August 29

Beyoncé Resurrected Dance Music And Its Queer History

Beyoncé Resurrected Dance Music And Its Queer History

If you felt the world history stop turning for a moment in July, it’s because Beyoncé dropped her new album, Renaissance. Rolling Stone has described her as the world’s greatest living entertainer. With a stardom that intersects fashion, dance, multiple genres of music and visual albums.

Renaissance is her seventh solo studio album, and her first in five years. It is being widely acclaim as an immaculate dance record.

Part of Beyoncé’s continued success involves her sampling from a diverse. Range of artists across history to layer and create new meaning. She has done this repeatedly as a way of showcasing African artists, and on Renaissance. She pays special tribute to house and disco music, and especially it’s queer history.

In fact, the entire album is dedicate to her late gay Uncle Johnny. He was my godmother and the first person to expose me to a lot of the music and culture. That serve as inspiration for this album, Beyonce wrote. Thank you to all the pioneers who originate culture, to all of the fallen angels. Whose contributions have gone unrecognized for far too long.

The first single from the album, Break My Soul, features two key samples and songwriting credits. The first is New Orleans artist Big Freedia, previously featured on Beyoncé’s 2016 Formation. The second is from Show Me Love by Robin S., a song that typifies the house genre that grew from the 80s and became mainstream in the 90s.

The use of house music throughout the album, and her sampling of queer artists such as Big Freedia, points to a queer history of disco and house music that was once controversial enough to cause public riots.

The History Day They Killed Disco

On a warm night in July 1979, disco was murder. Referred to as Disco Demolition Night, 50,000 people show up to a baseball park in Chicago to watch a crate of disco records be blown up. In the aftermath, the crowd rushed onto the field. A riot follow in which over 30 people were arrest and many were injure.

Disco had grown in popularity across the 1970s reaching its apex with the release of Saturday Night Fever in 1977. A concentrated rebellion against the genre grew in popularity among rock music fans, who felt the genre was too fix on mechanical sounds that lacked authenticity. Rock fans genuinely feared they would lose out to disco, but it is difficult to separate their fears from racism and homophobia.

John Travolta’s starring role in Saturday Night Fever in 1977 presented a different version of masculinity, concerned with fashion and dancing. Acts such as The Village People did little to ease fears of the death of rock and roll. The gradual rise in gay and queer visibility in New York and San Francisco, particularly in music clubs, were also seen as a threat.

Completely Populate History

Critics have since identified the anti-disco movement as almost completely populated by white men between 18-37. The leader of the movement was radio DJ Steve Dahl and in the weeks leading up to the explosive protest, Dahl and press agencies covering the movement conflated disco with R&B and funk music, and with gay men.

Disco Demolition Night was the climax of a protest years in the making. To a certain extent, it was successful in its desire to kill disco. In the years that followed, disco disappeared off the charts and glam-rock began to take its place.

The artists and audiences who adored disco were force underground, particularly the queer community, and such was the birth of house music.

Don’t Stop The History Beat

As disco declined in popularity, artists were no longer able to afford the lush sounds of a full orchestral backing, forcing a reliance on cheaper, synthetic sounds. Disco clubs moved to literal warehouses, giving house music its name.

House music, like disco, is dance music for clubs. It focuses on mechanical sounds, fixed tempos and repetitive sounds. By the 1990s, thanks to hits like Show Me Love by Robin S., house music became mainstream, and was use by Cher, Madonna, Kylie Minogue and even Aqua’s quintessential 90s pop hit Barbie Girl.

In recent years, disco has seen a steady re-emergence, spearheaded by producers such as Pharrell, who collaborated with Daft Punk for the 2013 hit Lose Yourself to Dance. Dua Lipa’s Future Nostalgia (2020) was a finely craft, album length tribute to disco music.

Features A Pantheon

Beyoncé’s new album also features a pantheon of other queer artists (Ts Madison, Honey Dijon, Syd, Moi Renee, MikeQ and Kevin Aviance). And is deliberately design to be play in dance clubs. In contrast to her other albums, each track blends seamlessly into the next. As if the entire album is an elongate DJ set.

Beyoncé has been particularly open about the release of an acapella and instrumental. Versions of Break My Soul for use by DJs who may remix the work. She has even released a new remix of the single featuring Madonna.

Beyoncé’s Renaissance may secure 2022 as the year disco and house fulfilled their resurrection. Lizzo’s new album, Special, features About Damn Time. A retro-disco dance hit that is currently sitting at the top of America’s Billboard charts.

These female artists follow a trend already set by Cher, Madonna and Kylie Minogue. Who publicly ally themselves with the queer community and deliberate create dance albums for their dedicated audience. In doing so, they have become the biggest pop stars of their time.

August 29

Stoicism Influenced Music From The French Renaissance

Stoicism Influenced Music From The French Renaissance

Have you ever turned to music when struggling with a difficult emotion, like sadness, anxiety or anger? Most people believe that music has some therapeutic power, and that confidence is increasingly back by empirical evidence. However, there remains little consensus on precisely how or why music has an ability. To influence our emotional, physical and mental well-being.

Since ancient times, physicians and philosophers have explored the power of music in human life. Although the writings of Plato and Aristotle are more famous, another ancient school of philosophy, Stoicism. Cultivated an interest in music’s therapeutic potential. Given that the word stoic is mostly use to describe a rigid, emotionless person. Stoic musical practices would seem doomed to the boring or bizarre.

But Stoicism the capital S kind is a school of thought that’s really more. About managing turbulent emotions in everyday life. This casts their connection to music in a different light, and it helps explain how Stoicism positively. Shaped the course of intellectual and music history.

Control What Music You Can

Founded in ancient Athens and peaking in popularity in first century Rome, Stoicism was develop by philosophers like Seneca, Epictetus and the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius to manage destructive emotions such as anxiety, anger and grief through exercises that shift perspective. The question of control forms the core of this method. The Stoics taught that it is only by recognizing and accepting what is beyond a person’s control that a person can exert maximal control over what is within their power.

Importantly, the Stoic approach does not seek to directly suppress bad emotions but focuses instead on reshaping a person’s worldview, so that when they encounter difficulty or trauma, they will be prepare to experience emotions less destructively. This strategy of putting things in perspective may seem familiar, the founders of cognitive behavioral therapy, one of the most popular forms of psychotherapy today, directly borrowed from Stoicism.

In recent years and especially since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic interest in Stoicism has surged, with people from diverse political and economic backgrounds recognizing the efficacy of this ancient system to address afflictions like anxiety and addiction.

In Turbulent Times, Neostoicism Music Emerges

So where does music fit into all of this? As a historical musicologist, I have done extensive research on musical practices inspired by the revival of Stoicism in late-16th and 17th-century France, a movement known as Neostoicism.

Emerging in the wake of the violent French Wars of Religion, Neostoics looked to Stoicism as a remedy for social and political instability. They developed a vocal music repertoire to teach the principles of the system, guiding singers and listeners to rehearse Stoic techniques of emotional regulation through informal musical gatherings in people’s homes.

These songs illustrated Stoic principles through musical text painting, in which specific words, actions or concepts were musically conveyed through sound and, sometimes, visuals in the score. Take an example from 1582 L’eau va viste, a poem by Antoine de Chandieu that was set to music by Paschal de L’Estocart.

Numerous Stoic writings, such as Seneca’s On the Brevity of Life, evoke similar imagery of running water to warn against placing one’s happiness in external comforts and securities, which, like a current, quickly pass.

L’Estocart’s musical arrangement for L’eau va viste picks up on this quality of motion. A snowballing rhythm gains momentum with each new example of quick passing.

The River Of Music Time

Zoom ahead almost four centuries, and the English rock band Pink Floyd composed a strikingly similar musical reflection in their iconic song Time from their 1973 album, Dark Side of the Moon. The album outlines all the major forces and concerns that can drive people insane: aging, death, fear, greed and violence.

Mental health held particular salience for the band. Their founding front man, Syd Barrett, had a mental breakdown only a few years prior. According to Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters, the album is about life with a heartbeat, and the band signals this by opening and closing the album with a slow, simulated heartbeat that sounds somehow both mechanical and profoundly human.

Developing this rhythmic symbolism further, the single Time uses numerous musical strategies to draw attention to the fragility of human life.

Minute Instrumental Introduction

The track opens with a meandering two-and-a-half minute instrumental introduction. Slowly building from a breathy synthesizer drone to the disorienting sound of numerous ticking clocks. Then there’s a cacophony of alarms before listeners. Hear a mechanical bass click that sounds like a metronome or a mechanical heartbeat.

The entrance of the electric guitar and increasingly regular musical phrases. Finally set up the arrival of the vocals in the first verse. Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day or fritter and waste the hours in an off-hand way.

This unusual extended instrumental introduction destabilizes a listener’s expectation of musical time. And demands greater attention to the moment-by-moment sensations of its passing. The lyrics throughout the song reinforce this initial musical warning. That listeners must pay close attention to the flow of time and to make sure it’s used with purpose and meaning. The time is gone. The song is over, the lyrics conclude, Thought I’d something more to say.

An Internal Store Of Power

These two musical examples, composed nearly 400 years apart, model a core element of Stoic therapy. By meditating on the fragility of time. Stoics seek not to instill dread, but to reveal death and transience as natural. Aspects of the human experience that can be faced without anxiety. This calm acceptance offers a release from destructive emotions like fear. And yearning that pull our attention to the future and the past. As Marcus Aurelius recommended, Give yourself a gift the present moment.

Stoicism and its abundant artistic echoes are easily misread as pessimistic. Because of this relentless focus on human mortality and fragility. This negative reading misses Stoicism’s profoundly optimistic and empowering message. Which is that our mental freedom remains in our control, regardless of our external circumstances.

Waters highlighted exactly this point in his defense of the humanism of Dark Side of the Moon. Explaining that Despite the rather depressing ending there is an allowance that all things are possible. That the potential is in our hands.

Music, from this perspective, offers a way to learn about the therapeutic method of the Stoics in a way. That goes beyond the contemplation of philosophical lyrics. These examples and many others in the Stoic tradition that so thoughtfully unite words and sounds. Transform helpful Stoic advice into a therapeutic practice guided through the twists and turns of song.

August 29

Musician Takes Practice And Requires Opportunities

Musician Takes Practice And Requires Opportunities

What makes talented musician so good at what they do? There’s plenty of evidence that people can be born that way. Research findings suggest that about half of musical ability is inherited. Even if that’s true, it doesn’t mean you must have musical talent in your genes to excel on the bass, oboe or drums.

And even if you’re fortunate enough to belong to a family that includes musicians, you would still need to study, practice and get expert guidance to play well.

As a music professor and conductor, I’ve seen the role that practice and experience play in propelling musicians toward mastery and success. There are some factors that help a musician get started and heredity could be one of them. But musical skill is ultimately a complex interplay between lots of practice and high-quality instruction.

The Role Musician Genes Can Play

Of course many great musicians, including some who are world famous, are related to other musical stars. Liza Minnelli, the famed actress, singer and dancer, is one of the late entertainer Judy Garland’s three children. Jon Batiste The Late Show bandleader, pianist and composer who has won Emmy, Oscar and Golden Globe awards has at least 25 musicians in his family. Saxophonist Branford, trumpeter Wynton, trombonist Delfeayo and drummer Jason Marsalis are the sons of pianist Ellis Marsalis.

Singer and pianist Norah Jones is the daughter of Indian sitar player Ravi Shankar, though Jones had little contact with her renowned father while growing up.

Absolute pitch, also known as perfect pitch, is the ability to recognize and name any note you hear anywhere. Researchers have found that it may be hereditary. But do you need it to be a great musician? Not really.

Most People Are Born With Some Musical Ability

I define musical ability as the possession of talent or potential the means to achieve something musical. Then there’s skill, which I define as what you attain by working at it. You need at least some basic musical ability to acquire musical skills. Unless you can hear and discern pitches and rhythms, you can’t reproduce them.

But people may overestimate the role of genetics because, with very rare exceptions, almost everyone can perceive pitches and rhythms. My research regarding children’s musicality suggests measures of singing skills are normally distributed in the population. That is, pitch ability follows a bell curve: Most people are average singers. Not many are way below average or excellent.

My team’s most recent research suggests that this distribution is true for rhythm in addition to pitch. Not surprisingly, some musical skills are correlated. The more training you have on specific musical skills, the better you’ll test on certain others. This is probably because musical experience enhances other musical abilities.

To sum it up, an emerging body of research indicates that practice doesn’t make perfect. But for most people, it helps a lot

Lessons And Practice Are Essential Musician

What about people who say they they can’t keep a beat? It turns out that they almost always can track a steady beat to music. They just haven’t done it enough. Indeed, the last time I gave a nonbeliever our lab’s test for rhythm perception, she performed excellently. For that and for singing, some people just need a little help to move past assumptions they lack talent.

You can’t say you’re incapable of something if you haven’t spent time trying. Some researchers and journalists have promoted the idea it takes 10,000 hours of practice or training to master a new skill.

Innate ability puts people at different starting lines toward musical mastery. But once you’ve started to study an instrument or singing style, skill development depends on many other factors. Getting lessons, practicing often and being in a musical family may make those more likely.

Hip-Hop Superstar And Classically

For example, Lizzo, a hip-hop superstar and classically trained flute player, had the luck to grow up in family of music lovers. They all had their own taste in music. Her success is a microcosm of why a well-rounded musical education for young people matters.

The singers in the choir I lead at Penn State have a range of experience, from a little to a lot. Yet soon after they join it, they develop the ability to pick a good key and starting pitch as they get to know their own voices.

Practicing more doesn’t change your baseline potential, it just changes what you can presently do. That is, if you practice a specific song over and over again, eventually you’re going to get better at it.

Jonathon Heyward, the Baltimore Symphony’s new conductor, who has no musicians in his family, has worked really hard to excel. He started taking cello lessons at age 10 and hasn’t stopped since, playing and practicing and studying.

Privilege Can Play A Musician Role

Socioeconomic factors can also enter the equation. While conducting research, I’ve seen high-income college students from high-income families, with more years of musical experience, perform better than their classmates who have lower-income backgrounds and had fewer opportunities.

Genes can give someone a head start. At the same time, having a quiet space where you can practice on an acoustic instrument or a digital workstation might make a more decisive difference for the musical prospects of most children. The same goes for having money for private lessons or access to free classes.

Even so, many of the best musicians, including jazz greats Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday, grew up facing many hardships. With the right conditions for practice and gaining experience, who knows where the next Liza or Lizzo will come from.