A mixed blessing

Ever since I started using Spotify in high school, I have become very stingy about paying for music. I no longer purchase any CD and purchased a few singles in rare occasion. And because I deemed it worthy to suffer through all the ads on Spotify, like how much Groupon can help you save or how you can buy an insurance with State Farm, I have not paid a single dime for streaming service. Considering the negligible contribution I made to the music industry, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the music industry is making a rebound. The percentage of profit increased from previous year (2015) was the biggest since early 2000s, and the Recording Industry Association of American attributed this boom to streaming services which are increasingly popular.

The development and prevalence of internet have cut into music industry’s profit significantly, to the point where the music industry still has not recuperated all of the loss. With music being more accessible and cheaper than ever, people no longer visit record stores and purchase any CD. Moreover, free download makes purchasing single seems like a joke. Thus, all of the ways the music industry have depended on in the past to make money have been cut short by the internet. Streaming services, although looked down on by musicians and record label companies alike when they first came out, turned out to be a much-needed savior that can turn the music industry around.

Streaming services provided by companies like Spotify and Apple music make money from users’ subscription fee. They share a portion of that money with musicians who agree to put their music on the platform and the record label companies behind them. In order to entice more users, streaming services have teemed up with musicians like Chance the Rapper, Drake, and Future to release exclusives on specific platform, forcing their fans to subscribe to that platform to listen to their favorite musician’s music. Though it does not appear to be the most ideal arrangement for the fans, who may have to subscribe to multiple streaming services, the music industry is able to make more money than it ever anticipated. However, it is still too early to tell if this trend is going to continue. Streaming services have to find new ways to encourage people to subscribe and continue subscribe to their services, since it is the engine that has fueled the music industry’s rebound. Moreover, it is still unclear how this will impact musicians in the future.

If you feel like this is all too complicated and irrelevant to your life, we are on the same page. As long as musicians keep making music, and I continue to have easy access to them, I think both parties are happy.

Kornhaber, Spencer. “How Significant Is the Music Industry’s Rebound?” The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, 03 Apr. 2017. Web. 07 May 2017.

Probate

Two weeks ago, I had my probate for Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Incorporated. Kappa Alpha Psi is a historically black fraternity and a member of the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) otherwise known as the “Divine Nine”. Each member of the Divine Nine, such as Kappa Alpha Psi, Omega Psi Phi, Alpha Kappa Alpha, Delta Sigma Theta, Zeta Phi Beta, Alpha Phi Alpha, Phi Beta Sigma, Sigma Gamma Rho, Iota Phi Theta, and the many other multicultural organizations that followed after them all have probates. A probate is a new member presentation where the new initiates will present the history of their organization and finally reveal who they are. Music, mainly acapella music, plays an interesting role in the probate in the form of greetings. As an initiate, I had to prepare greetings for all the other members of NPHC organizations as well as a greeting for all my national and chapter brothers present. I found popular songs so that the crowd would be engaged and changed the lyrics to incorporate facts or jokes about each organization I was greeting. For some, I would include specific actions only performed by members of specific organizations, such as the ivy from the women of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated or the duck walk from the women of Delta Sigma Theta Incorporated. In my greetings, I would boast of the feats and the accolades of my brothers and my fraternity and list reasons as to why Kappa Alpha Psi is the best fraternity in existence. Towards the end of my probate, I also was able to stroll and perform the infamous shimmy done by Kappas across the nation. A probate is an experience like none other and music still has a very special role within it.

Music and Pancakes

For my first Frolics, I had an absolutely amazing time. I especially enjoyed Fiji’s annual Pancake party. It was a great experience because around midnight is when I get my late-night cravings and having a pancake was the perfect solution. On top of having pancakes, Fiji still hosted a party on the inside of their house. That presented an interesting disparity as to whether people were there for the pancakes or the party. The pancakes were made outside on the porch while the main party happened inside. There was a fairly long line to get a pancake, but I think a late night pancake is well worth the wait

In terms of music, the DJ played an array of songs that varied from hip-hop to R&B to Spanish. He did a great job of attracting people once they were done with their pancakes. I would hope for more parties like this; however, it is a steep cost for the respective organization to host a party where they are cooking pancakes, or any other food in mind.

Overall, Fiji presented an interesting and welcoming atmosphere to all with some fire pancakes.

Frolics

If you have ears and were on campus this weekend, you undoubtably heard the music blasting from Patterson court from the frolics festivities. There were live bands, live performers, and numerous speakers blaring from the different frat houses. To me, I thought that the fact that each place you visited had different music was appealing; each place had a different feel or “vibe” to it. However, my friend who is on Union Board (the study organization that organizes Frolics) said that the group unanimously thinks the opposite. He said that everyone thought it would be a great idea to connect all the speakers in Patterson court to play the same music at the same time, so the area felt like one big, connected concert.

This really surprised me. Hearing tropical electro/house music at SAE and then walking over next-door to hear Catfish Disco was an experience that is more stimulating and fun than just listening to the same music as everyone else in all the diverse houses. Personally, I thought a big part of what made Frolics a good time was meeting different people in the different, diverse places with their own music.

All in all, I was glad that the Union Board didn’t connect all the speakers because I think it would have made the weekend less fun. Frolics was definitely filled with diverse music and personally, I think it should stay that way.

What’s Up With Throwbacks?

Frolics has come and gone which means we are past the point of being able to walk into some frat/eating house and jam out to music until 2 am on the weekends… until next semester (sad!). But while I was out this weekend singing along to “Rich Girl” (surrounded by a lot of other people who were also very excited to sing along to this particular song) I was also thinking about the difference in atmosphere when a throwback hit is playing vs. when a current pop song is playing, because there definitely appears to be a difference. Why is everyone always in the mood for a throwback song?

It makes sense that a larger majority of people would be more familiar with the lyrics of throwback hits, which would result in more people getting excited to sing along to them when they come on – but it seems like the love for throwbacks is more than simply familiarity with them. Most people are familiar with the lyrics to pop (but not yet throwback) songs like “That’s What I Like” and to a somewhat lesser extent a song such as “Closer.” Yet, the atmosphere in the room still doesn’t transform with those songs the way it does when a song like “Mr. Brightside” or “Ignition (Remix)” comes on the playlist. Were these songs just made better than their contemporary counterparts? How would one even go about creating a way to decide if they were? It’s something interesting to think about.

The Voice: The Empty Promise of American Dream

The first U.S. TV show I became obsessed with was the Voice. I would watch it for hours on a weekday while I had a pile of work waiting to be completed. Though I savored the backstory and the drama that seem to predominate the show, the contestants were the reason that I was hooked. After watching a couple seasons, I eventually grew out of it and stopped paying attention. All of the winners in the seasons which I watched were unable to make a name for themselves; most of them have fallen into the oblivion and are never heard of again.

An article in the Atlantic summarized the empty promise of American Dream the Voice repeatedly delivers to their contestants. Although presented as a friendlier version of American Idol, the differences that have made The Voice a more entertaining show have also contributed to its incapability of delivering superstardom to its winner. The show places an emphasis on the celebrities who select contestants into their team and act as mentor. Although having an accomplished musician as a mentor has numerous benefits, at times the mentor can overshadow the contestant whom he or she is supposed to be helping. Moreover, the celebrities also use the show as a venue to promote their own music. Therefore, at the end of the day, the people who ripe the most benefit from being on the shows are the celebrities who are already well-known. The seemingly more fair and democratic way of selecting people also contribute to the problem. Even though the mentors cannot see the person who was auditioning unless he or she is judged as being talented enough for one of the mentor to turn, not every contestant get the same amount of air time and exposure to the larger audience. Audition and performance are often arbitrarily truncated based on how interesting the performance or the banter between mentors are. Therefore, it favors some contestants while neglecting others. This discrepancy becomes a problem when the TV audience, instead of the mentors, are the ones deciding the fate of contestants, which happens at the end of the season. Those who had more airtime are more likely to be recognized and liked, thus they have a higher chance of winning. With that being said, the biggest problem of the Voice is that winning the show does not translate into any tangible benefit. The fame is finite, and the winner is quickly forgotten. Many contestants come into the show thinking that they are going to make it; the discrepancy between what they think they can achieve with the show and the reality is haunting. It really makes me question the value of the show besides being entertaining.

The Voice is not unique in its tendency to hand out empty promises, but it is still worth considering the troubling aspects of the show when you are tempted to watch it.

Beck, Julie. “The Voice’s Empty Promise of the American Dream.” The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, 28 Mar. 2017. Web. 30 Apr. 2017.

How Music Aids in Memorization

As I was reviewing my Biology 111 notes, I decided it was time for a study break. For me, writing can be either be a stress reliever or just add to the already existing mountain of stress, but this time it was to help me relax. While I was studying bio, I started wondering what it was about putting information to the tune of a familiar song or fun tune that made memorizing the material so much easier. When I was a little girl, my grandmother was adamant that I memorize all of the states and capitals as well as all of the presidents…there was no denying the fact that she was once a school teacher. She absolutely LOVED to teach and I absolutely LOVED to play, we were quite the combination. Nonetheless, after she was somehow able to convince me to unlock my door, she was also able to get me to memorize all of the states and capitals along with most of the presidents…but states and capitals were much more successful. She put them all to a little tune that helped me remember them. The big downside to memorizing them with the song, was that if I ever got asked what the capital of a state that came in the middle or end of the song was, then I was forced to start at “Washington: Olympia. Oregon: Salem…” and sing it through until I reached the capital/state being asked about. Putting lists or information to songs has ended up helping me beyond just memorizing the states and capitals, as I was required, in high school, to memorize the majority of the elements in the Periodic Table. Thus, I decided to write this blog post on why putting information to music can help people memorize things.

I don’t know if it’s the same for y’all, but my mind is full of song lyrics. It doesn’t matter whether they are lyrics from songs I heard in elementary school or my senior year of high school, they all manage to stay etched in my brain. But, when it comes to memorizing material for class, especially for Biology, I struggle BIG time. The Wall Street Journal explains, “The hippocampus and the frontal cortex are two areas in the brain associated with memory and they process millions of pieces of information every day. Getting the information into those areas is relatively easy, says Dr. [Henry L.] Roediger. What is difficult is pulling data out efficiently. Music, he says, provides a rhythm, a rhyme and often, alliteration. All that structure is the key to unlocking information stored in the brain—with music acting as a cue, he says.” It didn’t come as a surprise to me that rhythm and rhyme are a large part in music aiding memorization, but what did surprise me was the amount of time this type of process/technique has been used. As I researched more about people using songs to help with memorization, I came across a site that revealed information concerning ancient Greek storytellers and their use of rhyme, rhythm, and repetition to help them remember the stories. Some other examples of putting lists and other information to song for ease of memorizing is the alphabet, as well as the quadratic formula when that became a required equation for math class. There are many other examples of how song aids memorization, and I think this whole concept is very intriguing and provides another benefit to listening to music.

 

Works Cited:

https://www.wsj.com/articles/why-does-music-aid-in-memorization-1388458293?tesla=y

http://lifehacker.com/why-music-helps-you-memorize-items-1493969002

http://web-us.com/memory/mnemonic_techniques.htm

Assignment for Wednesday, April 26

On Wednesday, April 26, we will work together in class to develop some ideas and strategies for how you can put your observations together and develop an argument for your next draft. To prepare for class, I would like you to develop a tentative outline for your full paper. You will not be bound to stick to this outline, but you should try to figure out how to organize your evidence in a convincing form.

For each section of your paper/outline, try to write a single complete sentence that states a claim based on observation and interview evidence. These claims should be relatively small-scale, since they are operating at a more local level than your eventual thesis. These local claims should try to make some sort of generalization based on an aspect of your evidence.

For at least one of the claims you write, sketch the evidence that you will use to support it. This can be in short phrases or bullet points; it does not need to be in paragraph form.

For that same claim, evaluate the connection between evidence and claim, and write a warrant that links the two. At first, try to write a warrant in the “whenever…then…” form that we discussed in class. Do this even if it seems awkward and unnecessary. Then try to write a more general version of this warrant, one that might be a bit more acceptable to readers. If you want, you can try to rewrite your warrant without the “whenever/then” language.

Finally, make a first attempt at writing a thesis for your paper. This should be a broader claim that encompasses the lower-level claims that you have already written.

Remember, you are not bound by anything you write here, and this is not a formal draft like the others you have been writing. This is simply a chance for you to think about issues of large-scale organization and argument, and to start to put together pieces of evidence into a logical form.

Please bring a hard copy of your outline to class. Electronic copies will not work, as you will have to trade with members of your group. If you cannot print your outline yourself, email it to me by 10:15am on Wednesday and I will print it for you!

Songs of the Hyacinth

Today I went to a play called Songs of the Hyacinth. It was written and produced by a senior named Ben Corson and was about World War I and Dadaism. While the plot and acting were absolutely fantastic, I will focus more about the music and how it interacted with the play.

The play was divided into about 15 minute segments and after each segment there was a short period of time (maybe 2 minutes) of music playing that corresponded to what just happened in the play. There was a guitarist and a pianist, both Davidson students. It was interesting to see how the music can really correlate with the plot during the specific times in the play. When the scene was more melancholy, the music was slower and brought out sad emotions; when the scene was happier, the music was faster and more cheery. During the music portion I wondered how different the play would be if the portions of music were switched. The play would be off; the music wouldn’t match the mood of the scene prior to it. In retrospect, I didn’t really recognize how much the music part had impacted the play itself when I was watching. At the time I didn’t realize, but it truly added so much to the entirety of the performance.

The musicians also had creative ways of using their instruments. For example, during some very intense parts of the play there was this thudding noise that seemingly came from nowhere. I was wondering where that noise was coming from (it wasn’t coming from the speakers), and then I saw the pianist thumping his foot on the sustain pedal. That was what was making the noise! I love it when people are innovative, especially when it comes to music, so I appreciated this way of creating a new noise for the play from the piano.

During one music portion, the pianist also lifted the top of the piano open and instead of pressing the keys, he plucked the strings from inside of the piano to create a noise that was similar to a guitar but much softer and lighter. This is something that I don’t see often, so I really enjoyed it.

The guitarist also used a loop pedal and had some weird tool that I can’t describe. I tried to google it, but to little avail. Maybe someone who knows about guitars can help me out. It looked like some sort of metal (?) bar that the guitarist put on a fret of his electric guitar. He moved it back and forth in a perpendicular motion to the strings of the guitar. It made a strange sound that did not sound like it should have come from that instrument.

Regardless, it was a great show with great music. I’m sure that I would never have noticed how much of an impact the music made on the play if I hadn’t taken this class.

Just DAMN.

With a week under its belt, DAMN has acclaimed high praises all around. Kendrick Lamar has shown that he is someone that can change and grow from previous albums and prove that he is still one of the top artists in his respective area. DAMN has gone number 1 on the charts with the largest sales week of 2017, according to HotNewHipHop. However, even with DAMN, his fans wanted more. There were many theories and speculations that he was going to drop another album.

He would have wrecked the whole rap game if he did that. He has also stated that he does have more music, but he did not confirm the fan theories. I would prefer he holds out on new music for a bit. DAMN is an incredible album and should have a lengthy duration of play throughs for people to have. Kendrick has truly revolutionized the rap and hip-hop industry, and he has influenced many of his peers.

Just DAMN.

 

http://www.hotnewhiphop.com/kendrick-lamars-damn-goes-no-1-with-biggest-sales-week-of-2017-news.31556.html?