Right in the Feels

Outline the Archive of Feelings: Where does a community deposit their feelings? What kinds of texts are there and how do you find them?

There are many places to archive feelings, it may sound weird because a feeling is not generally something that is recordable.

A big depository of feelings is music. Music has three parts, lyrics written, sang, and performed. Each of the three parts are able to hold large amounts of feelings. Many people like a song because of the “feeling” they get when they listen to it. Sometimes, you can hear the passion of the guitarist as they play a solo or you can hear the trembling in the voice of the singer or maybe the tears in the song of an orchestra music. Part of being a good singer or a good musician is being good at connecting yourself and your emotions to the music and especially the lyrics. Music is recorded and even though it is mostly digital now-a-days, with our phones and iTunes and Spotify, it is still an archive. Music and the technology used to hold it archives feelings, era changes, and technological advancement. (for example, walkmans, cd-players, mp3 players, the first iPod, iPod shuffles, iPhones, etc.).

Another type of feeling archive is the internet. People in online communities use the internet to connect with people who have similar tastes. Websites like Tumblr are very ’emotional’ websites. The Tumblr community is very close knit and many people are able to get mental help there. Users are able to type posts, post pictures, videos, ask other users questions, etc. Tumblr has also been a place of suicidal teens to get help from someone who is not a therapist and for people to share heart wrenching stories and uplifting stories. Though it may sound weird that many people have confided their inner feelings to a community where you cannot physically be with a person, many people feel very connected and are very fond of their followers because they all support each other. On the other hand, Tumblr also holds arguments and discussions about ignorant people, feminists, current events, and people’s reactions to these events. Though Tumblr may sound like a scary place, there are also tons of gifs of cats, spongebob, and tv show quotes to be discovered. Tumblr works as an archive by archiving our mental timeline on a single blog.

Just like Tumblr, Facebook works as an archive as well. Nothing conveys more feeling, besides feelings themselves, than a picture. We have actually talked a lot in class about Facebook so I will not repeat information but essentially, Facebook can be a timeline of photo events, recorded events, and posts. The written word can also hold many many feelings. Social media sites like Tumblr and Facebook are intended for typed posts and pictures – which allows us to be able to record import events that happen. I think it would be interesting to see the Facebook posts of past presidents or posts during wars like world war 1 or 2. If we had internet back then we would be able to archive our feelings and be able to see how the mind progresses over the years and how things have changed and that’s pretty cool!

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Music Production

Listening to musical artist is an excellent pastime for many people across the world. Most people listen primarily to the artists that they like or hear on the radio. Over time, people get an idea for the artists that they like and continue to listen to that same artist, keep up with that artist, and buy every album they release. In most cases, they begin enjoy the sound that this artist has developed over the years. Typically, with each consecutive album release, each album gets better, or more complex. This complexity can be viewed as the artist growing and mastering his or her craft. This is without a doubt a factor in the evolution of all artists during their careers. However, one big reason that the music becomes more complex and involved is the new people and technology that they are introduced to through the technology of music production and producers.

People do not give much though to the amount of producing technology that goes into making this new album what it is, which is mostly done by relatively anonymous producers. In some cases, the original artist has little to do with the overall sound of the album. The record company will generally hire experienced producers and engineers to master and re-master the song ideas. The artist may have originally written the song on an acoustic guitar to plan out what chords, timing, and vocal melody he or she wants the song to incorporate. Then, the artist will sit down with a producer and begin to record. The producer, depending on the artist’s contract with the record company, has the final say in what chords to actually use and what lyrics to sing whether the artist wants this or not. Typically, it’s for the better, because the producer has a better feel for what demographic the particular artist is appealing to. Max Martin is a famed record producer with over 17 #1 hits that he either co-wrote and/or produced. Including: Katy Perry featuring Kanye West, “E.T.” 2011, Maroon 5, “One More Night,” 2012, and Taylor Swift, “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” 2012(1). “He ranks behind only Paul McCartney, with 32, and John Lennon with 26”(1). This is an amazing feat in the field of music writing. That being said, it’s astounding to think that he is still relatively unknown to the average person. These top artists owe a huge debt to Martin for his expertise in writing and mastering their songs. His skill in appealing to the masses and, particularly, to the artist’s target demographic. In an interview, Martin said this, “I think the ‘target market’ and ‘audience’ tends to come with the artist. If I’m doing something with a young pop artist I may not choose to have a brass section in a song, for example. Sometimes you have to think about what the artist already is”(2). Although these producers work behind the scenes, popular music today would not be the same or, arguably, as good without their expertise and the technology they use to master the tracks.

Works Cited

  1. “Ask Billboard: Max Martin Notches Another No. 1.” Billboard. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Mar. 2015. <http://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/chart-beat/6327746/ask-billboard-max-martin-notches-another-no-1&gt;.
  2. “Max Martin Interview – Popjustice.” Popjustice RSS. N.p., 27 Apr. 2009. Web. 27 Mar. 2015. <http://www.popjustice.com/interviewsandfeatures/max-martin-interview/49884/&gt;.

Self-Representation In Music

In the light of Smith and Watson’s article, I would like to analyze the effect of self-representation. I’d like to explore the field of musical artists with added focus on live performances. We all see our favorite bands on twitter, instagram and facebook showing their daily lives. Sometime the focus is showing us how relatable their lives are to us. Sometimes the focus is to show us how amazing their lives are compared to the average lifestyle. We are somehow drawn to musical artists and celebrities and the lives they live. We are compelled to watch interviews of them as they share their point of view and, in some cases, this is completely fabricated. Some artists create a persona that is appealing and compelling to the average person. They create an alter ego that they act out on social media, in public interviews, and on stage during their live performances.

David Bowie said in an interview that he created the persona Ziggy Stardust because of his feeling of inadequacy, and feeling out of his element in the rock industry that he grew up in. (1) He did a lot of writing for other artists at that time and he did it with ease. He knew what kind of sound they were looking for and could help them create it. But when he would attempt to write for himself he found it very difficult to do so. However, he found it very easy to write for the character that he created, Ziggy. Even though he created the character, it was easier to distance himself from it all and write for his fictional character.

David Bowie also put on a very elaborate show for his audience. This show captivated his audience and contributed to his fame and fortune. This is an elaborate example of what takes place today. Lady Gaga has created a very similar persona to appeal to the masses. Her choice of costumes and stage performance has done the same thing for her as it did for Bowie. The persona, as well as the music she has created, has appealed to million of people in both a negative and positive way. I would argue that the outfits that she has chosen to wear have contributed her fame the most.

This “creation of self” is done on a smaller scale in our everyday lives. We have the ability to imagine the lifestyle we want. Then, we can post all of the elements of our life that live up to the expectations. Some people take this to an extreme and create a completely different persona using photoshop on their pictures in order to make them look more important or more attractive. Most of us are guilty of deleting all of our bad pictures and only posting the pictures that make us look our best. We only tell the stories that make us seem most interesting. We focus on the type of person we would like to be perceived as by our family, friends, and both current and potential employers. Online self-representation is a huge part of our society and it will only become more prominent as we become more connected through the internet.

Footnotes:

1. “David Bowie Explains Ziggy Stardust Persona in Animated Interview.”Rolling Stone. N.p., 19 May 2014. Web. 17 Feb. 2015. <http://www.rollingstone.com/music/videos/david-bowie-explains-ziggy-stardust-persona-in-animated-interview-20140519&gt;.

Musical Self-Representation

Technology has branded our society in a new way. Meaning, technology has a way of creeping into our lives and we have to confide in it in one way or another. Whether it’s new technology or old; things that are a commonality constantly surround us. For example, the car used to drive from one place to another, that’s a technology that we now use as nearly a necessity. But, what about non-necessities, such as: music, entertainment, or even breathing for some people? The point is, technology is surrounding everyone, and we have a way of portraying ourselves to fit what we want others to see us as. It’s not necessarily who we are, but who we want to be, to be liked or to be accepted into this society. Throughout this blog, I will explore music as a representation of the digital self.

Different media are ways to build profiles for ourselves. Some use website interfaces, social media archives, and others use music libraries to illustrate who they are. Profiles can be formed through the music one listens to. Look at iTunes, a music library that is designed to suggest music you may like; it gives you similar artists according to what you have purchased in the past. Or even the Genius button, that when pressed it selects all the music in your library that you enjoy and places them into a playlist to listen to; songs that sound similar.

Have you thought about a date? What music would you listen to? Probably something according to the date’s music taste. How often, on a first date, do you play only what you want to listen to, as if it was one of your friends? I would venture to say not very often, especially the first date. But, why is that? We do this because we want to portray ourselves as someone who will be easily liked. By playing music that they enjoy, you are creating a personal profile of who you want them to see you as. You wouldn’t want to play Heavy Metal on a first date, even if it’s your favorite genre. This seems simple, but it could have underlying effects; maybe a second date. The music might not be a direct correlation between having another date, obviously, but it could help the date run smoother, setting the mood.

Creating a musical profile in public is another good example. Imagine driving in the summer, when pulling up to a red light, do you turn down your favorite song in respect of others, or do you turn it up to show off who you are? This might be two-sided, but I know many people who turn up music no matter what, to show off whom they are. It’s kind of a statement in a way. You represent yourself as a promotion of a certain genre of music or certain artist. You can literally hear when a car pumps down the road, with heavy bass blasting through a sound system. That person is representing their musical tastes and preferences. In a music study on people and their representations, the researcher said “intrapersonal functions encompass the uses of music as a vehicle for emotional expression”[1] This means that music can be used as a way of communicating how one wants to be seen and to illustrate their emotions.

In Watson’s Studying the Digital Self, she says “Online sites gather, authorize, and conserve present and past versions of self that document a person’s life, habits, and desires.”[2] In this essay, she analyzes the digital archives that one can characterize one’s self through. These online sites reveal whom one wants to be based on their present and past. Music works the same way; people want to show others who they are based on their musical preference. People can shape their desired self through movements of sound.

In conclusion, musical representations happen all around us, and we have come accustomed to this in our society. Whether it’s a music channel on YouTube, which recommends other music by that record label or just a mix of music you might like, or iTunes, we are constantly building our digital profile. Some make playlists of songs depending on the person they are hanging out with, it might not be music that you particularly care for, but you play it anyways to “win” acceptance of that person. It’s inevitable to build a profile, whether its accurate or someone you want to be seen as. Even music can build a persona.

[1] Boer, Diana, et al. “Young People’s Topography Of Musical Functions: Personal, Social And Cultural Experiences With Music Across Genders And Six Societies.” International Journal Of Psychology 47.5 (2012): 355-369. Academic Search Complete. Web. 16 Feb. 2015.

[2] Watson, Julia. “Studying the Digital Self.” The Chronicle of HIGHER EDUCATION. University of Wisconsin, n.d. Web. 17 Feb. 2015.

Live Music: A Form of Community and Escapism

Jubelnde Konzertbesucher auf Rock-Konzert

Music has been around for ages. It is a form of entertainment that many people use to pass time, to help create a specific emotion, or to reinforce an emotion that they are currently having. These are typical examples of music being used on an individual basis through headphones. Music has many more functions for the individual person. My focus for this blog is not on what affects the music has on an individual, but what it is able to do to a group of people. It is a form of escape from the stress and obligations of our busy lives.

Ann Cvetkovich touched on this concept in her book “The Archive of Feelings” when she mentioned the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival. She said “performed live, the song creates an opportunity for the audience to shout out the words as a group and affirm the many kinds of survival that bring them together”. She said that these live shows “form the archive in which my own feelings are deposited”. In my own experience with live concerts, I have experienced the same thing. Cvetkovich spoke of a collective “trauma” occurring in each of the attendees that brings them together and unifies them. I’d like to clarify through my experience that it does not take a traumatic experience to pull people together and enjoy these live shows. I personally haven’t really had a noteworthy traumatic experience in my life. However, that hasn’t hindered me from having an amazing, communal experience when I go to a concert.

When I go to a concert by a band that I have been listening to nonstop and know all the songs by heart, the feeling of community is indescribable. In most cases, the people around you love the songs as much as you do. They are singing along to every word just as you are. The lyrics don’t have to be speaking about a traumatic experience or anything negative, its about the atmosphere that the music creates. Songs with positive, encouraging lyrics are just as powerful as traumatic, negative ones. The music behind the words has a profound affect on the movement and mood of the audience. Alternatively, dance concerts and festivals have very little words at all in their music and the feeling of community and acceptance is just as strong. An article in the Los Angeles Times talks about the Electric Daisy Carnival or EDC. The Electric Daisy Carnival is a massive festival that plays Electronic Dance Music, or EDM. This music typically has very few lyrics and is focused on the music and the beat. In this article, sociologist Yale Fox said “When everyone is listening to music at the same time, they’re all stimulated in a similar fashion … there’s something magical about everybody moving to the same beat.”(1) So, whether it has words to sing along to or not, the music has a way of bringing people together and putting everyone in a collective mood. Both the sense of community and the escape from stress are factors that will continue to make live music an unbeatable source of entertainment.

Footnotes:

(1) “Electric Daisy Carnival, EDM Thrive on Escapist Atmosphere.” Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, n.d. Web. 05 Feb. 2015. <http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/music/la-et-ms-electric-daisy-carnival-20140621-story.html&gt;.

Image: http://www.frecho.com/files/2014/07/festival-ete.jpg

Audial Memories

Imagine driving on the highway, zoning out from reality as you pass by the lamplights that line the side of the highway. As your mind begins to drift, you may start to tap to the beat that your subconscious hears. You notice your tapping foot when you realize you’re listening to a familiar song that you haven’t heard in years. Maybe you feel excited because it was your favorite song; maybe you reminisce on the times you were with your friends when listening to this song on repeat. This song brought up feelings; whether they are good, bad, sadness, excitement, or nostalgic. You felt something. Was it the song that made you feel this way? Maybe. Perhaps, it was your mind triggering a vague familiarity that gave you some flashback on a memory that is special to you. Throughout this blog, I will explore the ideas of music and how it reflects our feelings.

Music has a way of portraying the way we feel. When we want to get hyped for an exam, feeling like we can conquer the world, we might put on upbeat music. When we feel sad, or maybe calm, we might put on acoustical music. These genres have different effects for different people, but whichever genre you listen to, it sparks something intangible. I know that I listen to specific artists when I want to feel a certain way, and different albums represent different timeslots of my life. For example, when I listen to the artist, Emarosa, I instantly recall all the campfires that my friends and I had in high school, specifically my junior year. One could argue that the medium of music itself is a portal into a different reality; a different thought process; a previous time; a way to think on the good times, and perhaps the bad.

Today, it’s hard to imagine a life without music, and it truly has impacted our lives in a dramatic way. Music has adopted its way into our culture and maybe it’s to help us think on those past memories, so that we don’t forget them. Music is the stimuli for the brain to throw back those thoughts to an exact moment in which we lived. Ann Cvetkovich says, “Cultural artifacts become the archive of something more ephemeral: culture as a ‘way of life’” (9).[1] This “artifact” she speaks of could mean music; and, music is not just a way to think, it’s a way to live.

Cvetkovich illustrates this idea of “trauma,” and the choices and the memories throughout our lives can result from one trauma or another. In this case, music can represent trauma, or be used as an escape from trauma. For example, some people grow up in a rough household and their only escape from the tough times is to zone out through the access of music. Another example is the music itself is an outlet for trauma, meaning sometimes people listen to angry-sounding music to illustrate how they feel; thus, trauma is shown through music. If you think of artists, some artists write about the trauma of their past, which can relate to listeners in the same type of situation. Thus, a community is built around trauma with people who experience the music the same way that you do.

Music is a way to escape from reality by enjoying the melody, but also to create an archive of our feelings that we can access through this outlet of sound. For example, whatever favorite artist you enjoy listening to now, will most likely not be your favorite artist two or three years from now, and if you were to hear the melody of your favorite song from this artist in four years, you will most likely think back to this current year. Scholar Jérôme Daltrozzo said, “The feeling of familiarity evoked by a melody may reactivate emotional or associative concepts carried either by the melody itself or by the memory representations of this melody.”[2] Here, he means that a melody is more than just a sequence of different notes; it has a way of carrying itself into a state of the familiar, a state of memory, a state of meaning. I believe that music is more than just music notes and lyrical sounds: It’s a way to access a library of thoughts, a way to live in the moment and in the past, a way to capture who we are through sounds of enlightenment.

[1] Cvetkovich, Ann. An Archive of Feelings: Trauma, Sexuality, and Lesbian Public Cultures. Durham, NC: Duke UP, 2003. Print.

[2] Daltrozzo, Jérôme, et al. “Temporal Aspects Of The Feeling Of Familiarity For Music And The Emergence Of Conceptual Processing.” Journal Of Cognitive Neuroscience 22.8 (2010): 1754-1769. Academic Search Complete. Web. 4 Feb. 2015.

The Medium is the Music?

McLuhan talks about, among other things, the medium being the key of how the message is transmitted and received by its target audience. With the focus on music as the medium of transmission, desired messages can be shared in unique ways that strike close to the core of who we are as humans. As described by MIT, music is a “pervasive environmental influence” (1).  This is also in accordance with McLuhan’s thoughts on hearing being the one thing that is always present, and most importantly, the thing we tend to ignore most. Is hearing believing? If so, how does music influence our beliefs?

In my opinion, music today is one of the purest connections we have with our ancestors. According to National Geographic, music in the past may have helped to unite groups (2), and today it does the same thing, albeit in a slightly different way. That is to say, it unites us with our past. How often do you hear a song and feel the need to move in response? How can a different beat change your day? Do you feel the music, have it your head all day? I know that I experience this on a daily basis.

Because of this connection the message transmitted through music can speak to us very deeply, whether it be a political message, an emotional one, or one that simply makes us think and alter our perspective. This ability is rare in today’s world, with a media environment that is pervasive and in a constant state of flux, a constant rushing inundation of the newest, the breaking, and the trending. Yet, if we take a 3 minute respite from the flood and engage our hearing and let ourselves feel completely, our entire state of consciousness can change. Have you ever walked into a church and heard the hymns? Or heard chanting of monks? Regardless of one’s level of spirituality (I admit that mine is nonexistent) the sound can make one feel more in touch with one’s essence and direction.

This potential once again reinforces McLuhan’s claim that hearing is the one sense that is always present, and possibly his assertion that hearing is believing. We do tend to take things more seriously when said in song, do we not? There’s a reason that love songs are so popular, and that John Cusack’s character used a boom box to get the girl in the classic movie “Say Anything”. We all know that the right soundtrack can alter our beliefs and emotions, and most of the time it will strengthen them, and make us feel and believe more deeply and profoundly than before.

The medium is the music. The music transmits feeling and belief across generations that disappeared long ago, and will continue to do so in the future. It’s inherent in the way that mothers sing to their babies, and the way that we create rhythm all around us. As stated in one of my favorite movies, August Rush, “The music is all around us. All you have to do is listen”.  The omnipresence of music unites us, and despite our other media cluttering us more and more with each day, there will always be the place inside of us that connects with the past, and our true nature.

1 Minsky, Marvin. “Music, Mind, and Meaning.” Music, Mind, and Meaning. MIT, 1981. Web. 05 Feb. 2015. <https://web.media.mit.edu/~minsky/papers/MusicMindMeaning.html&gt;.

2  Silver, Marc. “Why Did Humans Invent Music?” National Geographic. National Geographic Society, 24 Aug. 2013. Web. 01 Feb. 2015. <http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/08/130824-invention-music-phish-stevie-wonder-blurred-lines-robin-thicke/&gt;.