Mnemonics- Using Music to Memorize

It is finals week and you’re loaded with a lot of information to memorize in just a matter of a few short days. You’ve been studying your butt off but you’re just not containing the information. What do you do? Well, one method that you can use to study is to make a song out of the information! Associating music with learning makes memorization easier, quicker, and more efficient.

From the time we are two we learn how to memorize things by singing mnemonics, a device (such as a pattern of letters, ideas, or associations) that assists in remembering something. For example, everybody knows the ABC song! We learn this at a very young age to memorize the ABC’s. According to an online survey at, when memorizing the ABC’s, 67% used the ABC song, 12% with a rhyme, and 7% with no rhyme or song and just with flashcards.

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By putting a simple melody to the ABC’s, we were all able to memorize twenty-six letters in no time! So why can’t we use this technique while memorizing were older?

Another example of this method is one by The Learning Playground on Youtube. The Learning Playground takes the multiplication tables and puts a simple melody to them in order to help kids memorize them. In this video they do multiples of sixes.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Disney even caught on to the idea on teaching through song in an episode of Hannah Montana released in 2007. In the episode, Miley must learn bones of the human body in order to pass her midterm. In order to do this, she figures out that it’s easiest to memorize them if she puts them in place of the words of one of her songs.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Music for memorization is an interesting method of memorization that just about anyone can do. You don’t have to be very creative when creating your own mnemonic, you can use just about any tune (nursery rhymes work best). Or you can use one of your favorite songs. If you just can’t think of how to make a mnemonic song, you can always try looking for one on Youtube. Chances are that somebody has already made one because they are such a helpful tool. In this next example, the Periodic Table of Elements is put to the tune of “We didn’t start the Fire” by Billy Joel. This song can be used for students who are in Chemistry, Physics, or other science classes where they have to memorize the Periodic Table of Elements.

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Students who choose to participate in Greek life will find that they need to memorize all the letters in the Greek alphabet. They may find this next example of a mnemonic helpful.

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Many students have also found Schoolhouse Rock songs to be helpful when studying for AP Government and Political Science classes. Longwood University student Jordan Howell claims that “While preparing for my AP United States History exam last year, I utilized Schoolhouse Rock history songs and it helped a lot. When taking the exam, I found myself singing the songs in my head in order to recall the information.” Howell is one of many students that utilized mnemonics while studying and actually showed results. Here is one song she used in order to learn how a bill becomes a law.

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As you’ll recall in class, we learned about epic traditions of the Nomadic Desert Tribe. This tribe is also an accurate example of people using music to memorize. It’s very important that these stories are passed on because they are from the ninth century migration of the Bedouin tribes. Therefore, the sha’ir (poet-singer), has hundreds of lines from stories to memorize. This is another example of how mnemonics are proven to be successful because these stories have made it so far just by being made into songs and taught from generation to generation.

Research shows that these types mnemonics are successful because they “train the mind to look for patterns in information and they create meaningful associations with information. They also allow you to cross-reference the information in different parts of your memory.”(wiki.answers)

So next time you have an extreme amount of information to memorize; make it easier on yourself by using music mnemonics. You are almost guaranteed to memorize the information you need efficiently and effectively enough in order to pass that tough final exam.




Agelique Kidjo

Lucas Woodhouse                                                       `                                               4/29/13

                                                            Angelique Kidjo

Angelique Kidjo was not born and raised in the United States, but she sure does make her presence felt here. When I chose to write about her I had no idea who she was, and many of you are probably saying the same thing. Kidjo was born in 1960 in Ouidah, Benin which is in the United Nations and is also a part of the African Union. Her musical background can be attributed to her parents who were into music their whole lives. Her father specialized in playing the banjo and her mother was into performing arts and doing stage performances. At the age of twenty Kidjo moved from Benin to Paris because Benin had unfavorable living conditions. Today, she lives in New York with her husband and their one daughter.

Angelique Kidjo’s music is so popular and unique because she has a wide variety of genres that she uses. By doing this, she has gained fame and the respect of people in foreign countries as well as people here in the United States. What enables people all over the world to be able to connect with her is her ability to produce songs in four different languages. She has songs in: French, Fon, English, and Yoruba. She has linked up with different big-name people to do songs and collaborations on multiple occasions. Some of these people are Alicia Keys, John Legend, and Dave Matthews. She may not be as well-known as some of these people, but she has her share of prestigious awards and has been recognized by magazines like the Forbes magazine and Time magazine. Beyond music she has also been recognized as one of the top one hundred most inspiring women in the world. This recognition just goes to show you how special a person she is across the globe.

Kidjo’s music really started to take off when she was in Paris and beginning to head to the United States. She released her first album called Logozo. It more than succeeded reaching number one on the world music charts. Two of the most popular songs she created are, “We We” and “Batonga”. “We We” sounds like an African tribal anthem more than a song, but that is her style. If you listen to the song you will most likely not understand a single word she is saying, but that is how she draws the attention of people in other countries. “Batonga” is also a song she sang in another language. Batonga means the people of the ethnic group Bantu and the people of Zimbabwe and Zambia. This song, just like the first one is very difficult to understand unless you know or speak this language. In this song, Angelique Kidjo is the lead singer and the background music that is playing consists mainly of the Conga drums and regular drums. To go along with her vocals and the drums, there is a guitarist, a piano player, and an opera as the back-up singers.

Kidjo, who is also known as Africa’s “premier diva” is praised and looked up to tremendously in her stomping grounds. This isn’t because of her music. It goes beyond that. She gives back and helps those in need and people love her for that. This all started back in the year 2003 when she participated in the Global Meeting for Sustainable Measles Mortality Reduction and Immunization System Strengthening. This took place in South Africa, and ever since then she has been doing things like performing to raise money for the awareness of Malaria and speaking at conventions across the world, also including the United States. She continues to help people in need today while still impressing people on the microphone. As a reward for all of her hard work, she recently earned herself a spot as one of the top one hundred most inspiring women in the world given by “The Guardian”.


Works Cited

Kidjo, Angelique. “Angelique Kidjo.” Botanga, 31 Dec 2012. Web. 24 Apr 2013.

Kidjo, Angleique. “UNICEF people.” UNICEF, 24 Oct 2012. Web. 29 Apr 2013.

Romer, Megan. “World Music.” guide, 24 Apr 2013. Web. 24 Apr 2013.

The Influence of Bollywood on Consumers

 The Influence of Bollywood on Consumers

 Bollywood films to have ratings according to smoking?

     Do you ever get the desire to do something or buy a product just because you saw it on the big screen? Producing almost 1,500 movies in 2012, India’s film industry is now worth over 2 billion dollars and has an enormous influence over its consumers. This Hindi industry is commercially known as Bollywood, named after a combination of the American film industries Hollywood and the city where it was originally based called Bombay (now renamed Mumbai). These films feature dozens of song/dance combinations, are at least three hours long each, and have shown to pull in 15 million viewers a day on average.[6] Although it seems like good family fun for the people of India, in reality there is a lot of controversy between the government, researchers, and India’s film industry. People believe Bollywood influences consumers through brand placement, smoking on screen, and sexuality.

     Brand placement is referred to as “the practice of displaying or showcasing branded products in popular entertainment”.[1] Previously this kind of thing was unique to Hollywood, but has now gone global. Even brands like Coca-Cola have slipped their products into famous Bollywood films to be observed by millions. According to Chaiti Sen, companies do this visually, verbally, or by actual usage.[1] Bollywood film viewers see the products in movies and consciously, or sometimes subconsciously, remember them and in a lot of cases decide to purchase the product when they run across it in stores. Not only does this method of advertisement work with specific brands but it is how many consumers are influenced into buying certain fashionable clothes, how they believe they should behave socially, or even convince some viewers to pick up smoking.[2]

     Statistics have shown that India has some of the highest cancer rates in the entire world and things don’t seem to be getting better. Research proves that nearly 55,000 young people pick up smoking each day.[6] India’s government, along with many researchers and citizens, believe that Bollywood’s use of cigarettes and the act of smoking in films are largely to blame for these social and health issues. As stated by Monika Arora, co-author of a recent smoking study,  “The popularity of Bollywood films and their outreach to a large Indian population, including children and adolescents, does highlight the need to regulate this exposure, to protect the young and vulnerable minds from being influenced by tobacco use shown onscreen.”[5] In 2005 the Ministry of Health put into effect a smoking ban that would prevent all films and television shows from showing any actors or actresses using tobacco products. This however could not stop film producers from insinuating smoking, incorporating songs that talked about smoking, and basically just bypassing the ban all together.

     Many of India’s public and even some Bollywood actors and actresses openly supported the ban because they knew how much of an effect it could have on their people, but this was not enough to keep the ban active. Younger people spoke out and felt negatively toward the ban, one quoted in an interview saying ”I decided not to smoke because I didn’t want it to affect my health. And yes, I have seen thousands of smoking scenes on television and the movie screens. And yet, I am not smoking because I am responsible enough to make my own decisions.”[3] Some citizens wondered if this could be the first of many more ways the government would try to control its people if they felt they were not responsible enough to make their own decisions. People within the film industry felt that it was a violation of their artistic and democratic rights and the ban on tobacco was subsequently overturned in 2009.

     Not only does there seem to be an impact on India’s health because of the Bollywood industry but research has also shown somewhat of a correlation between their films and crime within the country. Many films are beginning to show women in a more provocative way through their dances and lyrics to songs written for these movies. This has caused quite the uproar with women rights activists like Nirmala Sawant Prabhavalkar, member of the National Commission for Women, who stated “In the context of so many rape incidents, we must ensure that our films do not show vulgarity and demean women. There is a definite thread that links all these songs to the incidents happening around us.”[4]People within the community, the police force, and politicians are blaming much of the current crime rates on changing urban lifestyles and how young people are being influenced by these new Bollywood films into buying certain clothing, going out after dark, and purchasing different products that could lead to poor decisions.

     All types of media around the world influence people every day. Whether it’s to buy a new product, pick up a new habit to look cool, or even get yourself into a little trouble in an attempt to be like someone famous you admire. Bollywood has an enormous amount of followers, more than almost any other film industry in the world, but all media ends up playing a role in how societies everywhere are changing these days. No matter what happens, there will always be controversy over something, Bollywood will continue to produce films and make billions of dollars as they influence their consumers, and the world will keep spinning.

Click here to view the embedded video.

–This Video shows a Ford BRAND PLACEMENT and also shows how important the non smoking campaign is to their culture in these films now.












Religion In Hip-Hop Culture

Religion has always been a part of African American culture in every aspect of life and played an important role. The most important influence that religion had on African American culture was through music. Music in many years has transformed from work songs to gospel hymns to rhythm and blues to finally hip-hop and rap music. Through this transformation the traditional religious use of themes such as God, The Bible, The Cross and Jesus Christ has taken a completely different turn from religious things used to worship, and respect the African American religion to things that can be seen as disrespectful to African American religion through hip-hop music. This has happened through song lyrics, videos, and image in which hip-hop artist have taken on. Religion through music in the African American culture has taken a drastic change that can be seen to many as artistic, and too many as to disrespectful.


In early times music in African American culture was defined from their origins in Africa. Due to slavery, many slaves lost their freedom from using their African belief systems, and were denied religious practice. Slaves however were able to use some of their practices by secretly meeting, and integrating Christian worship. By integrating Christian themes into their already established African culture they were able to have a religion with a mixture of ideas, and customs.  These customs included singing and shouting, dancing, and African rhythms which is still prevalent today in the African American church. Music added to this change also slaves took traditional African songs, and added to that Christian hymns. In the song Amazing Grace tradition African elements such as singing and shouting along with antiphony with the newly integrated Christian themes. Through the years African elements, and Christian elements were able to blend and create African American church music for years to come. It was stated in the article Gospel black history by King-Cohen “Gospel music comes out of the moans, the cries, the yearnings of enslaved African people to be free,” says Butts. American

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There continued to be this great presence of religion in African American culture until the blues, and hip-hop music came along in which the misuse of religious themes began. It was stated by John Lovell, Jr. that “the poorest, blackest, most alienated African-Americans stayed away from Christianity both during and after slavery”. Blues music showed the public the use of sexual innuendos, and the use of religion in untraditional ways. Through this time in African American culture many songs were made which went against tradition.


The next most notable change in the way religion was portrayed and viewed through music is hip-hop music. Hip-hop music used music lyrics, videos, and certain images to portray religion in different ways then they had been. Hip-hop artists used religion in many ways by naming their albums with religious themes, and in their lyrics. Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five a hip-hop group from the 80s had a song called “The Message” which they used lyrics that incorporated religion using thought provoking words. The lyrics are stated below:

God is smilin’ on you but he’s frownin’ too/

Because only God knows what you’re going through

In the early 2000s artist Kanye West made a song called “Jesus Walks” in which he gives he take on the relationship Jesus has with individuals whom are seen to be far from the religious calling. In the video the location for the song is in a church with Kanye acting as the pastor. The song also includes a gospel choir which sings throughout the song.

Click here to view the embedded video.


Kanye West also did a cover for Rolling Stone Magazine in which posed as Jesus Christ, when he was crucified the title of this article was named the “Passion of Kanye West”. Kanye got a lot of grief for this cover from religious people because he portrayed himself as Jesus Christ they saw this as individuals.

Kanye West Rolling Stone Cover


The latest form of an artist using religious themes in hip-hop music comes from Meek Millz a rap artist from Philadelphia. Meek Millz wrote a song called “Amen” in which he thanks God for affording him with certain things in his life such as pretty girls and money. Millz also caught a lot of heat for this song, and the album cover which two strippers are hanging from a cross. A pastor from Philadelphia came out with a PSA wanting everyone to boycott this song and not listen to it. Through these examples on can see that although African American religious themes have taken an extreme change from what they used to be in the days of Amazing Grace. Hip-hop artist use religion to show the struggles, and to empower individuals while some artist use religion in a disrespectful tone.

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Songs of Zion: Eschaton and Blues in African-American Faith Telford Work, Westmont College



P2P File Sharing and Music


All of the people of the world listen and exchange music in different ways. It has almost entirely been by oral tradition that lets music shift down generations and gets heard by the people. But music in our generation isn’t all performed live, it is recorded and sold. This has created a very new way of listening to music. People can now listen to music in solitary and it can be a one person activity, where as in most other earlier cultures it has been a group activity. We talked in class about the Native American cultures and how all music was participatory activities that each has a purpose. With the progression of the Internet we have been able to download and stream music digitally. This has opened up new doors for people to take a musicians copyrighted material and distribute it freely. Through this blog I will explain what file sharing is and how it is affecting the music industry. I will close this blog with what the current situation is with file sharing and if there is a possible end to it.

The type of file sharing that is dangerous to the music industry is peer-to-peer file sharing (P2P). P2P file sharing, simply put, is downloading a file straight from another client computer, through a file sharing application. Several of these applications are,, and Below is a screenshot from my computer google search results of “music file sharing applications.” The red circle to the right of the link is the trustworthiness of the site, and red means bad, you could very well get a virus from these sites.


The law that is being broken is under Title 17 of the United States Code and is administered by the U.S copyright office. These sites all break this law, and you break it to if you use their service. Apart from being illegal implications involved there are many risks to P2P file sharing. When you download these file sharing programs, you are allowing untrusted applications to have access to your PC. This makes your computer extremely vulnerable. Plus you are downloading content straight from another client computer, and this could result in your computer contracting a virus, a worm, or trojan horse, which takes over your PC and creates a back door for someone else to get in.

P2P file sharing has greatly affected the music industry. In 1998 the emergence of file sharing sites first showed up, offering free music to download. These sites are shut down whenever possible due to the copyright infringements. The association that tries to shut these sites down is the RIAA (recording industry association of america). The biggest of these P2P sites was Napster. Napster debuted in 1999, and since then the RIAA reported that music sales dropped by 47% in the U.S. This has cost the music industry over 12.5 billion dollars in sales. If this continues and these sites are not stopped, then the numbers will only get larger. This means less jobs for those in the music industry and it could result in fewer releases by artists that you may care about.

Many people think that it won’t matter to download a couple songs for free. What could it hurt? People may think about the artists and groups, thinking that they are already living the life of luxury, so whats the big deal. The truth is that the rich musicians are not the only people affected. The people that you may not think about that make the artists able to be so successful, suffer as well. The jobs that are lost total around 71 thousand, and they include artists, engineers, songwriters, producers, technicians, and marketing support. Illegal music downloading is an epidemic and needs to be stopped. Companies are trying to stop this and it is actually working.

To the amazement of many, illegal music downloading is dropping. This is due to the surprisingly large amount of companies that allow an individual to listen to music for free. Some of these legal options include Pandora, Spotify, and These services provide online streaming of thousands of songs. The websites are free to use and they are are supported by having commercials every once in a while. These services provide options to customize your listening experience, and this makes people happier and possibly stops people from turning to P2P file sharing sites. Napster, who was battling court cases due to their copyright infringements, have now joined the legal music service Rhapsody. Another great free legal alternative to file sharing is YouTube. Artists often upload songs to YouTube for free listening capabilities. Even purchasing music online is often fairly cheap compared to in-store buying, and some sites have specials offering free or greatly reduced prices.

P2P file sharing is a matter that relates closely to me. My brother is a recording engineer and has a degree in it. He has found it very challenging to pursue a job in this field. Some of this is due to the job closings because of illegal music downloading.




Enculturation in Ghana

In America, it is out of the ordinary for a group of people to break out into song.  We would assume that a surprise performance is taking place or even a once in a life time flash mob was being performed.  Out of the ordinary performances such as a flash mob is exciting to us because we are not used to musical performances being publicly implemented as a part of our everyday lives.  We discussed in the beginning of the year how our culture typically defines music.  We usually believe that music should be written down.  We believe that music should not only be created by professionals, but we also believe that music should be performed by professionals.  We believe that all music should consist of a melody, a harmony, and a rhythm as well.  Any music that does not fall under those characteristics seems unique and almost foreign to us.  However, in other cultures, music is defined by different characteristics.  In Ghana, music is used not only as entertainment, but music is also used as an essential part of everyday life.  Ghanaian music is shared and learned from the time of birth to the time of death.

I came across an article that suggests that being constantly exposed to music throughout one’s childhood development enables one to have the ability to “tap and dance to music, detect wrong notes, remember and reproduce familiar tunes and rhythms, and feel emotions expressed in music” without any formal lessons or training.  It is all about experience.  If a child is rocked in their mother’s arms to a certain rhythm, that child will most likely be able to remember and reproduce that rhythm later in their life.  Seeing that Ghanaian belief encourages music to be an essential element in their everyday lives, this process, called enculturation, is the main reason that music comes so easily to the Ghanaian people; it has been both intentionally and unintentionally taught to them through their environment and through their culture.  It is through enculturation that music is learned.

Click here to view the embedded video.

When we listen to the post office work song from Ghana, we can see that the music comes effortlessly to the worker.  In the background of this clip, at about 0:44, we can hear another individual joining in with ease.  One of the reasons that the music flows so smooth and freely from the worker and his peers could be a result of  constant exposure to music since childhood.  Even as babies, Ghanaian children are exposed to music.  Enculturation gradually allows children to learn the musical ways of their culture through exposure and experience.

Click here to view the embedded video.

This is another example of a Ghanaian work song.  In a previous blog post that I created, I discussed Ghanaian work songs and how work songs are generally used to set the pace of the work being done.  While I believe that the same principle applies to the video clip above, I would like to point out the improvisation used.  These women are setting the pace and rhythm of work with their tools.  However, the antiphony and improvisation that is performed flows so naturally from these women that it could be suggested that  they have been exposed to similar songs and similar rhythms before.  Because of their previous exposure to comparable musical qualities, these women are naturally able to improvise the antiphonic lyrics and elements used in this song.

Work songs are used in Ghana not only to set the pace of the work being done, but they are also used as a tradition.  In Ghana, music is a way of life.  The Ghanaian people have been exposed to music and taught how to create music since they were children being rocked in their mother’s arms.  Because music has been passed down from generation to generation and is exposed to children at a young age, the work song tradition of the Ghanaian people that has been around for centuries will continue to be passed down for many generations to come.




The Effect of Music on Physical Performance

The idea of being able to boost your performance, whether it is during a simple work out or a game scenario, has intrigued athletes for quite some time now. Athletes all over the world are looking for a competitive edge in order to defeat their opponent or to just improve their own performance. Music is one of the ways that athletes can improve their physical performance. However, some resort to other methods of improving themselves. For example, Lance Armstrong was recently found using performance enhancing drugs that cost him his accomplishments and his reputation. He did it so he could be the best in the world but he took a large risk and lost. People that lift weights sometimes use the help of supplements like pre or post workouts to increase their workout. There are of course many ways to improve athletic performance such as using drugs and supplements. People might not first think of music as one of the top ways to enhance your physical performance but it is one of the effective and safe ways to improve your performance. Some have found that the utilization of pre-game or pre-workout “pump up” music gives a psychological edge when it comes to game time. Psychologically the placebo effect could explain this, however I disagree because music does give you the edge you need to defeat the competition. I will bring to the table, through personal experimentation, undeniable proof of music’s profound effect on the human psyche.

I decided to dedicate two weeks to each work out session, one with and one without the help of auditory stimulation. I would then record these results in my work out journal and compare and the end of each cycle. In order to retain the accuracy of my results, I would avoid the use of pre-workout supplements and post work out supplements. I will also perform the same exercises for the same amount of duration and same amount of intensity for each week. During my first week of exercise I did not listen to music while listening to music and I felt as though something is missing because I am used to having music while working out. Once I got to my second week I used music and I noticed a significant difference in my exercise intensity.

I came to the conclusion that music affects the intensity of the performance because it influences people to increase the intensity of the exercise. The tempo of the music seems to be the main factor of why most people are able to stay at such a high intensity. If the tempo is fast then you are most likely going to perform the exercise or your goals faster than if it was relaxing and slow. Normally hip-hop, rap, or hard rock music would motivate most athletes because it is harsher and it normally has a high tempo.

An example is the song “Stronger” by Kanye West is a fast tempo song that causes you to have a physiological arousal, which causes the “pump up” effect. You then feel more awake and motivated along with feeling more capable of achieving a higher level of performance. At the very start of the song (0:01) you can tell that it is going to be a fast tempo song that increases your alertness and helps hide your fatigue.

I feel that it would seem very difficult to perform a high intensity workout while listening to soft, slow, relaxing music. Listening to “The Lime Tree” by Trevor Hall would decrease my performance because it is a soft song with a slow tempo. Right from the start of the song (0:01) you can tell it will be more soothing and not fit for workout music.

Tempo isn’t the only thing that can affect athletes and how they perform. Volume of the music can also change the intensity of the workout. If you replay the previous two examples, “Stronger” and “The Lime Tree”, you will notice that when the volume is increased then the intensity is normally increased because the increase in volume causes the listener to ignore their body becoming fatigued and they also have a higher chance of becoming more motivated.

Music plays a large role in people’s lives and it can help people perform many physical activities more effectively. Music allows us to motivate ourselves to push further and harder. It has the ability to keep us awake or focused but it also has the ability to put us asleep. It can excite us or relax us depending on the type of music that is being played. Music can aid us in many aspects of daily activities and it is a necessity to athletes and myself so that we can perform to our best ability.

Works Cited:

Ashare, Heather. “How Does Music Affect Exercise?” LIVESTRONG.COM. Livestrong, 29 Apr. 2012. Web. 29 Apr. 2013.

Harmon, Nicole M. “The Beat Goes On: The Effects of Music on Exercise.” IDEA: Health and Fitness Association, Sept. 2007. Web. 29 Apr. 2013.

What can YOU hear in movies?

There have been different forms of visual entertainment all throughout history. Whether it is a play, a fight, or musical performance, people will always find a way to enjoy themselves. For over one hundred years, motion pictures have captured the eyes and hearts of many people. Even today people enjoy going to the movie theater to laugh, cry, or get excited; movies are great at inducing these feeling. Although the actors and the plot are partially responsible for bringing out certain emotions, the composers, chosen for movies, use different techniques in order in to convey a certain emotion or feeling during a scene or for the entire movie itself.

There is no doubt that the music in motion pictures has progressed overtime. Music in motion pictures can consist of background music, or music that helps to further the plot or that the characters acknowledge is playing.  Music has always been a part of motion pictures and other visual entertainment, such as theatre.  Even during ancient Greek theatric shows, music was sometimes played during the delivery of the chorus’s lines during plays. In early movie theaters, movies were silent, but had some form of voice over or sound effects, or movies were sometimes accompanied by music (Hickman).  Most of this background music was played by a mechanical device such as a phonograph (Hickman). Nowadays, we can easily sync music with a certain scene (Buhler, Neumeyer and Deemer).

For certain genres of movies composer will use certain instrumentation, work with dynamics, and create a certain timbre in order to define a certain mood for the scene or the movie. Here is an example of music from psychological horror film from the 1980 called “The Shining”.  In “The Shining” “A family heads to an isolated hotel for the winter where an evil and spiritual presence influences the father into violence, while his psychic son sees horrific forebodings from the past and of the future.”(IMDb) The main composer for this movie is a woman named Wendy Carlos who has also done some music for “Tron” and “A Clockwork Orange”.

I personally have never seen this movie, but after listening to this music, which is played in opening, I have an eerie emotion and I feel like I know what the tone of this movie would be. Although this melody seems to have quite simple pitches, the effects that it can have on a person are incredible. At 1:31 the synthesizer becomes silent and there is a hushed sound of something that sounds like strings being popped. This effect helps to give off a creepy- crawly vibe. The form of the song is also quite repetitive. They play a couple of drawn out notes , and then pull the synthesizer back and include a creepy sound. With the form being so repetitive I could not help but to think of the Javanese Gamelan as followed.

In this clip of Javanese Gamelan music you can hear their use of dull sounds and their use of their instrumentation of gongs and metal slabs. A common characteristic of Javanese Gamelan music is its cyclic repetition of phrases. Because of the “use of two scales… that differ from the Western scale” (221), this song sounds foreign and odd to us. With these unusual sounds combined together, this music shares a similar surreal vibe to the opening theme of “The Shining”.

The music in movies is used to support the story being told. Composers not only add special effects to certain music for certain genres of movies, but the music in movies is also used to mirror different scenes in the plot.  In the movie “The Incredibles”, “A family of undercover superheroes, while trying to live the quiet suburban life, is forced into action to save the world.” (IMDb). The score for “The Incredibles” was composed by Michael Giacchino, who was also responsible for the light hearted music in Disney Pixar’s “Up” and “Ratatouille”, but he was also responsible for some of the music in the thriller packed shows “Lost” and “Fringe”. The following scene displays the main character as a superhero before he settled down and had a family. The following song and scene are both entitled “The Glory Days” and the dialogue has been muted.

Throughout the pursuit of the bad guys, you have the horns playing this spy-like music. At :18 seconds they switch over to the main character, but now we have a flute playing (the same melody) instead—which contrast a calmer atmosphere to the chase that’s occurring. It isn’t until at :27 seconds that the horns pick back up because the main character has now become a part of the chase. Which gives off the emotion of excitement and adventure. Once the main character stops the bad guy at 1:32, there is a sudden sound of low horns that fade off in his triumph. When he gets back in his car at 1:48 and finds a quirky little boy (who claims to be “his number one fan”) sitting in the passenger seat, xylophone bells begin to play. This alert music sound urgent, yet playful. As this young boy continues to talk to the main character, you notice a lower sounding flute and a higher sounding flute alternating like they are having a conversation, similar to the one that is taking place.

Similar to characteristics of Indian music (especially Bollywood Film music), this score and like many other pieces for scenes tell a story through the emotion of the music. In Bollywood music, they usually tell the story of finding love not only with words but through timbre, different instruments, and even the rhythm and pitches. The following song entitled “Sona Nahi Na Sahi” is a Bollywood Film song where a lady and man are singing an antiphonic texture because their voices are interacting and they are going back and forth in their verses.

One can usually rely on a movie if they want some form of entertainment. There is no doubt that the lighting, the actors, and the dialogue all play a key role in making a movie and making its audience feel some type of emotion. People sometimes look past the music within the movie and fail to appreciate what it’s capable of.

Work Cited

“Ancient Greek Theatre.” Greek Theatre. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Apr. 2013.

Buhler, James, David Neumeyer and Rob Deemer. Hearing the Movies: Music and Sound in Film History. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010. Print.

“Filmo/Discography: Michael Giacchino.” Filmo/Discography: Michael Giacchino – SoundtrackCollector, n.d. Web. 29 Apr. 2013.

Glory Days – The Incredibles OST Scene. By Michael Giacchino. YouTube. YouTube, 05 Oct. 2012. Web. 26 Apr. 2013. <>.

Hickman, Roger. Reel Music: Exploring 100 years of Film History. New York: W. W Norton & Company Inc, 2006. Print.

“The Incredibles.” IMDb., n.d. Web. 26 Apr. 2013.

Javanese Gamelan: Mijil Wigaringtyas. Perf. Marsudi Raras. YouTube. YouTube, 27 May 2006. Web. 26 Apr. 2013.

The Shining 1980 Theme. By Wendy Carlos. YouTube. YouTube, 14 May 2009. Web. 26 Apr. 2013.

“The Shining.” IMDb., n.d. Web. 29 Apr. 2013.

“Shining, The (1980).” Shining, The- Soundtrack Details. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Apr. 2013.

Sona Nahi Na Sahi. By A.R Rahman. Perf. Udit Narayan and Alka Yagnik. YouTube. YouTube, 21 Dec. 2011. Web. 26 Apr. 2013. 

Sutton, R. Anderson. “Asia/Music of Indonesia.” Titon, Jeff Todd. Worlds of Music: An Introduction to the Music of the World’s Peoples. Belmont: Schirmer Cengage Learning, 2009. 221. Print.

Hick Hop

Imagine it. You’ve got your windows down in summer rush hour traffic, listening to some good old country music to soothe your mind after the long day at work. You’ve become accustomed to the smooth sound of the mandolin and find yourself singing along to one or two songs on the local country station. Eventually, through the summer you become fond of a select few songs and jam out to them each time they come on, and even surf the radio for them. You think you hear the beginning of one of your favorite songs and get into your relaxed state. You notice something different at first, and then something is completely off. Soon you recognize the auto-tuned voice of a hip-hop artist and different verses. You’re not sure whether to be intrigued or disgruntled, but you keep listening out of sheer curiosity.

Country music elements more often than not include narration, use of a banjo or mandolin, Christian beliefs, and songs about love. Over time it has evolved to include instruments like the electric guitar, bass, and drums. Country music has come out of its diapers and is ready to mingle with other music. Another interesting subculture is called Hick Hop. This is the blend of rap and hip-hop music with traditional country. Some might turn their noses up at it, but it has proved to be popular with a select crowd. This evolution stretched its legs in 2004 with hit songs like “Save a horse, Ride a Cowboy” by Big & Rich and “Over & Over” by Tim McGraw and Nelly. Over and over made quite an impression on fans of Tim McGraw. The song is very laid back and primarily features Nelly singing with Tim McGraw featured in some antiphonic vocal composition. This collaboration was successful on the radios for a while but eventually stopped being played more than occasionally.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Many people view the coming of rap into country music marked by Jason Aldean’s song Dirt Road Anthem. This song was incredibly popular soon after its release date in 2011. This could be attributed to the popularity of the artist but the fresh new sound was what drew many more in. The song is comprised of two chorus stanzas followed by 4 stanzas of verse, 2 chorus stanzas, 3 stanzas of verse, and ends with the chorus 2x. This song is a reminiscent narrative talking about many stereotypical country things. The man in the story was raised in a small town where he was brought up by the entire town to have similar values as his peers. This theme of a small town beginning is very common in country music and many artists have utilized their roots as a source of substance.

Click here to view the embedded video.

The daring couple Big and Rich have made it onto the top Hick Hop songs of the year with their song Rollin’ (The Ballad of Big and Rich). The lyrics try very hard to make the listener think that they are in a new genre of music. They even throw in some Spanish. The song begins with a shout out to the audience resembling that of a preacher calling to his flock. He begins with “Brothers and Sisters” which could be a reference to the fact that most country music listeners are Christian. Both men follow that up with a narrative explaining how the group was told that they never stood a chance of getting on the radio. Their music was too rock and roll for country music but that they know that there are people like them out there. Then Cowboy Troy comes in with the next verse trying to rhyme and rap singing: “Slicker than the grease from a BBQ Brisket, Got more chunk than a fresh potato salad. You thought you had your answer, but your answer was invalid. You’re looking at me crazy cause you think I’m loco, the big black cowboy, with the crazy vocal.” The references to brisket and potato salad are very southern ways of introducing oneself, however the short lines of the song most resemble a rap song. There is also some antiphony in the chorus when the band calls to the crowd and they call back.

Click here to view the embedded video.

The most recent song that has created this fusion is the remix of the popular country song Cruise by the Florida Georgia Line. Nelly has sunk his teeth once more into the country genre to create a new song entirely. This remix is basically the same song, but there are simple additions. Nelly’s auto-tuned “uhn” and “yeah” in the background add a completely different feel to this song. There is an added verse and chorus completely in Nelly’s voice. The fusion of auto-tuning and country singers produces more of a crowd than one might expect, as the song is #15 on iTunes top songs. The original song is #32 on the same list.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Many musical cultures have experienced this shift in music to embrace novel effects. African people fused their music with Americans and it has become one of the most successful industries in America. This blend is now happening between hip-hop and country music. Who knows how successful it might be?



New Orleans: Birthplace of Jazz Music

It is difficult to think about New Orleans without associating it with music.  Music has shown to be an influential tool throughout history. It has the ability to bring people together regardless of their race, color, or background.  New Orleans is considered to be the birthplace of jazz. The residents of New Orleans hold jazz music near and dear to their heart and the history and the mixture of different cultures that lies within the community proves why New Orleans can be entitled the home of jazz music.

Jazz is a renowned genre developed on American soil.  New Orleans contributed a great deal of talent to the birth of jazz at the beginning of the 20th century, which has influenced and helped develop musical genres all around the United States. Located in the Deep South, the history of New Orleans is a diverse and eventful one.  France and Spain switched off the control of the city until it was sold to the United States in the 1803.  It was flooded with different ethnicities. New Orleans was referred to as a melting pot, or “cultural gumbo” due to its French, Spanish, African, and Caribbean influences.  From this melting pot of people came an eclectic mix of music.

The story of jazz music can be rooted to slavery in America.  Slave owners did not allow slaves to sing and express their emotions while doing labor because of the fear of rebellion.  However, the New Orleans City Council approved a place in which slaves could sing and dance freely under the supervision of whites, and this place is called Congo Square.  This reminds me of the African American work songs heard in class.  They used improvisation as well which allowed for creative expression. This was the first glimpse of the arts in the making.

A few key musicians and particular places in New Orleans helped pave the way for the emergence of jazz and are claimed to be the founding sources of New Orleans jazz. Artist like Buddy Bolden, The Original Dixieland Jazz Band, Jelly Roll Morton, and Louis Armstrong are know to be the most iconic of their time.

Storyville is the part of New Orleans that shook them into the direction of jazz.  The area similar to the Red Light District in Amsterdam, anything was acceptable. Storyville was comprised of brothels, brass bands, and “sexy” music on almost ever corner.


Click here to view the embedded video.

This video shows how an important element of jazz was sex appeal.  They explain that there was not another place like it in United States.

An iconic figure of the jazz era was Buddy Bolden. He is referred to as “King Bolden” or the “elusive father of jazz”.  Bolden is credited with creating a looser, more spontaneous version of ragtime and added a hint of blues to it. The use of blue notes is a common African- American musical trait. Bolden was a part of a string band, that was outspoken, and sang racially and politically based lyrics, so much so that those who were catch singing his songs could be arrested. Some of the songs first associated with his band are “Careless Love”, “My Bucket’s Got a Hole in It” and “Home! Sweet Home!”.

The Original Dixieland Jazz Band (ODJB), originating in New Orleans, also brought attention to the jazz scene. This band was the first musical group to ever produce a jazz record publicly. In 1917, their first record came out creating a boom in the jazz community. In addition, this band was an all-white band, furthermore proving that the “cultural gumbo” in New Orleans did not discriminate against races and skin tones.  It was all about the music.

Click here to view the embedded video.

This is a musical example of the ODJB. The song has a joyful timbre with a fast upbeat tempo. Hearing the variation in dynamics, one can understand why jazz music was something people loved to watch and dance to. The instrumentation of Dixieland bands usually included a brass band featuring trumpets, trombones, tubas, and clarinets. Also there was a rhythm section that included string instruments, pianos, and drums.  The great Louis Armstrong was quoted saying this about ODJB, “The first great jazz orchestra was formed in New Orleans by a cornet player named Dominick James LaRocca. They were the hottest five pieces that had ever been known before. They all came to be famous players and the Dixieland Band has gone down now in musical history.”

         Jazz wasn’t created in a day; it was made over a period of time.  It also wasn’t just one person or race that was accountable for creating it. It was the mixing of the musical talent and emotions of many cultures in New Orleans.  I came across a quote that tells one how important jazz was to the residents of New Orleans. “New Orleans is the only place I know of where you ask a little kid what he wants to be and instead of saying “I want to be a policeman,” or “I want to be a fireman,” he says, I want to be a musician”(Jaffe, Alan).  Jazz music was the ultimate blending of different cultures musical and artistic elements that are the main factors as to why the birth of jazz can be claimed to New Orleans.

Works Cited

“Birthplace of Jazz.” Birthplace of Jazz. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Apr. 2013.

“Buddy Bolden.” Buddy Bolden. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Apr. 2013.

Dale, Rodney. The World Of Jazz. Edison, NJ: Chartwell Books 1996

“Original Dixieland Jazz Band ODJB Best Trad Band from New Orleans.” Original Dixieland Jazz Band ODJB Best Trad Band from New Orleans. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Apr. 2013.