If Herland was a comedic Broadway play, this is a little tune I wrote for it:
(“Herland” – a Broadway tune written by me)
All: What is to become of HER?
Solo Male 2: Is it like Themyscira?
Solo Male 1: Is Aphrodite and Diana here?
Males: For two thousand years it was SHE, SHE, SHE!
Females: Strong as any HE, HE, HE!
Males: Short hair! Long pants!
Solo Male 1: The only curves were in the land!
Lead Female: No reproduction without it!
Solo Male 2: No man, no hog, no man’s best friend
Solo Female 2: Not even some little Lepidoptera…
All: Only Education is important in… Herland!
Solo Male 2: I will serve and protect!
Lead Female: Will not!
Solo Male 3: I will conquer and win!
Lead Female: Will not!
Males: It’s Herland!
Solo Male 1: New language, new clothes, new country, new fortress!
Solo Male 2: New land!
Solo Male 3: Now we must plan our escape.
Lead Female: Don’t think so.
Solo Male 2: But our biplane is covered in a giant cape…
Lead Female: You must master our mastering.
Males: We must obey.
Solo Male 3: We must discover their secrets of reproductivity…
Solo Male 2: We must befriend and seduce…
Lead Female: Now all of their attention is He, He, He,
Not one, not two, but three –
NONE is enough for me!
Solo Female 1: I got my eye on…
Lead Female: Enough!
Solo Male 1: I got my eye on…
Lead Female: Enough!
Males: We’ve got our eyes on Herland!
Females: They have their eyes on Herland!
All: All the eyes are on Herland!
Solo Male 2: I got my eye on HER!
My initial opinion when listening to African pygmy music for the first time was that I felt it was a strange and disorganized noise of random voices shouting and instruments playing without any type of identifiable pattern. It was very difficult for me to sit through and enjoy it.
I thought it was just as strange when I heard it in Herbie Hancock’s “Watermelon Man”, but when I listened to it in Madonna’s “Sanctuary” I only recognized it because it was pointed out and it was more vague than the other copycats.
I am trying to be as open minded as possible about some of the music we’ve had to study, so I began listening more closely to the pygmy music and realized that although it is spontaneous, it has its own organization of rhythm, harmony, and unity.
I was especially entertained at the Pygmy’s use of natural items to create instruments such as the mondumu and geedal ieta, but my personal favorite was the liquindi water drum.
When other musicians insert African pygmy music into their own mixes, I feel it takes away from the authenticity of the music, and quite frankly seems to be a ripoff. Baka Beyond sounds more like island music and takes away from the origin of the pygmy’s creation. I would have to question why they think adding electronics to natural sounds makes the music “better”. And I have to wonder how successful Deep Forest would have become had they not ripped off the pygmy’s own voices. Considering the pygmies are already fighting to keep the forests (their homes) they so love, why would anyone want to take away the pygmy’s musical heritage and use it to their own benefit? It seems selfish to me.
The purpose of me taking a World Music class is to learn about something I don’t know. Tuvan “throat singing” is definitely new to me. I wasn’t sure if I could tolerate it at first, but I actually came to like it so much that I am listening to the concert again as I blog. The instruments remind me of the music I’ve often heard at Renaissance Festivals. The throat singing isn’t anything I’ve ever heard before or could possibly begin to explain, but the experience felt spiritual.
This is my personal interpretation of this particular Huun Huur Tu concert:
When I first began viewing the Huun Huur Tu live concert video, I was unsure of how long I could sit through listening to what seemed to be the “same” thing for an hour and a half. However, I quickly learned that it was far from my expectations, and I felt that overall, the concert was more like a musical play that told the story of a spiritual journey. The concert sparked my imagination, as I pictured the images of the music in my mind.
The concert begins with a prayer that sounded much like a meditation (think “Om”), then the music switches to a more fun and freer. I pictured a boy on a mountain praying and then getting ready to set off for something new. In the third piece, the Sygyt, I imagined a boy standing on a mountain and speaking to it (this is taking into the consideration the Tuvan history and relationship with mountains and nature). When he finishes this, the Chiraa Khoor begins, and he sets off on his horse for an adventure. The clopping of the horse hooves and the neighing of the horse are merely instruments being played by the musicians, but add a significant purpose to the piece. Karyraa “spirit of mountains” begins and it seems as if the mountains speak directly to the boy or somehow guide him.
Then comes the love story – Sarylgarlar. It speaks of sadness, and typical of Tuvan music, the winds appear and seem to blow away the memories, sadness, and tears. The mountain (the deeper tones) speaks, the boy answers (higher tones), and the mountain seem to somehow join in the sorrow while the winds join as the song ends.
The Kozhamyk seems to be a more joyful adventure, as the mountains (deeper) and winds (higher) seem happy. Something changes with the Kongurei, a song about people migrating. It is sad, as if people are longing for something (their homes, perhaps?), and the following Camel Caravan Drivers speaks of homesickness.
Time passes and the “wind” (mouthpiece instrument) blows again in Sagly Khalaun Turula Boor, as if it is moving onto the next journey, another love story. Eerbe Aksy is comprised of horse hooves and both high and low tones (mountains and wind) and then suddenly stops. What happens? Does the boy meet the love of his life and settle down? Or is it another sad ending? Is the Orphan’s Lament what this story is all about?
When the woman sings at the end, which is unusual for Tuvan music, the musicians play animal calls, particularly the crane and perhaps an elephant. An electric guitar collaborates with this piece, bringing together a sort of oneness with the boy’s adventure.
The concert ends with Aa-shuu Dekei-oo, a song about the lifestyle of the Tuvans, bringing happiness back into the images once again.
An assignment in World Music required us to view Paul Simon’s “Homeless” video from his Graceland album.
Prior to watching the video, I didn’t have much of a view of South African music or life in general, because I’d never really paid attention to it. I have to be honest and say that history was never really a strong subject for me, which is part of the reason for taking this course. After viewing the video, my impression of South Africa is oppression and struggle, yet of Native peoples striving to maintain their authenticity of culture. While they are surviving poverty, they are keeping their stories alive with performance art and appear joyful in doing so.
The South African music and costume is comparable to that of Native Americans and other tribal people that also have struggled against the contemporary world. Their tribal dances are also closely related to that of Native American culture, which both undoubtedly contain movements that mimic nature. Yet the video has blended wardrobe and lighter movements as well as “everyday life”, presumably to accentuate that South African blacks dress just like regular people.
As a whole, I think that mainstream performers have a huge influence on raising political and economic awareness, specifically of apartheid in this case. Depending on the viewer or listener, global pop music performance can educate and inform viewers of political and economic conditions. However, it can also reinforce old views and stereotypes about black South Africans.
Because of my love for learning, I am taking as many free courses as possible through Coursera.org.
Listening to World Music is taught by University of Pennsylvania instructor Carol Muller. Surprisingly, the first week covered an enormous amount of information. Being that my field is not in music, it’s a bit challenging. (I don’t play any instruments, but I do play the radio. 🙂 ) I’ve also had extremely limited internet access, so I can honestly say that I have been unable to put 100% into my assignments. Regardless, I’m going to be posting my work here.
I found that Blind Willie Johnson’s “Soul of a Man” displays all three forms of authenticity. Historically speaking, this piece is true of its kind from the 1930s era gospel/blues originating from an African American who had been known for singing and preaching in the streets since childhood. Exhibiting pure emotion in cyclical form, “Soul of a Man” was one of few songs to be produced by Columbia records while Johnson was still alive. The listener can hear the obvious “from-the-heart” tone in Johnson’s voice fluctuations, unlike the copycat versions that are clearly from those who have not experienced the tragedies Johnson faced throughout his life.
“Soul of a Man” original by Blind Willie Johnson:
In the early 1990s, guitarist Bruce Cockburn recorded “Soul of a Man.” Although a great guitarist that added melody to the original song, nothing beats the raw primal authenticity of the original Blind Willie Johnson version, because only Johnson could relay the true emotions of his people.
“Soul of a Man” remake by Bruce Cockburn (live):