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MUSIC103 Midterm: Music Midterm

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Julia Byl

Listening to Popular Music Music and Subjectivity • Why does music become popular at a certain time? Why do we like listening in certain situations? o Subjectivity: condition of being a subject, the quality of possessing perspectives, experiences, feelings, beliefs, desires and power • The tether between listening choices and constructing a sense of self establishes boundaries of belonging, community, inclusion and exclusion (B) • Music creates an emotional response that derives from the listener’s experience of the sounds • How does sound construct subjectivities? o Technology o Mobile devices enable us to control what we hear, creating personal sound worlds Acoustic Space • The space we hear rather than the space we see o Resonance: amplification of the environment o Simultaneity: many events occur in same zone of space time o Atmosphere: sound carries mood and affect Defining Popular Music • Popular music changes in its definitions as it moves through time and space • Historical and cultural context matters • What is popular? o A term that often suggests inferiority, “material of the masses” o High culture versus low culture (boundaries are very fluid) • Popular music becomes part of the shared experiences of a group or community, offering pleasure, resistance and narratives of love, romance, sex, masculinity, femininity and desire (B) • Popular music has currency beyond a local audience, gains new audiences, meanings and contexts, shapes our identity • Studying popular music o Requires approaches beyond simple fandom o Borrows from other academic disciplines o Consider the role of the music industries Music becomes “popular”: Tin Pan Alley and Early Jazz Writing about Music • Gives meaning, importance and relevance to sound • Important to consider links between sound and reception, the music and audience • The best of popular music writing challenges us to move beyond our own ears, beyond our assumed categories, listening practices and playlists (B) • It can be a challenge to move out of predictable structures and clichés of rock writing, and to not over validate public relations narratives of performers and journalists • Hard to write without “falling back to the default setting of lyrical analysis, political resistance and masculine authenticity (B) • There is a distinction between music journalism and academic writing about popular music o The two fields do not always see eye to eye o Paul Morley: pop music needs a cull Musical Analysis • What are the main sonic elements of music? o Rhythm (beat) o Melody o Harmony o Voice o Riffs, hooks, lyrics • Rhythm o Beat patterns underlying most forms of communication, pulses of varying lengths of time o Often recurring or repetitive and follow a consistent pattern o Rhythmic section maintains a beat pattern and harmonic flow, usually including drums, bass and guitar/keyboard o Tempo is the pace of the beat • Melody o Organized set of notes consisting of different pitches (high or low) o Combination of pitch and rhythm o Various melodies in popular music: main melody (lead singer), background melodies (back up singers), bass melody • Harmony o Simultaneous sounding of two or more different notes at the same time (guitar chords, sounds of a chorus, etc) o Provides texture of total sound • Voice o Relationship between lyrics, melodic types and singing styles of various genres and performers • Hook o Melodic or rhythmic pattern that is catchy and “hooks” or attracts listeners o Central to commercially oriented popular music • Riff o A short melodic or rhythmic pattern repeated over and over while changes take place in the music along with it Tin Pan Alley and Irving Berlin • 1890s: vaudeville and theatrical producers consolidated offices in NYC • West 28 street – area between West 42 ndand West 56 th • Broadway and vaudeville relied on Tin Pan Alley songwriters • Music was also popularized and circulated to customers o Middle class home entertainment o The piano o “Take Me Out of the Ball Game” • Music publishers were at the center of the music business, turning the creations of songwriters and lyricists into commercial properties • An American popular music business at a time when European opera was hallmark of taste o Homogenization and standardization • George Evans – In the Good Old Summer Time (1902) • Haydn Quartet (1903) • An American sound o Reflected the multiple ethnicities in Tin Pan Alley (Jewish American, Irish American, African American) • Tin Pan Alley songs came to be accepted far beyond the community in and for which they had been created • Irving Berlin o Born in 1888 Israel Baline, Russia o New York 1893 o At 14, he was a singing waiter in the honky tonks of Chinatown and the Bowery, absorbing the rich sounds and rhythms of the musical melting pot o Collaboration: central to the Tin Pan Alley mode of song production o Collaborative oral creation > capture in musical notation > published sheet music o His songs often include ▪ Piano introduction, two or four bar vamp, two or more verses (16 or 32 bars), a chorus ▪ Sequence was subject to change in performance o It then became fair game for performers, who according to the conventions of the genre, were free to transform in details of rhythm, harmony, melody, instrumentation, words and even overall intent (B) • Hooks, riffs and lyrics help commercialize music, they make music popular • Tin Pan Alley: a place where music became popular through published sheet music and standardized songs • The piano helped create a consumer market for published sheet music • After sheet music… o 1920s: new technologies for music consumers, which would revolutionize the music and recording industries o People begin to listen to recordings and broadcast performances o 1909 – new copyright act o Royalty fees from recorded music o Termed “mechanicals” from “mechanical reproduction” o 1921: high revenues fro recorded music ($106 million) o Though the increasing popularity of radio and the Great Depression would lessen this (down to a low of $6 million in 1933) o Music and radio industry began to classify music as “popular” and as “classical” or “serious” o Popular included: ▪ Jazz (music from dance bands) ▪ Solo singers (vaudeville, crooners, torch singers) 1920s “The Jazz Age” • Jazz popularized as “syncopated dance music” often by high society orchestras • Born from a variety of musical traditions including ragtime and blues o “Hot Jazz” – oral, improvised o “Sweet Dance Music” – written, played by high society orchestras • Ragtime: a syncopated, African American piano music with ties to European marches o Scott Joplin – “Maple Leaf Rag” (1899) • Tin Pan Alley took note of ragtime crazy, began to work it into popular song o Appropriation • Paul Whiteman “The King of Jazz” o Dubbed King of Jazz due to association between jazz and sweet dance music o Blending of symphonic music and jazz o A lot of African American artists were excluded from radio broadcast o Whiteman ft. Henry Busse – “Hot Lips” o The Brackett chapter on Whiteman highlights the changing nature of the band due to new recording technologies Segregating Sounds and Developing Markets: Big Bands, Hillbilly, Race Music Cultural Appropriation in Popular Music • Do these examples indicate unequal power relationships between cultures or do they demonstrate respectful, transformational politics? • Cultural appropriation refers to the movement of idea, music, language and identities from one location to another o Linked with the idea of “cultural imperialism” which is a one way power relationship of economic and social dominance • The political concern emerges when empowered groups take on or take over the attributes of less powerful communities • Minorities often have clothing, language, religious beliefs, icons, and music taken from a contextually – sensitive location, which are then used in inappropriate and commercial ways o Symbols and sounds can lose meaning • History of popular music is punctuated by cycles of resistance and appropriation • In the West there has been a pattern that music, which at first expresses opposition to the social order, is then inexorable commodified by the capitalist structure of production (B) • Long history of unacknowledged contributions by African American performers for their contribution to popular music (particularly in jazz, blues, rock and rap) Cultural Appropriation and Commodification • The marketing of music often strips its cultural origin in order to appeal to a larger (and often white) audience • Imagery and ideas of certain groups, that because of social position and inequalities, cannot make a profit from the sale of their sounds to an audience o But this relationship is more complex than it is often presented, Brabazon explains • Many mixed race bands have created networks of translation and have challenged the separation of Black and White music o 1950s and 1960s in the UK • For every assumption of unanimism, purity, primordialism and essentialism, there are counterflowing movements of hybridity, diaspora, cosmopolitanism and translocalism – Stuart Hall • Madonna and “Vogue” o 1990 single from album – I’m Breathless o Video directed by David Fincher o Borrows from vogue dancers and the “House Ball” community in NYC o Advocate for gay community or appropriation? • Jazz in 1920s o Music canonized as “jazz”: small hot combos (ex. Louis Armstrong) and ragtime influences compositions (ex. Jelly Roll Morton) o This is distinct from what was seen to be popular at the time: recall the “Jazz Age” and sweet dance music • Louis Armstrong o 1901-1971, New Orleans o Jazz trumpeter, singer o Major influence in Jazz, solo performance o Very distinct voice o “Muskrat Ramble” ▪ Composed by Kid Ory (1926) ▪ Recorded by Armstrong and Hot Five (1926) ▪ Group’s most frequently recorded song o “Stardust” ▪ Composed by Hoagy Carmichael (1929) ▪ Armstrong rendition (1931) The Swing Era: mid 1930s – early 1940s • Large ensembles playing “swing” music • Racial politics: music initially made by and for African Americans, becoming popularized by white bandleaders • Distinction between “sweet bands” and “hot, swinging bands” continues • Racial stereotypes in jazz o Black musicians: body, spontaneity o White musicians: mind, calculation, femininity (“even college girls” like white swing bands) • Brackett o You can till tell the color of a jazz musician by listening to the music he plays o A sweet band can’t play music, because everyone in the sweet band is docilely going in the same direction with everyone else o White jazz is colder, cleaner, more conscious; black music is richer, looser and more relaxed • The differences between how white jazz musicians are treated, versus that of black musicians • Celebrities of “Jazz Age” are still getting by o Many black artists in contemporary jazz picture (Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Louis Armstrong) are a “familiar echo even to a public unfamiliar with this subject; but they are almost never encountered in a prominent hotel, and never on a commercial radio program” (Brackett) • Count Basie o 1904 – 1984, New Jersey o Jazz pianist and composer o Got his start in Harlem o “One O’clock Jump” (1937) ▪ Jazz standard ▪ Theme song of Count Basie Orchestra ▪ Individuals take turns improvising over song o 1963 performance, Judy Garland Show • Cultural appropriation + cultural imperialism: a major issue when contextually sensitive locations/icons are commodified • Jazz mixing with popular music > swing/big band • How did distinct sounds and styles become developed by artists and the recording industry? o Hilly billy music o Race music/records o Race > blues > classic blues Hillybilly and Race Music • Categories developed by music industry that catered to rural white Americans and African Americans (in addition to the categories of Jazz and Solo Singers • Developed outside of Tin Pan Alley • Recording companies brought this music to the public, with help from radio and film • A term that became widely used to describe music in the 1930s, beginning in mid 1920s o Before this: old time music (OKeh), old familiar tunes (Columbia), songs from Dixie (Brunswick) • Impossible to list all mountain regions, so this was a general term to serve that purpose o A derogative term for southern backwoods culture • Brackett o The general practice is to take a recording outfit into the territory where such songs grow o Presence of mouth organ virtuosos, yodelers, blues singers and specialty bands equipped with instruments made up of tissue paper on combs, washboards, assorted saws and rutabaga gourds • Vernon Dalhart – “The Prisoner’s Song) (1924) o Costs 7 cents to make, sold millions of copies o Marketed as a hillbilly song o “Folk” – of the people • The Carter Family – “No Depression in Heaven” (1936) o Communicates rural (Appalachia) experiences of Great Depression o Group was a major influence on bluegrass, country, rock and pop o Guitar in forefront, Maybelle’s “Carter style”, thumb picking • OKeh Records o Location recordings for both hillbilly and race records o Black artists assigned to 14000 race series, white artists to 15000 hillbilly series • Race Records o Term comes from Richmond, Virginia based African Americans buying records of their own, referring to themselves as “The Race” ▪ A market nobody thought of o Race music included blues, gospel tunes, piano boogie woogies, small jazz groups, and the funkier swing bands unknown to the white public (Brackett) o Offensive connotations (for execs who coined it) yet many found positive meaning (“race man” fought for equal rights) o Migration of African Americans from the South to the North (Great Migration) ▪ Record companies recognizing this large market o Bessie Smith – “Down Hearted Blues” (1923) ▪ “Empress of Blues” ▪ 1894 Tennessee, 1937 ▪ Columbia records, popular hit and race record ▪ African American artists reaching a national audience for first time Blues and Classic Blues From Race to Blues and Classic Blues • Classic Blues: result of diverse musical influences o Vaudeville, popular theater o Traced back to/evolution in shouts, field hollers, work songs, call and response style • Brackett o Arose from the needs of a group, although it was assumed that each man had his own blues and that he would sing them, as such the music was private and personal o Given the deeply personal quality of blues singing there could be no particular method for learning blues, as a verse form it was the lyrics which were most important and they issued from life • Blues became increasingly professional, artists travelled America (transition to classic blues) o Before this: white performers imitating African American life (“blackface” minstrel shows 1800s (1840)) • White men imitating, or caricaturing, what they consider certain generic characteristics of the black man’s life in American to entertain other white men – (Minstrelsy) o Abolition movement curbed this – slavery seen as a tragic situation Classic Blues • Contained diverse elements of African American music, but also emotional appeal of performance o Entertainment + harsh reality of early blues forms o African Americans into American society • Many classic blues singers were women • Distinct from country blues, which is a more personal and improvised style, typically performed by a single male with a banjo or guitar accompaniment • Decline in Great Depression/ Rise of Swing • Bessie Smith – “Put it Right Here (or Keep it Out There) 1928 o Sounds more professional than down hearted blues o Vocals are stronger o More accessible and relatable lyrics • Sample lyrics o I’ve had a man for fifteen years, give him his room and board o Once he was like a Cadillac, now he’s like an old worn out Ford Rhythm and Blues and Country: Setting the Stage for Rock N Roll Historical context behind the rising popularity of R&
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