Konono No.1’s “Paradiso”

Finding a musical genre that is all it’s own with no influence from musical forms before it is impossible. No style of music that exists today appeared totally out of the blue. Speaking of blue, the blues came from a combination of English ballads and African shouts and spirituals. Early blues consisted of a 3-line structure like a traditional shout and contained mostly English words. Therefore, although blues was a unique new style of music, it clearly came from styles before it. This combination of musical styles in order to create a new one is known as musical fusion. Today, I’ve been listening to the song “Paradiso” by Konono No.1 from their popular album, Congometrics. Konono No.1 is a musical group from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Since their formation in the 1970s, they have created music that is a fusion of various genres, from traditional music of the Bazombo ethnic group to trance music and electronic rock. Konono No.1 combines these various, very different genres in their song, “Paradiso.” “Paradiso” features an electric likembe (an electric version of a traditional instrument) and a variety of different drums, including a drum set. The traditional drums setting the song’s groove are traditional to Bazombo music, but the electronic instruments and the drum set are not. This inclusion of elements that generally belong elsewhere is called syncretism. Since their initial formation, Konono No.1 has toured all over the world with acts like Bjork and Dutch band, The Ex. Since their cross-cultural interactions, they have continued to add more elements from other cultures into their music. For instance, the word “Paradiso” is Italian. Due to all of these characteristics, Konono No.1 and, specifically, the song “Paradiso” highlight fusion, hybridity, and syncretism- concepts of a cultural, musical exchange. 

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Music, Gender and Transphobia at the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival

     Since 1976, the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival has provided women of very different backgrounds, ethnicities, cultures, sexualities, and ages a safe space to gather. For a week each summer, women from all over travel to Hart, Michigan to attend the festival where they stay on campgrounds, go to music performances, and attend workshops. The whole festival is created by, staffed by, and attended by women. The mission is to escape from the patriarchy that is constant in society and be free with a large group of diverse women who, as women, also feel this oppression in their lives. Additionally, the festival serves as a space for all women along the spectrum of masculinity and femininity and of any sexuality, although it is especially inclusive towards lesbians. Michfest, as it’s nicknamed, was created as an inclusive space for all women, yet a controversy has arisen over how inclusive this safe space really is. Since the conception of this festival, the event is advertised for womyn-born-womyn only. This policy adamantly excludes trans* women from attending, claiming that trans* women have not experienced oppression their whole lives in the same way that WBW (womyn-born-womyn) do. The Michigan Womyn’s Festival is a clear representation of the intersection between music and gender as it relates to cis-privilege and transphobia.

     This policy is not written anywhere on the website (here’s the link if you want to take a look: http://www.michfest.com/index.htm) yet has been stated on multiple occasions by founder/owner Lisa Vogel after an incident that took place in 1991. In 1991, “festie” Nancy Burkholder attended Michfest for the second time. While at the campsite, Burkholder was approached by two women working the festival and was asked to step aside with them. They asked Burkholder if she was transsexual because they did not allow transsexuals at the festival. When Burkholder asked to see this documentation within festival literature, the women who had pulled her aside explained that there was no written documentation on the subject because no transsexual woman had ever before tried to attend. The festival reimbursed Burkholder for her ticket, booked a room for her and a friend at a nearby motel, and asked her to leave the premises. Burkholder wasn’t even permitted to return to the campsite to collect her belongings. Burkholder writes a detailed description of her experience here: http://www.transadvocate.com/michigan-womyns-music-festival_n_8943.htm. Burkholder’s experience with Michfest’s implicit, transphobic policies upset many people and brought the festival’s true intentions to light.

     The controversy centers around the question if it is acceptable to create a safe space for women that is so transphobic. Many people are upset by these policies because they create cis/trans segregation and ironically place women in the oppressive role that they were trying to avoid by attending the festival. This leaves the women advocating for WBW spaces also taking on a position of hegemony and power. They gather to escape their lack of power within the systematic gender hegemony by ironically creating a community that puts them at the top of yet another exclusionary power system. Lisa Vogel, Michfest’s founder and owner was extremely defensive when explaining her rationale for the festival’s trans* exclusionary policy. “I feel very strongly that having a space for women, who are born women, to come together for a week, is a healthy, whole, loving space to provide for women who have that experience.” Vogel explained in an interview with Amy Ray of the Indigo Girls. (The whole interview is here: http://www.indigogirls.com/correspondence/2005/2005-06-13-a/interview03.html.) The overall policy and Vogel’s comments caused Red Durkin, a lesbian trans woman to launch an online petition to boycott Michfest until it becomes inclusive to all who identify as women regardless of biological sex. (Here is the link to the campaign: https://www.change.org/petitions/indigo-girls-and-other-michfest-2013-performers-boycott-mwmf-until-the-organizers-fully-include-trans-women) Vogel quickly responded to Durkin’s petition, stating, “What I am trying to address in my statement is that if you are born female, deemed female at birth, raised as a girl, experienced the rigid enforcement of gender hierarchy from the time that you are a baby, you have a certain shared group experience that is different from someone who was born, deemed male, and raised as a boy.” (You can read her entire response here: http://planetransgender.blogspot.com/2013/04/lisa-vogel-michigan-womyns-music.html) By saying this, many people argue, Vogel trivializes the experience of trans* women and undermines the oppression that they too must face both for identifying as a woman and for being trans*.

     In the same letter of response to Durkin’s petition, Vogel explains that Michfest is “a community alive with a value system grown from the core of radical feminism.” Radical feminists believe that the only way to overcome male oppression and overthrow the patriarchy is to challenge gender norms. For this reason, many radical feminists take issue with trans* people because in the eyes of these feminists, trans* people are too deeply rooted in the gender binary that they identify themselves through this lens of gender. Yet, if these women are identifying as women but expressing that others can’t, they are part of the problem. This brings up the issue of authenticity. Who is the real woman: the trans* woman or the biological woman or both? Is anyone allowed to decide which body parts make one person a woman and another not? The Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival answers, only biological women, but understandably, this is a serious issue to many.

            Although Michfest is full of programs and facilities from day care centers to workshops, the festival’s main attraction is performance. Women performers who come to the festival put on shows that enhance the sense of community and its closeness. Women who perform must also do some sort of work to keep the festival running, like all other women attending Michfest. Performances range from music to comedy and feature women of all ages, ethnicities, and sexualities. Performers of past years of Michfest include slam poet Andrea Gibson, the Indigo Girls, and JD Samson and MEN. Musical performers at the festival vary in their musical styles from multilingual spoken-word rap to country. For instance, Beverly McClellan, who will be performing at Michfest this year, is a blues and folk-rock singer and multi-instrumentalist, contestant on The Voice, a lesbian, and a Native American. Here is a video of her performance of the song “Nobody’s Fault But Mine” at the GLAAD awards. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JI6rpKpufq0. Another performer at the festival this year is MazzMuse, a soul-folk-jazz-classical fusion violinist. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MRdHDJ4SItk#t=145

     This year, some artists including Andrea Gibson, JD Samson, and the Indigo Girls, among others have boycotted the festival and decided not to perform due to the transphobic policies. Although some performers have decided that they cannot perform at an event with such transphobic policies, others have different ways to deal with the policies. As Lovers, one group that performed in the past stated, “As gender-nonconforming individuals ourselves, we hope to be part of a community that supports queer and trans identities on all levels.” They then continued to explain, “We are choosing to attend and perform at this year’s festival, both because we love it, and because we feel that attending the festival will be more powerful than refusing to attend. By design, MWMF responds not to external, but internal pressure, and we believe that ultimately, the women who attend the festival are the ones who will decide it’s future.” (To read this whole response and other opinions from Michfest performers, you can visit http://mwmfresponse.tumblr.com/) By taking this stance, Lovers reject the policies but decide to show their distaste in a less openly dissenting way. For a lot of performers and attendees, this becomes a struggle. Many people love the open, inclusive atmosphere of Michfest yet have difficulty reconciling their love of the experience with the oppressive policies by which it is governed. (To see more info, scroll the pages of this article: http://www.advocate.com/women/2013/04/10/ladies-are-you-ready-michfest?page=0,1 which briefly discusses the controversy and highlight a few of the featured artists from last year’s festival. It is interesting to note that a few of the artists pictured are now boycotting the festival.)

     This controversy highlights a larger issue within the LGBT community. This massive community includes many different people of very diverse backgrounds and identities. For this reason, it is impossible to have a cohesive stance on certain issues between groups when everyone belongs specific groups with their own unique interests. Trans* issues are especially difficult because they are not always involving sexual orientation but rather gender expression, which many LGB people do not have to deal with on a daily basis. For this reason, trans* issues are often pushed to the back of many debates. For instance, we have seen many improvements in marriage equality recently, but there has been very little change on the same large scale to include people who do not identify as their prescribed gender or on the gender binary. They are still discriminated against within not only society as a whole, but also within the gay community. Michfest is yet another instance that highlights the intense discrimination that trans* people experience across many communities, even self-described safe spaces. This is what many women overlook when explaining that trans* women can be excluded because they represent the patriarchy and have never had to deal with the same oppression as WBW. Although trans* issues do not receive the publicity and action that they deserve, there has still been a significant increase in public knowledge. If public knowledge increases, so will the inclusion of trans* people in a wider range of communities.

     This year’s upcoming Michfest will take place on August 5th through 10th. It will be interesting to see how the festival planning plays out, given the boycotting efforts and the growing publicity of the transphobic policies. It will also be interesting to see if Lisa Vogel will change any of her strict policies as more and more people protest them. This festival’s longstanding policies on trans* exclusion highlight the intersection of music and gender and an ironic, hegemonic power shift where women are using a free and inclusive place to oppress and exclude others who also struggle with oppression on a daily basis in society. Regardless of how Michfest continues, this protesting movement may be able to aid in the formation of music and gathering events for women regardless of their socially assigned gender. 

Chaiyya Chaiyya

The song begins with twinkling chimes and echoing vocals to create an atmosphere of suspense and mystery. Then, the vocalist and the twinkling fades out and a bass progression enters, eventually joined by a man’s voice. This shifts the musical tone from what seems to be stereotypically “eastern” to what sounds like a bass guitar that is more typical of western music. Additionally, a drum set and tablas are added to the musical mix. The song is very repetitive with a long chorus mostly comprised of the word “Chaiyya.” As the song continues, it builds in instrumentation and both voices sing in unison. Added into the instrumentation is an electric guitar. Everything about the song so far reflects Western music traditions and not those of India. Then, there is an instrumental section featuring what sounds like an electronic version of a stringed instrument like a sitar and drums that mimic the tabla. Even in the more Westernized sections, the vocalists continue to use microtonality. Other than that, the structure of the song is very typical, set in four four time with a central key and tonality. The return from the choruses and verses to instrumental sitar somehow brings the song from one style to another pretty quickly. The song serves its pupose for the Bollywood movie that it’s from because it is incredibly catchy. It ends with the same twinkly fade that it began with. 

Review of “Amandla! A Revolution in Four-Part Harmony”

              The Documentary, Amandla! A Revolution in Four-Part Harmony ties the movement to end apartheid with the incredible musical movement that occurred in conjunction with the political struggle. The documentary brings sound, noise, and music to a movement that was silenced through force. Director Lee Hirsch is able to beautifully interweave these elements through compelling interviews, clips of music as revolt, and description of the musical-political movement. The film incorporates history with music to create a powerful message highlighting the importance of music within the movement and within political movements in general.

            Amandla! features interviews with important musicians, writers, and activists of the movement to end apartheid such as Miriam Makeba, Hugh Masekela, Vusi Mahlasela, and Abdullah Ibrahim. This gives them the opportunity to describe how the movement occurred and the importance that music held within it. A good example used is Vuyisile Mini’s “Nantsi Indoda Emnayama” a song that translates to mean, “Here is the Black Man.” The song contains the line “Beware Verwoerd, here is the black man” that brought together many black activists early in the apartheid and began the trend of aggressive and violent song lyrics sang to upbeat melodies in protests. One other vital part of the movement was a lack of musical ownership. It didn’t matter who wrote the song, only that the song was powerful enough to become popular and create a revolution. A powerful song of revolt became a shared asset to the community that all members could claim equal share of.

            The most horrifying scene in the documentary is one of the last. It features ex-riot police spending an afternoon at a barbeque and talking about the Toyi Toyi. This was a dance that Zimbabwean’s shared with the South Africans. The Toyi Toyi is a combination of song and dance that features stomping and kicking. The riot police at the barbeque reminisce on the Toyi Toyi and laugh at its ridiculousness and also the fear that it evoked in them. It is really horrifying to see these men ridicule the beauty of a movement that they oppressed unjustly though force and aggression. We hope that after committing such horrible crimes, these ex-riot police could see the error of their ways. Instead, we are shown that ignorance is abundant and atrocities can still occur. This message leaves the viewers with the concept that it is easy to learn about past struggles and regard them as purely historical, but injustice continues to exist around the world.

            Amandla! is incredibly accessible because it highlights the major turning points and events of the history while perfectly incorporating sound clips of varying types. The result is a documentary that is both emotional and informative and is able to show the clear but often overlooked connection between the movement to end apartheid and musical revolt. 

Lucille

Lucille is an incredibly catchy song by Little Richard. Released in 1957, the song was 21st on US pop charts. It is now considered to be a rock standard and has been covered by many artists including AC/DC, The Beatles, Queen, The Everly Brothers, and Van Halen. 

The song begins with an instrumental intro that predicts the song’s later energy. The intro features a really bright piano part. Little Richard has a really powerful voice that is all at once whiny, screaming, growling, and incredibly melodic. He is able to ghost many of the notes as he sings and glides through runs effortlessly. 

The song features a very common rock n roll structure, which makes sense due to the time period, within the early years of the genre. Everything from the instrumentation to the chord structure are very common to early rock n roll. The song features vocals (by Little Richard,) piano, guitar, drums, and saxophone. Additionally, it was written in the 141541 structure, which is common to blues, which came before. 

The song is about a woman named Lucille who has run off and married someone else, although the protagonist doesn’t care and is still in love with her. 

The song’s message and structure are relatively simple, but the song is incredibly well-crafter and  catchy. For this reason, it is considered one of the most popular pop songs of all time. Additionally, Little Richard helped desegregate music. Often, shows were all-black or all-white events, with the other race banned from attendance or forced to stand in another section of the performance space. Little Richard’s music was so widely popular that it brought out diverse audiences that broke the boundaries, both societally and physically, to dance with one another during live shows. 

Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young’s “Ohio”

The 60s and 70s were a period of great turmoil over the Vietnam War. From the draft to Nixon’s rash war decisions, unrest grew with time. Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young’s “Ohio” was an integral part of the musical protest movement of the time.  The song was written by Neil Young and recorded by the group just weeks after the Kent State Massacre. In early May of 1970, students at Kent State University in Ohio were protesting the invasion of Cambodia and the large presence of US troops although Nixon had recently promised to decrease troop numbers. The Ohio National Guard had been brought in to contain the protests and protect the campus. On the third day of protests, the guardsmen fired as many as 67 rounds, killing 4 students and injuring 9 others. The guardsmen claimed that a student had fired the first shot, though witnesses adamantly argued that the guards, who were provoked by some students throwing stones, started the shooting.

The event caused outrage and upset across America. Neil Young, a political songwriter, was so provoked by the event that he quickly wrote “Ohio”.  The song blew up in popularity, peaking at number 14 on the US Billboard Top 100 chart. As Young later wrote in the liner notes in Decade, his comprehensive triple album compilation of 1977, “It’s still hard to believe I had to write this song. It’s ironic that I capitalized on the death of these American students.” The song’s popularity ended up straining the already tense group-member relations and caused a split later that year.

“Ohio” was especially revolutionary because its lyrics didn’t tiptoe around the specific events and antiwar sentiments that Young wanted to express. The song begins, “Tin soldiers and Nixon’s coming, we’re finally on our own. This summer I hear the drumming, four dead in Ohio.” The lyrics directly reference the massacre in Ohio and Nixon’s name. Later, the song states “Soldiers are gunning us down. Should have been done long ago.” This line is directly stating that the war should end. This blatant anti-war sentiment appealed to many Americans at the time, especially after seeing innocent lives taken. It should also be noted that of the four students killed, only two were even involved in the protest. The song was banned on many AM radio stations for the direct criticism of Nixon, but did receive airplay on many FM stations. As Crosby later explained, using Nixon’s name in the lyrics was “the bravest thing I ever heard.”

Yet, the lyrics are not the only element that highlights the song’s political message. There are many musical elements that CSNY uses to create the political tone. The tempo of the song is an interesting factor to analyze. Often, songs that are written about tragedy or injustice are either ballads or high-speed rages. “Ohio” is played at andante, between fast and slow. This middle tempo actually gives the song a lot of power. It’s steady beat is procession-like and reminiscent of marching, which can be analyzed either as the marching of soldiers or of protesters.  The beat is constant throughout, but instrumentation builds for the two choruses in the middle of the song. This central explosion of sound can also be equated with the violence after a few days of nonviolent protest. Another interesting element of the song is that it is played in the key of F but the verse and chorus chords are both minor (Dm and Gm7 respectively.) By using these minor chords to begin musical phrases, CSNY are able to put minor undertones within a song that is for the most part highlighted by major melodies and set in a major key. The song, with its drive and major key to fall back on appears, if lyrics are ignored, to be mainly positive. Yet, there is clearly a haunting aspect to the music. The guitar riff that is featured at the beginning of the song helps set the driving groove but there is something weirdly tragic in the picking pattern and minor undertones. The lyrics also help to further this political tone. Another aspect that pulls the beautiful and seemingly positive song back into its political reality are the chorus harmonies. CSNY are well-known for their gorgeous harmonies. By using these harmonies while singing “four dead in Ohio” they stress the irony and injustice behind using violence against people who are peacefully (for the most part) protesting the war.

In Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young’s “Ohio”, the music is able to represent the horrors of the Kent State Massacre and the continued war as well as the lyrics can.

Here is a link to the song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JCS-g3HwXdc

Here are links I used to collect information for my post:

http://www.sing365.com/music/lyric.nsf/Ohio-lyrics-Crosby-Stills-Nash-Young/03695F794D7C52F948256D990023A09C

http://rockhall.com/blog/post/crosby-stills-nash-young-ohio-kent-state-shooting/

http://www.nytimes.com/learning/general/onthisday/big/0504.html

http://history1900s.about.com/od/vietnamwar/a/vietnamwar.htm

 

Semiotic Analysis

In Thomas Turino’s Music as Social Life, he discusses the tools of semiotic analysis that are used to identify the components of a musical experience. These analytic tools include sign, effect, frame, symbol, icon, index, and object. In explaining and analyzing my own musical experience, I will use these tools to observe and dissect a personal musical experience.

On November 20th, I saw the incredible Yo-Yo Ma perform at Oberlin’s Finney Chapel with pianist Kathryn Stott. I was extremely privileged to see one of the most famous and talented classical cellists perform right on my college campus for only $13. He played a variety of works ranging from a Stravinsky Suite to compositions by highly influential Brazilian composers. In the second half of the performance, they began with a piece by Olivier Messiaen entitled Louange a l’Eternite de Jesus from Quatour pour la fin du temps. The piece was tender and beautiful but also horribly tragic. It began with only the cello, playing a doleful melody. As the piece continued it swelled from tragic to haunting. By the end, I was in tears. After the concert, I expressed my feelings about the piece to a friend. She admitted that she too had cried, due to the story of the piece detailed in the concert program. She explained to me that Quatour pour la fin du temps had been written by Messiaen, a French prisoner during World War II, while he was a prisoner of war. Now knowing this back story from the concert program that I had failed to read, I saw the intense message in the music. What I found most interesting was the fact that the music was so powerful that it displayed the same sentiment in sound that it did in a written description. 

Since knowing more of the back story of this piece and the circumstances under which Messiaen wrote the work, I am able to analyze it in a new, yet still deeply personal, way.

Semiotic Analysis:

Icon= the sadness of the music.

Index= We can tell that the music is in some way sad due to its structure. It relies on minor chords and dissonance that sounds as if the cello melody is constantly on its way to resolution but then led astray. Through these indexical structures, the music seems distant, mournful, and sparse, but also strangely hopeful.

Symbol= This sadness found both in the icon and indices is symbolic only because it relates to the composer’s struggle in the camp during World War II.

These three semiotic tools make up the sign of the piece. The sign signifies what the music we hear stands for, culturally, personally, and contextually. These components of sign described above compose the object. The object determines the sign and is a combination of the three elements of sign that highlight the fact that the sadness is both a result of the musical structure of the piece and also its context. My frame is that I’m a college student with no prior knowledge of the piece, and with limited knowledge about classical music in general, listening to this performance given by Yo-Yo Ma and Kathryn Stott and later discovering the meaning of the work. For me, the effect of the piece is sorrow. Also, being Jewish, I feel a greater tie to the theme. Although, Messiaen, being French and a prisoner of war did not go through the same struggles that my ancestors did, as Jews in concentration camps during the Holocaust. Yet, this piece has a greater effect on me given my own background.

 

Here is a link to a performance of the piece, although not the exact version referenced in this post:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e3ZFE86QShA

It sounds like music, it looks like music, but is it?

I find the concept of music to be extremely subjective. As we discussed in class, music is a way of expressing truth. In our society, we have strict rules about what constitutes music, but these rules are far from arbitrary. We create these rules to help us define the truth that we search for in the world. Additionally, music, in my scope, needs to tell some sort of story. If I hear something that both tells a story and highlights a truth, then I consider it to be music. Music is also impossible to define without a clear sense of context. What is music to me may not be music to someone else of a different culture or from a different country. Also, when I hear something without any situational context, I may not know whether or not I consider it music. A worldwide musical education is clearly vital for understanding. For example, I don’t think it’s acceptable for someone who only listens to pop music to hear something experimental or unknown to them and immediately cast it off as noise without knowing the history of that genre and culture.

https://soundcloud.com/rc428/side-1-x-100

This first audio selection comes from Rutherford Chang, an artist who is currently displaying a work called “We Buy White Albums” at the Recess Gallery in SoHo. As the title suggests, Chang buys The Beatles’ White Album and sets the gallery up as a pseudo record store stocked with 693 original copies of the album, all in various stages of wear and tear. As part of the exhibit, Chang made a recording with many of the albums in his vinyl collection playing in unison. The result, which I included below, is this piece, entitled “Side 1 x 100.” In the United States, most, if not all, people will agree that the songs on this album are musical. Even if someone does not like the Beatles (which is also very rare,) they will not dispute that the White Album fits the criteria of music. Yet, when the many copies are layered on top of one another, the album’s definition as music becomes much less obvious.

The beginning of the audio piece sound very much like the original, only with slight distortion. But by the end of the piece, the songs themselves are an unrecognizable conglomeration of noise: ethereal, repeating vocals bobbing in a sea of jangly percussion and muddled sound. When I first heard the piece a few weeks ago, I wasn’t sure what to call what I had just heard. Is it music just because it once was or is it just unstructured noise, layered to a point of non-musicality? I didn’t feel comfortable labeling it as anything until I knew more about the artist’s vision.

Rutherford Chang was influenced by the white cover of the White Album. It is a blank slate, acutely susceptible to wear and tear, both accidental and purposeful. This led him to collect the album and study the vastly different weathering among the original copies. When he overlaid the albums, it was just an extension of his goal to observe the relationship between time and art. After reading an interview with Chang and some reviews of the exhibit, I have a vastly different opinion on the work. I believe that “Side 1 x 100” is music. Although the sound does not fit our cultural description of music in a variety of ways, it tells a story and shows a truth. As an art piece, it tells the collective stories of the album and highlights the variety of ways that the same medium can age. Each album is individually special, with unique skips and distortions. When they all combine together, the result is an unrecognizable mash of musical sound. It made me rethink what I consider to be rock music: structured sound, typically with vocals, guitar, bass, and drums. Yet when the structure of sound is removed, my entire perception of music is altered. Context is, in my opinion, of the utmost importance when deciding if sound can be classified as music. I believe that Chang’s piece is music, but I am also aware that I came to this conclusion using my limited scope of Western musical experience.

An interview and some other info if you’re interested:

http://www.recessart.org/activities/6753

http://www.dustandgrooves.com/rutherford-chang-we-buy-white-albums/

http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/11/21/listening-to-the-beatles-white-album-100-times-all-at-once/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=1

This audio selection is entitled “Factory Sounds” and can be found on YouTube. The clip features the rhythmic sound of a factory machine, working to a steady beat. Among this machine noise, shuffling and other movement can be heard. There are a variety of other sound bytes like “Factory Sounds” that feature other types of ambient noise from other more intense sounds like a highway during rush hour to soft waves breaking on the shore.

In “Factory Sounds” the beat of the machine becomes highly repetitive, thumping and whooshing away at the same tempo for four minutes and fifty-five seconds. One could probably argue that this piece, with its steady rhythm is some sort of percussive work. It does have identifiable qualities of most music, like a rhythm part and a set structure. I wouldn’t be surprised if, in other cultures, this piece could be considered musical. It gives a strong beat to work by, a variety of timbres within the sounds from the thumping to the whooshing. If someone is a worker, they may have a very important, personal story that is provoked by the piece. Additionally, they may find it to hold a certain truth because it is relevant to their life and experiences. Therefore, this piece could be considered music to someone who sees truth in the piece and analyzes the sound as a form of storytelling.

Personally, I don’t consider this piece to be musical. I don’t see the truth or the story within the rhythmic thumping. Although I am able to see how others could relate the factory sounds as music due to certain personal experiences, I, with my current set of experiences, do not find it to be musical. To me, these sounds only represent the monotonous drone of the machines that create the noise. This drone does not tell me a story or highlight a truth of any kind.

The audio clip:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Ih0JJLoMIg

Both of the selections that I chose could be considered music or not, depending on who is listening. Music is only music in context. Everyone who listens to a piece comes from a very distinct background and may analyze a work in a variety of greatly contrasting ways. I have considered the first piece of art to be music, maybe because of my geography and interest in abstract art. Because I have never worked in a factory and also get annoyed by monotonous ticking like that of a clock and the constant banging of construction work, I did not consider the second piece to be music. Music is all about context, experience, and finding a personal truth in the waves of sound.