MUS 210 Journal Week 3

 

6 July 2009

 

Leftover old business from last week – a producer can have a recognizable sound just like a singer, guitarist or composer.  Example:  Phil Spector, (see Garofalo pp 166-169).  Example: The Ronettes, “Silhouttes”.  Very simple form!  Charming lyrics.  Spector was known for his “Wall of Sound” production technique, which used many instrumental doublings, often recorded in the same studio with a simple microphone set-up (not multi-tracked, as that technology was yet to fully arrive). 

James Brown clip on YouTube.  See p. 194 for discussion of the song, recorded 1965.  Authenticity not an issue!

 

Evaluate songs for their artistic center of gravity – a Beatles song may be more interesting for its harmony than for its rhythm.  The Beach Boys’ “Good Vibrations” certainly does more with texture and timbre than an early Dylan song that features just his warbling singing and guitar strumming.  Dylan’s lyrics are more likely to be of more interest than the harmony he uses.  James Brown does more with rhythm than with harmony . . .

 

Guitarist Jimi Hendrix seems to smash those discrete categories.  Where does harmony stop and become timbre or texture?  The Star Spangled Banner” at Woodstock, 1969, great text painting of familiar lyrics!  

 

A point of comparison to classical music at the time:  George Crumb’s Black Angels, for amplified string quartet (2 violins, viola, cello).  A similar exploration of timbre and instrumental extremes.  Much later (in the 1980s), Kronos, a string quartet of musicians who grew up listening to both Hendrix and Crumb, started playing an arrangement of “Purple Haze”.

 

End of digression  -- back to the original “Purple Haze,” 1967.  A sculpture in sound.

 

Music and its relationship to society (a question for the final essays)

 

PowerPoint slides in pdf format (LARGE) or (SMALL, 6 slides per page).  Plato, Kong Fu Zi . . .  

 

Authenticity

A central concept in the discourses surrounding popular music, authenticity is imbued with considerable symbolic value.  In its common-sense usage, authenticity assumes that the producers of music texts undertook the 'creative' work themselves; that there is an element of originality or creativity present, along with connotations of seriousness, sincerity, and uniqueness; and that while the input of others is recognized, it is the musicians' role which is regarded as pivotal.  Important in identifying and situating authenticity are the commercial setting in which a recording is produced, with a tendency to dichotomize the music industry into (more authentic, less commercial) independent labels and the majors (more commercial, less authentic).  Perceptions of authenticity (or non-authenticity) are also present in the degree to which performers and records are assimilated and legitimized by particular subcultures or communities.  Authenticity is traditionally associated with live performance . . .  a view undermined by the rise of disco and club cultures.  . . .

The use of authenticity as a central evaluative criterion is best seen in the discussions of the relative nature and merits of particular performers and genres within popular music culture; e.g. the vernacular community-based styles of folk, the blues, and roots music are frequent perceived as more authentic than their commercialized forms.  In a similar fashion, commerce and artistic integrity are frequently utilized to demarcate rock from pop music.  This romantic view has its origins in the 1960s, when leading American critics -- Landau, Marsh, and Christagau -- elaborated a view of rock music is correlated with authenticity, creativity, and a particular political moment: the 60s protest movement and the counter-culture.  Closely associated with this leftist political ideology of a rock authenticity was Rolling Stone magazine, founded in 1967.  This view saw authenticity has underpinned by a series of oppositions: mainstream versus independent; pop versus rock; and commercialism versus creativity, or art versus commerce . . .

Inherent in this polarization is a cyclical theory of musical innovation as a form of street creativity versus business and market domination and the co-option of rock into the 'mainstream.'  It assumes commerce dilutes, frustrates, and the gates artistic aspects of the music.  This uneasy alliance between art and commerce is frequently placed at the heart of the history of popular music, and is widely alluded to by musicians, fans, and critics.  Counter to this is the view that popular culture is never simply imposed from above, but reflects the complex interrelationships of corporate interests, the intentions of those who create the music, and the audience perceptions and use of musical texts.

Authenticity continues to serve an important ideological function, helping to differentiate particular forms of musical cultural capital.  It is also central to debates around the use of studio musicians . . . . sampling and other innovative recording techniques . . . and practices such as lip-syncing, as in the Milli Vanilli affair.

Moore [A musicologist writing in 2002] usefully moves the discussion of the concept beyond simple polarities (authentic versus unauthentic), by postulating a tripartite typology dependent on asking who, rather than what, is being authenticated.  As he suggests, authenticity is most usefully conceived of as 'a construction made in the act of listening.'  This necessitates a broader focus on the strategies involved in constructing authenticity in diverse musical traditions.

from Popular Music: The Key Concepts, Second Edition, Roy Shuker, Routledge Key Guides, 2005.

Great class discussion – thanks to all who participated, almost everyone of those present!

 

     

7 July 2009

 

Rolling Stones performance clip of “Satisfaction” from Gimme Shelter (documentary film), 1969/1970. 

A critic reflects on the live concert experience, authenticity, and rock.  (Aerosmith and the trapeze). 

Quincy Jones: in the pocket.  A production of Thirteen/WNET New York. New York, N.Y. Educational Broadcasting Corp., c2001. Available in the Peninsula Public Library System, DVD BIO QUINC San Mateo Marina.  90 minutes. 

 

 

8 July 2009

 

The 1970s

Music styles seem to fall more between the fives than the zeros – 1955-1964 makes more sense as a coherent period than 1950-1960.  (1954-1963 makes even more sense, as it is cut-off by the Beatles invasion, but that ignores the shape of the rise and fall of Motown – all divisions seem arbitrary and wrong from at least one perspective.)  Breaking up the 1970s makes some sense (1965-1974, 1975-1984).

 

The demographic waves of the Baby Boom and its echoes I think help to explain the stylistic comings and goings of popular music.  (Wikipedia; scroll down for chart)

 

Latin Rock

Santana, “Oye Como Va” 1970 (Garofalo p. 215)

Tito Puente, “Oye Como Va”, 1963

Jazz rock

An entire chapter in the Stuessy & Lipscomb book (S&L); barely discussed by Garofalo

Blood, Sweat, and Tears, "Blues -- Part Two", (S&L) p. 187

Blood, Sweat, and Tears, "Symphony for the Devil/Sympathy for the Devil," (S&L) p. 193

Chicago, “25 or 6 to 4” 1970

Art/progressive rock

Yes, “Roundabout” 1971 (Garofalo p. 234) (2 slightly different live versions on YouTube)

Similar: (Led Zeppelin, "Stairway to Heaven" 1971 (S&L) p. 277) 

Mothers of Invention, (Frank Zappa) “It Can’t Happen Here”, (S&L) p.  210

Emerson, Lake, and Palmer, Karn Evil 9, "First Impression," parts one and two (S&L)

 

Pink Floyd, Dark Side of the Moon, 1973

 

Rough notes on Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon

 

one minute opening track -- establishes special effects as a frame for the experience of the entire album.

 

overall:  a variety of harmonic approaches from simple functional harmony to ambiguous unusual harmony.

 

"Breathe" -- we have to wait for the vocal -- it starts halfway into the track.

 

More scenes playing out in the theater of your head -- "On the Run" special audio effects; in particular, panning the sound from side to side.  “panning” is a term derived from the world of cinema.  “a panorama” is a wide angle shot; a sweeping shot across the landscape was called “panning.”  This term easily got absorbed into audio mixing.

 

"Time" -- the reverb suggests a cavernous space, a virtual cathedral within your head.  Contrasting sections of driving rock with dreamy music.

 

"The Great Gig in the Sky" -- a contrast of spoken word and wordless singing maps onto my interpretations of repressed emotions versus expressed emotions; the musical styles also seem to suggest "white" European music, with its plodding piano chords and vaguely classical arpeggios versus the expressive "black" gospel or soul style, complete with organ.

 

Reasons why this is a plausible end-of-term album selection:

q  it fully uses the technology of the time for expressive purposes

q  a variety of musical styles and textures are used  that can be used to represent the diversity of styles within popular music itself, and you could write about what those styles mean

q  as an album, it does seem to be a unified work rather than just a collection of singles

 

a reason why this is a bad selection:

q  you can't dance to it.  As an approving critic wrote (I think it was in Time magazine), reviewing Pink Floyd's use of 400 speakers in a complex audio setup for live performances in the 1970s, 'finally, they got the kids to sit down, shut up, and listen.'  That is not very representative of popular music!

 

 

9 July 2009

 

Soul

Stylistics, “You Make Me Feel Brand New” 1973 (Garofalo p. 239) “Philly soft soul”

Temptations, “Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me)” 1971 (Megill; on WebAccess)

Marvin Gaye, “What’s Going On?”, What’s Going On?, 1970

Singer/songwriter

Carole King “You’ve Got a Friend” 1971 (Garofalo p. 247).  (pre-boomer, b. 1942; about 29 at the time of the song; 1st songwriting hit at age 18)

Southern rock

Eagles, “Hotel California” 1976

Allman Brothers

Hard rock, Proto-metal

Deep Purple, “Smoke on the Water” 1972 (Garofalo p. 266)

Led Zeppelin, "Stairway to Heaven" 1971 (S&L) p. 277 

youtube

[Parody] hilarious “Beatles” tribute band version using the lyrics with typical early Beatles song style (or bits of actual songs)

 

Glam rock

David Bowie, “Changes” (Garofalo p. 273)

Queen, “Bohemian Rhapsody” (see BBC list) album: A Night at the Opera.  (230th (!) on the Rolling Stone list)

 

Dance/disco

Earth, Wind & Fire, “Shining Star,” 1975 (Megill; on WebAccess)

Earth, Wind & Fire, “Fantasy”

Donna Summer, (Garofalo p. 315)

Donna Summer, "MacArthur Park" (S&L) p. 311

Donna Summer, “Love to Love You”

Classical comparison: Steve Reich, Music for 18 Musicians, 1977 (NPR 100 chooses Drumming, 1971)

Dan Hartman, “Vertigo/Relight My Fire” 1979

Questions of closure & unity; no longer a “song”, a sealed-off complete entity or fixed structure.

 

Other songs to consider

David Bowie, “Fame” 1975  -- coves “glam” and dance/disco genres

Sly and the Family Stone, “Dance to the Music,” 1968 (Megill)

Gloria Gaynor, “I Will Survive”

 

Punk/New Wave

The Velvet Underground, “Rock 'N Roll” (Live), 1974 (Megill; on WebAccess) (proto-punk)

Ramones, “I Don’t Wanna Be Learned, I Don’t Wanna Be Tamed” 1976 (Garofalo p. 287)

Ramones, “I Wanna Be Sedated" 1978

Sex Pistols (Garofalo p. 292)

 

 

David Meckler

 

Histories of Popular Music and Rock (MUS 210) main webpage

 

Webpages for music classes

 

Cañada College