Research Skills Musicology Final Session Prior To Easter Break

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Session 6 from my musicology series

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Research Skills Musicology Final Session Prior To Easter Break

  1. 1. Research Skills Musicology<br />Dr Paul Carr<br />Final Thoughts<br />
  2. 2. Final Assignment<br />Document a 2000 word essay that focuses on an area of musicology discussed in class. This couldinclude<br />A detailed theoretical analysis of a single piece of music of your choice using specific methodologies and approaches as discussed in class (or otherwise). This could include the portrayal of ‘designated’ or ‘embodied’ meaning.<br />A theoretical analysis that compares and contrasts two songs of your choice using specific methodologies and approaches as discussed in class (or otherwise).<br />Analyze a piece of music using Philip Tagg’s musicological methodology. Specific attention should be given to the use of how a single ‘Analysis Object’ can be analyzed using the following vocabulary:<br />Analysis Object (AO)<br />Inter Objective Comparison Material (IOCM)<br />Parameters of Musical Expression (PME)<br />Items of Musical Code (IMC)<br />Extra Musical Fields of Association (EMFA)<br />Hypothetical Substitution (HS)<br />Musemes<br />
  3. 3. Present a contextual analysis of an artist of your choice. The essay must include a rationale why you have chosen the artist (including the context of your research), a list of research questions, and a synopsis of how you intend to investigate these questions.The main body of the essay should focus not just on musical factors, but contextual ones. <br />For example how do paradigms such as authenticity, the local and the global, gesture and tradition determine how the artist is conceptualised and received? What philosophical approaches has the artist adopted, and how do they relate to other musicians, styles, genres, traditions, etc? It would be particularly interesting to investigate how techniques have been employed outside of music (for example in art or literature). <br />If there is a specific subject area that you would like to investigate that is not included above, discuss its viability with the module leader. <br />Note: All essays should probably include numerous transcriptions and/or recordings that substantiate your argument, and these must be clearly linked to your text and included in recorded form as an appendix (via a CD).<br />
  4. 4. Assessment Criteria<br />Depending on your question, subjects could include<br />General detail of the analysis when discussing single or combined pieces<br />Discussion of composition, arrangement, performance, and production <br />Interrelation of the harmonic, rhythmic, and melodic factors of the music, to form, texture, tempo, metre, timbre, and dynamics. of the music<br />Use of ‘inter objective’ comparison materials<br />Accuracy of Roman Numeral Analysis, and general understanding of horizontal and vertical chordal paradigms<br />Detail of form chart(s) and CD recordings<br />Use of notated examples<br />Use of recorded examples<br />Cross referencing of relevant academic text<br />
  5. 5. Technology and Production<br />Consider how more/less technology can indicate greater or lesser authenticity<br />
  6. 6. THE RECORD - An authentic means of production and performance<br />Walter Benjamin (The Work Of Art In The Age Of Mechanical Reproduction) argued as early as 1936 that technology was transforming the artistic nature of photography, film, and music.<br />Described traditional notions of ‘authenticity’ as “The artworks presence in time and space, its unique existence at the place where it happens to be” (Zac 18).<br />Described this ‘unique’ presence as the ‘Aura’.<br />
  7. 7. <ul><li>Stated that in the age of mechanical reproduction – the ‘Aura’ withered.
  8. 8. In other words the artwork was dependant on the direct perception of a unique physical presence. – mechanically reproduced art could not have an ‘Aura’ of its own!!
  9. 9. Many popular music based musicologists (such as Zac: (2001), Moore: (1996)) consider the importance placed on analysing a record as a ‘transferral‘, not a withering of the Aura.</li></li></ul><li>According to Zac - Even though the physical presence of the author may not be present – the record represents a transferral and translation of the artist’s Aura (p.19).<br /><ul><li>Authenticity therefore is judged not on a unique instance, but a unique “arrangement of elements” (production techniques, song structure, background of the artists, etc), which make up The Record.
  10. 10. Therefore - All instances of a modern work intended for reproduction are ‘original’.
  11. 11. Mike Stoller’s “We did not write songs, we wrote records” (Zac: 21) statement depicts this conceptual change in notions of authenticity. </li></li></ul><li>Although records may have originally been conceived as a means of reproduction – they are now realities in themselves.<br />Compare an early recording to a post 55 one. How is the recording process different?<br />
  12. 12. Autographic/Allographic<br /><ul><li>A ‘genuine’ painting posits the brush strokes of the artist – the physical traces of its making – a fusion of idea and action.
  13. 13. This is an excellent example of an autographic artwork – it cannot be copied without loosing some of its meaning.
  14. 14. Allographic – determined by a set of relationships involving some form of notation (for example a score or a book), through which the ‘original’ can be recovered any number of times</li></li></ul><li>Question: If we examined a lead sheet (song) and the recording (arrangement/track) of one of the tracks from Radiohead’s latest album (both documented by the band) – which one would it be ‘Autographic’ or ‘Allographic’ in nature?<br /> Modern records are autographic in nature, and therefore should be a primary aspect of musicological analysis<br />
  15. 15. Musical Traditions<br />William Echard differentiates between the following:<br />Clichés – Strongly associated with tradition. Even when heard outside with features related to another tradition, it still serves as a reference to its own. <br />Typical Features – an integral aspect of the tradition, but not unique. They connote a tradition, but not exclusively. <br />For example:<br />
  16. 16. Typical Features<br />The Acoustic Guitar in certain types of folk music<br />Male Vocals in Heavy Metal music<br />
  17. 17. Clichés 1– Sounds and Textures such as ‘Do-Wop vocals’<br />Listen to <br />‘Nite Owl’ by Tony Allen (1960)<br />‘The Closer You Are’ by the Channels (1950’s)<br />Compare to - <br />‘The Do Wop’ by LL Cool J (1987)<br />‘HTML’ by The Hot Toddies (2007)<br />
  18. 18. Clichés 2 - Fashion<br />
  19. 19. Clichés 3 Harmonic Progressions<br />For example I vi ii V<br />‘The Book Of Love’ by The Monotones (1958)<br />‘All I Have To Do Is Dream’ by The Everly Bros (1960)<br />‘Every Breath You Take’ by The Police (1983)<br />‘Don’t Get Me Wrong’ by The Pretenders (1986)<br />
  20. 20. The acoustic guitar for example can therefore have a range of associations. <br />Clichés are more specific, and therefore can leave less space for further distinctive elaborations. More shallow!<br />Typical Features – less definite, and therefore deeper. More potential associations.<br />Echard believes that clichés make it more difficult for an artist to be considered unique, as the paradigms come with so many identifiable associations. <br />
  21. 21. Style, Genre and Tradition<br />It is important to be able to differentiate between style, genre, or tradition. These definitions are very fluid.<br />Style – a conventional or familiar musical pattern of structural organisation interpreted as the distinctive mark of specific productive contexts –<br />These ‘productive contexts’ could be:<br />Individual artists/bands (Queen, Led Zeppelin, etc)<br />A particular movement (Punk, Heavy Metal, etc)<br />An historical or geographical location (For example ‘Harlam Stride’, ‘Bebop’, Hip Hop, Manchester etc).<br />It is essentially the ability to recognise consistent tendencies in musical structural organisation, and to link them to points of origin (Echard: 59)<br />
  22. 22. Genre (according to Echard) – The work is grouped and discussed according to its emotional, social and/or cultural function. (I am personally unsure of the ‘emotion’ paradigm).<br />Tradition – Individuals people, places, times, social groups, and correlates them to styles and genres. <br />Therefore, an aspect such as the riff form “Smoke On The Water”, could be potentially described as all three:<br />1) A distorted riff, played in parallel 5ths, which was to become an archetypical cliché of the Heavy Metal movement. (A style)<br />2) Dark sounding, often performed by white musicians from a working class background. (genre)<br />3) A song which helped establish Black Sabbath as pioneers of Heavy Metal, influencing the music profoundly over the last 30+ years (Tradition). <br />
  23. 23. Important to realise that a term such as ‘Rock’ can indicate a style, genre or tradition.<br />Also important to realise that the boundaries between these categories are permeable.<br />Walser describes genre as an “horizon of expectations” (27) – never static fulfilments of conventional norms.<br />This dialogic perspective of style, genre, and tradition enables you to undergo a similar process to how the categories were established in the first place.<br />Important to realise that the personality of any piece of music, is in part due to its relationship with people, places, times, and ideas.<br />
  24. 24. Each piece of music has numerous textural strands that potentially have their own persona. The piece can be regarded as a dialogue between these voices.<br />The music can be regarded as intermusical, referring to other music, social practices, emotional meaning in a discursive rather than absolute way. <br />A dialogic perspective takes away the dilemma of discussing either the text or its social function. It enables us to discuss both. <br />Musical ideas can therefore come to life by relating them to circumstances through which they were forged – this is ‘Post Structuralism.<br />
  25. 25. Starting points/food for thought<br />To get started, ask yourself - is the style:-<br />Regressive: IE – Indie, Trad Jazz revival. Post Modern.<br />Formative: A piece that is influential in forming a new style of music.<br />Consolidatory: Simply a piece that consolidates the style.<br />Innovatory: New Music!<br />
  26. 26. This argument could be extended by examining how Innovation (Originality?) becomes Convention (Authentic).<br />Creativity: To engage with the unforeseen, but not the unforeseeable?<br />Originality: To engage with the unforeseen and the unforeseeable?<br />
  27. 27. Nattiez considers 3 levels of musicological analysis:<br />1) Immanent – What actually occurs in the music<br />2) Poietic – How music appears from the vantage point of those producing it<br />3) Esthetic – How music appears from the vantage point of listener.<br />Most essays consider factors 1 & 3. How are they different<br />
  28. 28. Moore’s vertical ‘layers’ of Rock<br />‘High Frequency Melody’ (Voice or melodic instrument)<br />‘Harmonic Filler’ (Piano/Guitar)<br />‘Explicit Rhythmic Layer’ (Drums/Percussion)<br />‘Low Register Melody’ (Bass)<br />Could also consider music in terms of ‘foreground’ and ‘background’ material.<br />
  29. 29. Basic musicological questions to ask:<br />How does instrumentation interrelate to form a style – i.e. how do bass and drums work together?<br />Is the feel shuffle or straight?<br />What are the nature of specific sounds? For example:<br />Example 1 - how is a guitar sound produced? Is it clean/distorted, acoustic/electric, effected/unaffected, valve/transistor? <br />Example 2 - How is a vocal sound produced? Trained/Untrained, Black/White, English/American, Head/Chest, Pure/Vibrato, On the beat/Off the beat, natural/falsetto?<br />Consider how important specific elements are. For example is the harmonic structure incidental or important, is the bass line an integral aspect of the song?<br />
  30. 30. How do you think the piece has been composed and on what instrument? – listen for ergonomic clichés.<br />What flexibility do the musicians have? Is the meaning of the music ‘Intentional’ - (enabling some freedom within an overall framework), or ‘Extentional’ (Pure notated music) <br />Consider the 3 dimensions of sound: <br />Frequency (vertical pitch)<br />Position (horizontal positioning)<br />Depth/Distance<br />
  31. 31. Some final final Thoughts<br />Remember that interpretation of music is semantic and very personal. Adorno identifies 6 types of listener. The following are relevant regarding analysis:<br />‘Expert’ – able to comprehend the full musicological complexity of a piece of music<br />‘Emotional’ – uses music as a trigger for personal emotions.<br />‘Entertainer’ – listens to music as background.<br />
  32. 32. It is important to realise that many ‘styles’ are informed as much by extraneous factors as they are musicological. I.e.<br />Interface with ‘Tradition’<br />Dress Codes (Be-Bop, Punk)<br />Production Techniques (Indie, Motown)<br />
  33. 33. This multidimensionality makes music difficult to analyse. <br />Remember - traditional Musicology determines the meaning of music to be ‘internal’ (The ‘text’), whist sociologists believe it to be external (The ‘Context’). Modern techniques bring these factors together, as in reality they both inform each other.<br />David Bracket labels these contexts ‘Primary Signification’ and ‘Secondary Signification’.<br />
  34. 34. Reminder of Models<br />Diachronic Analysis – Time based. For example comparing a single piece as it progresses or comparing a re arrangement of a work written 20 years earlier.<br />Synchronic Analysis – Without reference to historical context. This could be analysing a single piece without reference to anything else, or examining a ‘snapshop’ of a mix – without reference to time.<br />Emic – Consider the piece as an ‘insider’’<br />Etic – Consider the piece as an ‘observer’’<br />
  35. 35. Assignment Deadline<br />Handed into office by May 7th 2010.<br />First Friday back – no session but I am available for tutorials all week.<br />2nd Friday after Easter – open discussion.<br />

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