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Unit 1

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University of Guelph
MUSC 2150
Shannon Carter

Unit One: Studying Popular Music – Basic Tools Studying Rock  Rock music was born out of controversy and has a rebellious image  By the 1950s adult were shocked with Elvis Presley’s empathic blues- influenced and suggestive dance moves  There is only a small portion of rock that has been the source of controversy or cultural struggle, nonconformity and misbehaviour are central to the rock movement  Determining what “rock” means is not easy  The term “Rock and Roll” term from some scholars is to describe the first wave of rock from 1954 to 1959. Other scholars describe music after 1964 as “rock” Elements to Consider  The development of classic-rock radio format in the early 1990s also encouraged a growing sense of rock’s history  Charts help us avoid the fan mentality in a sense that they keep us honest  Scholars view charts with suspicion because little is known about how they have been put together in the past, which makes them susceptible to manipulation  Interpretive angles change from chapter to chapter, four important themes throughout the book: social, political, and cultural issues; issues of race, class and gender; the development of music business; and the development of technology  Technology component is the rise of the radio in the 1920s and the emergence of television after World War II are central factors in rock’s explosion into mainstream American in the mid-1950s. TRACKING THE POPULARITY ARC  The American punk style developed within this small subculture before breaking into the national spotlight in 1978  The rise of punk from a small, regional underground scene to mainstream pop culture and its subsequent retreat, follows a pattern that we might think of as a ”popularity arc”  Specific style in rock music follow this template  The component parts of Popularity Arc is histories of rock music account for the time each style spends in the pop limelight (the peak of the popularity arc) creating a chronology without examining a style’s pre-mainstream roots or existence after the commercial boom years. This template also happens to other musical styles like jazz and classical music What to Listen For in Rock  The way the music sounds is the element that attracts most listeners  Musical form refers to the structure and organization of different sections in a song or piece “Rocket 88” by Jackie Brentson and his Delta Cats 1951 single recorded in Memphis and produced by Sam Philips (Elvis Presley’s first producer) is considered to be the first rock and roll song. Brentson credited for the song may have written the lyrics and lifted the music from an earlier song called “Cadillac Boogie”(such borrowing are common in the early rock and roll) 12-bar blues its lyrics don’t follow the question/question/answer pattern Formal diagram: breaks musical track into sections and lists them according to music timings Rocket 88, is simple verse form: it repeats a single section of music 8 times. Simple verse form is a common form of rock Instrumental: the verse section that repeats the music of the verse, without the singing and with instrument solo Measure: in length “mm” is commonly used to abbreviated measures in musical writing  beats in music in groups of four, two and three can be used as well that musicians count in (1-2-3-4,1-2-3-4 etc.) Bar: each group of 4 beats is called a “measure” or bar of music, both are used interchangeably Notes from Playlist- Rocket 88  Written by Ike Turner he was a disc jokey for radio station and a studio pianist for rhythm and blue singers  His connections with record labels and radio stations in the region led to work as a talent scout for a number of small, independent record companies in Mississippi, Arkansas, and Tennessee.  Turner borrowed both the idea and the tune from "Cadillac Boogie," a hit for rhythm and blues star Joe Liggens in 1947.  Turner's powerful boogie-woogie piano introduction gave the track a hard, muscular feel and established its assertive rhythmic presence.  The driving triplets and overblown, "booting" tenor sax solo also lent a sense of momentum, a combination employed in most early rock and roll records.  The song seems all the more modern because of the fuzzy and distorted sound of the guitar. Typical Formal Types in American Popular Music  Rhythm: refers to the way music sounds are organize in time  Beat: refers to a regular rhythmic pulse  Meter: the ways of organizing rhythm and beats in music, a full consideration it takes into account not only how many beats are in each measure, but also how each beat may by subdivided  Simple: when each beat is evenly divided into two parts  Compound: when each beat is divided evenly into 3 parts  Duple: is a 2 beats in a bar of music commonly notated as 2/4 simple and 6/8 if it is compound  Triple: when there is 3 beats in a bar of music commonly notated as ¾ simple and 9/8 if compound  Quadruple: when there is 4 beats in a bar of music commonly notated as 4/4 simple and 12/8 compound  12-bar blues: this is a common structural pattern found in rhythm and blues, rock and roll and many styles of jazz. It consists of 12 groups of 4-beat bars. It is distinctive because of the way its measures fall into 3 groups of four. These groups can be can be seen in the bar length, phrasing, lyrics and chord structure. Example of 12-bar blues that uses lyrical structure is Big Joe Turner “Shale, Rattle, and Roll”  Phrase: The first four measures are a phrase which often feature lyrics that is repeated in the subsequent four measures  Chords: are combination of notes played together  Doo-wop progression: this chord progression is associated with the doo-wop of the 1950s like the 12-bar progression it can form the underlying structure for many. It appears in the first vocal phrase of the chords in “Sh-Boom” and the repeating of the doo-wop progression that forms the basis for the song’s musical content  Repetitive structure like the 12-bar blues and the doo-wop progression often combine to form larger structural patterns  Verse: a section with repeating music and nonrepeating lyrics  Simple verse form: consist of a series of verses all of which use the same underlying music. It contains no chorus or bridge sections, though the verses may contain a refrain  AABA form: The song form most associated with mainstream pop before the birth of rock and roll. The most common form patterns in Tin Pan Alley songs and usually occurs in a 32-bar scheme that combines four 8-bar phrases. A song that uses two verses (A, A), a bridge (B), and return to the verse (A) as the basic organizational pattern. Once the complete form AABA pattern is presented a song may repeat all of the pattern (full reprise) or only part of it (part reprise). Most AABA songs would be too short if the song didn’t repeat some or all the 32-bar pattern  The song “Great Balls of Fire” employ a full reprise of this 36-bar pattern to form the second half of the song  Chorus: repeats the same music and lyrics intact in each presentation  Simple verse-chorus: when a single musical pattern is used as the basis for both verses and a simple verse-chorus in a song this is the resulting form.  The biggest difference between simple verse and a simple versus- chorus is the presence of the repeating set of lyrics to form a chorus section  Musicians often refer “dropping a beat” meaning that in each instance the second beat is dropped.  Contrasting verse-chorus: when the verses and the choruses of a song employ different music. (more than one verse may occur before the chorus), may include a bridge. Example is bridge is Buddy Holly’s “That’ll Be the Day”  Understanding form helps us hear the larger patterns in the music and gives us a sense of the “bigger picture” Notes from Playlist- The Chord- Sh-Boom  The Chords were formed at Morris High School in the South Bronx in 1951 as an aggregate of three local vocal harmony groups who battled for bragging rights in their neighborhood: the Tunetoppers, the 4 Notes, and the Keynotes.  Discovered while singing on a subway  The record rose to #3 on the rhythm-and-blues charts, and #9 on the pop charts (#2 and #5, respectively, on the list of Most Played Jukebox Hits), an almost unheard of feat for a crossover hit at that time.  The Chords were never able to capitalize on their success. They were sued by another group called the Chords and were forced to rename themselves the Chordcats.  This song is used for many soundtracks for a dozen of films, Disney and Pixar’s Car, it received a Grammy Hall of Fame award Notes from Playlist- Elvis Presley- Heartbreak Hotel  Presley wrote almost none of his own songs; he was presented with a selection of songs by professional songwriters, and chose material he thought would be suitable.  "Heartbreak Hotel" was written by Thomas Durden and Mae Boren Axton  Slow, depressing, and filled with unfamiliar vocal mordents and influences, it also made heavy use of echo and reverb.  It was also Elvis's first gold record. Notes from Playlist- Jerry Lee Lewis- Great Balls of Fire  Combining these sounds with the classical and gospel music sanctioned by his parents, Lewis forged an idiosyncratic playing style  Phillips liked what he saw, and became convinced that Jerry Lee Lewis had the same kind of star power as Elvis Presley. He threw most of his label's promotional budget behind Lewis's follow-up, "Great Ba
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