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Music Presentation

Sylva Emilyan, Fall 2008

What is music?

Music is organized sound created by human voices

or instruments.

Some historians believe that music started with

the desire to imitate sounds in nature.

Music produces a kind of pleasure which human

nature cannot do without - Confucius

Music Seminar: Fall 2008

Silva Emilyan,
DIS 180 Information Ecology

Music is love in search of a voice - Leo Tolstoy

Without music, life would be a mistake

- Friedrich Nietzsche

Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and

philosophy. Music is the electrical soil in which the spirit
lives, thinks and invents." - Ludwig van Beethoven

Without music to decorate it, time is just a bunch of

boring production deadlines or dates by which bills must
be paid - Frank Zappa

What makes a
music genre popular?

In one


Most of us listen to
sounds made popular in
our commercial
culture: TV, movie
tracks, concerts, clubs,


The more that we hear the same sound, the more it

becomes familiar to the ear.

The more familiar we become to hearing particular

types of sounds the more we can decide what type
of music sounds good.

By using the same elements to create a similar

sound, the audience identifies particular sounds and
groups them into categories of style.

Similar styles of music can be contained under a

larger category called a genre


During the middle ages and the time of the

Renaissance era, the church had much greater
control of what the people could experience
culturally and the type of music and sounds that
could be played. During this time, what was
popular was greatly restricted by the church.

As the church began to lose some of its dominance

in the mainstream culture, people had more
freedom to choose and create music with fewer
limitations and restrictions.

Minor sound, complex rhythms and untraditional

dynamics and tonalities began to be explored.

Evolution of musical sounds

As time passes, the same old sound may begin to

lose popularity with the mainstream audience .

Newer sounds that have evolved from the old sound

begin to emerge and change the way particular styles
are played.

If the change in the style is drastic enough and

establishes enough fans, an entirely new genre is

Inevitably, these new sounds eventually will become

familiar again and they too will be considered old.

Technology of musical sounds

In taking a closer look at how sounds can evolve to

form a new genre, we can compare the music of the
Classical period over 150 years ago to the music of
just 75 years ago, the age of Jazz and Swing music.

During the very early years of Jazz music,

instruments were more similar to a concert band
but shortly after the birth of Jazz a single drummer
on a drum set became essential to every band.

150 years ago, in the height of the classical era, this

would not have been possible because the drum sets
were not invented until the early 1900s.

Technology + Evolution

Just as the drum set and a new style of playing called

improvisation ushered in a new genre called Jazz, the
invention of the electric guitar by Les Paul paved the
way for a new genre called Rock n Roll, which evolved
from the sound of Blues music.


Sometimes music gains popularity for

political reasons, as seen in the rise of
folk music during the anti-war / peace
movement of the 60s.


Throughout history, genres are developed in a

particular region.

Tango traditionally originated among European

immigrant populations of Argentina and Uruguay
but its still a dominant part of their culture.

We can see this regional factor in the

birth of Grunge in Seattle, in the
early 90s.

Bands like Pearl Jam and Nirvana

collaborated and influenced each
other in a way that was isolated to
the rest of the pop music world at
that time.

. . .we see how music influences the way we dress,

act, and relate among the people in our culture.

Pearl Jam


A new genre of music often emerges because people

believe it gives them the power to express
themselves or the certain type of lifestyle that they

David Bowie


Again, we can see lifestyle play a role in peoples

choice of music, such as Glam and Goth music.




Sometimes, a genre is popular just because of the

way it is delivered or expressed.

One of the main reasons, Disco music became

popular in the late 70s was for its regular bass beat
which made it particularly fun for dancing.

Lifestyle + Expression
Usually there are combination of reasons that
ultimately makes a genre of music popular.

Hip-Hop is an expression of the trials of the

inner-city lifestyle and the emotions that are
associated with it.

In Review. . .
Although we didnt cover every reason that
makes a genre popular, we can see that
some of the main ones are:








Results of the survey from our class:

Todays 3 most popular genres: Hip-Hop, Pop, Rock

What makes genres popular? Most popular answer,

we hear it all the time

Where do you get your music from? Internet, iTunes,

and friends.

Do you download illegally? YES (8) NO (5)

FYI: According to the Recording Industry

Association of America
Top 5 Diamond (10 million copies +) albums:
1.Eagles Greatest Hits, 1971-1975
2.Michael Jackson Thriller
3.Pink Floyd The Wall
4.Led Zeppelin Zeppelin IV
5.AC/DC Back in Black

Top 5 selling artists of all time:

1.The Beatles
2.Garth Brooks
3.Elvis Presley
4.Led Zeppelin

The Art of Being Human by Janaro Richard and
Altshuler Thelma
Listen by Joseph Kerman and Gary Tomlinson
Wikipedia, musicians
Recommended film: Latcho Drom