Writing

My writing style and ability has dramatically changed throughout the course of my blog experience. I have written nine blog entries here to date, all of which dealt with music, gender, society or some amalgamation of the three. My writing began as a very robotic style that covered topics in a cursory manor. I had never truly developed my own voice. As I kept writing, I became more relaxed and comfortable with my own thoughts. Therefore, I was able to develop a more informal voice and convey my messages better. Writing is not a single acquired skill that one is born with. Writing skills must be developed over a lifetime. My writing has improved, but I am not yet at my greatest ability.

My writing was originally very rigid. My sentences followed a specific stencil that my English teaches in high school had forced upon me. My voice was not my own in my writing. It was that of my teachers. My high school emphasized perfect sentence structure as the key to “perfect” writing. This type of writing is essential in scientific papers, but it is not universally conducive to readers. My old writing focused on advanced, vocabulary and over analysis. I would write various sentences that described the same thing with different words. This left my writing as a stagnant description with no forward progress.

Writing must be as diverse as the readers that sift through the multitude of pieces on this earth. Occasionally very serious, dry writing is needed to demonstrate data to the scientific community. Sometimes repetitive, persuasive writing is needed to convince individuals of some important topic.  The intent of these blog posts were to catch the readers’ attentions and educate or entertain them. The message was how gender and music are involved in our society. This required a more personal, conversational voice. Otherwise, it would have been a boring lecture on the same views. This blog certainly required a specific voice.

In order to change my writing style, I employed a very simple tactic. Instead of meticulously planning my writing, I just wrote. I tried to develop all of my thought. Then I would sit and just write as if I was giving a speech. I sometimes would even say the sentence out laud as I wrote it. This was the best way I could truly express my voice in my writing. This allowed my pieces to be more fluent and readable. I feel that I will be able to convey my ideas to the general public better in the future as well by utilizing this writing style.

Our abilities to write are precious gift that must be used and developed into powerful tools. Nevertheless, no one tool can be used for every job. Different writing styles are necessary for unique purposes. My old writing style was good for formal, mechanical papers to convey data. The intent of this blog was to educate and inspire the public. Therefore, I had to develop a more personal, convincing voice. Overall, my writing repertoire is now more diverse than ever and I hope to continue to improve my writing skills.

Advertisements
Standard

The Song[sic] Daylight

The song “Daylight” by Matt and Kim makes my ears bleed and my spleen burst. Musically it is atrocious and simple; so simple a monkey could have written it by smashing on a keyboard and making cacophonous screeches. Sometimes a horrible song can be saved by an interesting music video. This is not the case with “Daylight.” Matt and Kim seem to have decided to follow up a horrible song with a music video that makes me want to put my fist through the screen when watching it. Although, this crime against humanity appears to be in disrepair, there might be a few things this group could do to salvage the song, the video and their careers. “Daylight” has gained fame due to its monotonous rhythm which to some is catchy, but I wholeheartedly believe it is a horrible song whose very existence makes humanity a little worse.

Firstly, I would like to state two things to show that I am not blindly attacking a random song with no musical background. One, I listen to all types of music, so I am not biased against the alternative genre with which Matt and Kim identify. Two, I have played the piano and cello for many years, so I can comment on songs musical content with some sort of accuracy. Therefore, let us begin examining this “song.” Right off the bat, “Daylight” begins with a horribly out of tune piano which sets off every not by almost a quarter step (that is a lot for those musical neophytes). I don’t know if this was intentionally done with aftereffects, or they were so lazy they just didn’t want to tune or record correctly. Then the song progresses with odd metallic electronic effects that sound like a robot puking.  Finally, the obviously and horribly auto tuned singing voice comes in accompanied by the drums. Then the song doesn’t change the lyrics progress into chaotic undecipherable noises and the piano repeats the same 5 notes. 5 NOTES. That’s it.  Very little if any musical thought went into creating this song.

The music video of the song “Daylight” gives me a headache, I have literally taken four ibuprofen just sitting watching it so that I can analyze it. As you begin to watch the video all seems normal. Present are the two members of the group playing their respective instruments and the male is singing. But then your brain begins to process both the music and the visual simultaneously. You realize that the drummer is blatantly off from the music. Your brain tries to process why the singer is being cut short although the lyrics progress. Finally, the singer who is also playing the keyboard begins just hitting random keys. Ultimately, a combination of the repetitive music and the visual disparity makes anyone with a brain want to throw their screen at a wall.

The question now is can this horrible piece be salvaged? Firstly, a few notes should be added to the song. Don’t get me wrong sets of notes can be repeated and produce great music such as in rap. Nevertheless, rap prides itself on the rhythmic shifts in the rapper’s voices. This song is monotone. To improve it, I would add some sort of musical construction. A chorus, verse, bridge or other specks that are not all the same notes and monotonic voice. Furthermore, it is not necessary but more than two instruments can only improve the song. Moreover, the music video could simply be improved by having the band members actually accurately perform their respective parts in a way that doesn’t make them look tone deaf. There are ways to improve this song that are quite elementary.

I don’t apologize if you happen to like this song. It is not lyrically, musically or visually pleasing in any way to me. I don’t find repetitive monotonic music enjoyable. I don’t listen to out of tune and off beat music for the pleasure of it. I would rather listen to white noise because it might have more musical value than “Daylight.” This song could be repaired, I mean even Berlin was rebuilt after World War II. I would add musical components to the design of this song, along with more instrumentation to improve it. Overall, I do not appreciate the song “Daylight.” I would not even call it a piece of art. I would call it a piece of something, but certainly not art.

Standard

My Dead Week Playlist

Here at Georgia Institute of Technology we are approaching what we call “Dead Week.” This is the week before finals that involves a large amount of studying and finishing of semester long projects. It is stressful and a great playlist of songs is necessary to get through this mentally difficult time.  Music is vital to my and many other’s work ethics. It can be a motivating force or simply an empathetic voice. The way I study is by playing songs that perfectly reflect my mindset. This is not as pure and motivating as it sounds though. I don’t have the same mood throughout my studying process. My mood is actually more like a carnival ride. Therefore, my playlist for this time is quite interesting.

When I begin studying I am motivated. I sit at my desk with a Grande Frappuccino, in comfortable clothes with all my materials laid out. Because I already look like a stereotypical upper middle-class white teenage girl with my Frappuccino, I flip on the music video for Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off.” I’m ready to go. As Ms. Swift says the haters are going to hate, hate, hate but I’m going to keep studying. I make a great plan to complete all my work, but then I step back and actually see how much work I have to do. I have a lot of work ahead of me and I am on the edge of a panic attack. I am already in the T-Swift section of my I-pod so I put on “I Knew You Were Trouble,” because I am in a lot of trouble. This is too much work, how am I going to do all of this? Why can’t I just quite college and become Taylor Swift’s trophy husband? (Probably because I would have to be four inches taller and 50 pounds lighter with the body of Arnold Schwarzeneggar fifteen years ago, and a French accent). Maybe I can have a panic attack like Dave Chappelle and move to Africa? The song ends and I still haven’t begun my actually work.

Now I need motivation to power through the start of this Mount Everest of work. “’Till I Collapse” by Eminem & Nate Dogg begins blasting on my speakers. I crack open my book or turn on my computer. I begin vigorously studying. Yes, vigorously studying. I smash the keys on my computer, I highlight as fast as possible. My desk begins to shake and my computer starts to quake, my highlighter rips through the pages of my book. I quickly realize I need a less intense song when my keyboard begins to fall apart and my textbook is on fire from the friction of my highlighter. I put on “Alchemist” by Savant. For those who don’t listen to Savant, his music is similar to electronic video game music that is literally designed to make you concentrate. This makes me buckle down and get an immense amount of work done. My fingers fly over the keyboard like a prepubescent teen playing his favorite video game. I am getting so much work done. I black out. When I black in I have finished seventy five percent of my work, five Monster Energy Drinks, two coffees and the entire discography of Savant.

Now it’s late at night and not all my studying is done yet. All the Caffeine has worn off and I am once again panicking about my work.  My panic quickly deteriorates into a deep, dark depression. I grope the dark depths of my I-Pod to find “Creep” by Radiohead, a song that was too depressing, and suicidal to play on the radio in the nineties. I stare at my work and question my existence. “What the hell am I doing here, I don’t belong here” echoes through my ears and into my psyche. My attempts at studying are futile. Life is futile. Existence is useless. I immediately change the song before I hang myself with my computer’s power chord. If I can’t understand the powers against me I must resist them. Therefore, I turn on “Bulls on Parade” by Rage Against the Machine. I will fight the system by becoming the system. The loud, violent, anti-establishment music motivates me to finish. The last grueling hours are filled with me listening to other Rage songs like “Testify,” “Calm Like A Bomb,” and “Killing In The Name.” Studying becomes a fight between me and my work. I randomly curse out my textbooks and punch my keyboard, but my work gets done.

Finally, at the end of my all day and night studying session I look up to the sky and say “Tetelestai” in Greek, or “it is finished” in English (the last words of Jesus on the Cross). My dynamic playlist has driven me through this difficult study battle.  Music is the weapon I use to motivate me, yet it is the sword I fall on in harder times. In the end I find my favorite song “Santeria” by Sublime. The calming, heroin fueled voice of Brad Nowell sooths my spirit. It prepares me to calmly begin another day of studying or apply what I’ve learned. This song is the lullaby that caresses my mind into a well-deserved three hours of sleep.

Standard

Mercury to Lambert

Adam Lambert recently began his tour with the band Queen which brings to mind an interesting situation concerning sexuality and music. Queen was one of the most influential bands of its time and still influences us today. Very few people don’t know the two stomps and a clap of “We Will Rock You” or the victorious clamor of “We are the Champions.” I would even venture to say that if you don’t know any of Queen’s songs you might want to move out of the rock you probably live under. Even the most cloistered hermit could mumble the words to “Bohemian Rhapsody” as well as the intoxicated bar rats that usually sing it. Queen has obviously proved its relevance. Therefore, what it does can influence our world and especially our music.

Queen was and is made up of individuals with personal characteristics and lives. The focus of the band and the individual with the most flamboyant personality was the singer Freddie Mercury. His voice defined the band’s music, but his sexuality almost defined him. He was always rumored to have been homosexual or bisexual but he did not come to terms with his sexuality until later in his career. Lambert believes that it was difficult to come out as a homosexual during the time of the peak of rock and roll when Mercury was active  (Wong, 2014). The 1970’s and 1980’s themselves were not times when homosexuality was 100% accepted by all people (this is not the case today either). Homosexuality was definitely less accepted even after the sexual revolution of the 1960’s because it was still a countercultural movement. Therefore, Mercury lived a life of hiding his sexuality as did many others during this time. There was especially more pressure on Mercury to keep closed because he was in the glam rock, heavy rock genre. Men were supposed to be effeminate but still womanizers. There was a different standard in the golden age of Glam Rock.

The biggest difference between Freddie Mercury and Adam Lambert is that Lambert is open about his sexuality. Lambert has contributed to LGBT friendly organizations and events. There is obviously a difference in the times when Mercury sang to now. Lambert admits it was easier for him to admit his sexuality. He even was quoted “From what I understand, it took Freddie a bit of time to come to terms with his sexuality, and once he did … he was living in a time when, as a celebrity or a rock star, it was something that was kind of off-limits,” (Wong, 2014).  Adam Lambert is obviously comfortable with his sexuality and doesn’t mind admitting it to the world.

So what has changed in the past 30 years? Why is Adam Lambert comfortable admitting his sexuality and why was Freddie Mercury not? Well, back in the 1970’s the world was still strongly influenced by old world morals. Homosexuality was seen as a true offense against society. Additionally, the Rock culture was dominated by womanizing men who promoted a hard, macho man type image. This seemed to scare away any ideas of homosexuality and stamped it as not manly. Nevertheless, in the time from them many social changes have occurred. People have learned from new moral teaching and activist groups that homosexuality is acceptable. This has opened doors for many talented homosexual singers like Adam Lambert. Sexuality has become a nonissue.

Freddie Mercury was deeply disturbed by his sexual identity. This was a direct result of the time he lived in. It came from the ideas that people promoted. He based his self-image on other’s image as most of us do. Since then things have changed. This is obvious to Adam Lambert who is a gay singer for Queen. People no longer care about the singers sexuality. Even now people don’t mind knowing Mercury was gay. As Lambert said “Maybe, for diehard fans of the band who loved Freddie, it’s a mind-opener for them, and they can go, ‘Oh yeah, now Adam is singing these songs and is open and out, and we think that’s OK because we loved Freddie so much.’ It gives them permission to be comfortable with it, I think,” (Wong, 2014). So we can see that talent and virtue can triumph all adversity. A person’s identity doesn’t ruin their art. Once again, art is a unifying force in this world.

Works Cited

Wong, C. M. (2014, August 1). Adam Lambert On Freddie Mercury’s Legacy And The Fight To Be A Gay Pop Star. Retrieved November 14, 2014, from Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/01/adam-lambert-freddie-mercury-queen_n_5638540.html

Standard

Robin Thicke and Rape Culture

Rape is a sensitive topic that Robin Thicke’s song “Blurred Lines” seams to ridicule and trivialize. Even its name is the term that men use to justify taking advantage of a helpless woman in criminal situations. Some rapists will say “well there were just blurred lines” as if an act can be on the boarder of rape but still be morally acceptable. Some believe that this idea is wrong, degrading and dangerous. Consequently, a song such as “Blurred Lines” is only an acidic doctrine that promotes rape culture. Nevertheless, this controversial topic of rape occasionally brings a large amount of fame or attention to its discusser. Could Robin Thicke’s sexist and misogynistic song have succeeded because of its moral vulgarity? Also, is the bust of his second album a comment on his music, his gender hatred or both? The only things we can definitely see are the reasons why “Blurred Lines” is so slandered and hated by humanity.

Firstly, a proper explanation of rape culture os necessary for the context of moern mysoginistic songs. Buzzfeed states tht  “ ‘Rape culture’ is a culture in which sexual violence is considered the norm — in which people aren’t taught not to rape, but are taught not to be raped”  (Nigato, Testa, & Broderick, 2014). Therefore, rape culture does not mean people promote rape and children are being hypnotized by popular idols to become the hate filled foot soldiers of a patriarchal rape army. This might be the horrible nightmare that fuels some fanatic, fundamentalist feminist, but it is not the proper interpretation. Rape and sexual violence become seen as normal and even humorous topics without comedic interpretation. This is like if murder in the criminal sense were to be seen as comical in situational analysis. This “murder culture” obviously seems insane and unstable, yet we can conceptualize and justify rape culture.

So, how does Robin Thicke’s one song about “Blurred Lines” affect this said “Rape Culture?” Jill Morris of the Huffington Post wrote an interesting piece where she accused “Blurred Lines” of “enraging and re-traumatizing rape survivors”  (Morris, 2014) . She also references a video in which two rape survivors talk about how “Blurred Lines” directly reminded them of the instances when they were sexually assaulted. Obviously, there is something in the song that deeply disturbs those affected by sexual assault, but is this also a sales tool for the music? Usually, controversial art receives a lot of attention as seen by the mere fact that papers like the Huffington Post give attention to them. This is free advertisement for “artists” like Robin Thicke (barely an artist). As well this horrible could have led to his seconf album doing as poorly as it did. Nevertheless, the song “Blurred Lines” affects rape culture by bring about horrible memories in the sexually abused.

A song should not be judged before one’s own ears experience it. Ignorance is best passed by the mouth so we should analyze the song ourselves. In “Blurred Lines” he immediately references a woman as an animal that he can “liberate.” This immediately flashes red lights of problematic messages. This obviously is referencing the control of a woman like an animal. This is as close to a metaphor for rape as a worm is from dirt. Various other lines objectify women including the rap section that talks of smacking a girl and pulling her hair. The epitome of the rape message of this song lies in its chorus “I know you want it” and “I hate these blurred lines.” We have talked about what blurred lines itself means, but what does he mean by “I know you want it.” Imagine a rapist overpowering a victim and his/her sick mind the victim wants the sexual abuse but refuses to admit it. (http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/robinthicke/blurredlines.html)That is what is being said here. The lyrics only approve the idea that “Blurred Lines” is clearly promoting the idea of rape.

The final culminating question is, so what? Does it matter that “Blurred Lines” is a rape promoting song? Yes. We have established that it has the potential to deeply disturb rape victims both through situational and lyrical analysis. This perpetuates rape culture because it became so popular. This spread the message of rape being permissible to various ears and minds. Ultimately, the song “Blurred Lines” influenced the promotion of rape culture based off of its message and popularity.

Works Cited

Morris, J. (2014, April 4). Rape Victims at Robin Thicke Concert. Retrieved November 12, 2014, from Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jill-morris/rape-victims-at-robin-thi_b_5049805.html

Nigato, H., Testa, J., & Broderick, R. (2014, February 5). What is Rape Culture. Retrieved November 11, 2014, from Buzzfeed: http://www.buzzfeed.com/ryanhatesthis/what-is-rape-culture

Standard

The Dualism of Metal

My perception of the genre of metal music is similar to the scope of this type of music, expansive. As an adolescent this music was introduced to me through various sources. The sources themselves influenced my perception of the heavy songs that filled my mind. When some of my more unwholesome friends introduced me to metal I was skeptical. Conversely, influences from my family and my activities allowed me to develop a positive view of this violent music. Metal is unique in that it is tough and violent but artistically beautiful at the same time. The closest analogy I can think of is the bull fight, violent, bloody, hard for some to like, but beautiful for those aspects that offend some. Nevertheless, I perceived metal music through my inherent idea that music is a medium by which emotion is conveyed.

Many of my friends during my middle school years listened to modern heavy metal music. Therefore, I was introduced to bands like Slipknot and Avenged Sevenfold. I originally abhorred this music as it was a divergence from the classic rock I preferred. The friends who introduced this music to me were very angry individuals. Either peer pressure, my own volition or some combination of the two led me to begin to appreciate some of this music. I saw it as an emotional stimulant. When I wanted to get pumped up for a game or event I would listen to metal. I did not appreciate the noises that were angering me as. I still use modern metal as music to anger me during work outs, before athletic events, and during stressful periods of my life. I use metal as a tool for emotional inspiration due to my friends’ dispositions and preferences.

I was also introduced to classic metal music by my father and brother.  I began to listen to the band Black Sabbath at the recommendation of my father. This classic metal was more compatible with my classic rock partiality. It seems as humans we handle smaller changes better than larger ones.  I certainly appreciate the musical value of this form of the genre. I believe the theme is irrelevant in defining the quality of music. This view could have developed from the respect I hold for the recommending individuals. As a teenager I lionized the musical view of my father and brother due to my status as a musical neophyte. Ultimately, I appreciate the musical talent of the classical subgenre of metal. I usually wonder if this appreciation came from my respect for my father or the valor of the music.

There is an obvious dichotomy in my perception of metal music. The modern versions of metal seem to me to be attempts at emotional inspiration. Meanwhile, I enjoy the art of classical metal and hard rock. I do not associate both subgenres of metal music as the same music. One type of music is focused on the artistic value of the noises produced. The second type of music is mostly noises that intend to inspire specific emotions. I place most modern metal in the second category and most classic metal in the first category. Nevertheless, I listen to both types but for different reasons. Metal cannot be placed in one category with one intent. Yet, this does not make one type of metal less artistic than the other. Emotional inspiration is the basis of art despite which emotion it evokes.

Metal is a diverse genre that requires a unique analysis. My original perception of this genre was molded by the people who introduced it to me. Additionally, my ideology concerning the dualism of this music influenced my opinion of metal. Songs are either written to inspire or entertain. Therefore, I categorize metal into two distinct groups. Despite my categorization of this music, I do not discriminate between either of the forms. I use heavier modern metal as a source of motivation, while I listen to classic, lyrical metal for the artistic value.

Standard

The Concavity of Music

Music is a concave mirror perched in front of society. It reflects the society it sees. Yet it leads to occasional visual and conceptual distortion. Additionally, this musical mirror allows the observer to determine the moral aspects of a society by observing its reflection. Nevertheless, we must acknowledge that the image is distorted. Ultimately, this mirror can reveal great truths about a society. Furthermore, the best way to understand music is to consider a personal anecdote. Individual experiences of musical events best demonstrate music’s true influence on individuals in a society. My personal adolescence reveals a lot about music.

Music and music videos direct a large portion of their viewpoints toward gender. Gender stereotypes are a common tool utilized by the music industry to sexualize content and attract audiences. My personal introduction to this dynamic between music and gender occurred when I was approximately twelve. I watched music videos like “Dance, Dance” by Fall Out Boy that depicted the erotic male-female relationship. In this video a young boy is cast out of the popular circles in his school. They depict him as a stereotypical “nerd.” The women won’t even approach him and the men ridicule him. Nevertheless, he attempts to dance his way into a relationship or more likely a less binding interaction with an attractive woman. Whether or not this specific video influenced me is irrelevant. The ideas it promoted perfectly mirrored my childhood. I thought that personal appearances defined an individual, that gender created defined niches, and that women were objects to be obtained.

The perpetuation of the sexist centerpieces of music videos deeply harms society due to the nature of music. Music mirrors our society and is a portal by which we may experience other’s feelings. Therefore, emulation of musicians is a natural conclusion. I succumbed to these stimuli present in the music videos I watched. My adolescence was plagued with talking down to women. I thought little about the accomplishments of the women in my life. I emulated men for their identity as hard working individuals who could dominate women.  My basic issue during this time period was my inability to admire the accomplishments of intelligent women around me. This resulted from many factors. One of these factors was indeed my exposure to sexist portrayals in music videos.

Retrospectively, I have reassessed my view of these videos and my opinion on gender roles in music videos. Furthermore, I realize why I accepted the ideology of objectification of humans due to my understanding of the underlying motives of such videos. My views first changed when I entered high school. I gained a better understanding of my faith by taking classes on humanism and existentialism. Although I am not preaching the philosophy of any specific religion, my discovery of my faith aided in my development. I learned the true benefits of equality in society and the harms of judging based off of appearances. This is not to say that music is the opposite of faith, but different viewpoints are always beneficial.

The dynamic of a concave mirror is that any individual looking into it will see a different distortion of the image at different points. I viewed the expression of gender in music through two distinct vantage points. First was my early experiences with music videos where I saw their sexual expression of females as an accurate depiction of societal norms.  Second was when I became aware of the distortion and saw the upright image at the focal point of the mirror. I realized that women are key contributors to society and not just objects. Music is an art that depicts and influences society while incorporating comments about gender and other topics. Nevertheless, the way we interpret music is essential toward the message we receive from it.

Standard