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Seo Taiji Symphony December 14, 2010

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Hello everyone~I know I already presented this in class, but here’s the full version (no subtitles) of “T’ik T’ak” from Seo Taiji Symphony (2008), in which, Seo collaborates with conductor/composer Tolga Kashif & the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (UK) and fuses rock and classical music together.

Oh and I just wanted to make a correction, Seo Taiji’s full length 8th album [Atomos] was actually released in 2009, his single came out in 2008. (I apologize for the confusion hehe)

Nonetheless, please enjoy the epic performance once again, thank you!

The iPod Movement December 12, 2010

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Michael Bull’s article, “Sound Moves: iPod culture and urban experience” talks about how the rise of the iPod movement has had a major affect on the society.  It was interesting to read about the various comments people had made about their interaction with the iPod and how it was impacted their daily lives.  Some of the comments I thought appeared very true.  For example, Zuni makes a comment, “I then started wearing it [the iPod] while shopping. I did it to control my environment and desensitise myself to everything around me. What I found interesting was that the more I wear my iPod the less I want to interact with strangers. I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t make eye contact. I feel almost encased in a bubble…”  Upon reading this I thought, it ‘s almost scary how we just go about ourselves not really paying attention to what’s going on around us.  Yes, it feels good when people listen to their own styles of music; it helps them cope with their daily lives in a way and makes them feel better when they listen to their favorite songs.  But it seems to be limiting the social interaction between other people in a way.  We tend to be more focused and submerged in our music, that we forget where we are to a certain extent.  But I guess on the other hand, it’s a way of relieving stress and trying to “get away” from everything and become immersed in a state of tranquility.  The iPod has become a personal space to some, for example, Matt says, “I do like to listen uninterrupted, and if I’m interrupted I feel slightly invaded…it’s my time and space…” (59).  It’s interesting to read about people’s different opinions on the use of the iPod and how it has changed their lifestyles in some ways.  In all, it seems that the iPod has both its advantages and disadvantages just any everything else.   The iPod has brought up a whole new different generation where now, anyone can go anywhere with their favorite song or artist, it’s how the use of the device is delivered.

Indie Rock December 12, 2010

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In Ryan Hibbett’s article called “What is Indie Rock?” the author describes how indie rock music came about and what draws people to it.  He then goes on to talk about the various approaches many indie rockers take to break into the music industry.  Indie rock is when independent rockers or newbies form a band on their own and start performing.  Whether it be in their basement or garage, the indie rockers exercise the DYI (“Do It Yourself”) method where technically anyone can become a indie rocker as long as they have the necessary skills and equipment to rock out.  It is considered different from what we listen to in mainstream music today.  For example, Hibbett states that, “…while indie rock (independent rock music) marks the awareness of a new aesthetic, it also satisfies among audiences a desire for social differentiation and supplies music providers with a tool for exploiting that desire” (56).  In other words, the author is trying to say that the reason why people get into indie rock is because it is something new, something different from the mainstream music that they listen to.  Though it is “low-fi” and the sound quality might not be as good, indie rock is still popular among many teenagers today and those wanting to perhaps start their own careers in the music industry.  Hibbett goes on, “The very name “indie” denotes a more concerted effort to separate the “good” from the “popular”-not to be just an “alternative to” but “independent of”. Indie rock claims for itself…independent of the economic and political forces, as well as the value systems…” (58).  But on the other hand, “one can begin to see, then, that indie rock exists largely as an absence, nebulous “other”…” (58).  Here, the author illustrates how there isn’t really a definite line between mainstream and indie rock music.   It wants to be independent and different from the mainstream.  But at the same time, people might perceive it differently as it moves further away from the mainstream and not like it as much.  So indie rock can go both ways, in that, it can be new and refreshing at the same time, not as mainstreamed.  Overall, author gives sufficient detail on indie rock music and the music industry.

Millard ch. 15, 17 & Dyre article November 7, 2010

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In the brief section on revolting punk music, by Millard, the author states how disco music basically gave rise to a new perspective on music as a whole.  The birth of disco shifted gears in the taste of music from the general public, which then made the popularities of other genres decline, such as, pop and punk music.  Disco was purely made from the use of synthesizers and other electronic equipments in order to create such distinct, translucive, party/club-like sounds.  Some thought this method was well-crafted in making music, while others thought it was unoriginal, in accordance to the electronic era.  Soon, disco music became more popularized, as the fame in pop/ punk music dropped, which led to the rise of various punk revolting groups.  To name a few were: the Sex Pistols, the Clash, etc.  They revolted against various social/political movements, which gave more freedom to voice in music, in some ways.  Like the Sex Pistols once had said, “We’re not into music. We’re into chaos” (311).  This statement was pretty straightforward in describing what was going on then; and how serious these bands were in portraying their views about various social/political issues.

In chapter 15, Millard talks about the invention of cassette tapes as well as walkman players and how it allowed people to music more freely.  It also allowed people to record their tracks, and led to the rise of boom boxes, etc.  Chapter 17 takes it to another level, with the invention of compact-discs and CD players.  Upon reading this chapter, I didn’t realize how quick such changes were made; that technology was advancing rapidly which impacted society greatly.  The invention of compact-discs in various parts of Europe and Japan made it possible for people to listen to music more efficiently and for longer lengths of duration.  The quality of recorded music and sound was also significantly elevated as well.

Richard Dyre’s article talks about how disco music affected the society in a very consumer-capitalist way.  Disco music was a way of getting people’s attention; advertising viewers to buy various commercial products and goods.  Dyre seems to take a negative spin on how it affects the consumer culture, and that instead of appreciating the music as an art, people may see it as a catalyst for attraction in purchasing goods.  The popularity for disco music had rose so much to the point where it was being used for commercial advertising.  The author also mentions eroticism, in saying how disco music is a way of expression using the body when dancing, romanticism-disco as a form of art and deeper meaning, as well as materialism-going back to the whole idea of disco music as a way of manipulating capitalism.  All of these ideas illustrate how disco music was indeed popular not just for advertising purposes but it was a true art form in itself.

Musical Analysis: ‘Outside Castle’ by H.O.T (revised) November 7, 2010

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It all began after the magnificent reign of ‘Seo Taiji & Boys’ (famous K-pop group in the early 90s) who actually started this particular trend which is known as K-pop today.  Right out of the shell came the birth of H.O.T also known as ‘High-five Of Teenagers’, in 1996, who later became one of the well-known trendsetters of ‘teen idol groups’.  With numerous genres, such as, pop, ballad, dance, rap, rock, etc., the five-member boy group was unstoppable with their endless musical moves.  The group consists of leader/sub vocals/rapper Moon Hee Jun, lead vocals Kangta, main rapper: Jang Woo Hyuk, Tony An (English rapper/ sub vocals), and Lee Jae Won (sub vocals/sub rapper), signed under SM (Lee Soo Man) Entertainment in South Korea.  Not only were these five gentlemen good-looking, they were purely talented as well.  Soon, alongside many others like ‘Seo Taiji’ the ultimate king of K-pop (rock), H.O.T grew immensely popular.  They were loved by many fans across the nation.  But unfortunately in 2001, they had to disband due to contract issues.  Nonetheless, they were able to turn the Korean music industry around.  On a side note, it is said that legendary H.O.T are to unite once again just like old times in 2011 (www.wikipedia.org).

Throughout their career, the group produced a total of five record albums excluding live performances and other discography.  For this musical analysis, I will particularly be focusing on their last full album which was released on October 2, 2000, before their disbandment.  With the start of the new millennium, H.O.T came out with their 5th album titled ‘They are nothing different with us’.  The song that I will be thoroughly analyzing is their promoter song, ‘Outside Castle (The Castle Outsiders)’.  Unlike the group’s previous albums/songs, the song is composed of a mixture of multiple genres: classical (orchestra), pop, ballad/r&b, rap, rock, and opera; all in one song.  The leader of H.O.T Moon Hee Jun personally wrote the lyrics and composed the song himself.  The lyrics/song was created to illustrate the very hearts and emotions of disabled people and how they should be treated rightly in society.  He, along with Jang Woo Hyuk choreographed the dance moves as well.  The entire song is sung in Korean with some rapping done in English.

The song ‘Outside Castle’ starts off with the creeping sound of thunder, then the violin/ cello, and the light sound of rain falling enters.  This somehow represents a foreshadowing, a suspenseful/dramatic feeling as to what is going to happen next.  The thundering strikes again as the violin get louder as well.  Then there is a back and forth swaying between the violin and cello, with the incorporation of the bass in staccato mode in the background.  The violin and cello are still playing in the background but softer and slower this time and then gets louder.  All of this is done with instrumentals only (0:00~1:40 min).  Then we hear leader Moon Hee Jun start singing, “Oh! I wanted to be just like you…”  Moon’s starting vocals come out powerful and strong with a hint of desperation.  Then he sings, “I prayed endlessly”, which has a softer tone.  Next is the chorus, “(Don’t go away)”.  Moon continues, “But it was only a wish of mine”, chorus woos along. But as we enter the next stanza, he voice sounds somewhat faint; hinting a bit of sadness and regret, “Everyone left me”.  Here, Moon appears to be expressing the feelings of a disabled person; that he/she tried so hard to be “normal” but ended up being an outcast (alone) once again because of their appearance.  There is 4-beat percussion sound, violin/cello are in the fore and background, chimes sound. The violin hits a high note, the sound of the snare and hand drum mallet pounding six beats merges in foreground.

At 2:07 Jang Woo Hyuk begins to rap saying, “This world is so hard to live in /Is everyone trying to close their eyes? / I’m looking at this world with darkness, long darkness”, at the same time, sub rapper Lee Jae Won echoes the rapping in whispers in the background.  Jang is saying, in the perspective of a disabled person, that the world is filled with darkness in their eyes.  Then Tony An raps, “For all of this I/In order to survive everything/ Apart from you, in my heart I am struggling”.  Tony is saying how about from normal people, he/she (disabled person) has to fight every day.  Then at 2:20, Lee comes in with emphasis, “Everyday/ Always to me your different perceptions and ratings look at me/ I am living in loneliness in the midst of people who don’t seem to care/ But the reason I live, the reason I can live/ Inside my heart is living hope and love because of love.  The lyrics here, though it is all done in rapping are very strong and meaningful.  For instance, the lyrics states people look at them strangely and they (disabled) are hurt by such sights.  But at the same time, the reason why they can stand up again is because they have love and hope in their hearts.  The violins and cellos, snare/percussion continues, chorus echoes as the violins harmonize.

At 2:34 is the chorus part where Kangta begins to sing with Moon echoing in the background, “We have to show our hearts (we have to show) That there was forgotten love (that there was love) So that I won’t get tired and collapse (you) We will live as one”.  From 3:00~3:14 is the instrumental break as there is emphasis on the drums, violin, mix of electric percussion, along with 6-beat drums and 2-beat drum later coming on louder.  At 3:14, Moon sings, “I I’m in this world with no love/ I’ve lost myself/ I I was I struggling so much?”  He sings this part portraying desolation and betrayal.  During this part, the chorus is singing in unison in the background as the 6-beat repetition is played this time with cellos, which gives it a more distinctive effect.  Along with the other instruments are the violins and the 2-beat snare/drums.  Then from 3:29~3:43 is the rapping segment with Woo Hyuk, Jae Won, and Tony but this time it’s fused with rock music as the electric guitar blares out.  Woo Hyuk screams out in accord, “Everything for you from me”, Jae Won raps softly in the background, “Deflated heart and torn heart and”, Woo Hyuk yells once more, “Everything”, as Jae Won raps in the background, “I believe everything happened because of me”, and again Woo Hyuk yells, “Everything for you from me”.  With this, the two rappers go back and forth taking turns in rapping.  Then Tony raps in English “Keep your game tight, for you right/I don’t you wanna fight back!”   The electric guitar and bass plays continuously in the background along with the drums.

Next (3:43~4:12) is the bridge which Kangta sings, “May the day come for me to live in/So that I won’t be left alone/Because of your love and your belief/So that we can live”.  Kangta’s voice starts off with a soft tone and gradually goes higher.  We only hear the piano playing and the violin in the background.  Then we hear the drums as the classical strings enter once more along with the repetitive 6-beat sound.  Then the chorus is repeated once more (4:12~4:39), “We have to show our hearts (we have to show)/ That there was forgotten love (there was love)/So that I won’t get tired and collapse (you)/We will live as one”.  Tony sings the main vocals this time, as Kangta echoes in the background, along with the rest of the members.  There is another short instrumental break as the opera singing comes in at 4:52~5:06.  There is a brief moment where all the instruments cease, allowing the strings and the high-hat a chance to play.  The opera is a very unique addition to the song as it fits well with the classical instruments; it gives off an epic tone.  Lastly (5:06~5:23), Hee Jun sings the last phrase, “So that we won’t get tired and collapse/We will live as one” with great emphasis at the end once more, beautifully tying up the song, which then precedes the immense sound of the 2-beat drums.

The creation of the song “Outside Castle” was significant during this era because not only did it mix with various genres such as pop, rock, classical, rap, etc., the lyrics was very meaningful as well.  H.O.T stated in an interview, “It is a cross-over of classical and rock genres…”  The song represented a social commentary about inequality against disabled people.  Although it may have been in a different language it spoke out a universal message.  This song illustrated “hope” and “love” among the disabled people that society should not discriminate them just because of their appearance nor should they be outcasts.  But instead, people should learn to truly look inside of their hearts and appreciate; understand all the suffering and hardships that they might have gone through in the past trying to fit in with the norm.  It also comments on how the disabled people should not give up and continue striving forward.  H.O.T once stated in an interview that, “…this song is about how we should throw away our prejudices against disabled people, and live together with love…” (SM Town, Music Life).  In the end, we are all the same despite our backgrounds, that is, human beings.  Overall, the song expressed great hopes, wishes, and unity among the disabled people and “normal” people.  After listening to the song numerous times I realized that the title itself is very symbolic, in that, ‘Outside Castle’ represents the disabled people “outside” of the “castle” which represents society.  As a matter of fact, the entire 5th album had a recurring theme of the status of disabled people in society, as the later tracks also convey similar messages of hope and dreams.  I think that H.O.T took such a grand approach in order to send out a meaningful message to the world.  Moon stated in an interview featured on the ’5th album CD special’ that, he was inspired to write this song after picking up a book he once received as a gift from a fan.  On the first page was a picture of the Japanese author, Ototake, with no arms or legs in a wheelchair smiling happily.  This then made Moon realize that the reason why they are struggling is not due to their physical disability but mainly because of the perceptions and assumptions others make of them.  After reading the book, he decided to write this song to send out an important message (youtube video).   Furthermore, ‘Outside Castle’ was a huge hit as it had won numerous awards, and although H.O.T may have been disbanded and is gone now, they will continue on in the history of the Korean pop music industry.

Outside Castle-H.O.T

Outside Castle-H.O.T (performance)

Works Cited:

“H.O.T.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 22 July 2004. 26 September 2010. < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H.O.T.>

“H.O.T. Official Website” S.M. ENTERTAINMENT. 2001. <http://hot.smtown.com/>

“H.O.T. at 2000.10.16 SBS MusicEnter Recording”. Music Life 2000.11. <http://hot.smtown.com/pages/hot/magazin/200011/mlife_2011_03.html>

“Outside Castle-H.O.T lyrics”. JpopAsia 2010. <http://www.jpopasia.com/lyrics/9662/hot/outside-castle.html>

“H.O.T-5th Album CD Special-interview”. 2000. 17 October 2010. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PMu6NQ-4UPY&NR=1> (no sub)

Research Topic Proposal October 17, 2010

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For the research project, I’m planning on writing about either K-pop or J-rock.  I haven’t quite decided if I’ll be writing about one and doing the presentation on the other.  But my paper will focus on the 90s in particular on K-pop music, the history up till the present day, which includes the various trends and genres of music during this era, and the impact it may have had on society.  To name a few well-known artists of that time would be ‘Cho Yong Pil’ (ballad/trot) ‘Shin Joong Hyun’ (rock), ‘Seo TaiJi’ (K-pop/rock), the rise of idol groups in the 90s into the 2000s, and many more.  The roots of Korean music are very similar and can be closely related to Japanese music, so I think it’ll be an interesting overlap of the two genres, if possible.

On to J-rock, I will be concentrating on the history of J-rock and how it was influenced by Europe and America.  Some trends/styles of music such as visual-kei, grunge, heavy metal, punk, rock , etc.  X-Japan was  a Japanese rock band that emerged in the late 80s who gained a lot of popularity worldwide, followed by other rising bands like L’Arc~en~Ciel , Luna Sea, Dir En Grey, in the 90s, and many others in the 2000s.  I would also be touching upon how game/anime music ties into the J-pop/rock culture.

Millard: Chapter 10 October 17, 2010

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While reading chapter 10 of Andre Millard’s America on Record, I found it very interesting to read about the various technological advancements there were, especially during the depression era.  It was amazing how such a huge breakthrough occurred despite the economic troubles.  I liked how the author described each new technology improvement in depth.  Millard gives several examples, such as, the loudspeakers, high fidelity-meaning better quality sounds through the establishment of loudspeakers, microphones, “advanced disc players”, tape players, the stereo, etc.  It was almost as if there was a big boom of sudden technology in sound.  As a result, this became a major turning point during this time period and was a huge success and improvement in society whether it was social or political.  Also, I thought that the detailed drawings were very helpful in determining the specific parts of the electrical devices used in this time frame.  The various advertisements made were amusing as well; it is funny how the ad in Figure 10.4, advertising Sony stereos was used both as a means for persuasion and entertainment as well; it was very creat