Music: Connecting histories, reinventing the present
Far beyond showcasing talent, skills and artistry, music, more than anything else, is one of the most powerful forms of self-expression. Music is an experience. It is lived, it is savored and it is remembered. Music is something that can neither be simply read nor explained, it is felt. Music is the language understood by all. It contains deep-seated emotions and feelings—so simple yet so profound. It has the power to influence and it has the power to immortalize. Music is art. Music reflects history. Music represents the future.
Music is life. In as much as music symbolizes life, it cannot be denied that such art form continues to go through a dynamic change. Along with history, music experiences major transformations. It is constantly innovated and modified as new generations of passionate musical artists and performers experiment with new sounds. Every musical genre that appears is an extension of its predecessors—a manifestation of the commanding influence of the previous musical forms. Music’s historical dynamism can be readily observed in many artists today.
While these performers have managed to create their own style and identity, the influences of their musical roots are still very much reflected. Under this context, it can be argued that changes in contemporary music are brought about by the alterations in the social, cultural and political landscape. Likewise, these are also prompted by the introduction of new instruments and other musical equipment. One of the most widely acknowledged performing artists of today is no other than Metallica.
Although previous metal bands have already taken the spotlight long before Metallica has arrived, it cannot be denied that the band’s existence paved the way for the creation of a massive fan base that extremely admires heavy metal music. As Walser (qtd in Frith, Goodwin & Grossberg 158) described, heavy metal, compared to other musical genres, possessed “the most loyal touring support. ” Metallica, to be more specific, plays thrash metal (Walser 14). A critical examination of Metallica’s music clearly shows the strong emphasis on heavy guitar riffs and blast beats.
Speedy guitar playing is accompanied with loud drum rolls and ear-deafening growls that truly exemplify how heavy metal music should sound. The music’s rhythm is highly upbeat. But what separates heavy metal from dance music is its texture and harmony. The combination of intricate guitar notes and ear-splitting drums, readily evoke aggressiveness that showcases power and authority. Power chords (Everett 331) and guitar solos (Frith 353) are also important elements of heavy metal.
Guitar solos present the high importance given to technical skills and virtuosity. Apparently, heavy metal’s inception has readily elevated the techniques and styles employed by Rock & Roll. The two musical genres are highly connected to each other not only for the similarities of their sounds, but also on how these two have successfully utilized the benefits of the electric guitar. Likewise, the value given to speedy guitar playing and guitar solos seem to be an acknowledgement of classical music’s influence.
As Cook explained, heavy metal artists are also known for incorporating some of classical music’s elements into their sound (1324). On the other hand, Bone Thugs N Harmony is yet one of the most respected rap artists in the country. The awaited come back of the group is expected to bring more life into the rap scene (“Bone Thugs N Harmony Reunite”). A closer examination of the group’s music presents the incorporation of modern musical equipment such as synthesizers, for example.
On a closer observation, rappers tend to express their music as if they are merely reciting a poem or reading a story. However, what is impressive in this case is the manner in which the rappers’ voices are successfully blended with musical backgrounds, thus producing a harmonious effect and aesthetically motivated texture. In one of Bone Thugs N Harmony songs, Crossroads, rap music’s rich texture is highly exemplified. One by one, Bone Thugs N Harmony’s members are given the chance to sing their respective lines.
Naturally, each rapper showcases different degrees of voice qualities and overtones. However, in the song’s chorus, different voices are carefully blended together and generated a seemingly unforgettable rhythm and melody. Rap music is also noted for its lyrical themes and contents. Danesi mentioned that rap’s thematic content can be categorized into three groups (145). These are sexually-oriented themes, chronicles of the gangster’s life and politically-motivated topics (Danesi 145). Indeed rap’s musical style and technique embody a historical narrative.
Nowadays, rappers seem to fulfill the role of traditional African storytellers that utilized music to preserve and protect their culture (Keyes 18). In addition to that, Scott and Shade implied that rap is the new form of the “African oral tradition,” a practice that is also manifested in other musical forms such as soul and jazz (268). Lastly, a new group is also worth mentioning in this discussion. This is no other than the 12 Girls Band. Perhaps it is safe to assume that this band epitomizes the communion of modern and traditional music (Wald).
The group plays contemporary music with a twist. This is because traditional Chinese instruments are specifically used. Multi-faceted and sublime would best describe the band’s music. However, for the purposes of this discussion, perhaps it is safe to assume that 12 Girls Band can be categorized under the New Age music genre. The harmonic artistry of this band stems from the perfect combination of the different traditional Chinese instruments that they use. Although they play covers of western songs, the instruments make it sound like a native Chinese composition.
Its musical texture clearly evokes the multicultural influences of both western and eastern music. Evidently, the music produced by the band can be considered as one of the most successful attempts to redefine the musical landscape. It goes back to the Chinese ancient musical tradition and at the same time, acknowledges the modernity and technology of today’s contemporary music. Indeed, as music serves as the strong connection of the present and the past. It relives history and at the same time, it creates the future.
The transformations of the above-mentioned musical genres and its respective musical roots clearly shows that music is indeed one of the most active and dynamic art forms of today. Works Cited “Bone Thugs N Harmony Reunite” 17 June 2008. Contact Music 12 March 2009 <http://www. contactmusic. com/news. nsf/article/bone%20thugs-n- harmony%20reunite_1071671> Cook, Bernard. Europe Since 1945. New York: Garland Publishing Inc, 2001 Danesi, Marcel. Popular Culture. Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group Inc, 2008 Everett, Walter. Expression in Pop-rock Music. New York: Garland Publishing Inc, 2000
Frith, Simon. The Rock Era. London, Routledge, 2004 Keyes, Cheryl. Rap Music and Street Consciousness. Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 2000 Scott, William and William Shade. Upon These Shores. London: Routledge Wald, Elijah “THE ARTS / POP MUSIC – Twelve Girls and a new sound – The ensemble fuses traditional Chinese music with Western popular and classical music. Think an eclectic Gipsy Kings or Riverdance, from China. ” 04 October 2007. LA Times. 12 March 2009 <http://articles. latimes. com/2007/oct/04/news/wk-pop4> Walser, Robert. “Forging Masculinity—Heavy Metal Sounds and ImaSample Essay of Paperial.com