Random blurb…

December 4, 2010

Hi guys,

Imogen Heap -Just for Now

This artist is pretty talented. But I was wondering how she fits into our class discussions. She definitely uses technology in a creative way. Similar to the guys of Atomic Tom.

Atomic Tom -Take me Out

I guess Atomic Tom relate to the phenomena spoken of in last weeks reading. They definitely aren’t the first to use iPhones to jam.  It’s interesting how artists find different mediums of sharing music. Just thought these two vids were cool enough to share with my super cool class. Hope you guys enjoyed it. =)

On a side note, I give a presentation on Monday and am super nervous!! Any tips? I’ll present on the topic of my final paper, popular music in advertising. While reading on the topic, I notice that I’ve lived through the era in which this phenomena evolved. In the earlier days this act would be likened to “selling-out”, however it’s recently become more acceptable and TV has become the platform of publicity.

Sting’s “Desert Rose” was not played by radio artists upon its release. Radio wanted to show that this type of music was not desired by the public. In backlash Sting licensed the song with a Jaguar commercial. After that, audiences demanded the song from radio.

I guess I’ll say that in my presentation. Thanks for reading this random blurb. Comment if you like, hate, LOVE…ok maybe thats a far cry…Comment!

The D/A conversion in many regards, is reminiscent of the conversion from acoustic recordings to Shellac. It was noted by Millard that DVD’s became more popular than VHS and actually attending movies because of its price, bonus scenes, and sound. The common thread in all our readings is found in the way music was used to form synergy with other modern technology.

Karen Collins illustrates the symbiotic relationship between music and technology. The statistics in the article made the motive of a marketer obvious. It was noted that 92% of players remember the songs in games. This summer I became addicted to Tap Tap Revenge, and related much of what was said to me. All the songs heard on the game were on my iTunes the very week. It’s amazing how entrepreneurs find ways to make the most of technology.  The use of music in the gaming world changed the face of music in multiple ways. Musicians were not initially used in game sound/music because the process required converting music to programmable form. Musicians became familiar with the process over time and gradually albums and games were released in close proximity to increase “buzz.” Currently, games are rarely made without the association of a popular artist.

Goodwin also speculates on the promotional tactics employed by marketers through the use of music videos. He notes that pop is a visual performance. The expansion of broadcasting in the 1980’s sparked a need for programming to fill the open slots. Entrepreneurs were after cheap programming. This is where music television formed.

Millard also speaks about the change in much detail. Chapter 18 explains all the techy things I never knew about CD’s, DVD’s, and Internet etc. I haven’t quite finished reading it, (I do intend on finishing soon) but maybe you can contribute to way of defining a new use of music.

Reading about all the new technology helps me relive Edison’s era, when people were wowed by hearing recorded sound. I’m amazed at Collin’s speculations on future attempts to create mood changing battle themes for individual players. It makes me think about future advancements. What will we choose over our iPhones (which replace cameras and iPods in the form of a phone)?

Revision: Larry Norman

November 15, 2010

Larry Norman: Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music

Religious music is a good source of examination for the effects of modernization by virtue of the fact that it is one of the longest enduring musical styles that has persisted and adapted. As a genre, it has evolved into something different from its ancient origins. Religious music has been around for a long time and it is therefore difficult to pinpoint its exact beginning. During the time of classical prodigy’s, Mozart and Beethoven, the church served as inspiration as well as financial sponsors.

Though Christianity is a very conservative religion which has worked to preserve its musical form, it is possible to see how society brought on changes to the genre by the recent proliferation of more contemporary styles. Gospel was virtually unchanged prior to the influence of more radical Christian worshippers and the movement of Larry Norman (known as “the father of Christian rock”). Traditional gospel’s main accompaniment was the piano. Prior to the 50’s, music from artists like Bill Gaither, graced churches globally. His style represented the typical conservative Christian music. Prior to Bill Gaither, poets and seminary students wrote pieces that would then be translated into Christian church songs. Amazing Grace was written by a clergyman, John Newton in 1770’s.

Indeed Christianity’s conservatism was reflected in the music. Guidelines were even imposed by religious organizations to give distinct meaning to laws in the Bible as to what Christian music should sound like. According to the Fundamental Evangelistic Association, Christian music should be set apart from secular music. It should not involve syncopation, and should be strictly for the glorification of God.

Christian rock, and other contemporary types of music, has caused major debates in churches worldwide. Pastors and members faced great difficulty accepting Christian rock songs. There is a stigma associated with the difference in the musical style of Christian music. It still is not accepted or preferred in some churches today. However, contemporary Christian music, Christian rock and Christian metal thrive amongst the younger generations at churches.

Larry Norman broke the mold of traditional Christian music making this a moment of historical importance. He included electric guitars and drums to the mix. He said at a concert that he created music to reflect the style of Elvis Presley because all his friends at school were into Elvis. He included his Christian belief in his music. Christianity was getting in on the fun too. He faced great opposition from Christian radio personalities and some Christians. In the midst of all his opposition, he wrote the song “Why should the Devil have all the good music.” The song retells his situation.

He explains that being a Christian does not have to mean you are boring. In his first line of the song, he states I want the people to know that He saved my soul, but I still like to listen to the radio.He starts singing in a non-traditional, rock and roll type tone. The electric guitar and drums join the vocals halfway through the first line.  The guitar continues strumming once on the second beat of every four notes. The guitar stays on the A-chord for the entire verse. The music is very upbeat and as Norman’s second line states, it makes you want to “get up and dance.” It sounds almost like the stereotypical organ music we hear in Southern churches. Larry’s style of singing makes the song rock-n-roll. The tempo motivates limbs to motion.

The drums start a much more elaborate piece as the chorus chimes in. Norman reaffirms people of his faith, and repeats a question to his critics. In a higher D-chord, he starts almost talking to the audience saying “I know what’s right, I know what’s wrong, I don’t confuse it. All I’m trying to say is Why should the devil have all the good music.” He poses a good point to critics. The song was copyrighted in 1972. He said at a concert that the song was a product of years of condemnation from the Christian community, denouncing his music. The last line of the chorus, Norman states “Jesus is the rock, and he rolled my blues away.”

Norman was revolutionary attempt to popularize Christianity.  He sported long hair and in his early music career, opened for artists like The Doors, The Who, Janis Joplin, and Jimi Hendrix. The only chords used in this song were A, E and D major. No minors were used, making it a very high energy song. The song goes on for just about three minutes and consists of two verses, chorus and a bridge.

The elaborate drum sequence becomes more suttle in the second verse. The electric guitar and bass continue the single strum effect similar to the first verse. He jokes about the conservative’s opinion on his appearance by stating in the second verse “They say to cut my hair, they’re driving me insane, I grew it out long to make room for my brain.” Again, the Christian persona was very conservative, and appearing like Larry Norman was unheard of in the church at that time. He tells of his rejection from the Christian community by saying “But sometimes people don’t understand, what’s a good boy doing in a rock-n-roll band?”

Christian songs were not supposed to invoke movement on the body according the FEA. This notion did not sit well with the younger church goers. They were bored of the older Christian hymns. Norman says there is nothing wrong with the older hymns, but he much rather something he can move his fingers to. “I ain’t knocking the hymns, just give me a song that has a beat, I ain’t knocking the hymns, just give me a song that moves my feet. I don’t like none of those funeral marches, I ain’t dead yet!”

There is a musical interlude, including an electric guitar solo. The inclusion of an electric solo is very different from previous Christian music. Before Norman, solos served as free time where a Christian could worship God. Norman reinvented the use of music for God by using solos as part of the melodic structure in him music. After the solo, Norman goes on to preach the message of Christianity, completing the song. “Jesus told the truth and Jesus showed the way. There’s one more thing I’d like to say. They nailed him to the cross and they laid him in the ground, but they should have known you can’t keep a good man down.”

Norman is known as the “father of Christian Rock,” for paving the way for other artists like Flyleaf, Pillar, Skillet, Stryder, Fireflight among others. The movement he started was one of the boldest steps taken in the realm of Christianity. He merged secularity with the spiritual world adding appeal to the old fashioned music and essentially bridging the increasing gap between old and new Christians.

Anti-fashion as fashion

November 13, 2010

Punk music evolved from more than just an economic down turn. Tricia Henry Young goes beyond the view of punk as response to “harsh economic conditions” (Young p.66). She explains the social conditions taking place, offering an in depth look of the birth of one of punk’s most influential bands: The Sex Pistols. According to Young, unemployment rates in 1975, was one of the highest since England’s participation in World War II (Young p.68). She goes on to explain

“Working-class white youths were hit particularly hard by the bleak economic situation. When they finished high school, if they did, the either could not find work or were doomed to jobs which they found unbearably boring and which offered no creative challenge and very little pay. (Young 66)”

This fostered the feeling of “no future” in the youths of England. There was a feeling of anger towards institutions and as youths found themselves pressured to find success in a stagnant 70’s economy, the anger increased. What an interesting reaction to the social phenomena at the time. From a sociological perspective, the origins of punk is worth examining. Young says “Never in the history of rock have the doctrines of anarchy and nihilism been preached with such urgency.”

On the development of fashion, Young notes that it was used to distinguish groups since the 1950’s. The idea behind the outrageous apparel was to shock the public. Even though David Bowie’s music was different to The Sex Pistols, the fashion was equally as shocking. Young notes that Johnny Rotten bought a brand new shirt, took it home, shredded it, pieced it together with staples and safety pins, and then wore it.

White power logos and swastika’s were also popular amongst punk fans.  Young and John Savage have stated, despite the white supremicist look, no racial undertones exited in the fashion. It was simply a method of reminding the public of what they’ve done.  Personally, the fashion is offensive, (and maybe it was intended to be that way in concordance with the shock factor) what’s the point in wearing it if everyone got the wrong message from it?  As savage said “they were being obnoxious and outrageous.”

Despite the racist blur, punk artists were inspired by West Indian black music (Reggae).

The Clash had seen how Reggae had acted as a soundtrack for social resistance at the Notting Hill Carnival and, with their use of drop-out and stenciled slogans, they were attempting to create their own white Rasta in Punk- a new cultural resistance. (Savage 238)

These readings were all very long, but informative. I would never think punk incorporated aspects of Reggae in their form. I should have read Young’s article first to offer some background and history to the rest of readings. I have more of an appreciation for the form after reading about how organic it all started. I like constructive venting. Maybe Sid Vicious’ cutting was a bit over the top, but the essence of  the music in context of what occurred during the era is phenomenal.

The Americans colonized our subconscious. -Wim Wenders

Millard 11, 12 & Coyle.

While the bigger companies were cashing of the African-American audience through the promotion of R&B, the independents sought a new flavor to the musical palate. The independent companies dominated the Billboard in the early rock n’ roll period. Millard mentions that “By 1960 there were around 3000 record companies in the United States, of which only 500 were operated by established companies.  (p. 229)” Record production followed an easier pattern than previous years. The profit margin was a great incentive for young entrepreneurs. Millard also noted, a hit on Billboard raked in anywhere from $50,000-$75,000.

At this time race was still a hindrance in the promotion of artists. Radio helped break this barrier through the ease of tuning in to stations featuring music of different races. I thought it was funny that a radio announcer interviewed Elvis Presley to reinsure the audience of his race.

The introduction of television helped in popularizing music, by catering to mass audiences. Television destroyed film companies, but worked to the benefit of artists.

The relationship between R&B and Rock n’ roll was not clear. Millard describes rock n’ roll as overtly sensuous and based on the “…propulsive rhythm of African music…(that) incited movement (p.237).” Were R&B and rock n’ roll one in the same?

In 1943, the rule restricting Negroes from being depicted as anything more than servants, still governed the airwaves of radio. Rock n’ roll had to be “covered” by white artists to gain acceptance in TV or films. Michael Coyle speaks of the tactic of “covering” previous works. He gives the example of Georgia Gibbs and Laverne Baker. In this case, Gibbs copied almost every song she sang. Gibbs “hijacked” Tweedle Dee and Tra La La, both songs by Baker. These songs were not artistically redone, but re-sung in almost exact format as its original. Gibbs version made it to the 24th spot on the Billboard, but Baker’s only reached 94. Coyle translates this as racism by disc jockeys.

Coyle gives the example of Elvis Presley’s covers. Presley covered older music while acknowledging its importance as part of our tradition. Presley did something similar to the Lomax’s, he recorded covers that may have been forgotten as part of culture. The Beatles on the other hand performed covers to gain the acceptance of the American audience.

The record had a huge part in disseminating music. American styles and beats were shipped around the world and influenced singers like the Beatles. The Beatles were impacted by recordings of R&B. Similarly, recordings of Ledbelly and Woody Guthrie inspired a revival in British folk artists.

Larry Norman: Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music

Religious music is a good source of examination for the effects of modernization by virtue of the fact that it is one of the longest enduring musical styles that has persisted and adapted. As a genre, it has evolved into something different from its ancient origins. Religious music has been around for a long time and it is therefore difficult to pinpoint its exact beginning. During the time of classical prodigy’s, Mozart and Beethoven, the church served as inspiration as well as financial sponsors.

Though Christianity is a very conservative religion which has worked to preserve its musical form, it is possible to see how society brought on changes to the genre by the recent proliferation of more contemporary styles. Gospel was virtually unchanged prior to the influence of more radical Christian worshippers and the movement of Larry Norman (known as “the father of Christian rock”). Traditional gospel’s main accompaniment was the piano. Prior to the 50’s, music from artists like Bill Gaither, graced churches globally. His style represented the typical conservative Christian music. Prior to Bill Gaither, poets and seminary students wrote pieces that would then be translated into Christian church songs. Amazing Grace was written by a clergyman, John Newton in 1770’s.

Indeed Christianity’s conservatism was reflected in the music. Guidelines were even imposed by religious organizations to give distinct meaning to laws in the Bible as to what Christian music should sound like. According to the Fundamental Evangelistic Association, Christian music should be set apart from secular music. It should not involve syncopation, and should be strictly for the glorification of God.

Christian rock, and other contemporary types of music, has caused major debates in churches worldwide. Pastors and members faced great difficulty accepting Christian rock songs. There is a stigma associated with the difference in the musical style of Christian music. It still is not accepted or preferred in some churches today. However, contemporary Christian music, Christian rock and Christian metal thrive amongst the younger generations at churches.

Larry Norman broke the mold of traditional Christian music making this a moment of historical importance. He included electric guitars and drums to the mix. He said at a concert that he created music to reflect the style of Elvis Presley because all his friends at school were into Elvis. He included his Christian belief in his music. Christianity was getting in on the fun too. He faced great opposition from Christian radio personalities and some Christians. In the midst of all his opposition, he wrote the song “Why should the Devil have all the good music.” The song retells his situation.

He explains that being a Christian does not have to mean you are boring. In his first line of the song, he states I want the people to know that He saved my soul, but I still like to listen to the radio.” He starts singing in a non-traditional, rock and roll type tone. The electric guitar and drums join the vocals halfway through the first line.  The guitar continues strumming once on the second beat of every four notes. The guitar stays on the A-chord for the entire verse. The music is very “hype” and as Norman’s second line states, it makes you want to “get up and dance.” It sounds almost like the stereotypical organ music we hear in Southern churches. Larry’s style of singing makes the song rock-n-roll.

The drums start a much more elaborate piece as the chorus chimes in. Norman reaffirms people of his faith, and repeats a question to his critics. In a higher D-chord, he starts almost talking to the audience saying “I know what’s right, I know what’s wrong, I don’t confuse it. All I’m trying to say is Why should the devil have all the good music.” He poses a good point to critics. The song was copyrighted in 1972. He said at a concert that the song was a product of years of condemnation from the Christian community, denouncing his music. The last line of the chorus, Norman states “Jesus is the rock, and he rolled my blues away.”

Norman was revolutionary attempt to popularize Christianity. He sported long hair and in his early music career, opened for artists like The Doors, The Who, Janis Joplin, and Jimi Hendrix. The only chords used in this song were A, E and D major. No minors were used, making it a very high energy song.

The elaborate drum sequence cools down in the second verse. The electric guitar and bass continue the single strum effect similar to the first verse. He jokes about the conservative’s opinion on his appearance by stating in the second verse “They say to cut my hair, they’re driving me insane, I grew it out long to make room for my brain.” Again, the Christian persona was very conservative, and appearing like Larry Norman was unheard of in the church at that time. He tells of his rejection from the Christian community by saying “But sometimes people don’t understand, what’s a good boy doing in a rock-n-roll band?”

Christian songs were not supposed to invoke movement on the body according the

FEA. This notion did not sit well with the younger church goers. Norman says

there is nothing wrong with the older hymns, but he much rather something he

can move his fingers to. “I ain’t knocking the hymns, just give me a song that

has a beat, I ain’t knocking the hymns, just give me a song that moves my feet.

I don’t like none of those funeral marches, I ain’t dead yet!” There is a musical

interlude, including an electric guitar solo. After the solo, Norman goes on to

preach the message of Christianity, completing the song. “Jesus told the truth,

and Jesus showed the way. There’s one more thing I’d like to say. They nailed him

to the cross and they laid him in the ground, but they should have known you

can’t keep a good man down.” Norman is known as the “father of Christian Rock,”

for paving the way for other artists like Flyleaf, Pillar, Skillet, Stryder,

Fireflight among others.


Art or Money?

October 2, 2010

Money or art? Which would we choose as an artist? If we opt art, I think the sound and feel might be purer than mainstream, but this process may conclude in the sale of fewer records. If we choose money, we would most likely conform to the likings of the mass audience.

As Leadbelly and the other singers in the folk-song revival tried to attract new audiences, they found themselves in a complicated trap. The movement’s political goals demanded that they strive for as wide a hearing as possible, but as the singers adapted their music to reach popular audiences, purists denounced them for selling out their heritage. (Filene 1991)

This is the trap Leadbelly found himself in.

Upon reading this article, the possibility of this occurrence in today’s mainstream music crossed my mind. Could the same be said of current artists? If so, how frequently does it occur and how drastic are the changes? I’ll give you guys a taste of my music analysis paper in this blog by highlighting changes, similar to those imposed on Leadbelly, made in the genre of Christian music.

Classical artists such as Beethoven were heavily influenced by Christian churches. Christianity is a conservative religion and its music has therefore typically been known as such. However, contemporary Christian music (which is totally awesome) sounds nowhere near its original form. Artists like Skillet, Beautiful Republic, and Third Day utilize electric guitars, and drum a lot more than traditional artists.

I think this change in the style offers more to the modern Christian. The variation is what makes it so appealing to the younger audience and allows it to be more relatable. Older “Hallelujah-type”, opera songs do not appeal to the general young Christian. Similar to the folk-style and Orpy, Christian music was not excluded from “the trap.” Christian bands find themselves in the same predicament. Some choose not to adopt the title of “Christian band” because of the stigma associated with it by general audiences. Unknowing audiences, not wanting to be associated with the heavy Bible thumping style, might choose to disregard Christian artists altogether assuming their style emulates traditional artists. If one does indeed produce a hit that tops the secular market, they stand the risk of being judged by the Christian market. If they are labeled as Christian, they stand the risk of scaring potential secular listeners. Essentially, every artist relies on the ability to attract the masses. And exactly how does the Christian artist do this? They create more ambiguous lyrics, and make less direct references to religious ideals. Artists such as Fireflight, Flyleaf, Brooke Fraser, Creed, P.O.D and Amy Grant, enjoy the success of both the secular and Christian market.

Have record companies embodied the Lomaxes? Are Christian artists being persuaded by record labels to tone down the “preachy” lyrics, or is this an independent choice?  Mark Lusk (Atlantic record’s vice president of Christian music marketing) says, “Atlantic doesn’t want me spending their hard-earned cash on some crusade.” Mr. Lusk says that they aren’t forcing Christian artists to discard their beliefs. However, Scott Brickrell (Christian band manager) says that to get a deal with some secular label companies, stating directly:

You put Jesus all over six of your songs. I just want four that don’t anything about him. You can write about your girlfriend…you can write about your struggles…just don’t mention anything spiritual in those songs, and we’ll sign you as an artist.

What would you choose? The art or the money?

The Grand Ole Opry & the Urban South

I found this article extremely difficult to “engage in.” Maybe it was the train, but I guess the only thing that really struck me was the high racism involved at that time. It’s funny how John Jackson grew up believing that Uncle Dave Macon was black. I did do my readings but this article just didn’t engage me.

References

Filene, Benjamin. “Our Singing Country: John and Alan Lomax, Leadbelly, and the Construction of an American Past.” American Quarterly. 43.4 (1991): 602-624. Print.

Hendershot, Heather. “Shaking the World for Jesus : Media and Conservative Evangelical    Culture.”  New York: University of Chicago P, 2004.

Kyriakoudes, Louis M. “The Grand Ole Opry & the Urban South.” Southern Cultures. 10.1 (2004): 67-84. Print.

Millard 8 9 & 13

September 18, 2010

It is interesting to analyze how the progression of sound snowballed into what it is today. The Great Depression limited pockets to necessities. Customers of the home record decreased, while they flocked in great masses to be a part of the “talking picture.” The slump in economy represented the start of conglomerates. Seeing the business opportunity, Ted Lewis and Louis Sterling bought bankrupt record companies and merged them. This move proved to be profitable for the entrepreneurs. Sterling’s ARC was the second largest record company in America, and Lewis’s Decca was also considered a leading company. Both companies profited from the juke box.

The Depression popularized radio because it was free. I found it even more so depressing that it was a hit with our soldiers of WW2. They mostly listened to swing, but requested the sound of sizzling steak, and the busy streets of New York.

Swing was the next big thing. The new technology favoured a different frequency of voices. Fletcher Henderson, Duke Ellington and Count Basie helped the nation “swing through the war.” The ambitions of Sterling and Lewis carried on to the realm of film.  Companies wanted to own the music they featured. Fred Astaire and Bing Crosby popularized music through this new medium.

It was interesting reading about how booms came into being. I didn’t think it required that extent of skill to create Citizen Kane. I worked on a few productions and thought the sound dept. a bit weird. They would put the boom to your mouth during conversations since they always kept their headsets on. I guess the fluffiness of the boom acted as the animal fur of the 40’s. Cow hair, or horse hair was put on the walls to prevent the reverberation.

I think music in this era was limited. Despite the intense skill required to undergo the series of complicated procedures associated with recording, recording limited popular music. It’s either you had the voice or you didn’t. It was difficult to alter technology to suit a very high voice.