MUS 210 Journal Week 5 & 6


20 July 2009


This is Spinal Tap,  film, 1984. 


Van Halen, “Jump” (Garofalo p. 368)



21 July 2009


Gloria Estefan, video clip from Routes of Rhythm (1984) documentary series


Madonna, “Like a Virgin” Like a Virgin, 1984 (Garofalo p. 341)

Madonna, “Material Girl,” Like a Virgin, 1984

Film clip, “Like a Virgin” from Moulin Rouge!, 2001, directed by Baz Luhrmann


Nirvana, "Smells like Teen Spirit", Nevermind,  1991 (Garofalo p. 414)

The Bad Plus (jazz group) "Smells like Teen Spirit", Motel, 2001; also recorded on their 2003 album, These Are the Vistas.

Paul Anka, "Smells like Teen Spirit", Rock Swings, 2005


22 July 2009


Opening film clip:  Do The Right Thing, Spike Lee, dir.  1989.


Terry Gross Fresh Air interview with Kool Herc


Sugarhill Gang, “Rapper’s Delight” 1979; the 1st hit rap record.  note how the rap starts rather square and on the beat, but the rhythmic density and polyrhythmic complexity increases


While Krims’s 3 main category labels (“Sung”, “percussion-effusive” “speech-effusive”) may not be useful jargon, the descriptive terms within each are:



roughly "old school" flow: "rhythmic repetition, on-beat accents, regular on-beat pauses, and strict couplet groupings" ("sung" because the spoken delivery resembles song [melodies] except in respect to pitch)


The two "effusive" styles are both characteristically "new school" (late 80s onwards), and are marked by "a tendency to spill over the rhythmic boundaries of the meter [and] the couplet, staggering the syntax and/or the rhymes, [and] creating polyrhythms . . . "



clear articulation and staccato delivery, generally with recurring rhythmic patterns


closer to normal speech with more vaguely defined rhythmic location and articulation and highly irregular rhythms (e.g. OutKast)

from Jonathan Walker, review of Adam Krims, Rap Music and the Poetics of Identity, 2000, Music Theory Online


Grandmaster Flash Fresh Air interview [start 2 min in; end 9 min]


Thulani Davis reference from Rap Music and Street Consciousness, Cheryl L. Keyes, University of Illinois Press, c2002.


Run/DMC, “Rock Box” 1984 (Garofalo p. 382) anti-materialist, common-man theme at the end.


Funkadelic, “One Nation Under a Groove” – funk = different social class from disco


See Garofalo, p. 387; rap initially more successful on pop rather than black radio. 


Gil Scott-Heron, “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” 1970


Public Enemy, “Fight the Power” at least 13 different samples identified in this rich, complex texture


An African cultural pattern?

·         Jamaican calypso example: “War” by Growling Tiger and Lord Airey

·         Praise song performed by a jali (griot) of the Mande culture in Mali.  The plucked string instrument is a kora.


Sean Combs, "I'll Be Missing You" 1997 (Garofalo p.  456) uninteresting use of an obvious sample.  Good choice for a textbook.


(not covered) Queen Latifah, “Ladies First” 1989 (Garofalo p. 388)



23 July 2009


Electric guitar guest lecture by Rick English


27 July 2009

Country music -- personas, masks and cowboy hats

Garofalo’s choices I think are not very good.  The aggressively patriotic Toby Keith song, answered by the Dixie Chicks, is an interesting example of music reflecting society, but does not speak to the mainstream massive popularity of country music and especially of the hybrid of rock and country that emerged on the popular charts in the 1990s.


Bluegrass is an interesting example of music that was never folk music, always being a professional essentially commercial music dependent on radio and recording technology.  Yet it is perceived as being very traditional.  It is in a way a modern, urban music, emerging in response to the migration of workers from rural Appalachia to Northern factory cities.  Example pieces from Bill Monroe.


The big-name to associate with country music and 1990s is Garth Brooks, especially since he rivals Elvis Pressley in numbers of records sold.  Based on sales alone, Brooke should have a bigger role in the textbook history, but also on stylistic grounds, as his music blends his own tastes in rock and country.  That blends was commercially quite successful.




In 1970, Nashville was a minor center focused on country music. By 2004, only New York and L.A. boasted more musicians. The extent of its growth was so significant that when my research team and I charted the geographic centers of the music industry from 1970 and 2004 using a metric called a location quotient, Nashville was the only city that registered positive growth. In effect, it sucked up all the growth in the music industry.  Richard Florida, “The Nashville Effect”


While Nashville may not possess the size and scale of New York City, the celebrity-making allure of L.A., the top-40 hit-making appeal of Atlanta, or even the critical cachet of Austin or Montreal, across many genres it possesses the world’s best writing and studio talent and the best recording infrastructure. Today, it’s home to over 180 recording studios, 130 music publishers, 100 live music clubs, and 80 record labels. It’s turned into the Silicon Valley of the music business, combining the best institutions, the best infrastructure, and the best talent. And, like Silicon Valley’s broad reach across many high-tech fields from hardware to software, biotech to green energy, Nashville has become the center for multiple musical genres from country and gospel to rock and pop, attracting top talent from across the United States and the globe.


Lively but Conservative?

There is likely a symbiotic relationship between recording industry infrastructure and music scenes, as scene members work session gigs by day and clubs by night. And yet, on the other hand, there may be a negative influence whereby heavy industry concentration creates an over-professionalized environment that is not open to some kinds of musical innovation. The grunge sound of ’90s Seattle and Olympia grew up where there were few recording studios, and the scene made a virtue out of the unprofessional sound that emerged.  (ref)


An interesting counter example is Dwight Yoakum.  His New Traditional country style was rejected in Nashville in the early 1980s, and he had to move to Los Angeles to be able to record it.  Example song: "Little Ways"


As country music has merged with popular rock, what is the difference?  Why would a particular record be played on a country station versus a pop or rock station?  The distinction seems to me difficult to draw.  The “twang” of the vocal seems to be the most critical element.


Song comparisons -- 2 versions of "American Girl"

Taylor Swift, 2009

Tom Petty (original version)


Shania Twain, with some 34 million units sold, ranks as the number one selling female artist.  Her album Come on Over was released in different versions around the world.  The European version was supposedly less country, although it has not many differences.  Example song: "You're Still the One."   It seems the guitar synthesizer replaces the steel guitar in the mix released in America.  (The difference is around 2:40-2:55).


"Crazy Little Thing Called Love"

Queen original

Dwight Yoakum cover


The evolution of the recoding industry view

From contempt:

The backwoodsman, like the hillbilly, will never swap his fiddle, Jews Harp, banjo and harmonica even for the most terrific brand of swingaroo.  He is musically isolated, so to speak, from the modern musical world.  He is that quaint person whom people in the cities often confused with the farmer when they speak of "hick" or "rube."  Actually the backwoodsman is a poor renter, in a way like the Southern sharecropper.  And as he is very much in the minority in the barnyard country, let's forget him.

(From Billboard magazine in 1939, quoted in Brackett, page 103)

To fear, as country musicians expand their audience and understand their market value:

Most [music industry professionals] blame the war for part of their troubles.  Claim that ridge-runners and stump-jumpers all got into the war and in the course of their G.I. travels picked up enough metropolitan savvy to hoist their market value and asking price when they returned to the farm and mountainside.  (1946)

David Brackett, Interpreting Popular Music, University Of California Press, 2000.


28 July 2009


Écriture féminine?

Ancient Anti-Female Bias woven into European culture


“The female is softer in disposition, is more mischievous, less simple, more impulsive and more attentive to the nurture of the young ... The fact is, the nature of man is the most rounded off and complete.”

(Men and women are different; women are inferior.  )



EQUAL RIGHTS (Men and women are equal.)

First wave – suffrage (right to vote)

2nd wave – critique of discrimination (1960s)


(guesses about Rolling Stone lists?)

Queen Latifa example (textbook)




3rd wave (too many approaches to name, but one might be reduced to is ‘Men and women are different, and equally valuable.’  Women have distinct viewpoints that obviously are a part of culture.) 

Écriture féminine (Hélène Cixous), distinctively gendered writing

Composer Alex Shapiro’s original Dial-a-mood catalog of her pieces.  An example of Écriture féminine, or her film scoring background?  (As the social scientists say, it is "over determined."  Both explanations are sufficient.)

The more traditional composer website layout.  


The 1990s & Lilith Fair

Sinead O’Connor (p. 409 ‘alternative to what?’)  This particular song might be traditional girl-loses-boy narrative, but the performance to me has a certain raw intensity and vulnerability that is distinctive.  Note the variety of timbres used in her vocal performance.

Lilith Fair &

Sarah McLachlan (p. 438) song example "Stupid"

Alanis Morissette -- top selling album in 1996

Suzanne Vega -- a personal idiosyncratic touch to the lyrics?  Topics range from serious and personal to every day, almost trivial, and very particular.


Let’s look at those Rolling Stone lists now . . .


Before the 1990s

Janis Joplin

Joni Mitchell

Patti Smith (#44 – see RS album list specific page)

Pretenders “Tattooed Love Boys” lyrics

Joan Jett


After 2000 (one I left off)

Regina Spektor, "Fidelity". playful.






Week 1 -- the roots of American Popular music; early rock, doo-wop, surf music


Week 2 – the Beatles, Dylan . . .


Week 3 – the 1970s; issues of authenticity


Week 4 – the 1980s; yet more on authenticity; Thriller


David Meckler


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


Webpages for music classes


Cañada College