Friday, June 10, 2011

Rachel Edelman's Final Reflection

Rachel Edelman


Final Reflection

Before I begin my analysis, I would just like to say that everyone’s presentations were not only thought provoking, but they provided an immensely large array of diverse music, most of which I have never heard before. I really appreciate all of the time and effort that everyone put in to their individual projects.

For my final reflection, I chose to evaluate Noel’s project, on the way in which music plays a part in the conflict in Uganda, and Amber’s project that furthered evaluated the way in which music played a part in the anti-apartheid movement. I felt that both of these projects touched on many of the same issues, providing insight into the ways in which music can change the outcome of conflict.

Noel’s presentation on the way in which music is used in the Displacement camps as a way to reintegrate previous members of the LRA back into the communities that arose within these Displacement camps. What I found to be the most intriguing was the way in which music programs have become part of the Acholi people’s lives. Not only is music part of the modern lives these people lead, but it was also a significant part of their lives previous to this Civil War, part of their cultural identity. Throughout this course, there was often mention, and ensuing discussion, regarding the way in which music plays a part in one’s identity, as well as the concept of appropriation. What I found to be interesting regarding the Acholi people’s usage of traditional music in a modern sense was that they have begun to reintegrate traditional dances and music, the ones that have survived, into their modern world with in the Displacement camps. I found their practice of a traditionally regal dance in a general setting to be extremely interesting. Rather than have the dance die off completely, the Acholi people seem to be reevaluating the traditional purpose that some of these dances were used for, and adapting them to their modern setting. The same could be said of the surviving music. These people are struggling to survive, to connect those who are choosing to reintegrate into the community after leaving the LRA, and by providing them with common ground, through music and dance, they seem to be accomplishing that.

While Amber’s presentation does not focuses on the ability of music and dance to help bring back a culturally identity to a people displaced, she spoke to the way in which music can bring people together during a time of conflict. Although her presentation in class centered around the way in which American artists used music to persuade people against their participation in Sun City, there was still a sense of the power of music. The music video that Amber showed exemplified this very idea. While one may not recognize every musical artist who performed “Sun City”, one would have recognized at least a few artists, and been able to understand the lyrics. By accompanying these lyrics with images of the atrocities occurring in South Africa, these artists were able to protest with their voices. One of the most important aspects to many Americans when it comes to defining the American culture is music. The ability for American artists to use their music, to play off of a country’s cultural identity, in order to stand up for what they believe is right, provides for an example of the way in which music can aid in the fight against conflict.

Both of these presentations presented various ways in which music can change history. Whether music is bringing back something of tradition and transforming it to the modern times, or using music as a means of geo-political propaganda, music has been a source of ammunition against conflicts all over the world. Noel and Amber did a fantastic job in emphasizing, evaluating, and discussing this phenomenon in both their in class presentations and their papers.

Taylor Robert's Final REflections

Taylor Roberts
Int’l Stds 501
Beats to Pump up the Volume To

As has been mentioned by everyone, all of the presentations presented a plethora of interesting topics that it was hard to focus and pick only a few to discuss. I found Brian’s discussion on heavy metal and gangster rap in pumping up combat troops in Iraq’s presentation along with John’s discussion on Nordish black metal and Donny’s discussion on techno music particularly interesting. What I found most fascinating was the psychological aspects involved with these presentations. The mental space within the psyche that the music inspires and how it manifests itself in the physical world is the most telling of the effects of music within our lives.
When Donny first mentioned the effects of trance music as being hypnotic and inducing the state of its namesake (a trance) through the 125-150 bpm, it reminded me of a discussion on music therapy I had with my freshman year roommate. She had explained to me that the succession of beats within music can permeate the mind and then in turn have a physiological effect on the human body due to the cadence and wavelength of the sound. Faster beats tend to induce more so feelings of anxiety, excitement, aggression, essentially mimicking the flight or fight response the body goes through when adrenaline pumps into the system. When the body’s heart rate picks up, one tends to be in the aforementioned emotional states versus when the heart rate is slow in a more tranquil state of stasis.
I had this thought again when Brian was talking about Jennifer Atkinson listening to Lil Jon’s “I Don’t Give a F*%$” on repeat as her ‘getting krunked’ music. The music that inspires feelings of aggression and invincibility to the point where one feels that they are on top of the world. What struck me most was the distinction between Metal= Power and Rap= Violence. Brian’s point had me thinking about the perpetuation of violence in rap music within the inner city. This plays itself out in my home city of St. Louis where in listening to some of the local music detailing the horrors and glorification of the ‘ghetto’ a lot of my friends will get themselves get psyched into committing crime. I once had a friend who had come to me stressed about how his friends were pressuring him to steal a car. He initially did not want to do it, but in the aftermath (he was arrested and sent to juvenile detention center for the act) he said that he had blared music for hours to ‘get himself in the mood.’
I know that for myself personally, rap and heavy metal, and techno, and any type of music with a heavy beat and a fast tempo will get me pumped up. As I mentioned in class, my introduction to heavy metal was through this same ‘pumping up’ process. Heavy metal became my ‘krunk’ music when I was the only girl in a kickboxing gym. Not only was I the only girl, but I was the only person under 5’5”, the only person under 150lbs and just about the tiniest, wafer of a person in that gym. I most definitely needed something to give me the mentality that I was ‘bigger’ than I am. With heavy metal, I found a genre of music that made me feel psychologically bigger than I was and allowed me the feeling of power that I could conquer anything in that instance.
This same feeling of power seems to be demonstrated in the early 90’s era of black metal that John presented to the class. They were a highly inclusive group and the music helped to solidify that group mentality, as in the case of me with the heavy metal at the gym. Not only does music help peak the physical state to one of extreme excitement and aggression, but it is also a point of bonding where one can become a part of an in-group through ones immersion in that music. I bonded with my fellow fighters that way and in a warped sort of sense, the black metal scene of Norway in the early 90’s was the same way. These sentiments are demonstrated through the feelings of this community on the new wave of black metal music as not being authentic to the scene. Even with all of the craziness and mass hysteria surrounding this group they are still just that-a group, a community of people participating in this musical movement of rebellion and caustic energy.
All in all, I (especially on account of this class) am continually amazed by the mental, emotional, psychological, cultural, as well as physical ramifications of music.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Rachel Paiscik final response

Rachel Paiscik

International Studies 501

For my final reflection, I chose to cover Kelsey’s presentation on German Gangsta rap, and Brian’s on the role of Heavy metal and Gangsta Rap in Operation Iraqi freedom. I felt that these two presentations were connected because of the similarity of the musical forms.

In Kelsey’s presentation on Gangsta rap in Germany, I found it very interesting that after the reunification of the German state, the society at the time once again created ethnic barriers. To people on the outside, these things seem so absurd; how is that after a history of separation caused by atrocities like the Holocaust, a society would once again allow these barriers and minorities to feel less important than the majorities. I don’t have an answer to that, but the beauty that is created out of such seperations in society is very interesting. I found that the migration of rap in Germany among minorities was very interesting. It shows , to me, that music does not belong to one ethnic group. We are separated by different nationalities, languages, ethnic heritages, traditions, but in this glocal world that we live in, I find that there are perhaps more similiarites at our cores than differences. I find this best represented in music. The beats, the lyrics, the emotional charge of rap in America traveled over to minorities in Germany, and allowed them a venue in which to express similar emotions, regardless of time and place. Gangsta rap in Germany migrated from the US; however, the artists were not American citizens, but those Germans who were not of Germany ancestry; an interesting mix of appropriation: a music style by American artists, used by both non-German and non-American artists (German in their ethnic identity). I knew that there was a large population in Germany of Turkish immigrants, as well as populations of other ethnic groups, and it is interesting to hear about the way their music reflects their experience. In my own research of rap and hip-hop, I have found that while there is music that may be violently charged/degrading to women/stereotypical rap, the energy behind rap/hip-hop and the lyrical content often has much more meaning than meets the eye.

In Brian’s presentation of heavy metal and Gangsta rap with American soldiers in Iraq, he spoke about how the power of music psychologically affected the soldiers and prepared them for their experience. I assume that most soldiers don’t enjoy the risk of battle and war, and that as humans; going into such an experience may not be a natural progression. At first I was really shocked that soldiers needed to listen to heavy metal and rap in order to gear up- in the sense that it almost seemed wrong. Why should one feel the need to desensitize themselves to prepare for this temporary lifestyle? However, one thing that I have learned, especially in this class, is not to judge the music/disputed territory on morality issues, or whether appropriation is a good or bad thing; but rather, it is the nature of things. I have learned to look at these musical soundscapes as an objective bystander. So, I would imagine that being in the atmosphere of war time, there really isn’t much of an option to sensitize oneself, and especially me having never been in that situation, I cannot speak to the feelings that arise.

Going back to the nature of rap/hip-hop and the violent nature of Gangsta rap (As opposed to conscious hip-hop or pop-like songs), I see how the lyrics and the beats altered the mind sets of these individuals who had already pledged allegiance to their service, and were bound in their time and place to do their duty; whether their current mind set allowed them or not. Such is the necessity of things, when one is in a situation that is uncontrollable- as many of these disputed territories are- music plays a profound role in psychological states, in emotional well-being, in identity, in peoples’ very life forces. The same is true of heavy metal. Learning about metal in this class, it has opened my eyes- to understand to look beyond the sound, and really understand the history, the artists, the places and times that create such music. It’s not about necessarily forcing oneself to like a style of music; these come naturally, it is however to have respect and appreciation for the evolution of a musical style and tradition, and see how it affects the listeners, the artists, and all the people whose ears the music reaches.

Noel Ripberger's Final Reflection

Noel Ripberger
International Studies 501
Final Reflection

    Watching all of our presentations, I found it really striking how diverse not only our subject matter was, but also the way everyone approached their topics. Each presentation was a really interesting piece that shed light on the way music makes us feel.
    Rachel's presentation on Bhangra was a very enlightening look at the way music can evolve through migration and time. We talked about similar issues when we watched the documentary on Rai music, but she was able to so well illustrate them. Having started as a celebratory harvest dance performed strictly by Punjabi men, it's interesting to me that Bhangra was what was reclaimed by Indian youth in Britain. However, in some ways, it feels very appropriate that a dance celebrating a traditional way of life, farming, is what people would choose to use to help establish a stronger bond between themrselves and their culture. By modernizing Bhangra, they are saying that the traditions of their ancestors don't have to die or change just because the people are spread out and modernized. Having the music return to India in a big way, like in the Bollywood scene's Rachel showed us, would be an amazing affirmation to those youths in Britain that distant can't seperate them from their culture, and that, despite any social issues they face in Briatin, they are part of a rich, welcoming tradition. Even the sound of modern Bhangra, for the people involved in it's transformation, must evoke a sense of pride both in their cultural traditions, but also in the accepting nature of both communities they are a part of.
    Brian's presentation, as well, was a very interesting and specific look into music and the emotions it inspires. While the notion that music can be used to pump us up or calm us down isn't a new one, it was very cool that a community of soldiers (with exceptions, of course) can unite behind a music to help create a common mindset. In an atmosphere that relies so heavily on cooperation, sharing even a genre has to be an imminse asset. Personally, I'm not a big fan of gangster rap, perhaps for some of the same reasons it's popular among soldiers. As Brian pointed out, such music often includes themes of hyper-masculinity and violence, without remorse. In the normal setting of my day-to-day life, ideas like those expressed in gangster rap really have no place and can be offensive. However, I never really considered that the ideas behind the songs could be beneficial in other circumstances. The idea of power coming from music is something many people can relate to, but through different genres. Gangster rap, and also Metal, express power in a very aggressive, in your face way, that as Brian discussed, can be very effective for someone about to go onto a battlefield. As we talked about many times at the end of this quarter, different music appeals to different people. We all have personal reasons for appreciating things others can't stand, but no matter what it is we listen to what we do because it means something to us (or at least its fun and we enjoy it), even if others can't immediately see why.

Drew Glosik's Final Reflection

Link for music video titled "Foam Born (A) The Backtrack" by Between the Buried and Me:


Drew Glosik
501 Final Reflection
A Variety of Soundscapes

I found it largely beneficial to have had the opportunity to see what types of music my peers are listening to throughout the course and identify the disputed territories and feelings involved with the music. The most intriguing presentations to me were the Techno presentation, the Combat gangster/metal combination of music in war, and the effect of music in war-torn Uganda. My own presentation on Between the Buried and Me was designed to help people understand the origins of progressive metal through the rock, blues, and grunge movements of the 1960s through 1990s, and to illustrated the reasons why I am so fascinated with it.
To me, Techno music had been an obscure notion of “trance” and sound-mixing for as long as I was aware of the genre. I first experienced techno when I was eighteen and out with some friends on the weekend. I like to dance when the opportunity arises, and felt myself unable to control my impulse to groove around to the wholly instrumental and synthesized sounds of the DJ. I knew that techno had an affiliation with the drug abuse and particularly ecstasy, but that did not stop me from enjoying it and I still refuse to perceive ravers purely as drugees, and stereotype them into delinquency or social deviance. Something I was unaware of, however, was the large number of varieties of genres with techno, including trance, House, and electronica and all the dozens of subcategories within each.
What I was most intrigued by in the presentation was the origins of “squatting” and “warehouse” hangouts. I had always assumed it was simply a UK Punk trend that featured dropouts, users, outcasts, and dependents congregating somewhere they had the space to stretch out and call their own. I did associate the warehouse scene with drugs and crime since many of the contemporary “punks” in Europe are anti-system and anti-social except with the close-knit groups around them. To my surprise, techno was actually the truest origin of such activity; the underground scene of late-night dance was a phenomenon that went hand-hand with alcohol abuse and occasional drug busts by European, moreover German, authorities. To escape persecution and deprivation of the “right to party,” they simply squatted surreptitiously in the perfect place for a rave: the spacious acoustics of a Warehouse. They had all the room they needed and ideal circumstances for amplifying the non-stop dance music. For me, a strange social mystery was solved with regards to my previous understanding.
The presentation on what music soldiers chose going into combat was illuminating and was relevant to my own progressive metal presentation. Metal music has the energizing quality and aggressive overtones to support a soldier’s deadly agenda, which in certain respects I find to be a tragic corollary to the metal genre’s intensity. As made clear in the powerpoint, many soldiers had not even listened to the music beforehand and only became interested when they realized it served a practical purpose in battle: to provide an alternative ego in which firing a weapon and assaulting enemy lines is acceptable, even natural, with such aggressive sonic background. While I can never see myself thinking even once about harming an individual while listening to progressive metal, I do understand the underlying “hardcore” emotions behind the music.
Another important point brought up in the Combat presentation was that soldiers also listen to gangster rap when entering battle. I found it very enlightening to clarify that rap, like metal, was not only aggressive because of its origins in the “hood,” but also criminal and violent which differs from the majority of metal music. Violence, sexual exploitation, greed, and crime are unseemly themes that pervade rap and even dominate the radio. The thug-mentality and brutishness of “gangsters” is popularized and distorted by nearly all rap artists, and I personally see the whole lot of them as hypocrites since they idolize crime, ghetto lifestyle, and sex when in reality they are wealthy egomaniacs that are entirely untrue to their music and “gangster values” who exploit the pockets of the musically uninformed youth.
I had done research on child warfare all over Africa during this previous quarter, studying in detail the Congo, Uganda, Sierra Leone, and many others. I knew of refugee camps and displacement polices, and the tragedies associated with forcibly incorporating children into rebel armies. The main issue I found to be disturbing was the forced drug abuse placed upon the children by their older, wicked counterparts in order to subordinate them and desensitize them to the unspeakable violence they are made to conduct. Programs like UNICEF and Amnesty International were the main sources of aid for the communities in which children had been rescued, but not once did I find any information of the impact of music in their lives.
The Uganda presentation was meaningful to me because music differs from humanitarian aid in that it actually touches the soul of the listener, and in this case the corrupted souls of African youth. The improvised music and traditional dance meant that the children had a means of celebrating their life in a healthy fashion an recuperating from the iniquities of mass-slaughter that was thrust upon them by misguided rebels all across Africa. The former soldiers now had to re-socialize themselves and find new meaning in their lives with, hopefully, their families and relatives. The best way to express their natural divinity and youth was through music and dance in their own communities within displacement and refugee camps, where they could make a gradual recovery from intense trauma.
In the end I learned a lot from Music in Disputed Territories, and discovered much more about my own interest in music. I now have a great deal of respect for music I not formerly heard or taken interest in before, and know that everything has an underlying significance to its sound that I previously would have ignored. The variety of music such as politically charged Israeli Mediterranean, celebratory Bhangra, expressionist Tango, and freedom-oriented Apartheid protest has exposed me to an entirely different world and interpretation of music. The soundscapes I researched throughout the quarter gave me a better idea of what my musical appreciation is compared tot hat of my peers, and to which genres I can most genuinely relate in my everyday life.

Noel Ripberger's Paper

Click Here for Noel Ripberger's Paper

Amber Brandt's Final Reflection

Click Here for Amber Brandt's Final Reflection

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Donny Rhine

IS 501 Final

I thoroughly enjoyed the wide scope of everyone’s presentations. I did not think that everyone would choose something that is not mainstream to popular culture. I chose John, Kelsey’s, and Taylor's presentations because I say a common theme of outsiders in them. Johns Black Metal bands are exclusive to only a small following that want to be outsiders, while Kelsey chose German gangster rap. Taylor's view on minority women and their dynamics within conversation also showed themes of being an outsider or creating situations of being outsiders.

John’s presentation on the Norwegian Black Metal is a reminder to me that all music is made for the rest of the genre. Originally started to be a culture rebellion, the created their music to be as dark as possible to exclude outsiders. John’s description of the music that it is brutally passionate fits accordingly. Black Metal artists put just as much work into sounding as bad or distorted as possible as writing their music. By using low quality microphones and recording devices to produce the “necrosound” that they wanted. These sounds, along with the imagery used by a few of the bands are what have given the genre the stereotype of being Satanic or demonic. Which when John stated that the original bands that started the genre were Paganistic, rather than Monotheist, it surprised me. Which in a way I can understand in the way that Black Metal wanted to distance itself from the normal or mainstream metal. So they had to create a sound for themselves but also try to stay true to form of the music. This resulted in them taking extreme measures in insuring that their followers stayed exclusive.

Sticking with the theme of outsiders, Kelsey’s presentation reminded me of a few YouTube days that I had in my early German language classes. She presented on German gangster rap, which to me anything labeled gangster is comical. Though I did find it interesting the parallels between American gangster rap and German. We tend to think that the grass is always greener on the other side, but often times other places have the same problems or environments that we do. As with minorities here, many of the Turkish and other minorities over there are searching for their identities. Some of my experiences with German gnats rap were that the songs were light and catchy not the normal type that I see here. Though Kelsey’s example of Bushido and Advanced Chemistry shows that they often rapped about serious issues within themselves. Though I do know about the anti-Turkish sentiments that are in Germany, I did not know that it was prevalent in the rap genre, or that it had a Neo-Nazi following. Though I thought I was very funny that Falco is considered to be rap.

Finishing out on my reflection I want to touch on Taylor’s theme. Her presentation on women in minorities gave me new light on the dynamics between two people and their conversation. The different contexts or situations women are put in by men or fellow women direct the atmosphere of the dialogue, and can make a women change her way of response within the situation. As Taylor stated, when she talked to Elsadig Elsheikh, her manner was one of professionalism and distance. She said that when they talked, she sat upright and forward and had an air of respect and quietness. Though her conversations with Mrs. Betts and Mrs. Nieto, the conversations took on an air of laidback friendship, though respectful still. I find the difference weird because of the protocols that our society has put on women. Women are to be almost submissive in most instances when having dialogue with older generations, which in a way makes them outsiders. Also two or more women can create a “bubble” and essentially taking themselves out of the rest of what is going on around them making the rest outsiders. I say this in the sense that the women create their own niche that is exclusive only to them at that time. I have had some experience with this by way of a few communication classes that I took freshman year. Though to see Taylors point of view on how Mrs. Betts and her instantly bonded over jewelry (something that is beyond my comprehension, along with shoes and handbags) and that bond carrying over to the professional discussions on creating the class is intriguing. It makes me wonder if all women form a bond over a subject that helps transcend the boundaries of personal and professional dialogues.

Brian Williams' Final Reflection

Brian Williams

Dr. Horowitz

International Studies 501

Spring 2011

Final Reflection

First off, I think all the final projects are of immense educational value. I thank everyone for bringing a wide-variety of topics, approaches, and insight to the forefront of my awareness. Rachel Paiscik’s presentation on Bhangra dance and the appropriation of Punjabi culture from immigrants to a younger generation growing up in the U.K. was fascinating. It reminded me of a concept used by absurdist philosopher Albert Camous called, “betwixt and between.” This notion symbolizes a purgatorial state of being, in this case, a generation of ethnic Punjabi youngsters brought up as participants in British culture, caught in between the world of their parents and the world they had come to know.

Only men in the Punjabi region of India and Pakistan traditionally performed the Bhangra dance. However, as waves of immigrants left their homes in hopes of a better life for their children in modern western nations, the culture they brought with them was appropriated, transformed, altered, created, and recreated. Such is the case with Bhangra dance and music. As the second generation of Punjabi immigrants were socialized in western British culture, they had a more liberal ideological approach towards issues of gender normative behavior and shattered the paradigm of their parents in regards to gender role adherence. The Bhangra dance and musical accompaniment were transformed from a traditional male-dominated dance performed in the spring or harvest season to a year-round expression of maintaining Punjabi culture in a foreign land.

British Punjabi teenagers, in accordance with their “betwixt and between” state, drew on a wide variety of cultural influences to incorporate into their own identity and cultural customs. Youngsters conflated Reggae and Hip and Hop musical form with traditional Bhangra beats and instruments to form their own version of Punjabi culture appropriated within the U.K. Bhangra dance and music has become incredibly popular amongst younger generations of immigrants in the U.K. who use the Bhangra as a connector device to their cultural heritage. This is very powerful for individuals caught in between traditional Punjabi culture and modern Western culture.

The individuals who transformed Bhangra and the audiences they have reached are far-reaching and act as a medium for cultural rationalization. That is, drawing on elements pervasive in a new, different culture and synthesizing them with their ambiguous, disconnected traditional cultural identity. Bhangra is now danced in clubs amongst men and women, boys and girls. The stringent cultural messages conveyed through the traditional presentation of Bhangra have been drastically altered to become more suitable with the socializing institutions of western popular culture. This transformation allowed individuals once trapped in the middle of two identities: 1. Not fully understanding their cultural heritage because they had grown up in Europe and 2. As ethnic outsiders in Britain considered by many to be second-class Brits to construct a dialectical identity drawing on both of their identities creating a wholesome understanding of who they are, and where they came from.

I also found Donny’s presentation regarding the evolution of Techno music to be quite enthralling. Whenever an individual is unfamiliar with a topic or genre, they must keep an open-mind regarding the historical context in which that genre formed as well as the cultural implications it produced throughout its existence. I learned that minimalistic techno music was created in Detroit, Michigan in 1975. However, as it started as an underground form of musical expression, mainstream popular culture institutions stereotyped it, limiting its targetable audiences to fit the popular sentiment. This indubitably hindered techno music’s popularity and competition amongst mainstream musical forms after its initial conception. However, it was widely embraced by audiences across the pond who took techno and ran with it as new technologies were being invented, enabling artists to create techno music from the comforts of their own home. Europeans created 50 subcategories of techno music during the 1990’s that can be categorized into four larger groups: Trance, Drum and Bass, Acid House, and Remix. Trance is by far the most created and played genre. It is identified by its rapid 125-150 beats per minute, repeating melodies and repetitious lyrics that leads to a so-called “trance-like state” for the listener.

I find it shocking how American audiences, not claiming it as their own form of musical innovation, and allowing the European Techno community to shape and mold the cultural and musical trajectory of this gripping music, rejected Techno. American identity is based on principles of ingenuity, inventiveness, and creative genius. Americans were inventing the technology (synthesizers, computer programs, etc.) which made the evolution of techno music possible, why then would mainstream audiences reject this artistic representation of American creativity? It is beyond me, although I thank Donny sincerely for opening my eyes to intriguing identity of techno music.

Paige Lewis' Final Reflection

Click Here for Paige Lewis' Final Reflection

John Sterle's Final Response and Paper

Click Here to Read John Sterle's Final Reflection

Click Here to Read John Sterle's Final Paper (Presentation)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Kelsey's Term Paper and Links to Videos

Paige Lewis Term Paper

Clicke Here to Read Paige Lewis' Term Paper
Rodrigo y Gabriela- Flamenco appropriation awesomeness.
The Gipsy Kings- Modern appropriation of flamenco techniques.
El Camaron- Modern flamenco with strong traditional style.

Fotos del Alhambra.
Graffiti in Granada. Translation: "I love you gypsy (female gypsy)."

Sami Alsado Final Reflection

Click Here for Sami's Term Paper

Click Here for Sami's Powerpoint Presentation

Taylor Robert's Final

Here is a link to my blog for my final!
Sorry it's so late, me and blogger were not getting along well....

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Ian Smith's Final Reflection (Sami's Presentation)

Ian Smith

June 6, 2011

Final Reflection / Dr. H

Final Reflection

I was most impressed with Sami’s presentation on sampling, mashups, and property rights. Indeed, shifting technoscapes in recent years have dramatically altered the way musical artists are able to express themselves. The advent of digital music has empowered multitudes of people to influence and shape current soundscapes across all genres of music. But issues with property rights in the music industry have accompanied the digital revolution. One of the great points in the presentation was how, thanks to sites like Napster, people now have thousands of songs readily available. However, not all of these songs can be downloaded legally. I was definitely amused that 95% of recent music downloads have reportedly been illegal, but I was not surprised. The Internet has provided a means through which people can exchange almost any piece of information, including songs, and people would prefer to obtain songs for free instead of paying for them (obviously).

These free and seemingly endless music libraries, in conjunction with free software available via the Internet, has enabled the creation of different versions of songs. Whether these new songs are authentic depends on the point of view. If we define the original song that has been sampled in a mashup, for example, as the authentic version, then the portion of the original song included in the mashup should not be considered as truly authentic. This is because the excerpt of the song, even if its pitch and tones remain the same as the original version, is not the entire piece of art; just as a random square inch on the Mona Lisa cannot accurately be described as an authentic representation of the overall painting, the segment of the original song included in the mashup does not authentically represent the original version. On the other hand, the fact that the mashup artist blends these music fragments and synthesizes a new piece of music is certainly noteworthy. This new mashup should be considered as authentic as a whole, but not as an authentic representation of any of the individual components.

But Sami’s presentation also brought us the issue of property rights. For example, he claimed that Girl Talk would owe millions of dollars in retribution to the many artists whose music was included in Girl Talk’s mashups. I am generally opposed to any action that would restrict the flow of information, so I think this sounds quite absurd. I realize, however, that everyone should not be entitled to every informational datum, but I see no great reason for restricting the flow of music information from one person to any other. Having said that, I certainly understand that the economics of the music industry simply cannot be ignored, and that to totally dissolve musical property rights would totally wreck our current system. As a human population, greater gains in all spheres of knowledge will result if people are able to draw on as many sources as possible. Just as Isaac Newton’s quote about standing on the shoulders of giants indicates, intellectual progress depends on the ability of our current thinkers to draw from the great ideas of the past.

To address these issues is to delve into the “tradition vs. transformation” discussion. Though a number of music purists, such as John Philip Sousa, lamented even the simple dissemination of recorded music, many more must be enraged at the availability of digital audio files on the Internet. Indeed, the ways in which music is shared have changed greatly in the past 150 years. The argument can be made, however, that the only tradition is transformation. Even before recorded sounds became available, people invented new instruments or new melodies. In the present time, music has the ability to change with unbelievable speed. Composers like Bach and Beethoven would be astounded to hear that a song, once written, can be spread all over the globe with the single click of a computer mouse.

Disputed territories in this discussion obviously start with property rights. On one hand, the musicians rightly feel they should be credited for their work. On the other hand, the interested people feel like they should have free access to the musicians’ works. These sides become more unclear when someone takes a part of an artist’s work and incorporates it into another art project; deciding to what extent the original artist should be credited for the new work is often a difficult situation. What is interesting to me is the thin line between what constitutes “plagiarism” in music and what does not. After all, no musician can patent a single chord or rest. But if he or she used every single note from a song, then he or she would likely get in significant trouble. Therefore, a point that divides plagiarism from non-plagiarism must exist. However, the location of this point would seem to depend on the musical piece in question.

As someone who is quite unfamiliar with mashups in general, the take-home message I extracted (or seemingly inferred, at least) from Sami’s presentation is that mashups should exist as a form of musical art; I greatly enjoyed the excerpt he played that included music by the Beatles and by Jay-Z (“What More Can I Say?”) and would certainly regard it as art. I would greatly enjoy seeing a scenario where artists are compensated for their work but to not have such exclusive rights to the material, though I realize such a situation is highly paradoxical given today’s musical landscape.

Copy of Ian Smith's Presentation

Click Here to See a Copy of Ian Smith's Presentation

Copy of Donny Rhine's Presentation

Click Here to See a Copy of Donny's Powerpoint Presentation from Class

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Class Comments on Brian Williams Presentation

Class Comments on John Sterle Presentation

Class Comments on Ian Smith Presentation

Class Comments on Taylor Roberts Presentation

Class Comments on Noel Ripberger Presentation

Class Comments on Donny Rhine Presentation

Class Comments on Rachel Paiscik Presentation

Class Comments on Paige Lewis Presentation

Class Comments on Kelsey Kerton Presentation

Class Comments on Drew Glosik Presentation

Class Comments on Rachel Edelman Presentation

Class Comments on Amber Brandt Presentation

Class Comments on Sami Alsado Presentation