About Gwyneth Archer

Posts by Gwyneth Archer:

Nique la Police

While watching the French film La Haine for a class in which we examine the role that cities play in literature and films, I was overwhelmed by the similarities between the film and Rose’s piece that we read near the beginning of the semester. The film follows three young men of racial or religious minority groups who live in the banlieues (ghettos) of Paris. The film focuses on the police brutality that is common to these areas of Paris that are almost exclusively immigrant inhabited. Following a run in with the police, two of the men ride in a car with an officer who tells the young men that the police are there to protect the people. Hubert, a man of North African descent, then asks the officer, “Who protects us from you?” I understood this line to be a reference to the KRS song discussed in Rose’s article, and to verify my suspicion, I crosschecked the release dates of the song and the film: the song was released in 1989, and the film in 1995. This deeply resonated with me because if there was a connection from the director to KRS, this would mean that the message of that song was able to cross international borders and resonate with a broader audience than I had originally understood.

The scene that I felt to be the most relevant to this class is a scene depicting a young man with a sound system overlooking the streets of the banlieues. This scene, which I’ve attached to this post, shows the man preparing a turntable with two vinyls, and then djing with an enormous speaker pointing out of an open window. The first song heard is “Nique la Police” (Fuck the Police) by Cut Killer. The original version of the song was performed by Suprême NTM, and is hailed as a prominent anti-police song of the 1990’s. The song opens with the rough English translation of: “This is the police. Identity check. Your papers: typical procedure that you have to get use to.” As the music continues to play, the scene pans out to the courtyard that the DJ overlooks, as if to indicate that this sentiment echoes throughout the entire area. The song then begins to play alongside “Non, Je ne Regrette Rien,” one of the most famous songs by one of the most famous French singers, Edith Piaf. The title of the song, “No, I don’t regret anything” indicates that the notion many people in these neighborhoods have of hating the police and engaging in violence against them is upheld and not something that the people or ashamed of or regret. Though we applied Rose’s article to American popular culture, I find it interesting that this connection between music and political sentiments can be applied all over the world.

Persepolis

http://youtu.be/7jhHUb2Lk0w

Begin watching the video at 17:00 for the purpose of this post, but feel free to watch the entire video it interests you.

Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis is an autobiographical graphic novel detailing the author’s coming of age in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution. The book was turned into a film in 2007, with Satrapi at the helm of the film’s animation and the audio aspects. The attached video “Persepolis ‘Making of,’” follows the creation of the film, and I found the audio portion of the film interesting in light of our class discussion today about recording studios. Recording studios are not exclusively made for music; this shows an example of another purpose of studios that we didn’t really focus on in class. The video shows the use of a recording studio for recording sounds or foley for the film, as well as the recording of the voices for the film’s characters. The first step in the filmmaking process required the actors to record their lines with Satrapi’s careful guidance. As seen in the scenes with Chiara Mastroianni, Satrapi makes the actress do multiple takes of lines in order to get the tone and sound of the delivery accurate to the vision of the artist. Satrapi was present for the recordings along with the director of the film and the technicians in order to best direct the actors to get the best possible product. Though they had the novel for reference, the actors really only had Satrapi’s direction in order to decide how their role would be played. The actors went to great lengths to make their representations as accurate as possible, as evidenced by the scene in which Mastroianni had Satrapi sing along to “The Eye of the Tiger” in order to make her rendition of the song just as off-key, yet triumphant, as Satrapi envisioned. Authenticity seemed to be Satrapi’s main concern with the animation and the audio components, even going so far as to tickle the young actress who played Satrapi as a child, rather than using a fake, forced laugh. These scenes helped me understand Meintjes’s description of the recording studio as a fetish because of the relationships between the actors, creative directors, and technicians in the video. These people are working towards a common goal, and Marjane’s artistic vision was so specific that others can only look on in amazement at how detailed the work was. However painstaking the process was, the result was so believable and authentic. The drawings for the animation were then done by hand (see first 17 minutes of the video) in accordance to the voice recordings. Finally, the foley, or everyday sound effects, were recorded along to the animation to make the scenes more realistic. The foley artist uses objects in a recording studio in an effort to recreate the sounds that would naturally occur in the film’s scenes. I never considered how background noises were created until I watched the artists stomping and clapping to imitate the sounds of a party. This video gives the viewer an inside look into the mystique of a recording studio, much in the same way that Meintjes’s article does.

 

Draft Assignment #1- Associating music with memory

There are very few songs that pull back memories for me so clearly as “Amsterdam” by Coldplay. The deep resonance that my earliest memory of this song left me is the reason why I’ve cherished it for almost a decade. I keep songs like “Amsterdam” very close to my heart, rarely sharing them with others and only playing them when I can take the time to be still and lose myself a little bit. “Amsterdam” takes me back to when I was 11 on a trip to Austin, TX. We had left Houston pretty late into a warm summer evening, so an hour or two into the drive it was already dark outside. I sat curled up in my seat, staring out the window, plugged into my bulky iPod classic. At this point in time, I basically only listened to whatever albums by dad had haphazardly downloaded into my library, ranging from Italian opera to The Cars. As we drove through sleepy Texas towns, I reached Coldplay’s “A Rush of Blood to the Head” (2002). The entire album played out, and I listened, completely enchanted, focusing on deciphering the lyrics. This was probably the first time I had ever taken an active interest in music, and I can still remember how exhilarating the experience was. Finally, I reached the last song on the album, “Amsterdam”. I shut my eyes and sat in the darkness, lulled by the noise. The song opens with a muffled screech, like the engine of an airplane before it takes off. Then a piano begins to play, full of depth, as if the player was inside a huge, cavernous hall. Chris Martin’s voice enters next; his soft intimate croon comes on along the piano. “Come on, oh my star is fading, I swerved out of control, if I’d, if I’d only waited, I’d not be stuck here in this hole.” Back-up vocals then come in behind Martin, and then an instrumental break: the echoing piano comes back, sounding almost like an organ. In my head, I sat alone in a huge European cathedral, the entire space filled with sound. When the vocals came back in, I ran out the back of the church and down a cobblestone street until I reached a river. I sat down on the bank, dangling my bare feet off the edge. It was night, and the streetlamps shone a dim light over my surroundings. The piano kept playing, but it was fainter than it had been before, and everything else was silent. My brother jolted me awake by pushing me out of the car, almost dropping my iPod in the process. Later that night, unable to sleep, I grabbed my iPod, headphones, and sneakers and, as silently as possible, snuck out the back door and ran down to the lake. I played “Amsterdam” on repeat, sticking my feet in the water and trying to put myself back into the beautiful city that I knew almost nothing about and had never visited. I leaned back, feeling the wet grass beneath my shirt, and looked up at the stars, a rare sight in Houston, and imagining a star speckled night sky in Amsterdam. The last few lines of the song came on, “Stood on the edge, tied to the noose, but you came along and you cut me loose.” After that night, my perspective on music changed entirely. I had no idea that such a connection could be formed with music, and even now, when I’m driving around at night I’ll put on “Amsterdam” and feel that same childlike excitement for something so incredibly familiar.

The significance of concerts

“We meant a lot of different things to a lot of different people. That’s one of the great things about music. You can sing a song to 85,000 people and they’ll sing it back for 85,000 different reasons.” –Dave Grohl

The condition that Grohl brings up reflects not just the connection that a band can feel to its audience during a live concert. In a way, it epitomizes why humans develop such deep emotional connections to music. Especially for a band with such a complex and alternative sound as Nirvana, each listener will form his or her own opinion and interpretation to a song. This interpretation can change over time; as people change, the way they listen to music can change as well. Maturity and experience can enable someone to find new meaning or forge a deeper emotional connection to music. Grohl understands what an intimate and personal experience a concert can be, and how the performance can forever change the meaning of the band’s music for an audience member. After reading Rose’s analysis of rap concerts and why they are often viewed as a hotbed for criminal and violent activity, I began to think about the role that concerts play in creating “noise” and how they can enrich a listening experience. Countless concerts have yielded outbreaks of violence, some even requiring police intervention. What is it about concerts that perhaps induce such passionate responses or outbursts? A live concert creates a shared musical experience, and though each member of the audience hears the exact same thing, each moment will affect everyone differently. Concerts create a relationship between an artist or a band and their listeners that cannot be replicated by listening to a student recording, or even a recorded performance. Some concerts try to create a greater stimulation of the senses, while some prefer to keep the music the main focus of the show. For example, Coldplay’s “Mylo Xyloto” Tour incorporated a light show in which each audience member participated by wearing a wristband, which would light up at a specified time, creating stadium-wide lightshows. Other artists, such as folk singer Shakey Graves, prefer small venues which no adornments, or even a band; he’s a one-man band who plays guitar, a foot drum, and sings. Some artists believe that by featuring visual elements, it enhances the overall experience for the audience, while others believe that concerts should solely highlight the music without any superfluous elements. I believe that both opinions are valid; after attending both kinds of concerts, I’ve found that regardless of the visual elements, the atmosphere of the audience and the dedication and performance of the artist are prioritized are what makes or breaks a concert. A number of factors contribute to the atmosphere of the concert; certain genres of music typically pull a specific crowd. Rose cites rap and heavy metal concerts as attractive venues for troublemakers; these genres are stereotyped as chaos-inducing music. As a result, their fans are perceived as immoral youths who chose to create social ills. These unfair stereotypes are highly influenced by the results of their live concerts; they play a huge part in the discourse of each band and genre of music.

The National- NPR Tiny Desk Concert

The concept that stood out to me after listening to “4’33”” in class was how easily we change between active and passive listening. Many times while listening to music, I’ll be working on another task and not focusing on the music playing, and as a result the incredible music that I should be appreciating turns into background noise. (more…)