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Blog 9 Sun

The presentation I found interesting was on the topic of Music and Animal Cruelty by Despina Markakis. The connection between animal cruelty and the two music entries discussed in the presentation is that music is used by many organizations to connect with people, and the message of raising awareness on animal cruelty is incorporated through the lyrics, background music, and the musicians performing for a charity. The first song that was discussed is called “Behind The Mask” by Goldfinger, which was released in 2005. The connection that this song has to the topic of animal cruelty was that it talks about and advocates for “animal liberation and related associations.” There is the use of a sample from the ALF and the arson attacks & bombings, as well as repetitiveness in the music and lyrics. The tempo is 175 BPM, and the notes are in B key. A musically interesting moment that was mentioned was the music stopping and being warped because it creates tension that the listener is able to feel. The second song that was talked about in this presentation was “Exotic Animals Suite: I. Exotic Birds” by Mark Dal Porto. This musical piece is a 3-movement woodwind quintet and is considered chamber music. The connection this piece has to the topic is that it was featured in an animal welfare magazine. The overall song has dissonant harmony, and polyphonic texture, as well as effective use of dynamics. A musically interesting moment included when the composer used mimesis, where the music reflected the sound of birds chirping, and this was done with a technique on the oboe.

If I wrote about this topic, two musical pieces I would pick include “Animal Parade” by the artist Brolin from Believe Sync and “Crying Alone” by the artist Jurrivh. “Animal Parade” was featured in WWF’s Fight For Your World campaign, where the instrumental version of the song is played while the screen displayed images and short videos of declining wildlife and polluted oceans/lands. This musical piece has mostly minor chords and the general melody is repeated. Instruments that can be heard include strings and brass, and a musically interesting moment is the ringing sound that is heard towards the end of the video clip, which gives an unsettling feeling that you need to take action. “Crying Alone” by Jurrivh was used in a YouTube video posted by the channel Official NYPTV, where it showed statistics about animal abuse, specifically for dogs, and what we can do to help stop the abuse from continuing. “Crying Alone” alters between major and minor chords, and there is also repetitiveness in the melody in some parts. The tempo of this song is very slow, thus giving off the sad feeling of being alone. A musically interesting moment is at 4:22, where the violin accompaniment fades away, and you see a tear roll down the artist’s face. This shows how music is really able to connect to the hearts of people because it is a language that can be understood by everyone, and thus it is a message that everyone can also receive.

Link to WWF’s Fight For Your World campaign video: https://www.lbbonline.com/news/believe-syncs-brolin-soundtrack-wwfs-animal-parade-psa-to-help-save-the-world

Animal Parade by Brolin

Link to Official NYPTV’s Animal Abuse video: https://youtu.be/OstSxst4un0

Crying Alone by Jurrivh

Blog 8 Sun

The song “光亮 (Guang Liang),” directly translated into “Brightness,” is the theme song for the documentary “The Forbidden City,” and is sung by the Chinese singer, Zhou Shen. Chinese contemporary lyricist Gou Lin and composer Qian Lei incorporated parts into the song that originated from a poem written by Northern Song Dynasty poet Su Shi. What makes this song special is the way Zhou Shen sang it. Zhou Shen is able to switch flawlessly between a wide range of pitches, which allows him to freely arrange the harmony at different parts of the song. In the second part of the song, there is the incorporation of the chants and arias of the Peking Opera at 3:25. With the incorporation of this traditional Chinese culture, the lyrics of the song contain a message that expresses an open-minded and optimistic attitude towards life. The homophonic texture of this song also makes it special as one of the instrumental accompaniments used is the ancient Xun (古埙), which is a globular, vessel flute, and is one of the oldest musical instruments in China with its use dating back to approximately seven thousand years ago.

A unit in which this piece of music can be featured could be Unit 7: Sung and Danced Drama. In this unit, we mentioned upon Beijing Opera, and this song “光亮” contains elements of this traditional art. Important concepts this song would help teach include how composers and artists today are able to incorporate traditional forms of music into more modern styles, which in this case, is electrical music. It can act as a modern example of how the Beijing opera tradition is being kept and delivered to the listeners of the song.

光亮 (Guang Liang) sung by Zhou Shen

Blog 7 Sun

The Buddhist religion includes many ancient texts, similar to other religions in the world. However, these ancient texts are not traditionally sung, but rather chanted, by the Buddhist monks. The purpose of chanting the texts is to help with the memorization of the Buddha’s teachings and to be able to focus their minds. According to the textbook reading, the Buddhist musical practice remains fairly simple, and a vocal technique used by these monks is called harmonic singing, where multiple pitches are created within a single voice at the same time, thus creating harmony. The textbook also writes how the technique is “physically subtle,” as it requires “precise (and relaxed) positioning of jaw, tongue, and lips.”

Interestingly, as the Buddhist teachings are brought over from India to other countries in the east such as China, there has since been the incorporation of melodic features (where the ancient texts are sung), as well the use of Dharma instruments, including the hand bell, the wooden fish, the Dharma drum, and the singing bowl (Dharma). The incorporation of these instruments, especially the wooden fish, sets a beat for when Buddhist practitioners chant or sing Buddhist texts. The link attached below is a recording of the Buddhist text, “莲池赞 (Lianchi Zan)” in Chinese, showing a practice session for playing the Dharma instruments. The Dharma instruments form a homophonic texture, as they accompany the main melodic line being sung. Depending on if the text is sung or chanted, it can be either syllabic or melismatic, as some texts are chanted in a melodic way (syllabic) and others are sung with drawn-out pitches (melismatic). In this case, we hear a melismatic melody. The text in the video is usually sung at the beginning of a 1 or 2-hour session in temples and acts as an opening to the session, and it can be seen as a way for people to calm their minds for the rest of the session. This text is also usually sung by the practitioners all together, with the person playing the singing bowl leading.

Translation of Title: “Lianchi Zan” Practice

Works Cited

(n.d.). Dharma Instruments Used in Meditation Retreats. Dharma Drum Mountain Global Website. Retrieved November 19, 2022, from https://www.dharmadrum.org/portal_d8_cnt_page.php?folder_id=30&cnt_id=80&up_page=1

Blog 6 Sun

The virtual concert I watched was “Yet to Come in Busan” performed by the South Korean boy band group, BTS. The genre of music they performed was kpop, and the concert took place at Asiad Stadium in Busan, South Korea. I chose to watch this concert because BTS is one of my favorite kpop groups, and I have always wanted to attend a BTS concert. During the concert, there was a lot of engagement between the performers and the audience. There would be moments during the concert where BTS members are just speaking to the fanbase, ARMY, and when members are singing songs, they will purposely not sing a line, because ARMY would sing along with them. BTS members were all very chill, and fans will also sing along and cheer. Overall, everyone at the concert was just enjoying themselves with no pressure. The dress style was also very casual, where everyone was able to express themselves through their own unique style. The concert matched my expectations, as I mostly vibed along with the performances while watching the recording.

In Unit 7, we mentioned “The Magic Flute,” which is a Singspiel, a German-language comic opera. When compared to this BTS concert, there are very noticeable differences, but also some similarities. The similarity is that both performances included singing, and the performers on stage would interact with one another. The differences are that the performers in the opera wore specific costumes for the character they played, while in the BTS concert, the members would wear casual styled clothing, and would also change their clothes to match the theme of the songs (ex: darker colors for more rough, edgy styles, and lighter colors for more cheerful, upbeat songs). Other differences are that there was no interaction or talking with the audience in the opera, while in the BTS concert, there was a lot interaction with the audience. The performers in the opera also had to follow a script, while BTS members were free to perform their songs in any way they wanted.

BTS: “Yet to Come in Busan” concert

Blog 5 Sun

In the article, “100 years ago today, ‘The Rite of Spring’ incited a riot in a Paris theater,” the author, Amar Toor, writes about the “riot” that happened during the first public performance of “The Rite of Spring” on May 29th, 1913 in Paris. Toor writes of how this incident was mostly eye witness news, and as people debate whether it was the music or the dance, it’s still a mystery of what exactly started the riot. The audience booed at the performance and threw vegetables onto the stage until it gotten to a point where the dancers couldn’t hear the orchestra anymore. Overall, both Stravinsky and Nijinsky, the composer and choreographer, had made a significant impact on the audience on the day of the first performance.

The article, “Did Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring incite a riot at its premiere?” talks about what actually happened at the premiere. Tamara Levitz, a musicological researcher, pointed out that many firsthand accounts were from people in the balcony, and so the music was “… exceptionally resonant due to aspects of its architecture… the environment likely exaggerated the effect in the balcony, rendering the sound overwhelming.” Levitz concludes that this may have caused an “an unsettling sonic chain reaction.” The dance was based off of ritual sacrifice in what Stravinsky and his collaborators imagined prehistoric Russia to be, and was also inspired by dances in Siberia. Parts of the dance are seen as very racist today, but back then, the audience, mainly aristocrats, responded by laughing. This behavior from the aristocracts had, as the article states, “appalled the critics, musicians, and music lovers, so they responded by complaining and insulting the aristocrats,” and while most depicitons of this conflict have people shouting across the whole theater, Levitz comments, “In truth, only those sitting close to the people who uttered these insults probably heard them at all.”

When I first watched the video of the ballet, I felt disturbed looking at the movements while listening to the accompanied music from the orchestra. I also felt fear at some parts where the jerking and stomping set me off guard, and I could see how this was meant to be a “sacrificial” dance. If I was in the audience in 1913, I think I’ll be shocked and overwhelmed, because the performance was something I’ve never seen before, and the music would also probably be very loud and dramatic since it was performed in a large theater.

Blog 4 Sun

Katie Sky- “Monsters”
Zhou Shen- “Monsters”

The original song I chose for this blog is “Monsters” by artist Katie Sky. Katie Sky is a singer from the United Kingdom, and her genre of music is dance/electronic. Her song “Monsters” was released in 2014. “Monsters” was also performed by Chinese singer Zhou Shen in 2020 on the show Singer 2020 in China. Zhou Shen, also known as Charlie Zhou, is well known for his wide vocal range. In the song “Monsters,” the message that is being conveyed is that there is always someone there for you when you’re facing something troublesome, and that you are not alone in your fears and problems. It gives the listener a sense of encouragement to keep on going.

Two similarities between the 2 performances is the form and the melody. Both performances have a verse-chorus form, which parts of the lyrics repeating (chorus) and some of the lyrics being different (verse). The melody of both performances are also generally the same, with the same notes and pitches. Two differences between the 2 performances is the different use of instruments (timbre) in some parts of the song, and the rhythm. In Katie Sky’s recording of the song, instruments that are mainly heard are the guitar, drums/percussion, and piano, while in Zhou Shen’s performance, there was a noticable addition of the electric guitar (ex: 1:50-2:06, and throughout the performance). Zhou Shen’s voice can also be described as fuller and smoother compared to Katie’s rapsy voice, hense a difference in the timbre in the 2 performances. There is also a difference in rhythm, although not as noticeable. In Zhou Shen’s performance, there are pauses in the performances, compared to Katie’s recording where the song is continuous with no pauses. Zhou Shen also adds his own touch to the song at 3:07-3:55. The setting of these 2 performances also made a difference in the quality, because Katie’s seems to be recorded, while Zhou Shen’s was live on stage. In Zhou Shen’s live performances, you can feel his emotions from his facial expressions, and his version of the song also feels like there is more of a climax, with the rise and fall of volume.

Blog 3 Sun

A musical instrument, such as the guitar, is a piece of music technology. According to reading packet #3, in Western art music, instruments are categorized into families based on their way of generating sounds, such as strings, woodwinds, brass, and percussion (3-4). Instruments can be used in different aspects of life such as for entertainment, work, and even medicine. In able to achieve a specific purpose, instruments are used or played in a certain way by people to get the outcome they desire. For example, different instruments can be layered upon each other to create harmony and texture. Instruments may have been initially designed for the purpose of entertainment, but as time went by, the purpose of instruments also branched out. An example is the guitar, where some people play it for fun, while others who are musical artists play it for a living. Instruments including the guitar can also be used to help and aid people with depression or anxiety, as learning how to play an instrument is a coping mechanism for some. Personally, I’ve had some experience with musical instruments growing up, where I learned how to play the violin in elementary school, and the clarinet in middle school.

Almost all songs include the use of instruments, and the piece of music I chose is a Chinese song called “给你给我“ (Gei Ni Gei Wo) by Mao Buyi. In the song, you can hear the use of a guitar, violin, piano and percussion. The instruments were layered upon each other and they harmonized with the singing of the artist’s voice. This influences the song itself because it helps set the beat and the mood, and connect the music. Below is the link to the song on Spotify.

Spotify: 给你给我 By Mao Buyi

Blog 2 Sun

Eve is a Japanese singer and songwriter, as well as a Vocaloid producer. He was born on May 23rd, 1995. The genre of his songs is considered j-pop rock, and his music has been featured in animes such as Jujutsu Kaisen. Eve was introduced to me by my friends back in high school, and ever since then, his songs have been a part of my everyday life, such as commuting to and from school. “Snow” was one of the first songs by Eve that I’ve heard, and it is also one of my favorites as the animation and lyrics of the song are really beautiful.

One musical element present in “Snow” is rhythm. In terms of melody, the overall song had a conjunct melodic motion, where the distance between pitches was fairly short, and there seemed to be 4 beats grouped together per measure. The tempo of the music was also quick throughout the song, and you could clearly hear 4 beats of the drum at the beginning of the song. Another musical element present in this song is texture. There was homophonic texture throughout the song, as there were multiple different instruments and chords that accompanied the single melodic line that dominated. Instruments such as the guitar and percussion are heard, and they overlapped, with the drums setting the beat and the guitar blending in with the melody to harmonize.

A musically interesting moment in the song is the chorus, starting at times 1:03 and 3:21. It was interesting because this part of the song felt like the climax, with everything building up and then releasing. The beats would slow down right before the chorus, and then become quick again, like a roller coaster, which I personally enjoyed.

Blog 1 Sun

When hearing of the Romantic Era (1820-1900), instruments such as the harp and violin would come to mind. The most interesting thing I learned is how inspiration for music was taken not only from aspects associated with dreams or love, but also from categories that are considered dark and negative. For example, according to the “Excerpt from Music: Its Language, History, and Culture,” by Douglas Cohen, Cohen writes, “… they [the romantics of the 19th century] were fascinated by subjects associated with dreams (Goya’s The Dream of Reason), oppression, injustice, and political struggle (novels of Dickens, Victor Hugo’s Les Miserable ), the macabre (stories of Edgar Allen Poe), and death (poems of Emily Dickinson)” (29). I originally thought that because this is the “romantic” era, people would look at aspects of love and happiness to compose music, but once learning about how inspiration was also taken from dark forms of society (such as oppression and death), it opened a new perspective for me.

After listening to Nicolo Paganini’s Caprice No. 24, the music sounds like how it was described in the textbook. In Paganini’s music, I felt a sense of sorrow and sometimes fear. Also, while listening, I could feel that it included aspects in the excerpt written by Cohen, such as “restlessness, longing, and unhappy love relationships” (29).

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March 2023

This course includes Open Educational Resources (OER), which are entirely cost-free and accessible online. Developed in the Open Knowledge Fellowship at The Graduate Center's Mina Rees Library, this work is made possible by state grant funding through the Office of Library Services.

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