Categories
Miscellaneous Music Education

How Does Eastern Music Differ from Western Music?

Although in the modern day, Eastern culture has had a lot of influences on Western music and Western culture has had a lot of influence on Eastern music I wanted to a brief break down of the unique differences between the two.

The main difference even an untrained ear can pinpoint is the instruments used.

For example in Eastern music, the most common traditional instruments in many cultures are lutes. The Middle East has a lute called the Oud. India uses the Sitar. China has a lute called the pipa. The list goes on. 

Essentially they have instruments that create these entrancing tunes as well as more complex melodies in general. There are many overlapping rhythms and are at the forefront of traditional Eastern music. They use 7-tone and 5-tone systems that rely more on the manipulation of melodies instead of using set chords.

On the other hand, the West has more instruments that are found in orchestras such as string instruments, guitars, woodwind instruments, and percussion instruments such as saxophones and flutes, and bagpipes. 

Western music in general puts harmonies at the forefront. They have more complex harmonies and have something called a 12-tone equal temperament. In simple terms, the series of eight notes are organized equally instead of in an odd fashion.

One way to put it is, that Western music is oriented around written music. It can be written down and repeated in an orderly structure. Eastern music is oriented around oral music. It can’t necessarily be captured in notes and is more dynamic and improvisation.

While you can categorize Western music, at its core, Eastern music is not necessarily a genre or category. 

As you move from one country to another, their entire way of composing and creating music is different. The instruments they use change based on culture and the way they arrange their rhythms and melodies vary as well.

Don’t want to get too historical here, but because the West has this shared ‘European’ culture it’s easy to say that most Western music sounds similar.

This can’t be said about Eastern music because of how diverse each continent and subcontinent is. South African music is far different from North Eastern Asian music. 

That’s one of the most fascinating things I love about music. 

How each culture has its own music and how music can tell so much about the country’s culture and history.

If you hadn’t had the chance to listen to some Eastern music, I truly recommend it. 

Even what we consider ‘pop’ music sounds far different in Japan or Lebanon or Bollywood.

Categories
Music Education

From Sun Ra to The Velvet Underground: The Producer Who Made a Lane For The Strange

When people think of some of the greatest producers of the 20th century many people think of guys like Brian Wilson, Phil Spector, George Martin, Quincy Jones, Teo Macero, or Brian Eno. One producer who doesn’t come up often and has seemed to have faded away into obscurity is Tom Wilson. Recently, I’ve been listening to some of Tom Wilson’s work nonstop so I would like to highlight him and hope he can be brought back into popularity.

Tom Wilson got his start during the 50s when he started his own record label for jazz records called Transition Records. This label would introduce a lot of people to the newest genre pushing talents in jazz like Donald Byrd and Cecil Taylor. Wilson also got to produce a Cecil Taylor album with John Coltrane as the saxophonist that would later be released as “Coltrane Time” under Coltrane’s name.

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But most notably, Tom Wilson introduced the world to Sun Ra, who would become one of the greatest jazz artists of all time and an influence on many artists. Tom Wilson was not only putting artists out on his label but was also producing their albums as well as giving them a place to experiment.

After his run at Transition ended, Tom Wilson would end up at Columbia records becoming the first African American to hold the staff producer title at Columbia.

This is where he would start to produce for his most famous collaborator– Bob Dylan. Wilson started to produce for Dylan during “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan” sessions. He produced four tracks on the album which many claim this is Dylans best album during his folk period. Wilson initially wasn’t too excited about working with Dylan because he favored jazz over folk but after hearing his lyrics he was “flabbergasted.”

He would go onto produce “The Times They Are a-Changin'” and “Another Side of Bob Dylan.” Their collaboration really started to shine on Dylans next album “Bringing It All Back Home” where Dylan famously went electric which would cause one of the largest shifts in rock music. You can hear Wilson’s voice at the start of Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream and you can even see him in an alternate take of the famous “Subterranean Homesick Blues” music video.

Many people credit Wilson with causing Dylan to go electric but that is up for debate, he certainly helped bring it together at the very least. Wilson and Dylan’s collaboration would end after Wilson produced “Like a Rolling Stone” but would get replaced for Bob Johnston for the rest of the Highway 61 sessions.

While at Columbia, Tom Wilson also produced the first Simon and Garfunkel album ” Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M.” This album at first did not do well which led to Simon and Garfunkel splitting up, but then eventually “The Sound of Silence” would gain a bit of airplay at college radio stations.

Wilson, seeing the minor success, would then create a version of the song with a rock backing band which caused it to be a number one hit and would bring Simon and Garfunkel to get back together and go on to become some of the highest selling artists of all time.

After leaving Columbia Wilson would end up at MGM where he would eventually get with The Velvet Underground. Even though Andy Warhol is listed as the producer Lou Reed and John Cale both state the Tom Wilson was the real producer of the groups debut ” The Velvet Underground & Nico.”

This album wasn’t initially commercially successful but would eventually become on of the most influential albums of all time and would be credited with many sub-genres of rock music like punk and drone. Wilson would produce the next Velvet Underground album “White Light/White Heat” which again was extremely influential and eventually loved by many.

Wilson would also produce Nico’s first album “Chelsea Girl” which again for a third time would go onto become a loved and influential album. John Cale would go onto say that “The band never again had as good a producer as Tom Wilson.”

While at MGM, within two months of producing the first Velvet Underground album, Wilson went on to produce the first Mothers of Invention album “Freak Out” which would start Frank Zappa’s career and would be a hugely influential album being cited as a major influence on The Beatles “Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band.”

He would go on to produce the second Mothers of Invention album “Absolutely Free.” Zappa states that “Tom Wilson was a great guy. He had vision, you know? And he really stood by us” and also “Wilson was sticking his neck out. He laid his job on the line by producing the album.”

Many of the albums Tom Wilson would work on would have the same thing associated with them: risk and influence. Wilson never wasn’t pushing the norms of music and the artists he was working whether it was Sun Ra’s space jazz, Dylans electric era, or The Velvet Underground creating early punk rock Wilson pushed for it. He would bring many of the best albums into fruition and for that I hope the next time the greatest producer conversation is being discussed Tom Wilson is in that conversation.

Categories
Blog Music Education

What Happens to Accents When Singing?

Some of the information in this article is sourced from Today I Found Out.

The day I found out that a handful of my favorite artists were actually British and not American I was genuinely shocked.

I was young at the time so I had such a hard time wrapping my mind around the idea that someone with the strongest British accent could sound fully American the second they started singing.

Adele, The Beatles, Coldplay?

At this point, we’ve all listened to enough songs in our lives to notice this phenomenon at least once or twice. Have you ever wondered why?

Science of Linguistics

Let’s get to the root of it first. British-Pop music was actually inspired by what we consider American music styles such as rock and roll,  blues, and hip hop. 

As a result in order to mimic or replicate that style of music, British artists and other foreign artists will sing in that “American’”style. 

In terms of linguistics, singing doesn’t have an accent and similarly, an American accent in itself is fairly neutral.

When singing, the melody causes the articulation of certain words or elongation of vowels and consonants to change depending on the style or type of song. Accents cannot be reproduced when singing. 

Singing is much faster-paced than speaking and words can be manipulated in euphonious ways.

Considering this, it’s wise to see if this phenomenon can occur in other genres of music.

Opera has its own accent. Opera singers, regardless of the language or accent they sing in, have a similar style in their singing. This can be seen across all genres of music whether it is Pop, Jazz, or Rap.

Talk Singing

One of my favorite moments where this concept is seen is when Dua Lipa is “talk singing.”

In “Levitating” by Dua Lipa, her British accent shines through at that verse and it’s my favorite part simply because of the way she enunciates words.

“My love is like a rocket, watch it blast off |  And I’m feeling so electric, dance my a– off |  And even if I wanted to, I can’t stop | Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah” 

The entirety of the song is in an American accent and this is an example of one of the few songs you can hear the “Britishness” of a British artist’s voice.


Maybe you’ve never noticed that some of our favorite British musicians lose their accents when singing. Hopefully, you learned something new today.

Categories
Music Education

Live From the Clink: Bad Brains and “Sacred Love”

I Against I

While Bad Brains’s debut studio album, aptly titled “Bad Brains,” is indisputably iconic, “I Against I” possesses a special kind of charm.

Bad Brains, considered among hardcore punk’s original pioneers, released “I Against I” in November of 1986.

Despite the band’s original background in jazz fusion, the album presents a riveting blend of various musical elements including funk, alternative metal, rock and hardcore punk.

Consisting of ten songs, “I Against I” traverses a broad scope of musical sensations.

Unlike “Bad Brains” or the band’s demo album “Black Dots“, each song in “I Against I” has a unique feel, making for a truly dynamic listening experience.

The cover of Bad Brains's album, I Against I
Cover of Bad Brains’s third album, I Against I

“Sacred Love,” the album’s eighth song, is particularly special. Unlike the album’s other tracks, “Sacred Love” has strikingly lo-fi vocals. The song sounds like a fuzzy, crackly voicemail, the lyrics barely comprehensible.

Upon first hearing “Sacred Love,” I assumed the audio effects were a stylistic choice. However, further research revealed the truth.

The Recording of “Sacred Love”

According to testimonies from the album’s producer, Ron St. Germain and Anthony Countey, the band’s long-time manager, “Sacred Love” was performed from a D.C. correctional facility.

An excerpt of an interview from Howie Abrams and James Lathos’s novel, “Finding Joseph I: An Oral History of H.R. From Bad Brains” details the circumstances which led to the song’s unorthodox recording:

Shortly before Bad Brains was set to record I Against I, D.C. law enforcement arrested lead singer H.R. (short for Human Rights) for marijuana distribution.

According to St. Germain, the band successfully recorded nearly all of the songs in I Against I’s discography before H.R. was due to enter jail.

All songs, that is, but “Sacred Love.”

With an unfinished album and an incarcerated vocalist, Germain and Countey had to improvise.

In what St. Germain referred to as a “communal effort,” the band organized for H.R. to perform “Sacred Love” through a collect call at the jailhouse.

The setup for the recording was makeshift at best. When the initial plan to facilitate a direct patch from the phone to the recorder failed, St. Germain undertook a more DIY-style approach.

According to St. Germain, he ended up taping an Auratone monitor to an analog telephone and swaddling both in a sound blanket.

In the studio, a second phone connected H.R. directly to the rest of the band. On that phone, St. Germain taped a microphone over the receiver.

The whole process took less than two hours. The result?

Listen for yourself.

– J

Categories
Music Education

Hip-Hop’s Forgotten Punk Roots

When looking at the start of hip-hop, some genres you may think of that played a role in its sound are genres like soul, funk, jazz and even disco. However, one genre that played a large role in the start of hip-hop that has been somewhat forgotten is punk rock.

When looking at the start of these two genres merging we must first look to New York at that time. New York during the 70s saw a massive punk rock movement. This took place in places like CBGB’s with bands starting there like The Ramones, Blondie and Talking Heads. But also around that same time in 1974 DJ Kool Herc had created hip-hop in the Bronx. With the creation of hip-hop one of the things that came along with it (as well as being a massive part of the movement) was graffiti art.

Many of these graffiti artists started to gain some traction and a new young scene of artists was starting to take over. Some members of this movement were artists like Keith Haring, Futura 2000, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Fab Five Freddy. The most important man for the merging of hip-hop and punk is Fab Five Freddy and he almost deserves an article all for himself.

Fab Five Freddy was a massive hip-hop fan who grew up in Brooklyn and would become a regular of a downtown art scene for graffiti artists. When mingling with this crowd he would introduce artists like Keith Haring to new Hip-Hop DJ’s like Afrika Bambaataa where he would start to DJ parties for Haring. In Bambaataa’s words he stated that the downtown punk scene would be on of the first areas that really embraced hip-hop. More DJ’s would start to DJ downtown like Grandmaster Flash and NYU punk kids started to love it.

Around this time Fab Five Freddy would meet Debbie Harry and Chris Stein of Blondie and introduce them to this new genre starting up. After seeing Grandmaster Flash DJ and groups like Funky Four Plus One perform Blondie loved it. They loved it so much they decided to make the song “Rapture” in 1981 where Fab Five Freddy and Grandmaster Flash were forever immortalized with the line ” Fab Five Freddy told me everybody’s fly, DJ spinnin’ I said my my, Flash is fast Flash is cool”. Rapture was a massive hit and was actually the first ever song with a rap verse to go number one (The video also had a young Jean-Michel Basquiat act as Grandmaster Flash on turntables). This song was also apart of one of the songs that got me into Hip-Hop “The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel” when Grandmaster Flash used his shoutout for the intro. Debbie Harry would also host SNL in 1981 and the musical guest she picked to play was Funky Four Plus One (the group they first saw rap) which became the first hip-op act to perform on national television.

Another group that would fall in love with the new genre and embrace it was punk rock group The Clash. The Clash came to New York around this time and started to love hip-hop so when they did a 8-night run of shows in New York they chose Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five to open for them. Apparently the fans did not enjoy it and Joe Strummer would have come out and get angry at the crowd. The Clash would also release a Hip-Hop/disco inspired song called “The Magnificent Seven” which gained significant play from Hip-Hop DJ’s at the time and actually predated Blondie’s “Rapture”.

This merge of the two genres would cause many significant artists to start their careers. For example Beastie Boys first started out as a punk group and would then move to hip-hop. Chuck D of Public Enemy stated that The Clash song “Magnificent Seven” heavily inspired him to take a more punk rap approach to Hip-Hop. Groups like Rage Against the Machine would also dawn a punk rap image.

Punk and hip-hop together made perfect sense due to both genres having an underground feel and both having an anti-establishment outlook. Many artists for generations after would take on the punk rap aesthetic and the merge would even remain to this day with many new artists having a very punk rap feel like JPEGMafia, Denzel Curry, Playboi Carti, Death Grips and many more.

Categories
Miscellaneous Music Education

What makes Indie music Indie?

Before you get the wrong idea reading this blog, I want to preface that I most definitely don’t think there will be a definite answer at the end of this post. I got the idea of writing this based on the concept of indie music and just how vast and diverse it is as a phenomenon.

As indie music has become increasingly popular, I wanted to research what has attracted a large following to this type of music. What makes it stand out from traditional music genres that are easy to pinpoint such as pop, hip hop, R&B, and jazz. 

Historically, what we call indie or indie-rock music now emerged from an era in the late 1970s in the United Kingdom when post-punk, new wave, and alternative music was being released by UK record labels to go against the manufactured mainstream music at the time.

You might have heard of the band The Smiths who first came on the indie scene in the 1980s and now exemplify not only what indie music is on a musical basis, but on a cultural basis as well.

Starting off, Indie is not necessarily a genre although it has sort of developed into one just recently. Indie is short for independent and indie artists are just artists that self-produce their music and are not signed under a major label.

This ‘indie’ title starts getting harder to define once these indie artists and indie bands become famous enough to be signed under a major label. If they are signed by a label such as Capitol Records, the artists themselves are not ‘indie’ or independent anymore yet they still have that indie sound to them.

An example of a major label would be something like Universal Music Group (UMG) or Sony BMG that of course have subsidiaries of their own like Atlanta Records and Columbia Records, to which these more famous artists belong. 

What stands out in a lot of work done by indie artists is their usage of a variety of instruments in their music and most of the time indie music is instrument heavy. If you look at more of the rock and alternative side of indie music the most prevalent instruments are the electric guitar, acoustic guitar, and drums. These instruments together create this “indie sound’ that has caused a ‘genre’ around this aspect to develop. 

Of course, as I mentioned, indie is not really a genre in itself because the music could be new wave, jazz or punk, or pop too. However, a common theme I find about indie music is the strong sense of individuality you can experience in the work made by the artists. They strive to focus on a single emotion or experience instead of a full narrative.

Often when you listen to music by an indie band there is a distinct piece or component of their composition or lyrics that immediately lets you know it’s by band XYZ or by artist XYZ. Having control of their own music is what allows indie artists to put their identities into their music and take full creative control over what they produce compared to the more controlled music released by mainstream artists and record labels.

What started as a term to define independent artists has culminated not into a genre but a culture of its own. Music that actively rivals mainstream music and is best consumed in its raw form of instrumentals and chords. 

Categories
Music Education

Three (Unintentional) Feminist Anthems

I’d like to tell you of three songs that have, over the years, come to occupy the same space in my mind of “Ironic anthems about #gender.” These three are “Stand by Your Man,” by Tammy Wynette, “I Am Woman” by Helen Reddy, and “Keep Young and Beautiful,” by Winston Churchi- I mean Eddie Cantor. These songs date from the 30’s to the 70’s and are bound together by gender commentary so dated it’s almost kind of surreal. I do not use the word “camp” lightly, but these three songs are some of the campiest things I’ve ever heard before in my life, and all three have seen renewed interest as kind of ironic feminist anthems. They are all also absolute bangers, and honestly some of my favorite songs to loudly belt with the passion of a theater kid at Waffle House after the show. The very theater kid nature of these three songs will come up a lot. So, let’s have some fun shall we.

Stand By Your Maaaaaaan

True anecdote: when I was a kid, I had heard that clip of Hillary Clinton saying “I’m not some Tammy Wynette standing by my man,” somewhere and mentally assumed that Tammy was some politicians wife who stayed with her cheating husband. Then, when listening to county classic “Rhinestone Cowboy,” at the behest of a friend, this song came in my recommendations. I listened to it, and absolutely lost my mind over the fact this song was real. Asking my parents, who were alive and in avid Country music households in the 70s, they assured me that this song was 100% unironically advising women to stand by their husbands.

The message of this song is, I suppose technically, a bad message, but it’s delivered at such over the top heights of passion and melodrama I have a hard time imagining someone being genuinely upset by it. The song assures women that, while it’s hard living with the no good guys of the world as they cheat, it’s best to let love and forgiveness reign and just let them do it.

The backdrop here is obviously some kind of backlash to the second wave feminist movement, and a look at Tammy Wynette’s back catalogue reveals as much. She has such classics as “D-I-V-O-R-C-E” and “I Don’t Want to Play House,” which are woeful laments to the death of the traditional family. However, “Stand By Your Man,” is set apart from these mediocre odes by being an absolute banger. Seriously, Tammy Wynette has the voice of Broadway diva and she knows how to use it.

The song has seen a few cover versions, all banking on combining the song’s musical luster with ironic feminist ire. Among my favorites is the live version cover by the Dresden Dolls on their album “A is for Accident.” Amanda Palmer has the same ‘I can’t quite tell how seriously you take yourself’ energy as Wynette, though on the opposite end of the political spectrum as an avowed feminist. Palmer is the archetypal theater kid, performing the song in her typical Cabaret-meets-Rent fashion atop a din of dive bar patrons loudly ignoring her. The irony poisoning makes the cover less impressive, but it’s a combination of styles and artists so perfect it can’t be ignored.

I Am Woman

In surveying my parents about “I Am Woman,” I found out that this is truly one of my mother’s least favorite songs. While younger listeners may find this to be objectively delightful, my rad-fem mother felt just represented enough by the song that it becomes unbearably cringey. That’s an understandable response, but god do I love this song anyways. If I wasn’t so afraid of getting an organic chemistry textbook thrown at me, I would play it for my women-in-STEM friends during finals week to see their reactions.

This song is the definitive “You’ve Come a Long Way Baby” anthem. If that term is unfamiliar to you, it has approximately the same meaning as “Buzzfeed Feminism” does. An epithet used by militant feminists to decry what they see as a commercialization of the women’s movement. Any further historical analysis should be saved for a far less lighthearted venue, but let’s just say that on paper, this song should be insufferable.

However, similar to “Stand by Your Man,” the solid musical fundamentals of “I Am Woman” allow its questionable lyrics to shoot the moon and loop back around to being awesome. The difference being that, while you have to detach yourself from all good sense to find “Stand by Your Man” appealing, “I Am Women” is far easier to love. The message is ultimately positive, and you can tell Helen Reddy really believed that this was an urgent message the people needed to hear. It’s maybe a B-tier Carol King song, but most people are doing good to make it on the alphabet at all when compared to Carol King, so props to Helen for having some strong musical instincts.

The song has been picked up since Reddy’s recent death as a kind of historical curiosity. I haven’t seen any major cover versions, but there’s definitely some warm sentiments for “I Am Woman” floating around out there.

Keep Young and Beautiful

This is perhaps the most theater kid song on the list in that it’s a literal showtune. Written in 1933 for a mostly forgotten movie musical, the song is about how women should always pay extreme attention to their appearance if they ever want to be loved by a man. I honestly can’t tell you whether this song was ironic at the time, as even my great grandmother was a small child when this song was made. However, after learning that “Stand by Your Man,” was where we were at as a culture in the early 70s, I’m inclined to say this song is serious.

The track has some appeal to it, if you like that old style of musical number mastered by Cole Porter and Rogers and Hammerstein. It was reportedly a favorite of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and I’m unsure whether that reflects worse on Churchill or the song. It is, at the very least, kind of catchy.

The original song may be fine, but the cover version by Annie Lennox on her debut album “Diva” (I’ll give you three guesses as to the target demographic for that album) is much better. Lennox doesn’t so much subvert the song as she does perform it in all its Victorian glory. Coming from the mouth of gender-bending, queer feminist queen Annie Lennox, the song is impossible to take seriously, and it becomes less about the actual content and more about the cognitive dissonance evoked a mere 60 years after the song’s release.

These songs go back 90 years in the past and capture very thin slices of how women were viewed at their respective times. The fact that we can barely take these songs seriously now is really a testament to how different our world is now after the second wave feminist movement has come and gone. At least the music underlying them remains strong enough that we can have a lot of fun with these songs in retrospect.

Categories
Festival Coverage Music Education

Bull City Summit, the next SXSW?

A new and possibly revolutionary convention is coming to Durham that could arguably be compared to SXSW. That is the Bull City Summit (BCS) which will be running from March 23-26 Sept.15-18, 2022 and will be held in the heart of Downtown Durham at Bull City Summit LLC. This convention converges music, art, science, & technology which will showcase the valuable relationship between each sector and how they can be used to enrich our local communities.

The summit has a stacked lineup with 17 speakers ranging from council members, CEOs, media agents, label owners, & DJs. It will also include several panels covering topics such as music business, crypto, climate change, & artist mental health. Along with that there will be live presentations, one of which will be an augmented reality exhibit to display the rich history of the Bull City which will be put on by Durham based company, Project Aeschylus.

Depsite the postponement of the festival, the music continues. There will be musical performances each night showcasing the talent that our local North Carolina artists have to offer. WKNC’s very own DJ Whippopatomus has recently interviewed two of the artists, Durham native Jooselord & the Raleigh based 3amsound which will be performing on separate nights. Not only that but people can also find a wide range of genres from electronic to blues-rock at local venues including Motorco Music Hall, Pinhook, & Kotaku Surf Bar. Tickets for the shows can be purchased separately on the BCS website.

Music isn’t the only art form being offered at the rescheduled festival, there will be an art fair throughout each day of the summit curated by local visual creators. BCS will be partnering with local art galleries, hotels, & public spaces to facilitate their art shows.

This is a pivotal event for the Durham creative community. With the amount of various forms collaboration and diversity, BCS has the ability to change the landscape of the local art scene in the Triangle and even for the entire state of North Carolina. The convergence of art, technology, & science has the potential to provide powerful tools of knowledge to elevate and bring forth the exposure that our local art scene deserves.

Remember, we are stronger together so show each other some love.

-Brandon Whippo, Asst. Music Director, DJ, & Interview Content Creator

Categories
Music Education

Why We Should Care About Classical Music

Howdy y’all! Today I wanted to pose the question that is on everyone’s mind: why should we care about classical music? I may be revealing my former band kid self once again, but I firmly believe in the benefits and importance of classical music. 

If you’ve been on TikTok recently, you’ve probably heard the Nutcracker X Griddy song that has been floating around. If I were to give you one example of how Classical has been able to transcend time and stay relevant, I’d offer you this. The Nutcracker, Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s third ballet, was first performed in 1892. That is over a century of relevance (every Christmas calls for the music from The Nutcracker). Popular music today is often simpler than classical, and requires less of the listener to identify the melodies. It is easy for us now to find a catchy part of a song (it also helps that pop music has words), where we don’t usually go around singing parts of a classical piece.

Classical music also offers a plethora of benefits. It can decrease blood pressure, reduce stress, aid sleep, improve memory retention, and boost mental well-being. Music is a vital aspect of our society and has been since the start of mankind. 40,000 years ago, early human hunting parties had very little and lived in harsh conditions, but they still had music. In 2009, scientists found this group’s musical instruments buried. There were four flutes, each made to create a tonal difference. How incredible is that? The benefits of classical music have been scientifically studied and proven.

Now you may be asking, dj mozzie, why don’t we hear about classical works today like we would have if we were living during Mozart’s time? For starters, music is not ingrained in nobility and the church as it is today. Classical composers were huge for their time, and society back then was more connected. Mozart and Beethoven would be like a modern day equivalent to The Beatles or Prince. Another factor is that genres have increased tenfold since the 1800s. Stomp and Holler and Neo Mallow situate music into tighter and more refined niches. All current artists aren’t working in one genre of music, they’re building up their own respectively.

The future of classical music is bright but uncertain. Classical music is rooted in deep tradition, therefore discouraging experimentation amongst young composers and conductors. We want music to change with us, to bring in new cultural elements, and to remind us about what it means to be human. I ask that you give classical music a chance if you haven’t before.

Find my favorite playlists full of classical here and here.

Categories
Blog Music Education

Should We Judge An Album By Its Cover?

While CDs are definitely falling out of favor in our general listening habits, WKNC still receives a healthy amount of CDs, of which the album cover quality tends to…vary substantially. I was just informed I had a mailbox and have begun logging all of my submissions, and a piece of advice I received was that most of the time, you could look at an album cover and not bother listening to it. This was interesting to me, someone who got into music in the streaming era when the album cover is just something in the corner of the screen, but when new favorites were found in record store racks the album cover was basically the only window into what the experience would be.

In particular, the inspiration for this blog was the album “Meatcup Just Snack” by Noodle Muffin. Now, with all due respect to Noodle Muffin, this cover is genuinely hard to look at and, while it did certainly make me curious as to how the music would relate to the weirdly Photoshopped teacup full of meat (that’s a sentence), I would still definitely come in with some negative biases.

But why is that? I like to explore the weirder areas of music, what should an album cover have to do with why I would choose one album over another, or wouldn’t that be enticing for a cover to be as weird as possible. Well, to me there are different kinds of weird, and the kind I like the most is an artistically focused weird. A cover with someone’s severed head framed in stylistic lighting is weird but in a cool, evocative way, while a bad photoshop is, well, a bad photoshop. It’s like if there is a certain level of professionalism in the cover, that will be reflected in the quality of production. Noise pop can sound distorted and intentionally dense on a structural level, but when it’s good there’s a level of care and passion that can be felt through all of that.

I ended up looking into Noodle Muffin and found that the cover might have been more intentional than I initially thought. They’re a band that employs crass humor to craft their songs and are very heavily targeted towards the college radio crowd. Interestingly, despite the surreal nature of the album, I didn’t guess that, something about it told me it was a failure of intention rather than a deliberate aesthetic choice. And after actually listening to the album, it’s genuinely well produced, the band has been around for a decade and knows how to put a track together. I judged an album based on a cover and missed. I guess my punishment is opening more mail.

-Erie