Saturday, July 7, 2012

Contributed by South Park Diva

Well, it is just a few weeks until I head off to Restoring Love in Dallas, and I can't wait!  Meanwhile, I've been busy teaching my summer online class - and recently I had an opportunity to introduce my students to the music of Kalai, a fantastic artist that is being produced by Glenn Beck.  I'm looking forward to seeing Kalai live at Restoring Love!

As a teacher of course I have to be very careful that I am not indoctrinating my students into my political beliefs, but the great thing about the songs I chose is that they really display the power of music and words to reach out and take a stand.  Here is the complete discussion that was posted (the music clips are streaming, which means you can listen to them, but you cannot download them!  If you enjoy Kalai's music, please go and purchase these tracks!)  I've already seen some of the students posts, and they make me proud!!!

Discussion Board - WK 5 - Song Study
In our Middle Ages discussion board we spent some time talking about the power music holds over us, both good and bad. This week we are going to very closely study two songs from the same singer/song-writer and break them down. Be sure to answer every question and go into detail on each one! We will then discuss the same kinds of ideas in modern programmatic music.

Listen carefully to the following song, paying special attention to the lyrics (it may take a minute or two for the music clips to load):

What do you think the message of this song is? What do you think the goal of this songwriter was in writing this song? What makes you think that? Cite specific examples from the lyrics.

How do you feel that the music itself supports the lyrics? What kind of instrumentation is he using to support his message? What are the dynamics doing to support it? Give specific examples.
What do you think this song says about the power of music? It speaks of “raising an army out of words and music.” What do you think that means? How does this relate to it being sung by a “peacetime freedom fighter”? 

Now listen to this second song by this same songwriter:

What do you think he is trying to say with this song? What kind of comparison do you think he is making in the beginning strains of the song? Do you recognize what he is referencing in the opening bars (the sort of moaning/singing)? What kind of comparison is he trying to make with this?
Think back on the idea of being a “peacetime freedom fighter” with an army “of words and music". Do you feel that this song is fighting another battle? What kind of battle? For whom do you think this song is written? Do you feel that it can be successful? Why or why not?
Can you think of any other songs (besides overtly Christian music, which generally has a very clear message) that wages a battle of words and music? Have you perhaps listened to a song more closely and realized that you don't actually like the message? Or the reverse? Perhaps listened to a song and decided that you liked the message, and therefore liked the song more? What do you think this says about the power of lyrics in music?

Now take a moment to look at this cartoon:

This makes a strong statement about music videos. What do you think that is? In today's world, music videos are a very popular form of programmatic music. This "program" can either positively or negatively affect our reception of the music. Can you think of an instance where you have completely changed your opinion of a song based solely on the music video?  Do you think that a song should be able to completely stand alone from its video? Why or why not?

Remember that in the 19th Century, programmatic generally referred to instrumental music only, NOT vocal music. Today, we have music videos that take vocal music to a different level of understanding, adding a layer of meaning that we would have not otherwise have had. For this reason, I refer to music videos as "programmatic".
Referring back to the original two songs, do you feel that you could come up with different music videos for each of them that would make these songs mean very different things? Do you feel that the music video might add another weapon to the "army of words and music"?
If the singer/songwriter has come up with a specific music video, do you feel that others should be allowed to create their own videos (using computer software) to post it on YouTube with perhaps a very different meaning? Why or why not?

To wrap up, share any thoughts you have about this discussion and how your reception of music/videos has changed or stayed the same as you have worked through this lengthy assignment!