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  #1  
Old 04-27-2010, 06:01 PM
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Default Art (or music) mirroring life

All these threads about jazz, metal and such got me thinking. Art really does mirror life. Life is easier in some ways (internet, access to information) and harder in other ways (making a living in this economy, being treated more like a number than a person, the divorce rate etc).

Hard music IMO is absolutely reflecting the trend of broken families, eroding morals, financial hardship, fear, and many other negative factors in society today. Gangster rap is a reflection of black urban streetlife, hardcore metal is a reflection of young whites predicaments...Is life really getting harder or was it always like this?

Music from the 30's 40's 50's 60's 70's had nowhere near the sheer anger you see in the music from the last 30 years. Isn't it curious that the digital age more or less coincided with the anger in music?

There's no real burning point I'm making here, I just wanted others perspectives on the state of life today as compared to say the 50's when everything seemed to be happier, and less serious.

If things overall were good for the middle class worldwide (plenty of good paying jobs, no healthcare crisis, intact families, etc.) would we have the amount of angry music that's around today?
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Old 04-27-2010, 06:10 PM
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Default Re: Art (or music) mirroring life

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Originally Posted by larryace View Post
There's no real burning point I'm making here, I just wanted others perspectives on the state of life today as compared to say the 50's when everything seemed to be happier, and less serious.
I think if you were an African American musician back then you might have a different perspective on those times, which to use your theory, might be why African Americans in jazz for instance had such great creative periods back then. I don't see anything wrong with anger in the creative proccess. It's like my grandfather likes to say Show me a big war and I'll show you big music. I think that's probably true, except that no one of course wants to live through those bad times to get there.
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Old 04-27-2010, 06:18 PM
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Default Re: Art (or music) mirroring life

I think times seem tougher to US now is just because WE are the ones lives through it. imo, they were probably always tough. I've been hearing "times are tough" for as long as I've been alive and they were probably saying it long before I was alive. Living through the coldwar, ww2/holocaust, depression, civil war, and on and on couldn't have been easy.

i would guess that angry music evolved recently because of radio and TV allowed young people more free access to music (as opposed to just being stuck listening to what their parent had), and that type of music would appeal more to rebellious youth, they grow up with it.
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Old 04-27-2010, 06:20 PM
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Default Re: Art (or music) mirroring life

Good point Matt. Since I'm not black, I can't personally relate to the plight of my black bretheren, so I guess from my narrow perspective I'm referring to the escalation of anger in white mainstream music within the last 30 years or so.
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Old 04-27-2010, 07:07 PM
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Default Re: Art (or music) mirroring life

i think there was plenty of anger around in the old days but it was tougher to express it in popular music. there was a lot of censorship for one thing. the music business was dominated by big record companies who had a lot of control over their artists. music had to play on the radio if it was going to sell. those were all huge obstacles to anyone on the fringe with angry music or anything different. for example, if a band walked into a big record company with a name like "hate eternal" in the 60's they probably wouldn't get too far.
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Old 04-27-2010, 07:17 PM
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Default Re: Art (or music) mirroring life

I'm actually referring to the social and societal changes within the last 30 years that are reflected in the angrier music that is more prevalent now than 30 years ago.

Is life harder now than then? Is divorce to blame for death metal?

Maybe life is just as hard, just a different "brand" of hard.
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Old 04-27-2010, 07:37 PM
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  #7  
Old 04-28-2010, 10:24 PM
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Default Re: Art (or music) mirroring life

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Originally Posted by larryace View Post
I'm actually referring to the social and societal changes within the last 30 years that are reflected in the angrier music that is more prevalent now than 30 years ago.
I think (just my read on it, not trying to put words in his mouth) dairyman is pointing to other reasons WHY and why you specifically (as we have the restriction it to "I guess from my narrow perspective I'm referring to the escalation of anger in white mainstream music")

subversion tends not to be mainstream.

30 years ago was 1980 -- the punk and goth genres that were rolling, for instance, could express quite a bit of anger.


Fun perspective note :
I recently read a blog from a 24-ish year old guy that asked the opposite question
"Is the Filth and Fury Gone in Today’s Music?"

http://shotfromguns.wordpress.com/20...-todays-music/



Is divorce to blame for death metal?


I'm not sure if it's a valid question if we consider ourselves restricted to the mainstream

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Old 04-28-2010, 11:07 PM
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Default Re: Art (or music) mirroring life

I think people are no longer afraid of expressing certain feelings. When you think about it, Elvis and Cash sung about break ups and hurt well before a lot of others and pretty much every Kiss song is about sex, which was unheard of back then.

Now, if people dislike god they are not afraid to speak about it in music, if people have tried to kill themselves they might go and write a song about it, things that used to be so personal that you didn't speak to anyone about them are certainly coming out in music now.
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  #9  
Old 04-29-2010, 12:14 AM
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Default Re: Art (or music) mirroring life

People are going to be expressing themselves no matter what. I think that the evolution of instruments has a lot to do with how they express themselves...amplified guitars, then overdriven amps, then distortion effects--it's about making different sounds to express yourself.

I think that, especially in America, there is a sense of immediacy and entitlement. Just because younger folks are growing up with the internet and immediate access to information, there's a certain level of frustration that comes standard when they actually get out into the real world. "Wha...you mean life ISN'T all video games and online chatting? I'm gonna go yell into a mic and crank the guitars up to 11!"

Times have always been tough, until the last couple decades. Life is WAY too convenient right now. I'm not looking forward to when the other shoe drops...
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  #10  
Old 04-29-2010, 01:42 AM
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Default Re: Art (or music) mirroring life

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I think if you were an African American musician back then you might have a different perspective on those times, which to use your theory, might be why African Americans in jazz for instance had such great creative periods back then. I don't see anything wrong with anger in the creative proccess. It's like my grandfather likes to say Show me a big war and I'll show you big music. I think that's probably true, except that no one of course wants to live through those bad times to get there.
I don't recall hearing any "angry" music coming from blacks back then, but you hear quite a bit of it now coming out of the rap industry.
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Old 04-29-2010, 02:23 AM
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Default Re: Art (or music) mirroring life

Art absolutely mirrors life. Black music in the old days ... blues. It expressed a lot of sadness and loss but the blues was also a way of cheering up in the face of difficulty too - the human spirit fighting back.

I think the key aspect of metal is not the anger but the industrial sound, reflecting an industrial age. Hip hop, techno, trance ... it's all a pretty clear reflection of the digital environment.

Sure, there's anger in youth today and I don't think it's about today's youth feeling especially entitled. If teen rebellion is new I'll eat my hat. In the 60s it was the stultifyingly conservative social environment, now it's the sanctimonous hypocrisy of the New Right. The response is no longer peace and love. I guess that experiment was tainted by hippie hubris and, besides, sex and intoxicants aren't outrageous now as they were in the 60s.

There is still room for organic music because we little humans are still organic, no matter how hard we try to separate ourselves from nature. But modern organic music will be increasingly less the sounds of the forest, more the sounds of us.
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  #12  
Old 04-29-2010, 04:46 AM
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Default Re: Art (or music) mirroring life

I buy the 'different brand of hardness' theory as you said, Larry. The arts are the reflection of society, but as Matt said, which society are we talking about?
Would be nice to get Ken's take on this but most American music is born of anger and protest. We all know where the early Blues came from, and that Jazz was also music that was seeking & fighting for equality.

The 60s.. Hendrix, The Who, etc were the misunderstood generation. the birth of Rock was under a bad sign!

American Folk music with Leonard Cohen, Joan Baez etc were angry about the establishment of the time too.

I think new music will always come from the youth of the country and they'll always be mad about something.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tommycanuhearme View Post
I don't recall hearing any "angry" music coming from blacks back then, but you hear quite a bit of it now coming out of the rap industry.
You're kidding, right?

...
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  #13  
Old 04-29-2010, 05:37 AM
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Default Re: Art (or music) mirroring life

I'd say it's just easier for so called angry music to get out there where normal people can come across it.

Old blues was full of anger and sadness, but recording technology wasn't advanced, and expensive, so many artists only got to record a few songs, if that much. Who knows how much great music we've never heard because it just wasn't recorded.

25-30 years ago, they were active death metal bands putting out albums. But it was strictly world of mouth. Radio didn't play them, MTV was just starting out and didn't play death metal anyway, and the internet didn't exist then. It was just very under ground. Unless you had a buddy who had an album, you had NO way to hearing what any of those bands sounded like. And only a few bands were able to get the attention of the smaller labels to put up what was still expensive recording time.

These days, anyone can out together a 1/2 way decent home studio. And via the internet, any band can put their music out there on myspace, youtube, etc.

So I don't think there is more angry music today because of life's problems, I just think technology has allowed more of it to be made, and technology has allowed more of it to become known by the average person with an internet connection.
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Old 04-29-2010, 06:16 AM
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Default Re: Art (or music) mirroring life

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I buy the 'different brand of hardness' theory as you said, Larry. The arts are the reflection of society, but as Matt said, which society are we talking about?
Would be nice to get Ken's take on this but most American music is born of anger and protest. We all know where the early Blues came from, and that Jazz was also music that was seeking & fighting for equality.

The 60s.. Hendrix, The Who, etc were the misunderstood generation. the birth of Rock was under a bad sign!

American Folk music with Leonard Cohen, Joan Baez etc were angry about the establishment of the time too.

I think new music will always come from the youth of the country and they'll always be mad about something.



You're kidding, right?

...
No, I'm not kidding, I Iisten to a lot of blues music. I hear them singing about being sad about losing there baby or life in general, but not angry.

Here's an example....
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VSOYOFQgVMs
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  #15  
Old 04-29-2010, 06:29 AM
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Default Re: Art (or music) mirroring life

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Originally Posted by Tommycanuhearme View Post
No, I'm not kidding, I Iisten to a lot of blues music. I hear them singing about being sad about losing there baby or life in general, but not angry.

Here's an example....
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VSOYOFQgVMs
“The blues is an expression of anger against shame and humiliation” (B.B. King).
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Old 04-29-2010, 07:05 AM
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Default Re: Art (or music) mirroring life

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“The blues is an expression of anger against shame and humiliation” (B.B. King).
Yes, shame of losing there woman or being humilated in front of there peers. Show me a song that sings of being discriminated against or not having the same rights as white Americans.
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Old 04-29-2010, 07:19 AM
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Default Re: Art (or music) mirroring life

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Originally Posted by Tommycanuhearme View Post
Show me a song about being discrimated against or not having the right to vote and I'll concede my point. I don't think Elvis, The Beatles or any other white artist would have related to it and sang it themselves.
Are you asking me or asking BB?

I was quoting BB King, not necessarily expressing my personal opinion. However since you ask, here's a song performed and written by Huddie William Ledbetter better known as Leadbelly:

Me and my wife went all over town
And everywhere we went people turned us down
Lord, in a bourgeois town
It's a bourgeois town
I got the bourgeois blues
Gonna spread the news all around

Well, me and my wife we were standing upstairs
We heard the white man say'n I don't want no niggers up there
Lord, in a bourgeois town
Uhm, bourgeois town
I got the bourgeois blues
Gonna spread the news all around

Home of the brave, land of the free
I don't wanna be mistreated by no bourgeoisie
Lord, in a bourgeois town
Uhm, the bourgeois town
I got the bourgeois blues
Gonna spread the news all around

Well, them white folks in Washington they know how
To call a colored man a nigger just to see him bow
Lord, it's a bourgeois town
Uhm, the bourgeois town
I got the bourgeois blues
Gonna spread the news all around

I tell all the colored folks to listen to me
Don't try to find you no home in Washington, DC
'Cause it's a bourgeois town
Uhm, the bourgeois town
I got the bourgeois blues
Gonna spread the news all around


How did the Beatles & Elvis come into this conversation?
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Old 04-29-2010, 07:29 AM
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Default Re: Art (or music) mirroring life

Strange Fruit and Bourgeois Blues come to immediate mind, but those are uber famous

Robert Johnson stuff could also get pretty angry/violent at times, not specifically political but as an itinerant I can see how the daily "boots on the ground" injustices were the ones to be immediately addressed (at one point in my life I was very hungry and home was a bicycle..it's pretty amazing how your perspective gets, shall we say,"focus")
stuff like 32-20 blues or "me and the devil"
I figure when you are talking about the bitch bringing a handgun that's "much too light (in firepower)" b/c you are going to cut her in half with a rifle we are past the "sad" point and more into the anger territory

[edit : whoops -- crosspost, that's a tune that immediately came to mind too -- I think someone brought it up earlier, but we have to keep in mind that we get exposed to whitey's recordings...Lomax made major inroads into getting some of the stuff documented, but it's not like everyone trusted him and there are some clearance issues around that stuff "orphan works" and all from people who haven't been treated particularly well so it's not like we are hearing all the "down n dirty". I've certainly had my ass kicked for being white in the wrong areas]

Last edited by PermaNoob; 04-29-2010 at 07:40 AM.
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Old 04-29-2010, 07:31 AM
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Default Re: Art (or music) mirroring life

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Originally Posted by aydee View Post
Are you asking me or asking BB?

I was quoting BB King, not necessarily expressing my personal opinion. However since you ask, here's a song performed and written by Huddie William Ledbetter better known as Leadbelly:

Me and my wife went all over town
And everywhere we went people turned us down
Lord, in a bourgeois town
It's a bourgeois town
I got the bourgeois blues
Gonna spread the news all around

Well, me and my wife we were standing upstairs
We heard the white man say'n I don't want no niggers up there
Lord, in a bourgeois town
Uhm, bourgeois town
I got the bourgeois blues
Gonna spread the news all around

Home of the brave, land of the free
I don't wanna be mistreated by no bourgeoisie
Lord, in a bourgeois town
Uhm, the bourgeois town
I got the bourgeois blues
Gonna spread the news all around

Well, them white folks in Washington they know how
To call a colored man a nigger just to see him bow
Lord, it's a bourgeois town
Uhm, the bourgeois town
I got the bourgeois blues
Gonna spread the news all around

I tell all the colored folks to listen to me
Don't try to find you no home in Washington, DC
'Cause it's a bourgeois town
Uhm, the bourgeois town
I got the bourgeois blues
Gonna spread the news all around


How did the Beatles & Elvis come into this conversation?
You mean this guy?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uRtd9TFfScU
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Old 04-29-2010, 07:42 AM
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Default Re: Art (or music) mirroring life

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Originally Posted by Tommycanuhearme View Post
Show me a song that sings of being discriminated against or not having the same rights as white Americans.
The threat of getting castrated and burned alive tends to inhibit speech a bit. Until not that long ago, in a lot of areas of the country singing like that could get you straight up murdered.
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Old 04-29-2010, 07:43 AM
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Default Re: Art (or music) mirroring life

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Originally Posted by Tommycanuhearme View Post
Thats the guy, Tommy.

I'm starting to lose the point you are trying to make....that anger expressed nonviolently isn't anger, and the blues, as we know it, are defined by Elvis & the Beatles?

...
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Old 04-29-2010, 07:53 AM
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Default Re: Art (or music) mirroring life

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Originally Posted by PermaNoob View Post
you are the oppressed guy, you keep it on the downlow when "they" are around

"Oh, no we aren't practicing fighting, we are dancing"

"I'm just sending my blind son to family, check him, he doesn't have any gun emplacement information"

"Oh these? no, these are farm tools - this is a grain flail and this is a harvesting sickle, not weapons - you said I couldn't have a sword and I dont! no sir, just farming"
Well said!

20 characters.
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Old 04-29-2010, 07:55 AM
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Default Re: Art (or music) mirroring life

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Originally Posted by Pollyanna View Post
Art absolutely mirrors life. Black music in the old days ... blues. It expressed a lot of sadness and loss but the blues was also a way of cheering up in the face of difficulty too - the human spirit fighting back.

I think the key aspect of metal is not the anger but the industrial sound, reflecting an industrial age. Hip hop, techno, trance ... it's all a pretty clear reflection of the digital environment.

Sure, there's anger in youth today and I don't think it's about today's youth feeling especially entitled. If teen rebellion is new I'll eat my hat. In the 60s it was the stultifyingly conservative social environment, now it's the sanctimonous hypocrisy of the New Right. The response is no longer peace and love. I guess that experiment was tainted by hippie hubris and, besides, sex and intoxicants aren't outrageous now as they were in the 60s.

There is still room for organic music because we little humans are still organic, no matter how hard we try to separate ourselves from nature. But modern organic music will be increasingly less the sounds of the forest, more the sounds of us.
Not to pick nits, but, at least out here in the US, the New Right has a co-partner in crime called the New Left. I disliked Clinton, but politics after his era seemed to get worse...

As for the original topic, music is a unique combination of art and literature. We as musicians make pretty patterns of sound that have little use beyond pleasing us, but we also include lyrics, the written word, a message about a topic near and dear.... even if money, women and the hood are the topic.

A good mainstream example is Disturbed's Ten Thousand Fists album.
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Old 04-29-2010, 08:14 AM
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The threat of getting castrated and burned alive tends to inhibit speech a bit. Until not that long ago, in a lot of areas of the country singing like that could get you straight up murdered.
Then explain how this got recorded.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iuNciPZlw8M
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Old 04-29-2010, 08:15 AM
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Originally Posted by PermaNoob View Post
(Like Bishop was talking) when you are the oppressed guy, you keep it on the downlow when "they"s around

"Oh, no we aren't practicing fighting, we are dancing"

"I'm just sending my blind son to family, check him, he doesn't have any gun emplacement information"

"Oh these? no, these are farm tools - this is a grain flail and this is a harvesting sickle, not weapons - you said I couldn't have a sword and I dont! no sir, just farming"
And you know this how? let me guess, you are assuming, unless you were actually there I don't think your testimony is very credible.
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Old 04-29-2010, 08:28 AM
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Default Re: Art (or music) mirroring life

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Not to pick nits, but, at least out here in the US, the New Right has a co-partner in crime called the New Left. I disliked Clinton, but politics after his era seemed to get worse...

As for the original topic, music is a unique combination of art and literature. We as musicians make pretty patterns of sound that have little use beyond pleasing us, but we also include lyrics, the written word, a message about a topic near and dear.... even if money, women and the hood are the topic.

A good mainstream example is Disturbed's Ten Thousand Fists album.
Moldy, I'd like to take those nits back from you and put them back in. The left has been a small minority for many years - kinda like jazz. What the papers call left these days is soft right. The entire political spectrum has taken a major right turn over the last 40 years. Yeeha. It's pretty clear who the metal bands are cranky with these days, and it ain't the soft right. The soft right don't get so excited by devil talk.

I agree that music is a combination of art and literature, as are the dramatic arts, as are cartoons. The story is told both symbolically and literally. What goes on around us necessarily affects what we do and technology changes everything. For instance, Beethoven's Fifth starts with knocking on a door, which would hardly happen before wooden doors were invented. But back then they didn't have violins either so that's the other effect of technology - the sonic possibilities.

I was chatting with Wy the other day about this very topic. He talked about the train beat and its obvious origins. He also suggested that the jazz swing beat originated with trains - chuck chuck-a-chuck chuck-a-chuck ... spang spang-a-lang spang-a-lang ...

Then we have the mood of the times affecting not only the emotional content of the music but its intent and utility. For instance, music started becoming seriously commercial in the 80s - the Gordon Gecko decade ...
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Old 04-29-2010, 08:45 AM
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Default Re: Art (or music) mirroring life

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Yes, shame of losing there woman or being humilated in front of there peers. Show me a song that sings of being discriminated against or not having the same rights as white Americans.
------------------------------------------------------------
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Old 04-29-2010, 09:05 AM
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Default Re: Art (or music) mirroring life

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Then explain how this got recorded.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iuNciPZlw8M
I said the threat of lynching suppressed free speech; that fact should be bleeding obvious to anyone without a major racial axe to grind. The existence of this song and a handful of others do not disprove that.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lynchin..._United_States
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Old 04-29-2010, 09:19 AM
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And you know this how? let me guess, you are assuming, unless you were actually there I don't think your testimony is very credible.
Oops, suddenly all my history books are worthless. Do we have a conspiracy theory on documented history as well?

PS- We INSIST, the Max Roach album that Matt has attached was probably the most pointed & sharpest political statement on Civil Rights by a musician at the time.

...

Last edited by aydee; 04-29-2010 at 09:46 AM.
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Old 04-29-2010, 11:36 AM
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Music definitely mirrors life...for example Scandinavian metal...

...you'll notice that when it comes to metal, Sweden is known for death metal, Norway for black metal, and Finland for epic folk metal (or in some instances, metal folk)...

...now, if you live in a place close to the arctic circle where the sun doesn't shine for six months of a year you start to well up all the angsty and brutal thoughts...

...besides, it is the way to keep warm (other than Finnish vodka).

...or the music of the Caribean:

...Reggae is relaxed and slow, reflective of the...herbal use of the artists

...while Afro-Cuban is fast and energetic, reflective of the strong coffee consumed.
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Old 04-29-2010, 12:00 PM
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Default Re: Art (or music) mirroring life

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Each one is a actually a decently documented historical example of oppressed people's behavior

1) Capoeira
2) French resistance WWII
3) the hyakusho class after the "great sword hunt" (which 'disarmed' the agrarian class) in the 1580s ( and okinawan fighting instruments during (and past) the Shimaza occupation [not that farm implements as weapons is unique to that historical example]
PWNED! Tommy, I think you'd best back off with this whole train of thought. You're way off base and the "boys" are making you look foolish.
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Old 04-29-2010, 03:27 PM
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Default Re: Art (or music) mirroring life

BTW Larry, this is great topic even if this thread has gotten caught up with debates over the oppression, sadness and anger of black Americans earlier last century and how they expressed those feelings though their music - giving rise to some great art forms.

Another factor that affects music greatly is people's free time. The more free time people have the more arty music becomes. Today in the west people live such busy lives that there's less time to savour music than there was, say, 40 or 50 years ago. Now music is tending towards more utility so people can multi-task - dancing, background, sound tracks ...

Can't wait for cool music to become mainstream again ...
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Old 04-29-2010, 03:57 PM
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  #33  
Old 04-29-2010, 04:16 PM
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Default Re: Art (or music) mirroring life

Shame this thread's about to get skittled. It was an interesting question and I've found some food for thought here.
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Old 04-29-2010, 04:21 PM
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Default Re: Art (or music) mirroring life

Tommyyoucanthearme!


......................
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Old 04-29-2010, 04:38 PM
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Default Re: Art (or music) mirroring life

Hope this thread isn't skittled, if possible.

Want to talk about how environment shapes art (and vice versa?) - not about the validity or otherwise of that environment.
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Old 04-29-2010, 04:48 PM
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Default Re: Art (or music) mirroring life

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Jewish people have been living with this oppression far longer and with more consequences than any other group of people. Yet they have survived and have prospered, they have not sat back and cried about the injustices done to them. They don't write depressing music and point the finger..
There are plenty of people of Jewish back ground involved in metal and rap. Heck, there are even Jewish death metal bands http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salem_%28band%29.

Making blanket statements is never a good idea.
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Old 04-29-2010, 06:40 PM
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Old 04-29-2010, 09:14 PM
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Default Re: Art (or music) mirroring life

I've just been informed that TCUHM is not just a clueless racist old guy, but an actual troll who has been repeatedly banned from DW.
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Old 04-29-2010, 09:23 PM
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Default Re: Art (or music) mirroring life

The deaf, dumb and blind kid sure plays a mean pinball...

.......
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Old 04-30-2010, 12:59 AM
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Default Re: Art (or music) mirroring life

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Not going there, I kinda like it here.
No, google away to your heart's content, little man. I get the feeling you're not long for this forum either way.
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Old 04-30-2010, 02:14 AM
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Default Re: Art (or music) mirroring life

Ok, I think this is sorted out. Now ... about the topic of art mirroring life ... there were comments that remain ignored and didn't involve milk-drinking Afro American people who don't wear seat belts ...

Funny how negativity attracts the most attention. All you have to do in a thread is dis something or suggest it's inferior to something else and everyone dives in like a barroom brawl in an old Western movie.

I guess, just as in the movies, there must be a villain or some form of tension. Life mirroring art ...

Totally and completely offtopic, but Todd ... I didn't meant to imply that Art only plays backbeat but I concede that's how it sounded ... just that he plays backbeat more than most :)

// Conflict resolution strategy #3 - distraction //
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