Millard 10, p. 285-295, Porter

The 1930s brought technological improvement. Among these improvements was the loudspeaker. The three-way speaker was launched in 1931, dividing sound into three frequencies, with each band sent to three transducers, each individual transducer intended to work best with high, medium and low frequencies. Soon, this system was used all over the world. Today, we have IMAX theaters featuring digital sound. They are so incredibly powerful they can blow out candles (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uIblZZwU0j0). It is quite impressive seeing how fast technology improved in the past 80 years when beforehand, there was far less improvement in time spans far longer. Why is this? Perhaps it is because of an increase in population, which allowed more brains to come into existence and work on advancing society.

The long-player (LP) broke the 2-3 minute barrier in the early twentieth century by doubling the grooves to the inch of recordings from 100 to 200, but the labs of the Big Three increased the playing time to 7-8 minutes in the 1930s. Without this development, we would not have the long-playing records we enjoy today. This fondly brings to mind Goodspeed You! Black Emporer’s longest track – the 29:02 minute-long ‘Providence.’ The absence of this development would be hindering musicians today.

As time passed, the fidelity, quality and transportability of recording and talking machines improved. The home stereo consisted of a rectangular cabinet with two consoles built into the ends, to blend in with the living room furniture. In the 1960s, everyone wanted a stereo at home. Sony and Panasonic, from Japan, produced lower priced stereos that were also portable, feeding into the public’s desire for smaller, portable machines that has continued until today. Home stereos were no longer luxury goods –high-fidelity was now available for all. Luxury goods made available for the general public by mass-production seems to be a recurring theme in history continuing today, with luxury companies producing cheaper, less detailed versions of their goods for lower prices for the average consumer.

Pages 285-295 talk about the recording techniques used in studios and on sound stages in order to perfect sound recording for records and films.

Much more interesting than technical details about sound recording is Eric Porter’s “Dizzy Atmosphere: The Challenge of Bebop.” Bebop and jazz are directly related in that bebop marked the rising of the small combo as the most basic performing component of jazz. Bebop is characterized by speed, and most importantly, musical improvisation.

First off, I must ask a question: Where did the term “bebop” come from? I cannot figure out where such a title would have come from, but it sounds to me like onomonopia.

With bebop, we see the African American culture growing into its own with different, non-mainstream genres of music. Bebop was “an anti-assimilationist” challenge to the mainstream middle class, which is a notion reminiscent of today’s rap culture (and other subcultures that wish to remain unassimilated and counter-cultural). Bebop reflected transformations in black life, attitude and politics during WWII. It challenged the self-righteous older musicians and economic exploitation by whites in the music industry by presenting an alternative. This genre of music built a subculture against the mainstream, an ancestor of today’s rap movement that attempts to achieve the same goal – fighting against the common, mainstream movements. While mainstream music has a certain order to it, bebop’s most important quality was the improvisation, similar to today’s improvisation in rap music.

The most basic form of distinguishing oneself from the masses is dressing differently in order to make a statement. Today’s rap artists dress in a certain distinct style, just as the bebop artists of year s ago adapted a certain style that included facial hair, berets and horn-rimmed glasses. This shows a desire to separate from mainstream fashions and ideas. (Another example is how hipsters have adopted Ray-Ban sunglasses and Urban Outfitters clothing as the uniform, further demonstrating how subcultures tend to adopt certain styles in order to distinguish them from the mainstream.) It is interesting to note how history repeats itself and reinterprets itself as the years go by.

Music as an art form is the best possible way to go about protest, illustrate individuality and challenge others because of its mysterious ability to stir emotion and inspire. We see examples of taking a stand through music in the past and present, and mark my words, with the amount of recording one can do just sitting at home with a Macbook, we will see far more individual opinions taking the form of music in the future.

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12 Responses to “Millard 10, p. 285-295, Porter”

  1.    Yendie Says:

    I was wondering the same thing where did they get the name Bebop from But I guess (this is coming from my imagination) Be- as in bees with there quickness and Bop- from the movement of the head. So its the quick bopping of the head. It’s amazing how these horn and trumpet players can just blow air into their instrumet and come up with some original sounds. Instruments can set the mood for any scene and can control the audience reactions.

  2.    Marya Tambawala Says:

    I also found it interesting how musical subcultures are often accompanied by certain dressing styles. The beboppers, with their berets and glasses, were looking to establish themselves as intellectuals. They had a newfound social consciousness and were looking to raise awrareness about the plight of their race. I find it unfortunate that despite their use of music and fashion to convey these ideas, the mainstream media characterized them as delinquents.

  3.    robshem2 Says:

    the Long player was such a huge invention back then because playing time increased to 7 to 8 minutes. This was huge because now music could be used in different ways. The increased time allowed music to appear in movies, television segments, and allowed us to enjoy longer version of our favorite songs of all time like noverber rain by guns and roses.

  4.    robert shemanski Says:

    the Long player was such a huge invention back then because playing time increased to 7 to 8 minutes. This was huge because now music could be used in different ways. The increased time allowed music to appear in movies, television segments, and allowed us to enjoy longer version of our favorite songs of all time like noverber rain by guns and roses.

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