Monday, October 25, 2010
Sunday, October 24, 2010
Saturday, October 23, 2010
For a longtime now there has been an on-going debate about the status of hip-hop. “Hip-Hop is dead” is something that many people have declared time and time again and multiple rappers and fans alike have been sharing their views on the state of Hip-Hop. The usual areas of interest when this comes up are “Old School vs. New School” and the importance of Lyrical content vs. Entertainment. This lines up very nicely with what classical music has been through many times before and is going through now.
Old School Hip-Hop would be the 80’s through about mid 90’s and New School would be from the mid 90’s to the Present. Generally the older generation feels that the true era of Hip-Hop, when it was real and meant something is long gone and all that is left is trashy, meaningless music. The younger generation, however, feels that Hip-Hop has only become more diverse and open to new styles that were not around before and is no were near dead.
Many Hip-Hop artists have claim that they are determined to stop Hip-Hop from dying. Nas completed in entire Album pertaining to the death of Hip-Hop and how he plans to revive it titling an album “Hip hop is Dead”. Jay-Z after declaring to be retired decided to make a comeback album title “Kingdom Come” to save Hip-Hop. Lil’ Wayne can be found stating in many songs that he and Hip-Hop are one and that it would be nothing without him. In his song “Dr. Carter” he equates himself and other rappers to doctors of Hip-Hop stating what is needed in Hip-Hop or a rapper with his last line being “I saved your life”.
Clearly Hip-Hop is not dead in terms of popularity, but the authenticity of its musical style is always being questioned not only by the public, but performers themselves.
Hip-Hop Performer Jay-Z will be releasing his Memoir “Decoded” on Nov. 16th. While advertising of course will be at play, the form of advertisement in which Bing and Jay-Z has created is very innovative. The project is a world-wide scavenger hunt with the grand prize being a trip to Las Vegas to see Jay-Z and Coldplay in a New Year’s Eve concert. The full story is in the New York Times.
Just as women are heavily under-represented in the classical world, women are heavily under-represented in Hip-Hop. Women are usually spoken about or to in Hip-Hop, but hardly ever actually have a voice themselves. The first women to really have a voice in hip-Hop are “Salt-n-Pepa” who were a duo. Since then, there have been very few females that have been able to stand on their own and really make it big. Some women those are famous include MC Lyte, Lil’ Kim, Queen Latifah, Missy Elliot and Eve. While that may seem like a lot, there are many more male counterparts that have attained much greater success than females. At the moment Hip-Hop is still lacking in female representation with only one female rapper that is really famous right now, Nicki Minaj. While Nicki Minaj is a female, she is also the first openly bi-sexual rapper creating much buzz in the Hip-Hop world. While some are ok with her lifestyle and the way she chooses to represent herself, many question and sometimes even reject her. What’s more, many of the people who choose to view her negatively are mostly women. Namely three women that have recently commented on her style both life wise and musically are Pepa, Lil’ Kim, and Gloria Velez. Pepa questions her legitimacy as a role model, Lil’ Kim demands Minaj pay her due respect, and Velez down right admitted to just not liking or respecting her. While I believe she’s been under fire by women mainly because of others jealously, others may have different opinions. Links to the articles displaying the three criticisms are as follows:
Lil’ Wayne was simply known as one of the most famous rappers of our time until he declared himself to be more. On December 6, 2005 Lil’ Wayne released his album “The Carter II” and claimed to be the best rapper alive on a song titled “Best Rapper Alive”. After he made this statement much debate arose to the discussion as to if this was in fact a true statement or merely an overly inflated ego grown out of control. Since the time of the album’s release he has collaborated with practically every famous hip-hop, R and B, and Pop and artists of other genres including Enrique Iglesias(Latin Pop), Jason Mraz(Indie Rock), Weezer(Alternative Rock), and even Madonna. Naturally being so exposed across so many different platforms of music (his album titled “Rebirth” is in even in the style of rock), he is very easily recognized all around the world.
The reason this is important is because a very good lesson can be learned from this. What if Classical music were to be approached in the same sense in which Lil’ Wayne approached his career. To declare it as the best music around and to spread its influence across every musical and cultural platform possible until everyone had no choice, but to listen to its voice. As many people say these days, “Is there any song Lil’ Wayne isn’t in?” to which one could respond, “Yes. One that people don’t know”.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
I thought this would be helpful in light of our Cook readings.
This is a traditional version of the song before it became the national anthem.
This is the official national anthem version as sung at the Rugby World Cup in 2007.
Even though it's the same music, these versions feel quite different. I feel like the latter version has been "Anglicized" - it sounds much more like a European chorale or hymn than a traditional South African song. What do you think?
The Symphony Hall organ, a 4,800-pipe Aeolian-Skinner (Opus 1134) designed by G. Donald Harrison, installed in 1949, and autographed by Albert Schweitzer, is considered one of the finest concert hall organs in the world. It replaced the hall's first organ, built in 1900 by George S. Hutchings of Boston, which was electrically keyed, with 62 ranks of nearly 4,000 pipes set in a chamber 12 feet deep and 40 feet high. The Hutchings organ had fallen out of fashion by the 1940s when lighter, clearer tones became preferred. E. Power Biggs, often a featured organist for the orchestra, lobbied hard for a thinner bass sound and accentuated treble.
The 1949 Aeolian-Skinner reused and modified more than 60% of the existing Hutchings pipes and added 600 new pipes in a Positiv division. The original diapason pipes, 32 feet in length, were reportedly sawed into manageable pieces for disposal in 1948.
In 2003 the organ was thoroughly overhauled by Foley-Baker Inc., reusing its chassis and many pipes, but enclosing the Bombarde and adding to it the long-desired Principal (diapason) pipes, adding a new Solo division, and reworking its chamber for better sound projection.
Æolian-Skinner Organ Company, Inc. — Æolian-Skinner of Boston, Massachusetts was an important American builder of a large number of notable pipe organs from its inception as the Skinner Organ Company in 1901 until its closure in 1972. Key figures were Ernest M. Skinner (1866-1960), Joseph Whiteford, and G. Donald Harrison (1889-1956). The company was formed from the merger of the Skinner Organ Company and the pipe organ division of the Æolian Company in 1932.
Here is a link to photos taken when the organ was re-built in 2003.
Monday, October 18, 2010
Sunday, October 17, 2010
I immediately thought of Glenn Gould while writing this post, who plays many Baroque pieces on the piano. If you lived during the Baroque era, you would typically play any of Bach's pieces on the harpsichord. The thing about the harpsichord, is that you cannot change the volume, because every note is at one dynamic level. One plays expressively with the tempo by speeding up and slowing down to play expressively and in the style that Bach might have played. One may chose to slow down at a cadence to play "expressively." The reason I bring up Glenn Gould is because first of all, he plays Bach's music on the piano, not on the harpsichord. He plays with the volume by playing certain sections louder than others. He also plays the pieces almost like you would from the Romantic era by having these long lush lines on the piano. He plays the trills a certain way, that someone from the Baroque period might not have played. He is one of my favorite pianists to listen to, and there are some that don't like his playing because he does not fit the Baroque style of playing. Is this really that big of a deal to play music a certain way?
I think the main point here that I'm trying to make is to say that there is no wrong or right way to play music. I believe one should play music to the style that is enjoyable to them, and there will always be someone out there that may not like the style that you play, and that's okay. I also believe that a musician who can play in the style that others might enjoy or want as well as playing their own style is a true musician. I believe this because it shows that you truly understand others opinions, and you have also formed your own.
Saturday, October 16, 2010
In the context of our class conversations, he seems like a composer who who is completely unconcerned with whether his music is considered 'highbrow' or 'lowbrow'. He simply writes for the universal human spirit, which has no class or economic divisions. I did find it interesting though that he is now writing mostly for commissions, which ends up being only for those people or groups that can afford it....
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Monday, October 11, 2010
After we talked about it in class, it boiled down to; well, how do you change it? So, that got me thinking. In this new musical utopia, what would my new concert experience be like? Would it be longer, or shorter? Would I talk more than I sang? Would I play things twice if someone wanted to hear it again? Would I let people clap whenever they wanted?
Well, I think it is time to put my money where my mouth is. I have a piece of music that was written for me and another singer, that is prepared and ready to premier, but have no date set. Could we, my fellow music-makers, devise a concert experience that breaks out of the social norms of the usual graduation recital that we see quite often? If we (granted I do have my own ideas) come up with a plan, I am more than willing to put it into action, and then see what the public thinks. We're only going to change the future of classical music if we go out and actually try new things.
"Entertainment has a bad name. Serious people learn to mistrust and even to revile it. The word wears spandex, pasties, a leisure suit studded with blinking lights. It gives off a whiff of Coppertone and dripping Creamsicle, the fake-butter miasma of a movie-house lobby, of karaoke and Jägermeister, Jerry Bruckheimer movies, a Street Fighter machine grunting solipsistically in a corner of an ice-rink arcade. Entertainment trades in cliché and product placement..."
Chabon goes on to suggest:
"...Maybe the reason for the junkiness of so much of what pretends to entertain us is that we have accepted - indeed, we have helped to articulate - such a narrow, debased concept of entertainment."
Just like "art," "high culture," and "lowbrow," "entertainment" has inherited a lot of baggage regarding its meaning. Perhaps we can discuss this as a class tomorrow.
On another note, I wanted to mention that there is an awesome article on the MET's Ring cycle and how they are trying to change the image of opera in the latest edition of Newsweek. I will also try to xerox this for tomorrow.
Just in case you didn't know, the BSO is performing Mahler 2 one last time tomorrow night at 8 PM. College Card tickets are available for the performance, and you can start picking them up at 10 AM at the BSO Box Office. I am going to go to the Box Office around 9:30 AM tomorrow to make sure I get a good place in line.
If you aren't doing anything tomorrow night and you haven't seen it already, you should definitely catch it! The BSO is one of the greatest symphonies in the world (no joke) and it is kind of amazing that we live mere miles away from their home!