Blog is now closed for credit

Hi all,

Thanks again for a fantastic semester! While you are more than welcome to continue the conversation here, please note that all blogs posts and comments were due on 12/8. I’ve completed my tally of the posts and comments so far, so any new material posted here won’t be counted for credit. Email me if you have any questions.

Very best wishes for a restful break and a happy New Year,

Prof. Herzog

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In Defense of Disco

In this article by Richard Dyer, he made a point about disco that I never thought about or realized before. He said the people, for the people, make that disco. It’s a subculture that takes their music and values very seriously. He also focused on the main characteristics of disco, which are eroticism, romanticism and materialism. He related them back to what they mean to the gay culture.

In eroticism, Dyer said a popular song’s lyrics place its tunes within a conceptualization of love and passion, coming from the heart or soul. But disco is not like this at all. On the other hand, disco is all about being more raunchy and talking about one’s physical appearance.

Dyer stressed that not every disco song is romantic, but sexuality is a common theme. He also said “disco’s romanticism provides an embodiment and validation of an aspect of gay culture.” And in terms of materialism, Dyer said that materialism seeks to understand how things are in terms of how they have been produced and constructed in history, and how they can be better produced and constructed.

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Beyoncé’s Lemonade: She Dreams in Both Worlds

The beginning of this article mentions the fact that Lemonade did not get enough recognition about the visual clips, linked by passages of poetry. People focused more on the autobiographical lyrics (mainly about Jay Z’s infidelity). There is not enough talk about the links this film has to racism in America and forgiveness.

Holly Rodgers talked about the first song “Pray You Catch Me,” and described what she saw. She felt that Beyoncé’s voice made us feel that we were eavesdropping on her own personal thoughts. And then she went on to describe the poetic section in between the song, and how it fit with the song. I thought this part of Lemonade was so beautiful. It made the entire song so much more emotional, and made us really feel that she is hurting.

Carol Vernallis then mentions the fact that there are visual moments in Lemonade when young men prepare to turn away from patriarchy, like when the young boy driver meets the president or when the young boy kisses the horse. I think this is a strong theme that Beyoncé is trying to shine a light on in society.

They go back and fourth about the rest of the film, and different themes and hidden meanings that aren’t seen right away. I think Lemonade can be talk about and watched multiple times, and things will still be discovered about it.


Girls and Subcultures

This particular article by Angela McRobbie and Jenny Garber is eye opening. I’ve always seen women in this society as not completely confident in what they like or the things they like to do, and I always though that it was because of an insecurity or being made fun of by people.

I thought it was so interesting that they said that girls don’t even exist in subcultures because of the strong masculine overtones, and I do see that. Women are not represented in a strong way, and males are.

I also found it interesting that a “threatening new sexuality,” the motor bike girl, was a problem. It kind of just showed that no matter what women did back then, there was no safe space for them in subcultures. I thought this article was a great read and really shed light on the fact that over the years women have been classified as invisible and not a bigger part of subcultures, which is wrong. Women deserve to be prominent parts of subculture, without the issue of out doing men being brought up.


Sounds like the Mall of America

I’ve never really thought so much into the music that’s playing in the malls. After reading Jonathan Sterne’s “Sounds like the Mall of America”, I now understand and agree with him about the music in the malls. He explains that in malls, music has sort of become part of the architecture. He states “rather than simply filling up an empty space, the music becomes part of the consistency of that space” which I agree with. Next, Sterne says how the malls are divided up into separate districts (ex. entertainment, dining, shopping etc.). Each of these so called “districts” play music that is appropriate for its expected actions. Sterne also touches upon the differences between background music and foreground music. Background music, also known as “environmental”, is quiet and simple music. Background music is “symphonic arrangements of well-known tunes, both contemporary and traditional” (Sterne, 29). Foreground music is also background music in a sense, but foreground is able to attract people to it while background cannot. Foreground music is in stores, and the volume in each store may vary. Background music only has one channel, according to Sterne, and foreground has multiple.
Sterne brings about many very interesting points in his article. After reading his article, I now understand all the different techniques malls use to play their music. Additionally, I understand the difference between background music in malls, and foreground – which I have previously never really thought about. This was a great read!


Interactivity, Collins

In “Implications of Interactivity: What Does It Mean for Sound to Be “Interactive”?” author Karen Collins writes about how sound effects gaming and game play. Collins states that today’s game sound provides feedback to the layer and they fall into seven overlapping categories.

Preemptive attention and alert sounds, which are musical cues that tell the player to take action or look in a certain direction. Confirmation sounds which verify that the action has been complete, like the classic sound of a Super Mario jump. Status feedback, which indicate information about status, like the most agitating beeping sound of your low HP Pokémon in the old Red and Blue Pokémon games. Navigation and orientation, navigation sounds tell where the player is in the level and spatial sounds that give feedback about how lose and where an object is. Peripheral information is sounds that are familiar to the player based on an intellectual property like a tv show or movie. Affective feedback provides feedback about emotional states of characters through mood induction. Reward and punishment sounds are positive and negative reinforcement sounds like wonderful sound of obtaining massive amounts of coins in Sonic or the dying sound of Pac-Man when a ghost catches you.

Mood induction was one of the things that stood out the largest in this piece, the idea that the sounds “changes how one is feeling, while communication of meaning simply conveys information. One may receive information depicting sadness without him or herself feeling sad.” The tempo while playing a game is crucial to the game play and the way tempo change the mood; Collins also mentions how genre is a key factor. “Yamada studied the impact of different genres of music on the player (in addition to playing without music) and found that the no-music condition showed the best rate of success. Moreover, a ‘mixed’ musical excerpt added ‘unpleasantness’ to the game and, in turn, resulted in a negative effect on the success rate. Increasing the speed increased the ‘potency’ of the game, but did not affect the success rate, systematically.” It’s interesting that Collins mentions this because I’ve muted the sounds a game has and changed it to faster paced music and the results were better than my original scores.

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She Dreams in Both Worlds response

I have not watched Beyonces Lemonade prior to our class on 11/17. I have however, heard a lot about it when it first came out. Throughout the whole visual album, Beyonce was very powerful and somewhat emotional. The entire album, I feel, pertains to black feminism. It was very interesting to see the visual album, and they way they each connected with one another through poetry and sound collages. Throughout the album we see many different African American women as well. Besides the point that these women look upset, they are also showing us that women too, are very powerful.

I feel that Perrott, Rogers, and Vernallis do a great job discussing the Lemonade visual album. They break down the visual album into different parts and explain them all. They speak about the aesthetics, editing, visuals, poetry, race, and many different things that come up all through the video. They bring about many interesting points that I myself never thought of. They also helped explain many things in the video, which brings about various new perspectives for me. I really enjoyed their discussion and summary of the video. I feel that after reading this I want to re-watch the visual album with the new ideas that have put in my head.


Girls and Subcultures

Throughout history, women have been conceived as much less than men. The article “Girls and Subcultures” by Angela McRobbie and Jenny Garber speak about the presence/absence of girls in subcultures. They explain that when girls are recognized in literature, it is usually because of their sexual attractiveness.

McRobbie and Garber explain that with the exception of women’s sexual deviance, they “constituted an uncelebrated social category”. Additionally, working girls had much lower wages than working boys. Women were more classified as focusing on staying at home and focusing on their marriages, unlike the men. They go on to explain that most actions of girls (ex. hanging out in the streets) would be classified as sexual, although it really was not meant to be. Lastly, they explain the three subcultures that women are present in: the motor-bike girl, the ‘mod’, girl, and the hippy.

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Riot Grrrl

Reading the Riot Grrrl Collection was an interesting read, the pages were like reading journal or diary entries with the stickers (although not your traditional girls diary stickers) and some being hand written.

The first entry is a flyer that has a title of “What is Riot Grrrl?” with each thought beginning with “BECAUSE.” The text describes what a girl is “supposed to” be and how the media portrays them and the oppression they face. The piece also brings the idea of a safe space, which has become a huge part of today’s feminist movement and the direction society is headed. At the very bottom of the page it says, “No we are not paranoid. No we are not manhaters. No we are not worrying too much. No we are not taking it too seriously.” This is bringing all the negative stigmas that the riot grrls have received and putting those to rest.

Another part of this reading is the “Chop Suey Spex” which describes the racist representation of Asians in glasses form. This piece is a zine that documents the experience of two Asian women with Exene Cervenka who is the owner of a store in Los Angeles that “sells toys that poke fun at Asian people.” When the women expressed their discomfort with the glasses the owner of the store claimed the name of the store is “You’ve Got Bad Taste” and since the glasses were in bad taste it was ok to sell them; also they “specialize in Americana.” So Americana means racist? And because a store is titled bad taste it’s ok to sell racist products? This doesn’t make much sense but it’s probably the reason there is so much racism still in America. Capitalism above all.

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Beyoncé’s Lemonade : She Dreams in Both Worlds

Beyoncè is a legend herself. Her visual album, Lemonade draws connections between pain of disloyalty and America’s history of racism. Twelve of her songs are linked together in this visual album telling one story to another from love, hate, engagement, forgiveness and revenge. It’s something that I’ve never seen before and it made me think and process a lot about what she’s trying to tell her audience.

I can see why Holly say’s that “Beyoncés voice is so close-miked we might feel we’re eavesdropping on her thoughts.” It really does feel like we are, as the audience can feel her pain mentally and almost empathize with her. In each clip there are themes representing where she once was, from kneeling on a red-curtained stage singing as if she’s praying, to expressing her anger with masculine power saying “suck my balls” with physical gestures addressing directly to the camera throughout “Anger”. The whole story line had my eyes glued to the screen waiting for what’s next.

Beyoncé also feature many African American women in her videos as well. They stand up for femininity, racism, for their rights as women and they gather together to show their empowerment. Many sides are shown from these women from anger to depression and poverty. Women too, have a voice.

Not only can African Americans relate to Lemonade but I believe that other minority cultures can relate as well. In one of Beyonces lyrics it say’s “When you hurt me, you hurt yourself. Don’t try to hurt yourself.” Carol says that she thinks of Trump. She says “with his schemes of excluding Latinos and Muslims, creating huge number of broken families.” Carol also relates a helicopter sound in Lemonades soundtrack and it reminds us how our world feels like a police state. “A fight for air, a call to breath, to gather to get “in formation.” We have to fight for justice.

This was a great video to watch. I think I can watch it multiple times and each time I watch it I feel like I can get different interpretations each time. I loved how everything connects and how Beyoncé can work with any genre of music and make it work.

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