarily male - Women not viewed primarily as blues singers; social setting, topographical & geographical setting, performing jazz before WWII - Big difference between male and female singers in the African-American blues tradition - Many of the songs used in child rearing were sung by women (because they should be child rearing) - Organized in stanzas (verses) o Textual unit; all stanzas receive the same music o Strophe – musical unit, in this song very typical of the Anglo-American ballad o Single strophe repeated for every stanza o New stanzas sang to the same music (strophe) - Organizational relationship between text and music; the stanza consists of four lines of text and then four lines of music - Strophic – new words get old music - -^- - Arch-shaped – starts someplace, rises in the middle, goes back down to where it started - -^-/ - Then rises in second stanza - Two arch shapes framing another longer arch which consist of the second and third phrase; this song shows predominance of arch-shaped melodic gestures in distinction to the descending melodic motion in the blues - Heptatonic scale – has 7 notes in the octave - Anglo-American ballad tradition uses 7 note scale Pretty Polly - Guitar & banjo; relatively inexpensive and portable - Music had to go to where the people were; community service to provide music at a function - Singers in all three examples cultivate a nasal style of singing; pushing singing through the nose, promotes the emphasis on odd-numbered overtones - Overtones - present above the note - Timbre – colourful tone, conveys emotion - Need nasal timbre to project over the instruments and penetrates the crowd - Vocal timbre extremely important as a signifier, contributes to the meaning of a song Hound Dog (Big Mama Thornton) - Descending motion - Pentatonic Scale - Dialogue between singer and guitar - Urban blues - Novelty song - Written by two white guys - Black artists would record songs written by themselves or a small group of people, record them commercially, then the songs would be picked up by white artists (cover) - Big issue in the 50s, had to do with segregation - Record companies and record shops in urban and suburban tended to be segregated; white kids shopped at white shop – sometimes called race records, records done by African-American artists - Rhythm and Blues chart - Attempt to bridge the gap Hound Dog (Elvis cover) - Instrumental accompaniment is much fuller, and busier; stylistic issue - Stop time – everything stops except the time; what really stops is all the music o Regularly occurring events stop happening; time keeps counting
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