“They had leaked 3,000 albums a year across every genre. Across the globe they had built a network of infiltration and dissemination” (Witt 258). The large influx of music put on the internet and the fact that many were now able to access this music for free had dramatic effects. The artists losing money was a problem, but a larger issue loomed over that. Now, many kids and adults had access to as much music as they wanted and they’d listen to genres they may have not previously explored. This may seem like a positive thing, but as some of these consumers became artists themselves, they were largely influenced by artists across multiple genres. I think as artists created their own music and altered genres, the deeper meaning and identity of the genre may have been lost and instead music was created that did not have a deeper meaning and it was just essentially a shallow pop song hoping to bring in revenue.
As technology changed the way data can be tracked it can be argued that it takes away the identity of the individual person. The division of postal codes and then the mapping of postal codes has clumped an area of people and generalized their interests. This does not stop with marketing via mail sent to your home, it is also seen in your local grocery store. When signing up for your local rewards card the store asks for your address and zip code. Upfront this may seem like nothing, as you’ll see savings once you have the card, but in reality these stores are using this information to target certain products and price them to maximize their profits. The stores are exploiting the customers while generalizing the consumer. The customer is no longer an individual person, but a number in a cluster of statistics. This further suggests that technology takes away the meaning as people’s interest are generalized and people are broken down to just statistical numbers.
As we get more in depth in music it is clear that you can separate the music from the meaning. If you take a mathematical approach you can see that music has a natural mathematical principles. The pitch of a note is determined by frequency and you can look at the music as having natural intervals. As technology starts to transform music you begin to see an increase of mathematics and a further separation from music and meaning itself. Technology alters music in a way that Claude Shannon would support as it takes the meaning out of music and makes it more or less binary. A prime example of this is seen when sampling as it samples the song twice at two times the highest frequency humans can hear. As the digital process uses a Yes-No type frequency, it begs the question does the meaning the artist want to get across get lost?
In class we discussed James Brown and his influence on music. We discussed James Brown’s shift of emphasis from the second and fourth beat to the first beat. James Brown is regarded as the Godfather of Soul and is one of the most renowned black artists of his time. Brown is seen as a role model for civil rights as he advocated for black pride in his music (Culture Trip). It is interesting when discussing James Brown and his influence on black artists because some of his changes in music come from a Latin American influence. This influence shows how deep music runs and even if a certain genre of music is associated with a group of people it has an ethnically diverse background. The music runs deeper than it may appear at the surface. Whether incorporating different cultural identities is a good or bad thing for music is up for debate, but it also shows a deeper struggle in music. These identities show there is a deeper meaning in music, but as music is modernized the meaning is essentially taken out of the music and music is seen as just a set of numbers when it is reproduced.
additional reading: https://theculturetrip.com/north-america/usa/south-carolina/articles/funk-soul-brother-james-brown-s-revolution-in-sound/
Discussing the copyright laws in America in class, it becomes clear that there is a dilemma. While I do think that an individual and family should benefit from his or her work, it should not be for such an extended period that it lasts for perpetuity. It also brings about an interesting topic that I have noticed more and more in music, and that is sampling. If an artist samples part of another song is that artist liable for paying off the former artist who had a similar song whether their music was intentionally or unintentionally similar? I think there needs to be a firm understanding on what is a sample and what is not. When researching on how to make songs for my final project, I found an interesting video of the Hip Hop producer “DJ Mustard” discussing how he made the beat for the song “Show Me”. In between minute markers 1:40-2:00 he discusses that he had to alter a sampled beat, so that he would not have to give the all the revenue away from the song. I found this incredibly interesting as one component of a song or beat even if sampled should not mean that an artist owes all the revenue to the sampled artist.
In Vannevar Bush’s essay, “As We May Think”, he discusses his idea for the memex and how it will revolutionize learning for the future. The memex allows a person to access information in a completely different manner than before. Unlike the encyclopedia, you can now access information through multiple places. Bush believes that “They may yet allow him [man] truly to encompass the great record and to grow in the wisdom of race experience.” (Bush). With his idea, Bush advocates for more information available for the public at a much lower cost. What Bush is advocating for is the freedom of information. We have seen this breakthrough in the past twenty years with websites like wikipedia that use crowd sourcing to give people access to more information. Though the idea of freedom of information seems great in concept, it is a slippery slope. Recently, government information has been shared by people like Edward Snowden believing that he was doing the world a favor by releasing classified government information on wiki leaks. The result of this act was the death of compromised US agents all over the world as well as countless operations that were now compromised. Snowden selfishly posted these documents because he did not recognized the need for authority and was more interested in freeing information that the public did not need access to. Freedom of information is important, but there still must be a respect for authority and a notion that the public does not need access to all information and that privacy is important in society.
Following the history of Motown turned out to be a bit obscure, as I always viewed it as a musical movement predominately dominated by African Americans in the 60’s and 70’s, but what I found was a bit contradictory. When searching the words Motown music on google Ngram the results showed a start of references around 1966 and a peak around 2004 followed by a deep decline. While these statistics seem odd since Motown did not peak in 2004, I believe the references did peak because of the amount of works being published about Motown in the early 2000. A 1988 article in the USA Today suggests that Motown peaked in the late 60’s. Another interesting thing I found while researching were the results for Motown Records. I am not sure if the majority of Motown music came from this record label, but the same USA Today article seems to suggest this. In the article artists like George Michael cite the importance of Motown stating: “Soul music is a sound track to people’s lives, and no music has had a greater impact on my career than the artists of Motown.” Although the genre may be gone, its legacy lives on as you can see a Motown influence in some of todays pop and R&B.
Zimmerman, David. “Signed, Sealed, Delivered — Motown is Sold.” USA TODAY (Pre-1997 Fulltext), Jun 29, 1988, https://search.proquest.com/docview/306054539?accountid=14541 (accessed March 28, 2018).
I found It very interesting that with the migration of many folks out of the poor South in hopes of making it in larger Northern cities they did not forget their past. Many of these musicians reminisced on the South so much in their music that it may seem like they are mocking the south and their heritage. I do not think these men are mocking their heritage, but rather embellishing it in an effort to relate what may seem like oddities to the Northerners. There is no debate that this is effective as this Southern music begins to flourish in the North, but at what cost? By embracing these oddities, I think it helps reinforce stereotype that Northerners hold about the South, even till this day. These songs help enforce a stereotype of the “less educated Southerner” and even to this day there are people that look at country music and say, “It’s just rednecks singing about drinking beer and driving their trucks”. I think that embracing particular things in the South and embellishing on them helped build a negative narrative of Southerners.
We have seemed to have a heavy focus on music crossing racial boundaries as whites have imitated blacks and their music. With all the discussion about music transcending cultural problems, I’m interested if this is similar with women and dealing with sexism. If white men are performing in minstrel shows and performing different genres did this also happen across sexes? When did drag shows begin and would this be the best example of crossing genres among gender? This also leads into sexuality in music and how that was handled. I’m interested learning in how political culture compared to popular culture when dealing with the women’s rights movement. Are women afforded the same opportunity as men in music or would men imitate a female vocalist in certain recordings?
As we examined the some of the music that carried Afro and European influence it seemed to me that African Americans put soul into music. Yes, there’s some great European music and classical music, but it does seem to miss the sense of soul. American music by African Americans and then adopted by whites seemed to have been forged in hardship giving it a dynamic that separates it from any other music. This swing beat music helped tell a story and it felt like artists were putting their soul into the music they performed. This music told a story and captivated even some of the most famous bands like The Rolling Stones and The Beatles and convinced them to visit Muscle Shoals, AL to add some soul into their music.