Music and Christmas
- For the first entry, although the song wasn’t written for Christmas, due to the very recognizable and clear sound of bells and how easy the song is to catch on to, it relates to Christmas. Christmas is about people coming together so songs that are catchy, that people can singalong to help bring them together. The lyrics and musical characteristics in this song are what help relate it to Christmas. The lyrics relate to the Christmas season and are easy to remember, while the jolly melody also gives it that Christmas feel. For the second entry, it also had a distinctive bell chimes that relate to Christmas time. It also had a singalong feel to it, going back to the idea that it brings people together. The upbeat tempo and catchy rhythm also help make the song relate to Christmas.
- One song I would use for this topic would be “Santa Clause is Coming to Town” by Harry Reser which took place in 1934. This song was an instant hit due to how catchy it is and due to the upbeat tempo. The social context came from the television special that was being made at the time that this song was made for. Since then, many popular artists have recorded their own versions of it like The Jackson 5 and Frank Sinatra. The lyrics relate the song to Christmas because they are catchy and talk about aspects of the holiday. They are easy to singalong to, bringing people closer together. The musical characteristic of the upbeat tempo make it memorable and a fun song for everyone to sing along to. The second song I would have added to this playlist would be “Grandma Got Run over by a Reindeer” by Elmo & Patsy. The social context of this song comes from 1979 when it was released for a film of the same name. The lyrics of this song are catchy and easy to singalong to, and the song itself has a lot of Christmas-y sounds within it. The rhythm of the song is catchy, which also aids people singing a lot to it.
The song I picked is “I Ain’t Marching Anymore” by Phil Ochs. This song was created as an “anti-war anthem”. It is made in order to establish that he is done marching to war and doesn’t want to be involved in the deaths of others. It was released as the Vietnam War was escalating, but wasn’t specifically about just that war, as he wanted it to have a lasting impact. The genres that this song seems to embody are “protest song”, “folk” and “rock”. Obviously, protest song has political aspects, but so does folk and rock. Both can be tied back to having political lyrics and messages in them.
Some lyrics important to the political message of the song include:
“For I’ve killed my share of Indians
In a thousand different fights
I was there at the little big horn
I heard many men lying
I saw many more dying
But I ain’t marchin’ anymore”
Here, he discusses the wars that have happened and the people that have died, and how he will no longer fight for the government anymore and kill people. Another lyric that stands out is this one:
“It’s always the old to lead us to the war
It’s always the young to fall”
Here, he discusses how its always the young men fighting and dying in the wars started by the older men.
A Musical characteristic that I think is important for political protest is a simple and catchy melody. In the song I picked, there is a simple melody throughout the entire song, making it easy to pick up on and sing along to after one or two listens. That is why I think it is an effective characteristic to have.
The Sema ceremony is a worship ceremony. It includes many formal sections, and symbolizes the souls journey to god. Within the Sema ceremony, music plays a big role. Music is what seems to guide the ceremony to some degree. This can be seen in the way they dance within the ceremony. It is all guided by the music they play. The music has a calm and easing type of energy to it, which is also translated in the dance that is done during the ceremony.
In many way The Sema ceremony tradition and the tradition of gospel music share some similarities. They both share the fact that they are used in religious ceremonies. They both use their music to “speak to god”. Some difference include the fact that gospel music includes vocals a lot of the time, while in the Sema ceremony, there wasn’t any vocals. Another difference can come from the commonality of each type of music. With a song like Amazing Grace, it is wildly known and many people are familiar with it. With the Sema ceremony, it is not as widely known and familiarized to everyone.
I am Italian, so some genres that are associated with the Italian culture are pop, classical, rock and folk. The genre I will be focusing on is Italian Folk music. Some instruments used include the accordion, flutes, and bagpipes. The music originated in the 16th century. Some unique characteristics of Italian Folk music is the use of yodeling within it. Another unique characteristic is that different professions, like fishermen or soldiers, have their own songs. There are many artists that still produce Italian Folk music, like Baraban, Tre Martelli, Casa del Vento etc. The genre is still tied to my ethnicity, as it is an important part of the country’s heritage.
Watching each of the live performances, I would say I would be most comfortable watching the live Jazz performance. I enjoy how lively it seems from the video and wish I could actually experience what it sounds like in person. It actually bothers me that the audio quality is so poor because I feel I would really enjoy hearing the full quality of the performance. I think I would be most comfortable with the Jazz performance because that is the closest to the shows I see. Most of the concerts I attend are very upbeat and lively, so I feel I could mesh right in if I saw a Jazz performance. Although it is unlike what I am used to, I would not mind seeing a Chamber music recital. The music they were playing was pleasant to the ears and sounded beautiful. I feel shows like that could help me develop a deeper appreciation for music. Being able to sit there and just take in the pleasant sounds I’m hearing is something I want to at one point experience in a live show. I wouldn’t be uncomfortable seeing an Orchestra concert, I just would much prefer the other two options. Not that the Orchestra concert was bad to watch, it was just different than what I would find myself listening to. The music I listen to relates more to the sounds of Jazz and Chamber music than Orchestra, but after watching the video of the orchestra, I would not mind seeing a show. I guess I would be most uncomfortable seeing a Hindustani classical performance. I don’t mean that it would be uncomfortable for me to see that performance, but out of the four options, that would be at the bottom of my list. That is simply because I relate to it the least and find it the least enjoyable out of all the options we were given.
When watching all the performances, I get different vibes from a few of them. With the Jazz and the Hindustani, I believe those performances are more “laid back” in a sense, in comparison to the other performances. For the Orchestra and Chamber performances, they come off to be more structured and have a more serious experience in a way, I don’t know how to explain it. I feel that same thing with the experience of an audience member. The audience members in the Jazz and Hindustani shows could come off more laid back than the Orchestra and Chamber performances. The Jazz and Hindustani come off in a way where they could be more lively than the Orchestra and Chamber performances.
I picked the “1.21 Gigawatts” scene from “Back to the Future”. In this scene Marty is showing Doc a video shot before Marty had accidentally went back in time to the 1950s. In the scene, Marty is showing 1950s Doc what 1980s Doc had done in order for him to time travel. 1950s Doc tells Marty that he can’t help him because he cannot generate that much power, until it comes to Martys attention that they could somehow orchestrate a plan to have the time machine (the DeLorean) get hit by lightening and send it back to 1985. The movie as a whole follows Marty going back in time and running into the younger versions of his parents. This leads to him needing make them fall back together, as the younger version of his mother begins to pay more attention to Marty than the younger version of his father.
Some diegetic sounds in the scene include the audio from the tape Marty plays, the sound of the tape rewinding, the sound of Doc hitting the garage door, and the sound of the paper Marty shows Doc. Some nondiegetic sounds include the sound of an instrument (either a trombone or clarinet, I can’t tell) when Marty figures out how to get back to 1985 and all the other instruments that start playing (violins, flutes, trumpets) as the scene progresses. The scene for the most part stays silent other than the diegetic sounds throughout it. It isn’t until the “climax” or “breaking point” in this scene when Marty and Doc figure out a plan that the music begins. The music adds a level of anticipation, as they unfold the plan even more, the speed of the music increases. As the tempo increases, so does the excitement and anticipation of the scene.
The musical technology I picked is an amplifier. It’s purpose is to increase the amplitude of the instrument so that more people can hear it. It usually uses a certain type of cable like an XLR, 1/4 inch, or TRS cable, depending on the instrument, then you can run the cable through the input of the amp. The signal that is sent through the instrument runs through a series of controls and modulations such as “volume control”, “gain”, “base” (controls the EQ curve of the lower frequencies on the spectrum), and “treble” (control the EQ curve of higher frequencies). It also runs through a preamp before making its way to the speaker cabinet. There are a number of artists who use the amplifier in a way in which it was not designed for. One in particular is Jimi Hendrix, who cranked both his fuzz pedals and his amplifier in a dirty channel and this would make it really loud, distorted, and brought about sounds that were never heard before. I have used a couple of amps in my life, such as when I have performed at school.
The way Jimi Hendrix used the amplifier brought about a new way of creative freedom and spoke to people. It created a new audience of people who enjoyed the new sound and broke musical boundaries that had not been broken before.
The first piece I listened to was “Kyrie from the Pope Marcellus Mass”. It came to me initially as a very interesting and beautiful piece. I listened to it a couple of times to truly hear every element I wanted to. One of the first musical elements that stood out to me was harmony. Harmony refers to the sounding of two or more pitches at the same time. When listening you can hear the many voices singing in different pitches, which ends up classifying as a Consonant, which are harmonies that sound pleasing. The next musical element I wanted to bring up was the rhythm, which means the ways in which music is organized into distinct time units. The piece had a smooth rhythm and within that another element of rhythm was clear to me, which was the tempo (the speed at which a piece of music or part of it is played), which was slow. The last musical element was melody, which is a unit of pitches (or tones) sounded in succession–one after another (“tune of a piece of music, the part of the song that you would sing on your own”). From looking into the different melody types online, from a website called www.blog.holistic-songwriting.com, I concluded that this song had a direction melody. This is because it uses “different notes and doesn’t have a clear base pitch”.
The second piece I listened to was “Alapana from “Sitar, Sarode, and Tabla””. I like the different sounds I heard from this piece right off the bat. one of the first musical elements I noticed was the texture, which is the ways in which different musical parts fit together. When you listen to it, you can hear many different instruments throughout it. I think this classifies it as having a polyphonic texture. Another musical element I can hear within this piece is timbre, which is the particular sound or color of an instrument that makes it unique. I heard an array of string instruments at the beginning, and later on heard more percussion. The last musical element is once again the rhythm, and the way the tempo in this piece has a much faster movement to it, rather than the slow paced tempo in the last one.
My process of close listening entailed listening to each piece a couple of times. I would review the meaning of each element and try to listen for that specific one in each piece, each particular time I had listened to it. The pieces were both good in their own ways as they were very different from each other.
The Renaissance was a period that was centered around “rebirth”. That aspect in itself excites me. I like the idea of a new found interest in the writings, art and philosophies of Ancient Greece and Rome. Another interesting part to me, although being a burden to us now, is the fact that most of the instrumental music was improvised, so we have no records of it now. Another interesting aspect was the fact that music was written for more than one voice to be showcased. But only men were allowed to perform the music in public. Nuns would sometimes be involved in the music, but would never actually be shown singing it.
A historical event from that period was the Protestant Reformation, which led to the Catholic Church officials banning the use the the secular cantus firmi, which was a borrowed melody used by Guiliaume Dufay to unify the ordinary. The melody consisted of either a sacred chant or secular tune. The textbook describes music from the renaissance period as being characterized by textures of complex intertwining melodies.
The composer I decided to listen to was Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina. My first reaction was that it was a beautiful sound, but did sound like something I would hear if I went to Sunday mass. I could also hear the many different voices and sounds within the song, but they all went together very well in my opinion. The music does sound like what I expected. This is because of the many voices and sounds and the heavy influence from the church that can be heard in it.