Monthly Archives: November 2014

Post for 11/25/14 Class

I’ve wanted to go to a show at the Crocodile for a while now.

I get the regular emails from it promoting their amazing shows, that always include multiple acts for a low ticket price. From reading the articles about its status before closing, it sounds like it is staying true to the vision of the original Crocodile Cafe.

I never knew about R.E.M.’s connection to the Crocodile, that is amazing stuff, love R.E.M.

Your article that mentioned our love for music due to its commodification rather than its intrinsic value was very intersting. I definitely see this as a member of the Pearl Jam Ten Club, where daily people post on the group Facebook page about their collections and posters and memorabilia relating to the group. There are posts about their music and performances, but usually in the context of “I was there” and “Look at this ticket stub I have from when they played that song.” This seems to support the theories you mentioned in your article, and I can only imagine how pissed these fan club members would be if the Pearl Jam live bootleg series was only available for streaming in the library. For me, I am proud of the Pearl Jam posters and t shirts I own. I enjoy letting people I know that I am a fan of the band. The closest I’ve been to the posts from these fan club members documenting what they own is I used to Instagram my progress in collecting all of Pearl Jam’s studio albums (which took a while during my 0 income days as a middle and high school student). In this case, I was showing off a physical object with a price; my intention was to show my love for the music on the discs and inside the colorful packages, but I chose to show the CD cases rather than posting a link to a song.

One thing that I think changes the landscape of this commodity craze is the fact that people can get music for free in many ways today. Suddenly, you’re not so special if you have the latest Arcade Fire or Mos Def record, because it is usually online available for illegal download. In this way, I think that the library’s role, even if just a streaming one (like Spotify) can reverse this commodity craze by dampening the value and ownership side of music, focusing more on the songs themselves and not on then journey to purchase them.

Posting for 11/18/14 Class

This is by far the era of music from the class that I’ve been most exposed to.

Hype and the readings brought to light how angry the “scene” was once they began being marketed and sold. In Pearl Jam’s Twenty movie, there is a significant portion of the film dedicated to Pearl Jam self destructing their own publicity, and these readings/Hype give a good background on the feelings that would make them do this. There were so many groups that were dedicated to having fun and making music/putting on a performance, and so many of them were left by the wayside when popular culture came to town. Vedder’s guilt is included in Hype, and the angst of the locals related to being called “grunge” is largely understandable now. Their way of life that they really had not put too much thought into was being judged by outsiders who suddenly deemed themselves experts. It was sold to the nation, often making a caricature of the trends here (flannel & long johns out of necessity versus flannel & long johns sold to make money as a fashion statement). Pearl Jam’s song Corduroy comes to mind. What I wonder is if there were any groups that didn’t mind the commercial appeal really and rode the wave to success less begrudgingly? Groups like Creed come to mind, but I wonder if there are more examples of derivatives rather than groups being influenced by the music.

Another thing that was of interest to me is how I can access and learn more about the thousands of lost groups from the mid to late-80s that are documented in the trading cards segment and also listen off by the interviewees. Has their music and message largely been lost? Is there an online database (like the one shown in the film) that is still accessible? Is there a human database or a museum/collection? And this seems like a great project to do, document all of these lesser/not known groups.

What I also wonder is if there were parallel or at least similar scenes present in other cities, but for some reason Seattle became the standard? Or was theres something truly unique about our scene? (I think it is the latter, the combination of the weather, the history, the distance from America’s origins, the industry, just everything).

This quote was very interesting: “capital cloaked itself in the rhetoric of rebellion and revolution.”

Questions for special guest:

Where can we access or learn more about the many NW groups that were left behind and shut out by the commercial scene that developed?

How did you feel personally by the commercial wave? How did it impact your psyche and where you lived/worked?

How did the music start? Boredom? Was there a lack of seriousness, or did it depend on the person?

How political was the scene? Was it social justice themed (world hunger, corruption, war), or personal justice themed (anxiety, depression), or neither, or simply too disjointed and diverse to characterize as a whole?

Was there a cohesiveness to the scene in terms of genre, and could you find subgenera or styles?

Did commercialization kill the small radio and fanzine scene? The “underground”?

Post for 11/13/14 Class

Questions for Overton Berry:

How did being a musician impact you growing up in the broader context of race relation developments of the 20th century? Did it lead to a more positive or negative experience, or is it more complicated than that?

What was your experience as a student at the University of Washington like? Did you see any large differences over time (including when coming here today) or have you not really paid attention to the institution?

How has recording a releasing music changed over your career? How do you feel about those changes? What about booking and performing kids? How has your audience makeup changed over time, or has it at all?

Who was your favorite artist to work with? Who was your favorite artist to see live?

What was it like playing music with your children?

You have performed a lot in foreign countries. How different are some of their popular music movements and what was your favorite gig overseas?

You have played lots of gigs. Do different instruments wear differently on people? Could you have been so prolific if you had stuck with the tuba?

Abolishing Ethnomusicology: I agreed with many points of this article. The difficulty of defining ethnomusicology and organizing a theory for it shows how it might not need to be a distinct field. With how diverse the topic studied are too it could easily be split up and housed across many departments in an already existing structure. It is definitely a contentious topic, as I can see lots of reasons to keep it though. By preserving the field and its social structures, information sharing and better practices can be more easily developed. Perhaps this could eventually lead to some sort of unifying theory of ethnomusicology. Which makes me wonder, is the lack of definition and theory just from a lack of trying or is it a seemingly impossible task?

Teen Dance Ordinance – luckily I escaped the effects of this, but it must have been horrible, as I am still extremely annoyed by how many shows I miss because they are 21+. One side of it has been popularly documented, but I wonder how effective it was at protecting the welfare of teens? Freaknight deaths and modern rave culture comes to mind. What can we do/have we done to prevent the negative effects of drugs and alcohol on music culture? Is this a problem that follows whatever the kids are into these days, or is it specific scenes and genres that have had drugs and alcohol in them?

Posting for 11/6/14 Class

Preservation:

One line that sparks debate for me is “The ongoing costs faced by sound and audiovisual archives justify, in specific cases, charging fees for access” (IASA 2.5). The specific cases portion probably answers my question, but I thought that the point of archives was unlimited access, or at least that is the point in my mind. There seems to be an unfortunate disconnect between what an archive wants to have and what makes fiscal sense if it wants to acquire, preserve, and present said items in an acceptable manner. Are government subsidies the answer? Maybe, but it seems like it would be hard to make voters accept that their tax dollars could be spend preserving films or sounds they don’t care about (just like people that ask why we are fighting wars in places they’ve never heard of.” Archiving and preserving right is very expensive, and I wonder if there have been any recent breakthroughs that have cut costs? Is preservation more or less expensive today in comparison to the past, or is it about the same? How can we not make the same mistakes again in terms of documenting new releases (this opens an entire new can of worms as seen in the Library of Congress reading around page 70, as the concept of ownership and sale changes)? As far as quantifying and making the issue of preservation relevant, the Cost of Inaction article seems to be something to plaster across the internet.

What I found really interesting about the Cloonan reading is the prospect of preserving items and thus adding to the usable intellectual stock of the world making us go insane; is too much a bad thing? To me, all recorded things should be preserved and given access to, but I also feel strongly that some cultures’ practices should go undocumented in the first place so we don’t run into the problem of infringing on their privacy.

The disconnect between Americans’ apparent care for the preservation for historical artifacts in general but lack of care or use for them was also interesting. I also think lots of things should be preserved, but I will probably use a fractional percentage of a percent of what is available in the world. This leads me to the question of whether preservation is more for indulgence in curiosity and research, or if it is truly a public service.

Questions for Scott Colbum:

In the time you’ve been recording, have there been choices of how to record? Has future preservation been a part of your considerations?

What is your favorite genre or setting to record? Dream recording?

How has working for radio been different from working to record as freelance or other purposes?

How do you feel about the “loudness war”, effects, distortion, and the mixing process? Vlado Meller and the Chili Peppers records come to mind.

Making records sound like live performances?

Post for 11/4/14 Class

The ethnomusicology article by Blacking was dense, but I think I understood it well enough to develop questions and points about it. Blacking seemed to be arguing for an even deeper level of analysis of music than discussed in the previous eras and articles, saying that it is impossible to analyze music independent of the culture and human beings it comes from. He also advocates avoiding making ethnomusicology a musicology of the ethnic; it should be about any and all music/cultures, not just the exotic ones. The learning from how a Washingtonian conceptualizes and performs music is just as valuable as a remote villager from South America. I wonder if this desire for increased equality of study and value is a result of the just finished civil rights movement and the increased emphasis on individual freedoms that came in the Stormy Sixties and continued into the Seventies.

Lomax’s concerns about the loss of cultural variety is easy to empathize with. As communication and the internet developed, popular music began to dominate, becoming the defining concept of music for many people, rather than what their local experience of folk songs and local culture would have been without this overbearing force. I think Lomax would be happy with the current state of affairs through, or at least the trend we are on. I think we have broken through the massive music industry and popular music machine of the 70s and 80s, allowing us to use our increased communication and electronic reach to promote our local artists and traditions. No doubt, some things were lost in the period of mass popular music, but now is a better time than ever to preserve what we can and get it out in the world. With the internet, I can google search for peruvian flute music and learn about it; this was not possible in the time Lomax wrote his article. I loved his point “nations don’t produce music; they consume it.”

I still need to watch the movies; I thought they were readings until today, only to find out they are naturally time intensive.

The Jimi Hendrix article by Blecha was a good overview. I never knew about the connection with Keith Richards that basically got him started with the British rock scene. My favorite song by him is Bold as Love. I also did not know that EMP was founded in his honor. It is a fun exercise to imagine what the music scene would be like if he didn’t die; would he be a huge star now? Would he be making some electronic music? Because of his death, his music was frozen in time, but it is interesting to think about what kind of music he would make in each recent era of musical trend.