Archive for the Uncategorized Category


Posted in Uncategorized on April 23, 2012 by Jason Lee Oakes

FINAL PAPER GUIDELINES (in Word format) — Due date is Wed. May 9th, or before, via email.


Musescore music notation software

Finale music notation software (30 day free demo)

Songsmith (PC only) — advertisement; “Ace of Spades” Songsmith version

Audio Hijack Pro (Mac) — useful if you’re trying to capture a sound from online or iTunes, DVD, JamStudio, or any other source on your computer and convert into an MP3–which can then = be further manipulated in Garageband or using other sound editing software.

Best Free Audio Editing Software — according to Gizmo’s Freeware

An annotated list of twenty-five free digital audio editors

JamStudio / Virtual Keyboard — these are the same links posted before



Posted in Uncategorized on April 21, 2012 by Jason Lee Oakes

Last Night A DJ Saved My Life (Intro)

Last Night A DJ Saved My Life (Hip Hop)

OPTIONAL READING: Harking back to the opening weeks of the semester, a recent piece in The Atlantic asks “Did Humans Invent Music?”


Sister Rosetta Tharpe / More Sister Rosetta

The big 3 DJ’s in the birth of hip hop: Kool Herc / Grandmaster Flash / Afrika Bambaataa

The documentary Scratch in its entirety.

Larry Levin documentary (the segment we watched in class begins at 5:30)
Aleem “Release Yourself” (Dub version)
Aleem “Release Yourself” (original version)
Prince “When Doves Cry”

MUSIC AND GENDER: More info. and links

Posted in Uncategorized on April 20, 2012 by Jason Lee Oakes

Chopin “Polonaise In A Major, Opus 40 No 1” — This piece, briefly discussed on p. 10 of the McClary article, contains so-called feminine candences. The piece is in 3/4 time. Note that in the opening section, repeated throughout, most of the cadences fall on the second beat, with the last cadence falling on the third beat. The increased use of feminine cadences as well as harmonic chromaticism, among other traits, led many commentators to portray Romantic music (19th-century Western art music) as “feminine”–or, at the very least, highly sentimental and emotional.

Nicki Minaj on her alter egos / Minaj verse of Kanye’s “Monster” / CBS football fanfare (piano version)

Antony & the Johnsons “Hope there’s someone”  (studio version) (interview)  (interview excerpt) (Apollo show review) (Antony covers Beyonce)

What is melisma?  Borrowing from the expressivity and ecstatic associations of gospel music, there is today a close relationship between melisma and the diva persona.

Motörhead “Ace of Spades” (Beavis and Butthead approve) (Lemmy on women and guitars)


POP MUSIC AND GENDER: Justin Bieber “Baby”

Much of the fear and loathing, and fanaticism and fawning, inspired by Justin Bieber is closely tied up with how he represents gender. While JB’s music and image are clearly aimed at a pubescent and pre-pubescent audience, and especially at girls, many of those outside his target audience seem to trade indifference or mild annoyance for what appears closer to virulent hatred and all-0ut fury. No doubt, this reaction stems in part from the fact that the Bieb is unavoidable even for those of us who aren’t adolescent girls. But  I would submit that there may be something else at work here too–that is, the unstable and contradictory nature of his gendered and sexualized representations, and the ways they undermine certain hegemonic, cultural norms.

For instance, while JB’s fans may be attracted to him for his soft masculinity and androgyny–expressed in musical terms through feminine cadences, melisma, girl-group chord progressions, and “bubble-gum” musical style–there is also an obvious effort to assert more traditional masculine musical signifiers in his music and image (primary among these is the hard masculinity of hip hop, e.g., collaborating with established hip hop stars and dabbling in rap himself). This pervasive gender-confusion* is likely to appeal to much of his core constituency, that is, among those still developing and trying out multiple gender identities–and especially among his female audience, an audience that is generally expected to flip between gender roles more readily and more often than boys and young men.

But what is appealing and identifiable to this demographic can be offensive and alienating to those outside of the demographic who are more settled, and perhaps more conservative, when it comes to gender roles. This gender-instability leads even those who are firmly in the anti-Bieber camp to sometimes contradict themselves, or each other, by both faulting him for reinforcing traditional gender roles, and at the same time freaking out over Bieber’s feminine side–check out the Facebook hate groups, anti-Bieber Youtube videos (response video here) and gay-baiting evangelists–who slander Bieber for being “girly” or, more to the point, “a f*g.”

*not to even get into the racially-based identity markers and/or stereotypes that are almost always a factor for rap music and hip hop in the mainstream culture.


GENDER AND MUSIC IN POLITICAL ADS: “Video birthday card” to Ann Romney courts female voters, utilizing what sounds much like “feminine” stock/library music (such as the example we listened to in class)

Gingrich attack ad uses light accordion-based music to link Romney to the French “wimp” stereotype (Romney can even speak the language…sacré bleu!)

Obama 2008 attack ad uses music very similar to Mike Oldfield’s soundtrack music from The Exorcist (aka “Tubular Bells”) which for many listeners immediately brings to mind a “creepy, possessed little girl” who is capable of blood-soaked destruction–perfectly paralleling the depiction of McCain as a war-mongering, unstable and dangerous man, who at the same time is weak and submissive to Bush

Reagan 1984 campaign commercial depicts the country’s shift from weakness to strength under his leadership, a point driven home in the transition from a meandering, lighting-drifting “feminine” piano-based musical texture in the opening seconds, building steadily to a more rigidly structured and temporally-contained brass-heavy closing

1964 Barry Goldwater political ad links dangerous and unrestrained sexuality (in the form of pornography) to jazz music. This is an old chestnut–early in the century, social panic over the spreading popularity of jazz often linked the music to fears over “feminine” sensual self-indulgence and seduction, and a racist depiction of black culture as “primitive,” violent, and sexually-aggressive.

YOUR MUSIC: I-IV-V (and a “Fun” case study)

Posted in Uncategorized on April 17, 2012 by Jason Lee Oakes


Kalman “Passover Song” — notation with lyrics

Calvin “Song 1”

Keagoe “Oak Life”

Danica “Ballad” — Danica’s ballad


CASE STUDY: Fun. “We Are Young”


I chose this song because it’s the current #1 song on the Billboard chart. While “We Are Young” doesn’t use only I, IV and V chords, it does rely on these chords to signal important points of transition and arrival in the progression of the song. Set in the key of F major, here is an outline of the song’s form and chordal structure (each chord is held two measures, except for those in parenthesis which together last for two measures):

0:08  Verse (X2):                I – vi – ii – (IV – V)

0:41   Pre-chorus:              (ii – iii ) (vi – V – ii) (ii – V)

0:49   Chorus (X2):             I – vi – IV – (I – V)

1:31    Verse:                          I – vi – ii – (IV – V)

1:51    Chorus (X2):             I – vi – IV – (I – V)

2:33   Bridge (X4):              (I – IV) (vi – V)

3:14    Chorus (X2):             I – vi – IV – (I – V)

3:55    Pre-Chorus:             (ii – iii ) (vi – V – ii) (ii – V)

4_05  Final cadence:         I

First, note that each and every line above ends with a V chord, thus creating a sense of anticipation at the end of each phrase that is satisfied (in every instance except the pre-chorus) by a I chord that begins the next progression. In accordance with standard tonal procedure, however, this satisfaction is fleeting since each phrase ends on an imperfect cadence, that is, a V chord (preceded somewhere along the way by a IV chord) which only pays off momentarily at the beginning of the next progression. For the listener familiar with Western tonal practice, ending every phrase in this manner is likely to create a sense of continual longing. Under the right circumstances, this can likewise translate to heightened emotionality or even an anthemic grandeur. Of course, many other factors come into play in creating this impact among listeners so-inclined, including instrumental arrangement, vocal range and timbre, use of melisma, lyrics expressing melancholy or grandiosity, and so on.

Further reinforcing this sense of perpetual longing is the fact that each of the progressions in “We Are Young”, except for the pre-chorus, is some permutation of the “doo-wop progression.” Since the late 1950s and early 1960s, this progression has served as shorthand for teenage romantic disillusionment and angst—but with a tinge of the ecstatic, i.e., pleasure and pain intertwined. The 1960s “girls group” combos were also well-known for using this progression, and for years now it’s been in vogue again in songs across the spectrum from indie pop to mainstream pop (check out this medley if you can tolerate an out-of-tune guitar).

It’s in the chorus that “We Are Young” comes closest to the standard doo-wop progression (I – vi – IV  – V). The I chord as the penultimate chord, slipped in between the IV and V chords, simply adds another twist of the screw before ending on the dominant. What’s more, the staccato eighth-notes piano chords outline the progression in a stereotypical 50s/doo-wop/girl group style that further heightens the wistful emotional rush of the chorus, especially taken together with the soaring vocal line. However, it could be argued that the song achieves something more than straight-up nostalgia or emotional string-pulling. The use of the “teenybopper” chords, when combined with tempo shifts and an idiosyncratic arrangement, arguably takes this familiar musical structure into a new realm.

Here is another analysis of the song, accompanied by an acoustic version where the chordal progression is made even more clear.

Reading and take-home quiz: 4/18 [plus blues links]

Posted in Uncategorized on April 12, 2012 by Jason Lee Oakes

READING: Susan McClary –  Feminine Endings (introduction) (1991)


TAKE-HOME QUIZ: Write one-to-two paragraphs on the following two subjects. This will be your final assignment outside of the final music project. Bring your printed essays to class next week.

Short essay #1: What is “double-consciousness” as first theorized by W.E.B. DuBois? List and briefly describe several ways that doubleness and contradiction are expressed in the musical practice of the blues.

Hint: Consult the first half of the Nick Bromell article—look for references to “mediat[ing] between two traditions and two worlds,” and “series of interlocking and mutually reinforcing traditions”—and consult your notes from class.

Short essay #2: Susan McClary argue that seemingly neutral musical parameters such as tonality, form, rhythm, etc. have been used to express, and perpetuate, familiar gender/sexual roles and stereotypes. Briefly outline two of the primary supportive points/examples she gives to bolster her argument.

Bonus: For both essays, extra points may be rewarded if you give a reasoned explanation of why you agree or disagree with key points made by Bromell and McClary.


NRBQ “12-Bar Blues”

More 12-bar blues: Ray Charles “What’d I Say”

B.B. King “Three O’Clock Blues”

Bessie Smith and Louis Armstrong’s hit recording of W.C. Handy’s “St. Louis Blues” (1925)

Cee-Lo Green “Forget You” (note: While not a 12-bar blues, this is a I-IV-V progression if you hear the II major chord as a “secondary dominant”–that is, a V of V chord)

Ch. 9 & 10 Exercises

Posted in Uncategorized on April 11, 2012 by Jason Lee Oakes



Posted in Uncategorized on April 5, 2012 by Jason Lee Oakes

2011 FM paper guidelines

These are the term paper guidelines from last year. I’ll give these a light edit and re-post, but if you don’t want to wait you can read these guidelines because they’re not going to change much. One major change will be the length requirement (probably more in the range of 5-10 pages) and of course the due date.