The Enlightenment era took place in the late 17th and 18th century in Europe, and it was an extreme cultural movement. In my opinion, this is when art and music started to make a larger impact on the world all around. In regards to people, the two names that stood out the most to me were Thomas Hobbes and John Locke. I remembered learning about their ideologies and ways in high school; they both promoted opposite things, but made a large impact on society. What stood out to me the most when we learned more about the Age of Enlightenment was the opera that we had watched on Friday, Don Giovanni. I have heard operas before, but honestly I have never been a huge fan of them. The fact that I can’t understand what they are saying is very confusing to me. However, watching it up close and personal in class made me realize that the amount of facial expressions they make and the body movements that they do helps you understand it just as much. I couldn’t take my eyes off of the screen and I thought that their voices were beautiful. If I were living in the Enlightenment era, I would probably go see operas all of the time for their entertainment value. The fact that they are not as popular in modern age is a little disappointing. I think people are too consumed with the pop culture that surrounds us now to absorb the beauty that we can find in this type of music. People of my era especially are not introduced to this music very often, making us less likely to listen to it, unless we do it on our own time. The Age of Enlightenment speaks for itself with its title, because I believe that it enlightened people to think in many different ways. With all of the forms of art, music, and culture presented during this time, people were typically more intellectual and tuned into society. I believe that is something that we are missing from our culture nowadays. We are too consumed with everyone’s lives but our own, and we feed on the drama and existence of people we think are higher than us. However, in reality, if everyone just focused on themselves and what’s surrounding them closely, they would be able to realize the beauty that they can achieve. Everyone is capable of making art, music, or anything that would help the greater good. If more people went to art museums, or the opera, or even a town meeting, they would be able to realize that there is so much more that they can offer, or what the world can offer them. The opera made me open my eyes to realize that I can listen to other types of music rather than what is considered “popular”. I think the Age of Enlightenment can repeat itself, with the talent and capability that is left in the many people on this Earth. So I say, listen to the opera, create a work of art, compose an orchestra, create a new government, whatever you think would be the right path for you, because the Age of Enlightenment happened because people pushed themselves to achieve greatness, and it can most definitely happen again.
Sunday, September 22, 2013
Reading Bruno Nettl’s essay An Introduction to Folk Music in the United States made me think about folk music in a different way. One thing that can definitely be determined by everyone that listens to folk music is that it doesn’t have a set definition. If I were to give my own definition of folk music, I would say that it is a simplistic style of music played by all types of people. It is a very old style of music that is directed towards various audiences. By saying it’s old however, I mean that it was created a long time ago, but it can always be modernized.
The importance of origin comes up numerous times in Nettls’ essay. For example, when someone who is a professional composes a song it is most likely not considered folk music. However, when someone who is untrained makes it, it is more likely to be called folk music. There is also the opinion that a folk song can still be considered folk if written by a composer, just as long as you don’t know exactly where it came from.
When speaking of my own definition of folk music, the first thing I mentioned was that it was simplistic. This relates to the category of simple vs. complex mentioned by Nettl in his writing. In folk music, simple is considered just a few instruments playing a non-complex rhythm. I consider folk instruments to be certain types of string instruments and maybe some percussion. The factor of complex music is that it usually has a lot more instruments and it usually is composed, mostly like an orchestra.
Simple music can also be determined by how it is viewed by an audience. It is said to be participatory, where people are entertained by the music. This I thought was an obvious assumption because all music is created for someone to enjoy. When you get involved with the music that is playing for you, it is always ten times more entertaining. This relates to the passive vs. participatory complex that is brought up in Nettls writings as well.
I think that these two aspects of folk music are the most important and also the most controversial. Honestly, the term simple seems to give the quality of folk music a bad name. When you think of the word simple, it doesn’t necessarily sound like it’s going to be good. When in reality, folk music is a great genre of music. Whilst being simple, it could also very easily become complex as well. The layers of harmonies and different melodies played in folk music can give it a complex aura that doesn’t usually go with the “definition” of folk music. I think that calling it simple can actually be degrading, because I believe that almost all music is complex.
I believe that a lot of people contrary to the masses, think that folk music is passive instead of participatory. Just because a type of music might be older or slightly underappreciated, does not make it a passive genre of music. I believe that all music is participatory just because you are listening to it. Even when you are sitting listening to an orchestra, you are still participating by being there and listening to the various instruments play for your own entertainment.
I think Bruno Nettl gave most of the information that we already know, that folk music does not have an easy way to define it. I=It is met by some constraints by the listeners of the music because most people judge it way too fast. Just because something’s origins are older or it may seem to be “simple”, it does not mean that it is not good music. I think Bruno Nettl helped me understand the controversial topic of folk music more and made me interested to delve into the topic more than I probably ever would have. Folk music to me is for everyone’s ears, and it can never be defined, it is just enjoyable music.
Friday, September 20, 2013
Last night, September 19th, at the TC Lounge in the East Tower, I attended an amazing jazz night around 8:30. I’ve heard of these nights, but never actually went to one until last night. I sat in the corner with my cup of coffee not expecting much, but boy was I wrong. By the end of the night I honestly didn’t even want to leave, the music was just that great. The night started off with some simple jamming on the piano. The pianist was playing a repetitive piano movement for a warm up while a man clapped a distinct 4/4meter along with him.
The first song included a stand up bass, some drums, and a trumpet player. Man that trumpet player absolutely blew me away. He improvised various beautiful solos that did not have a distinct melody. The overall sound of the piece was smooth and soft and the one instrument that definitely stood out was the trumpet. They all ended the song with some interesting staccato notes that were syncopated and they finally completed the song on what I believed was a minor note. From the first song, I realized how much I really enjoy listening to jazz music. This particular piece made me feel relaxed but had an upbeat feel at the same time.
The second song was a complete different feel than the first. It was the same three instruments, but it was very upbeat and fun and if I could I would have definitely danced to it! More great improvised solos came from the trumpet, making people hoot and holler. The bass gave a great undertone to the piece with its repetitive notes, definitely playing into the incredible jazz feel. The drums were more prominent in this song with random loud strikes of the snare at certain points. In the middle of the song, the dynamics became very soft causing a much more solemn mood. It quickly reversed back to the upbeat, louder tune that it began as, bringing out the fun feel once more. The song ended pretty abruptly, but it fit the tune perfectly.
They then played a familiar song, but I could not recall the name of it for the life of me. It was the same instruments once more, but the song started out very slow and pretty quiet. When it finally picked up the pace, there was a stand up bass solo that was attention grabbing. It added very well to the tone of the song, and the texture became deeper. Throughout this song, the drums were pretty quiet and just played a back layer. I caught myself thinking so many times how much I loved the trumpet solos. He was absolutely amazing and can’t wait to hear him again sometime soon. I noticed when the volume drops in the songs, people talked more, and I just didn’t understand why because I couldn’t concentrate on anything else but the amazing music.
In the next song, my favorite instrument to listen to came into play, saxophones!! There were three saxophones, a pianist, a stand up bass and a drummer. The saxophone players made beautiful harmonies that definitely stood out to me. After playing together, they all had their own solos that were amazing and stood out equally as much as the other.
I finally recognized a song when a saxophone by itself came into the mix and started playing the song “There’s A Place For Us”. I personally loved the effects the cymbals were bringing to the tune. Being a drummer, I personally love all of the light touches that the drums enhance. There was a wonderful drum solo in this song. The mood was soft and kind of sultry, knowing the song and how it is sung.
The last song that I heard was with a trombone, bass and drums. I never really heard a trombone solo before so it was pretty interesting. There were very upbeat rhythms towards the beginning of the song and it was very fast, fun and able to dance to. It caught my attention from the very beginning, with the trombone and drums being loud and overpowering. A common thing I noticed in all the fast paced songs, including this one, was that it gets quiet in the middle and the mood automatically changes. The drummer rocked out in this song and definitely stood out the most with its amazing solos.
In conclusion, I absolutely loved going to the jazz night and will definitely be there in the future. I saw common themes in each piece, and I would definitely compare this to some of the folk music we had heard in class. It was definitely more upbeat and entertained the crowd more, but it had that communal feel that folk music is supposed to have. I personally loved the trumpet, saxophone, and drums the most and can’t get the great rhythms out of my head. This event has inspired me to want to go to many concerts in the future.
Few of the instruments I heard last night
Sunday, September 15, 2013
This Sunday, attending Ithaca’s annual Porchfest was an absolute pleasure. First of all, the atmosphere and musical environment of Ithaca is just so hip and pleasing. I loved the laid back attitude of just walking down the streets of the town listening to the various folk music options being played. One piece of music that stood out to me was an ensemble of men singing a capella to the song “Happy Together” by The Turtles. Their voices blended so beautifully together and their harmonies sounded amazing. It was obvious to see that they had rehearsed this song many times because the rhythm was so well put together. The texture of the song was very light and balanced well with all of their voices. It was definitely something that we heard and everyone took a double take to hear it. Another piece that caught our attention was a jazz ensemble. The band had a few instruments, the major ones that stuck out in my head being the trumpet and the singer. The singer they had was a girl and she was singing the song “Fly Me To the Moon.” The texture of her voice was very smooth and fit in with the jazz feel that they were going for. The trumpet stuck out to me also because I noticed the solo that it had. The solo went off the melody and was very improvised which happens all of the time during jazz tunes. The rhythm of the song was very steady and I was tapping my foot along with it the whole time. There were many recognizable acts performing at the porch fest this year, but these two seemed to make the biggest impact in my mind. Overall, Porchfest was a very enjoyable time and I will definitely be attending it in my next four years to come here at Ithaca!
Monday, September 9, 2013
Before picking my song, I had to listen to about 15 other ones, because I honestly don’t truly understand the concept of the cadences yet. I listened to songs from a lot of genres, from Broadway to rock to rap to pop. It was a difficult process for me, but I think I finally found a song that fits what I’m looking for. In one of my favorite songs, “Wide Awake,” by my favorite pop star, Katy Perry, I noticed what I believed to be the HC-PAC cadence in almost the very beginning of the song. I’ve heard this song so many times, but I never took the time to analyze it this closely. From 0:58-1:18, Katy repeats the same phrase twice with the lyrics:
I'm wide awake
Yeah, I was in the dark
I was falling hard
With an open heart
I'm wide awake
How did I read the stars so wrong?
I'm wide awake
And now it's clear to me
That everything you see
Ain't always what it seems
I'm wide awake
Yeah, I was dreaming for so long.
The point where she says “with an open heart” is where I believe the half cadence presents itself. I thought this to be a half cadence because I think it ends on the dominant V cord because there’s a D in it. Then when she says “How did I read the stars so wrong?”, that is the PAC because it ends on the tonic cord and it feels complete and closed like it should. This pretty much exactly repeats itself again in the second phrase of the song in the same places. The difference between a HC and an IAC confuses me, but I believe I picked the right cadence pattern for this particular song. Either way, this blog made me happy because I got to jam to Katy Perry in my room for a while trying to figure it out. Hope you enjoy listening to my favorite pop star as much as I do!