CCTP-725: Fall 2011

Week 12 Discussions


Watani Ana

As I have often expressed in class, I am not a huge follower of the music scene, although I enjoy a good jam session now and then. I decided to use as an example a song that was composed by Malek Jandali, a Syrian musician. The song is called Watani Ana (meaning “I am my homeland”) and was repurposed in April as a supportive response to the Arab Spring. Here is a __youtube video__, that also has a translation of the lyrics. If you listen to the song, the beginning sounds like a sad or despairing arrangement, and then turns into a national anthem type beat. The mix of the two is a really beautiful expression of the turmoil so many Syrians are feeling now- a love for their country and a simultaneous hatred or fear of their government. As the song alludes to over and over, Syrian roots run very deep, and there is a pride that Arabs have in being a part of the holy land and the fertile crescent. Even if you can’t understand the words to this song, the music itself is written in such a powerful way that you can feel the pain and emotion that Jandali imbued into his writing.

This summer, Jandali was supposed to come and perform here in DC for the Arab American Anti Discrimination Coalition. Jandali is a celebrated artist and was asked to perform at the ADC’s annual convention, however, when Jandali revealed that he would be performing his “humanitarian” piece Watani Ana, the ADC asked that he reconsider. Upon his refusal, they dropped him from the convention, to the dismay of many Arab Americans. Watani Ana does not explicitly mention Syria or the revolution, but as you can see in this __Politico article__, “lyrics include ‘oh my homeland, when will I see you free’ and ‘When the land is watered with the blood of martyrs and the brave/ And all the people shout: Freedom to mankind.’”This is a song that Jandali has performed for the Syrian government and embassies before, but only now after the uprisings, is it considered problematic. In July, Jandali performed his piece in front of the White House, in support of the revolution and protestors.

Another article by Muna Khan of Al-Arabiyya English.

From my personal experience I can say that Arab Americans here in DC were outraged that the ADC, which prides itself on being open-minded and pro-Arab civil rights, would make such a bold and seemingly anti-democratic step as to drop the famed musician for his music that resonates so deeply with Arabs both here and abroad. The president of the ADC is known to be close friends with the Syrian Ambassador (who was recently recalled to Syria) and was criticized for allowing his personal views to influence the ADC so severely.

Here are some responses to the removal of Jandali from the ADC event:

Facebook statement by former ADC National Executive Director Kareem

Shora, now Senior Policy Adviser at US Department of Homeland says he

is:

"most saddened for the hardworking and amazingly dedicated ADC staff

members and volunteers who have spent weekends including late nights

and 16 hour-days working to put on what is traditionally the largest,

most substantive, and most complex Arab-American annual event in

Washington, DC, only to be undermined by a pathetic, unwise, and

frankly politically suicidal decision. My heart goes out to all my

dear friends and former colleagues who are the true ADC'ers and who

will always be the ones who make the real difference, the real civil

right advocates!"


Watani Ana emerged in the midst of the Arab uprising that still continues today, and yet the style in which it was made, and the genres that it combines, certainly give it a timeless feel. Without the pre-existence of anthems and their social significance, the inclusion of the upbeat, national anthem-esque beat would not carry the weight that it does in the song. The re-interpretation of various forms of music emphasizes the dialogic nature of Watani Ana, and its basis in a cultural fear of and longing for a different future.

Serene Al-Kawas

----

The Gregory Brothers immediately came to mind when thinking about examples of music hybridization. The Gregory brothers were formed in 2007 and categorized as country and soul, folk’n roll. They have become famous, however, for their viral series, “Auto-Tune the News” on Youtube. Their videos use news footage combined with a song that was either inspired from the news story or directly uses the dialogue of the news story. It is often arranged in a way so that it appears that the people in the news footage are singing. I thought they were an interesting example of a new way to incorporate contemporary news both into music lyrics and music videos. There most recent one, Backing Up has 6,344,898 views right now. It is interesting to watch the original footage of the news after watching the Gregory Brother's video because it is hard to take it seriously and believe that it is a real reported event. In addition, through Youtube, some of the people that are featured have become “celebrities”. For example, Antoine Dodson, the star of Bed Intruder, was interviewed by Mark Hoppus with The Gregory Brothers and talked about using his new celebrity status to create merchandise, such as a Bed Intruder Halloween costume. There was even a reference to Bed Intruder on South Park.
Walk on Earth are another band use Youtube to promote their music. They are another example of music hybridization because they mainly perform covers of popular songs. Although covers are not a new concept, their covers are acoustic and often incorporate new elements such as adding a ukele and piano to a cover of Adele’s song, Someone Like You. They also did cover of the Gregory brother’s Backing Up song as well. In addition, there are many other bands/musicians out there that also use Youtube as platform and only perform covers as well. It never ceases to amaze me what things can become a phenomenon on Youtube.

Katy Schwager




Yu-wei Wang

439046JayChou1.jpgJay Chou, a Taiwanese pop song singer and composer, is the name of the musician that pops up in my mind when thinking of music hybridization. Jay Chou was born and raised in Taipei, Taiwan, and he began playing the piano and cello at an early age. He also studied piano with a minor in cello at Dan Jiang Senior High School. This accounts for his solid background in classical music. Chou has his own album debut “Jay” in 2000, which became an instant hit. It gained great attention in Taiwan as well as the international Chinese community, including Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macao, Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore. Unlike usual pop song singers, whose instant hit are based on their voices, dances or appearances, Chou’s popularity is mostly credited with his own genre of musical— Chou style.


What is Chou style?


Although Chou’s compositions are loosely categorized as pop music, many of his works fall into a hybrid music genres of contemporary R&B, Rock, Blue and ancient Chinese-style as well. His Chou style has been popularized to describe as his mark of cross-cultural music and his insistence on singing with slurred enunciation. Taipei Times, a popular English newspaper in Taiwan, once described the meaning of “Chou Style": "In what has become the archetypal Chou style, Taiwan's favorite son blends pop, rap, blues and a smorgasbord of esthetic elements of world music to create his dream-like never-never land ...”.


In many of Chou’s works, he fuses traditional Chinese instruments and styles with R&B or rock to form a new genre of Chinese pop music, called 中國風(Zhongguo feng, which literally means “Ancient Chinese Style Music”), some of which are written in the Pentatonic Scale as opposed to the more common seven-note scale (Diatonic Scale) to accentuate an oriental style. The remix of Western and Oriental music elements is the trademark of Jay Chou, and this can be seen in many of his works, such as “東風破” (Eastern Wind Breaks), “髮如雪” (Hair Like Snow), and “青花瓷” (Blue And White Porcelain). More than the above-mentioned genres, Chou also tried to adopt other exotic music elements in his works. For example, “紅模仿”(Red Imitation) is a song that incorporated Spanish guitar, and “本草綱目” (Herbalist's Manual) is a song that incorporate American electronic. Moreover, his formal musical training is evident by the use of classical textures in many of his compositions.



東風破 (Eastern Wind Breaks) sung and composed by Jay Chou. The whole body of the melody is in a ancient Chinese style remix with the Western R&B elements, and the classical rhythm of pianos incorporated in.






本草綱目(Herbalist's Manual) sung and composed by Jay Chou. This song shows the hybrid of American electronic and the ancient Chinese music style. Also the name of the song is derived from the name of a reputational Chinese Medicine scripture in Ming dynasty.






Di Lu

Zhu Zheqin, or better known internationally as Dadawa, is a unique music artist in China. She is sometimes referred as “Chinese Enya” for shared insight of pure music and culture and the role of bridging high culture and folk music to general appreciation. She is best credited, as far as I think, for her work on the interplay of music in different regions and genres and even the combination of music with other artistic forms such as ancient poems.



Her music is largely based on the styles folk music (and sometimes religious music ) she collects from tribes and families in remote and underdeveloped areas. Dadawa has travelled exclusively in to be inspired by traditional local music. She has been to Tibet, Xinjiang, Yunan, Qinghai, etc in China (places that are all with strong local characteristics and far from urban areas), and later other Asian countries such as Nepal and India. Instead of presenting the music in a completely honest way, she combines the original folk music into styles that are easier for general public and international audience to accept. To do this, she adds elements from popular music, for example she creates lyrics in plain language for the originally pure music, and also borrows from classic music and orchestra. In recent years, she works on making her music more international and more remixed by first inviting musical features from more geographic areas and second transforming it in an increasing modern way and presenting it in more parts of the world.



She also varies her singing skills and tones for songs of different expressions; she adopts western techniques in art song and opera, while also borrows casual styles in traditional folk music, and sometimes she even imitates the way monks reading Buddha classics murmuring in her songs. Another thing that makes her special is that she touches on various domains as extension of her music. For example, she cooperates with China Central Opera Orchestra to hold a concert re-interpreting "Music Conservatory" songs (an musical expression of poems with rhymes) in ancient China, and she works with an Oscar-awarded documentary director to produce her music film travelling Voice which records her exploration and interaction with local voices in countries including Bhutan, Nepal, India and China.











Post-Hybrid Musics



Post-hybrid is beyond hybrid, that is combining more than two elements to form a complex networked whole. The age of hybridity might be early post-modernism, where the combination of two traits led to the emergence of complex identities, where things were not "either or" but "both and." Now, hybridity of hybridity multiples itself so that we have networks of traits, rather than just the combination of two. If we bring this post-hybrid, pluralistic view to music, we can create a richer form of analysis that bridges countless variables, rather than just two, like Sassure to Peirce, a dualistic model replaced by a tertiary one. So the musical examples I give below I beleive are rich and complex, multiplied in form and identitiy, rapidly switching between different sonic codes of expression.



DJ Patife's "Sambassim," a prime example of a style he coined as sambass, combines elements from samba and drum and bass. On the surface, this might appear to be a hybrid music, merely combining two styles. However, if we note that drum and bass and samba are themselves complex genres, reaching out to a network of styles such as reggae, dub, hip-hop, break-beat, jazz, Latin and African drumming traditions, disco, and more. The vocal style coined by Joao Gilberto and Stan Getz is certainly echoed here.

For a more complex example of melding of sonic codes, turn to Flying Lotus. This is a rather violent example of his colliding styles (I suggest you just listen to the sound if you're bothered by violent images).

Flying Lotus - Kill Your Co-Workers from Warp Records on Vimeo.



Flying Lotus of LA is one of the electronic composers/producers crossing borders between the EDM, experimental and art worlds. The song above has stylistic references to a wide variety of genres or sonic codes. For example, chip tunesand video game music are really the subject of the tune. They are associated with the sounds of video game systems and old 8 bit sequencing. Inevitably, this sound takes us back to the '80s. But influences of Squarepusher and other EDM artists are there too. Electro-pop and drum and bass elements are also there.



We would be remiss if we didn't consider Go-Go this week as a form of post-modern funk. A hyper-local phenomenon influenced by international recording techniques and sound influences. This form of Washington, D.C. funk is a powerful example of music with complex roots, from blues, rock, funk, soul, reggae, jazz and more. The question isn't whether the music borrows stylistically, it's what it's borrowing stylistically from each phrase. How do the styles mesh and interact? Moreover, we would be remiss if we didn't ask what is funk? What is groove? What is it that gives a beat it's power? How could we not notice the bass? These questions are to a large degree the questions of books like "Rhythm Science," the question of post-hyrbid music.

Ben King


Yizhou Zhang

There has always been an interesting thing about the Chinese pop music industry - the American-born Chinese (“ABC”) singer-songwriters seem more likely to succeed and become famous. Such a phenomenon is particularly evident in Taiwan and HongKong. In 1992, brothers Jeff Huang, Stanley Huang and their cousin Steven Lin founded a group “L.A. Boyz”, introducing American hip-hop culture from Los Angeles to the Taiwanese pop music for the first time. Several years later, two other “ABC” pop singer-songwriters - David Tao and Leehom Wang brought even greater impact to the Chinese-speaking world.


Known as the “Godfather of Chinese R&B”, Tao is skilled in creating a crossover genre of R&B, Hard Rock, Cappella and traditional Chinese elements. Susan Said (“Susan說”), a track in his album The Great Leap (2005), combined the unique singing accent and instrumental arrangement of Peking Opera with Tao's signature R&B style. To understand Tao as a “node” in a network of relationships, one can easily see how his music style was formed: Tao’s father used to be a famous singer and a major promoter of Western music in Taiwan, while Tao’s mother was a Peking Opera actress.




Leehom Wang, who is also known as an "ABC" singer/songwriter, created his signature music style called “Chinked-out” - a hybrid/remix of Western rhythm and Chinese melody. Besides the Plum Blossoms (“在梅邊") - one of Wang’s hit songs, was a very dialogic musical expression - a fusion of American hip-hop and Chinese opera since Wang combined traditional Chinese musical instruments, Kunqu Opera melodies, hip-hop beats and rap lyrics together. Wang played the game of hybrid/remix to the ultimate and gave the younger generation a brand new re-interpretation of traditional culture.

More recently, Khalil Fong, an American born, Hong Kong-based pop singer-songwriter, has infused new blood of Soul and Jazz to the Chinese pop music. Southern Sound (“南音”), one of my favorite songs, in Fong's first album Soul Boy, is about the story of Abing, a blind Chinese musician.



siyang wu

The Role of Remixes in Contemporary Music
Music is a deeply expressive medium because it not only facilitates communication beyond words; it also promotes the development of cultural and national identities. In the United States, the diversity and range of musical styles reflects the many faces of American culture. The most popular genres: rock, hip-hop, country, pop and electronica reflect different cultural backgrounds by utilizing different instruments and vocal techniques. While the range of musical genres is quite large, they are all representative of American culture. Sometimes, instead of creating an entirely new song, artists will take an existing song and ‘remix’ the track. By doing so, the artist combines the original track with his own unique twist, hoping to not only create a mixture that gives the song wider appeal but may also intend to fuse two different genres together.

Remixing is widely used in hip-hop and rap music. This style is used primarily to add new vocalists or musicians to the original mix or to combine two musical genres. Many rap remixes arose either from the need for a pop/R&B singer to add more of an urban, rap edge to one of their slower songs, or from the need for a rapper to gain more pop appeal by getting an R&B singer to sing some lines. Also, if the song is not initially successful, remixing can give the song a second chance. California Love by Tupac Shakur featuring Dr. Dre proved to be more successful than the original, as the combination of superstars Tupac and Dr. Dre allowed the song to gain more widespread popularity. Many Mariah Carey and Britney Spears songs have also been successful remixed with rap artists to appeal to not only pop music fans, but to hip-hop fans as well.

Remixing songs has inspired a new genre of remixes called mash-ups. This is a relatively new genre that blends two or more songs by overlaying the vocals of one over the instrumental track of another. E-603, The White Panda, Super Mash Bros, Girl Talk, are all popular examples of successful artists who have combined pop, rock, hip-hop lyrics over different instrumental beats. While mash-up artists are technically not creating new music, they nonetheless show how completely different musical genres can be seamlessly combined to create a fresh new version. For example, Knuck All Alone by E-603 combines the beat of Better Off Alone, a dance track, with hip-hop lyrics.

The popularity of remixes shows how flexible music is. Classic songs have been infused with modern techniques and styles to create sounds that will appeal to wider audience than the original track itself. The remix is a major conceptual leap because it draws together and makes sense of a much larger body of information. As the advancement of technology creates more powerful editing tools, the number of remixes will steadily increase. Over time, American music will be remixed with European, Asian, African music to create multi-national remixes. The power and effect of the remixes should be sharpened and refined over time.

Two Remix Artists by Jess Steele

Wolfgang Gartner: Composer/Live Performer/ “DJ as custodian of aural history”

Wolfgang Gartner has a talent for remix – a fan favorite, “Space Junk”, “seems to take everything great and terrible over the last 15 years of dance music - vintage synths, hands-in-the-air trance flutter and dubstep's modulated stammer, and fits it in one track - often in a single measure, sometimes even a single bar”(Bio, http://bit.ly/seiJos). In fact, even Wolfgang Gartner’s name is even a remix. Although some compare the artist’s talents to the famous composer, he actually took the name from his animated pee-wee soccer coach (Bio).

Although Gartner often repeats his mantra to “make something that’s never been made before” or to “advance the genre” in interviews, upon deeper probing you realize breaking new ground, for him, means combining genres. Mixing genres for Gartner could mean “flipping Beehthoven's 5th for the 4 am crowd” or crossing hip-hop/pop and dance genres with remix and collaborations with artists such as Britney Spears, Timbaland, the Black Eyed Peas and more (Artist Profile, http://bit.ly/u4Wr8R).





Recorded Version: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w_x7DFmgX8M&hd=1

As far as composition, Gartner’s futuristic sound is a result of sampling and the remix process (or through the studio as a composition tool as we learned through Eno) as well as inspiration from live tours. Speaking of his track “Menage A Trois”, Gartner states, “It's literally just a bunch of random pieces from all over the place and some Fender Rhodes piano and this bass tone and then this vocal snippet that sounds like it's saying ‘Menage A Trois.'"(Artist Profile).

One of Gartner’s newest tracks, “Illmerica”, draws inspiration specifically from his travel to play live shows, “I'm playing other people's tracks, too, but it's kind of a culmination of what I see and what I hear out there” (Gartner’s Weekend in America, http://bit.ly/vZLmsW). Combined with the music video, the track becomes a columniation of Gartner’s own vision of “the soul of America” while “the flow of sound [becomes] externalized memory”( Miller, “DJ Culture”). We see Miller’s concept of “the social construction of memory”, as we see scenes of Gartner's much more violent and materialistic national historic vision (than other traditional text-book narratives perhaps) staggering back and forth in a more “decentered and nonhierarchical form” in-tune to sound (Miller):



Gartner states, “Once ['Illmerica'] became a song, I started having these mental images of when you're flying over the center of the U.S., you see the little houses and you see America. And for some reason, that's what this song made me see: the soul of America, which is the bad part and the good part and all of the messed up stuff and the good stuff combined” (http://bit.ly/vZLmsW).

While thematically the song remixes a cultural experience, the song’s “long, phantasmic synthesizer chord progression” and “soulful rhythm sections that chug and chew more than chop or churn” are said to “belie the heart of a composer” and pull from Gartner’s young up-bringing as a “third grade piano virtuoso”(Artist Profile).

Although criticized for adding vocals to house, Gartner’s love for hip-hop has helped him bridge the dance and mainstream music worlds. In fact, Gartner seems to disregard concepts of mainstream and genre, instead claiming inspiration and live audience response as drivers for artistic creation. Such cross-over, of genres and live performance to the recording studio, however, is hardly new:

“West Africa's polyrhythmic ensembles already anticipate the breakdown of the distinction between the mechanical labor of the recording engineer and the creative labor of the musician —a distinction that organizes much popular music production and that dub and later electronic dance music dissolves” (Davis, “Roots and Wires”).

Dance music will come and go in the mix, Gartner seems to acknlowedge (http://bit.ly/u4XoMk).

Vanessa Carlton: Choir Director/Dancer/Pianist/Vocalist/Story-teller…

As a hit pop-artist, we don’t usually think of Vanessa Carlton in opposition to the mainstream; however, her latest album, Rabbits on the Run, was the artist’s attempt for “authenticity” and hand-craftsmanship. While the album may be authentic to the pop-world, Carlton herself admits the album draws in more inspiration and collaborators, and even “new” “ways of working” than any of her previous albums (http://bit.ly/tYDgsz). With lyrics inspired by Richard Adams’ Watership Down and Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time, Carlton also admits to “rediscovering the music she grew up with—classical works, rock and reggae from the 1970s” (http://bit.ly/tYDgsz), to create a hybrid mix of “genre” styles, narratives, and technology platforms.

Making of:

Perhaps the most unusual aspect of the album was the vinyl composition process. Carlton insisted on using tape – drawing inspiration from the vinyl records her parents played growing up. This forced Carlton, along with her producer Steve Osborne, to produce all edits with a blade. Osborne admits, “We used Pro Tools a couple of times…sometimes that process can get a little clinical, and tape forces you to focus on the moment. And working to tape, we’d make decisions all along the way” ( http://bit.ly/tYDgsz). As Eno describes from an era before the move to tape, discs, and software, the recording technique was devoted to a “‘more faithful’ transmission of [the] experience” and it seems this is both what Carlton and Gartner attempt to record through live performance and a mix of “old school” technology with contemporary software.

Enon writes of transmission loss between “any traditional way that composers worked…directly with sound…directly directly with a material” (Studio as Compositional Tool). By working directly with the material, Carlton’s motives were to retain the ability to work “directly onto a substance…to chop and change, to paint a bit out, add a piece” while she describes the idea for her album as solid “skelton” upon which she adds layers. Attachment to minimalist technology is echoed in Gartner as well when he wrote:

“I'm more concerned with music than technology. I'm willing to write the entire breakdown of ‘Space Junk' on an old keyboard with a busted arpeggiator that comes out so muddy that I have to deal with the hassle of spending a whole day editing it in 16th notes. But the fact that it came out of a synth - and not a plug-in - makes it totally worth the day I spent". (Bio)

Through both artists we see the same play with machine and “authenticity”, as first called into question by the dubbing of “roots” reggae (Davis, “Roots and Wires”).
osborne.jpg


Despite the limitations or through the limitations of tape, Carlton’s compositions focused on a “palette” of available sound materials – especially dubs of live recordings:

“We set it up so that we were all playing live, together, without clicks, because we wanted to get more of a live feel,” Osborne says. “We spent 10 days in the main room just doing takes. We set out so that if we wanted, we could keep Vanessa’s vocals. We isolated her enough so that we could keep the piano and overdub the vocal again, if necessary... There would always be something from the live session. But we did start remixing things and pulling things around, and finding other ways to make songs work if they didn’t feel quite comfortable in their skin” (http://bit.ly/tYDgsz).

Enon describes the palette of sound available to any composer within the “classical sequence” as working within a “language” of “limitation” “any good composer understands that and works within that framework of limitations.” Yet, these limitations are only different compared to those of software. In the same interview, Carlton seems to echo Enon, adding Osborne, “welcomed [recording to tape] as a challenge. Those limitations make you crystallize what you’re really doing, and I think it brings out the best in your work” (http://bit.ly/tYDgsz).

Carlton’s single “Carousel” is a mix of locations and live events including: Carlton playing piano (she also grew up practicing piano), vocals, backing vocals, strings, and a children’s choir (and their clapping). From a day at Ray Davies’ Konk Stuido in London, a brass trio: French horn, tuba and trombone and a string quartet, as well as a children’s choir in Abbey Road Studios.



Throughout the interview, both Osborne and Carlton are careful to mention these locations, even specific rooms, surrounding landscape, aesthetics, and “sound”, mostly within Peter Gabriel’s Wonderland Studio’s located in the English countryside, the as they cite location as a critical piece to the making of the album. These “sounds” are tied with technical processes such as mike placement. All of which I believe are an attempt to make the album “present” within a “global music culture” now available”(Eno, “Studio as Composition Tool”). In contrast to the “futuristic” sound of Gartner’s house music, for instance, Carlton attempts to take us to “the ambience and locale in which it was made”(Enon, “Studo as Composition Tool”), yet at the same time, through a mix of edits/rearrangements, etc., we see the social/mechanical construction of an imaginary/subjective space.

Carlton live with choir/piano/band:


Ashley Wei

In last week’s lecture, Yoko K. mentioned Yoko Kanno, one of my favorite musicians, and her album Cowboy Bebop – my favorite anime OST album ever. I’m very excited to bring the first track of the album, TANK!, also known as the opening sequence for the anime to this week’s discussion. Yoko Kanno is well known for her creativity and for mixing several different styles with great results. In Cowboy Bebop, the Jazz, Blues and Bebop are predominant references, but not the only type of music genres you'll find in Cowboy Bebop OST.



The Fabulous Tank! is a quite ear-catching song and makes you understand from the start that this show is a step beyond. It basically focuses on Jazz but many other interesting elements are found in this track too. For example, the background drum beats sound quite unique for me comparing to other typical Jazz music. It reminds me a lot of the native African hand drum, which makes this track sound quite exotic. I also found the music have a subtle reference to the James Bond movie’s theme music, which adds some sort of mysterious flavor to the wildness of cowboys. The anime is set in future and space. Accordingly, the music, although composed mostly in a nostalgic 80s/90s style, has an amazingly cool and contemporary feel co-existing with the vintage feel. There are several part of the track sound pretty grand and magnificent like symphonic music, by which I can picture the spaceships soaring in the outer space. There are also some pitches in the soundtrack performed by trumpet really highlight this track, especially the one from the very end. Yoko Kanno did an amazing work on mixing film and anime elements to her music and the music video of TANK! is another blast.




One album that has received a new wave of recent attention for its induction into the Grammy Hall of Fame--and also exemplifies the hybrid model--is Paul Simon’s Graceland. This album from will be celebrating its 25th anniversary, and it still rings with a mix of zydeco, Tex-Mex, pop, a cappella, isicathamiya, rock, “inspiration of black music from the American South” (Billboard), and mbaqanga, a style of South African music (Wikipedia). Graceland was recorded partially in South Africa and included musicians that would typically seem divergent from Paul Simon’s own background, such as Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Not only was this a risk musically, but Rolling Stone warns, “Simon risked severe criticism by going to South Africa (then under apartheid).” At the time, most of the world was boycotting the African nation due to apartheid. However, the exposure that the album garnered brought popularity and a novel interest in “the best musicians from the black townships” (Rolling Stone) with which Simon played.
external image mabazo%20simon%20roll%20stone.jpg

In effect, Graceland introduced world music to the mainstream, and perhaps even “transcended ‘world music’ to become the whole world’s soundtrack” (Rolling Stone). The use of the pennywhistle, guttural and rhythmic vocal sounds, and a bass solo by guest South African artist Bakithi Kumalo make the song “You Can Call Me Al” an eclectic mashup of styles. The bass solo is actually a palindrome--one half was recorded and then played back the opposite way to complete the piece. Simon’s singing is almost spoken-word style and word-heavy which also challenges the norms of how traditional songs are harmonized.


Another appropriation from African music comes through Herbie Hancock’s “Watermelon Man”, in the album Takin’ Off from 1962. Jazz legend Hancock borrowed from the Hindewhu sound of the Ba’aka, a nomadic, traditional hunter-gatherer group from central Africa.The original sound was produced by a voice and flute while Hancock uses beer bottles and his own breath to make the sound. He integrates his “jazz funk style” with the traditional Ba’aka music “in layers – adding first a bass beat, then a guitar riff, until before you know it, the music is transformed” (SoundJunction). There is much repetition and pattern in the music. The conglomeration of different instruments and voices is called a “hocket”, where “each musician is contributing something to the sound of the whole.” This reflects the kind of shared, common culture which the Ba’aka have practiced throughout history, different from our Western concepts of individualized intellectual property. I think this is a good metaphor for the hybrid nature of music in general.



Hancock was questioned about his appropriation of the sound, but said that the Ba’aka would not mind as they shared a brotherhood. Another of the number of artists who would then go on to appropriate Hancock’s appropriation is Madonna, who actually credited and paid the jazz legend. Madonna’s use of the tune is seen in “Sanctuary”, when it’s brought after the introduction and plays as a “sonic background to the provocative and sexual timbre of her voice” (SoundJunction) It gives the song an exotic, worldly feel, as if the listener can’t quite place from where it comes.

Both Paul Simon’s and Herbie Hancock/Madonna’s use of a hybridized form of world music relates to the concept of remix at the globalized macro-cultural level, at the sub-culture level, and even at the level of cultural goods and intellectual property. The artists use collage to piece together styles and create a sound that has the “DNA” of many different backgrounds.

These are examples of borrowing the traditional beats of a people who had developed the style and passed it down for countless years. To have the ability to make use of a music developed for this long is powerful--artists like Simon and Hancock can stand on the shoulders of giants of many to then create their own sound. Though I want to say it’s the easy way out, taking another’s intellectual property and a whole people’s cultural capital, but this is the form of exchange that goes on in music and most disciplines all the time. The positive outcome is that it introduces a world style to people who would might not otherwise ever hear it. And that’s the beauty of music. Unlike other cultural exports, it can be transferred anywhere. A person in middle America may never see traditional central African art or taste their food, but they can be subliminally or even overtly influenced by their music.

--Barry Blitch


Applying Debord to Hybridity in Music
Erica Harp


In Society of the Spectacle, Guy Debord provides a lengthy evaluation of cultural production which he terms “the spectacle;” while Debord focuses on visual images and purports a great number of assertions, I would like to focus on one concept that exists through the piece and try to apply it to the sphere of music. My thoughts on applying Debord emerged in a process—from this week’s readings and something Yoko K said. What interests me in the discussion of music is its location and reality.


In point two of Debord’s influential work he states the spectacles are “fragmented views of reality …[that] regroup themselves into a new unity as a separate pseudoworld that can only be looked at” (Debord, 7). Debord here is explaining the nature of cultural productions in their ephemeral and some ways inaccessible material: they exist in their mediated forms but not in any “reality.” I bring up this idea in the discussion of hybrid music because this feature of virtual existence is true for contemporary music as well. Last week, Yoko K shared that her ideal music listening situation is a good pair of headphones; I think this sentiment gets to the heart of the matter. Our hybrid music, like our hybrid images, exist in representational space—for these sounds there is “no there there,” to borrow from Professor Irvine. While I experience Debord’s descriptions of the spectacle to be critical and often scathing, I mean to point this out not as a reproach of music but as an identification of it.


I find this element of current music to be fascinating because I think it informs our current usage of music. In 1850, music was local in the sense that it was delimited by its original place of production—the experience of music whether in an orchestra hall or on a banjo at the fair, was confined and in inextricable to its physical and temporal location. However, in 2011 music is not connected to a specific place and time of production in the same way. I would argue that this may influence what I would call the “transportational” use of music today. I mean by this that user listen to a song on their iPod and the space of creation they hear is virtual and referential. People use music to tap into other spaces that aren’t “really” there. I’m sure everyone has their own “mood music” or personal soundtrack—songs we listen to gain access to domains of happiness, sadness, etc. To me, this is our engagement with the spectacle, we interact with it on its own plane, it’s “seperate pseudoworld.”

DebordSpectacle.jpg


Gong Linna and her "Tante"
What’s the hell of this song! Is this a serious song? Pecking Opera? Chinese folk music? What does she singing? When people were still thinking what this is, this song have already spread like a virus all over the Internet in China and been famous as a ‘Diving Song’. The real name of this song is ‘Tan Te’, which means perturbed. There are four features of this song: weird tunes, varied rhythms, random lyric (The lyric is a string of vocal and doesn’t have any meanings.) and exaggerated facial expressions. The band is consisted of three kinds of Chinese traditional instruments and a cello. The vocal is a Chinese lady named Gong Linna, who was graduated at China Conservatory and went to Germany to continue her study of world music. In Germany, she met her husband and the composer of this song named Robert Zollitsch.

After people listening it, many people feel this song is so funny and this is a song that they never listened before. Although this song’s lyric doesn't have meanings, it provides every listener an image and a story. Is this a beautiful song? Of course not, but the tunes will stay in you head for a long time after you listen it. Some people said this song is a distortion of Chinese folk music. Some people said her vocal style is from Pecking Opera. Others think this is a totally new kind of song. As the singer Gong Linna said that this is a piece of Chinese experimental music. She began to learn music in China and studied world music in Germany. Finally, she found that music should be natural, so she is chasing the soul of the old nature.
(Tante, Hatsune Miku version) Hatsune Miku is singing synthesizer software with a female persona developed by a Japanese company named Crypton Future Mediaby using vocaloid 2 technology. The name Hatsune Miku means "the future voice" in Japanese. After this software published, it gets more and more popular. Many critics said that this software begin the time of virtual idol. The virtual idol has perfect singing skills and never getting old. Science 2008, she begin to play her songs on her concerts. By using this software, every song can have a Miku's version.

Xindi Guo


Victoria Hamilton
Youtube, Remix, MashUps and Instant Celebrity
Karmin, 49 MILLION views on YouTube
Karmin has made herself a YouTube superstar with an impressive take on Chris Brown's "Look at Me Now" from his most recent F.A.M.E. album. She has clocked more than 49,000,000 hits on YouTube by combining her impressive vocal stylings with one of the most popular songs of the spring, perhaps it was her adept handling of Busta Rhymes' tongue twister rap or perhaps it was just her skill as a Caucasian woman but when this video went viral it went VIRAL. She has made a name for herself with more than 49 videos to her credit now.Kanye West "Genius At Work" with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra
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Jay Z & Kanye West, Watch the Throne, Chopped and Screwed

Chopped and Screw music is a genre created in the 90s by DJ Screw.


The Jaspects, A Chance to Shine, Broadcasting the Definition