Search

Rosie Louise Mountjoy

Music Blog

MD5313 – Protest song.

What proceeds is my first Protest song attempt that I took into class and performed…

V1- Just a stones throw away from your bed
Just a small step from the door
in this town that you have been living
doesn’t feel safe, to live in no more

V2- Its not the place we once knew
not the roads that we remember
now they are full of despair and tears
not the place that screams life anymore

chorus-

These streets oh there going to stay empty
x2
If we dont change if we don’t change
oh there empty
Empty streets empty heart empty lives x2

V3- That saturday night, oh where the streets turned grey
And the life oh the life it got ripped away
Innocence being dragged into a war

chorus

As I said before hand this was my first attempt at the protest song which I took into class for feedback, turns out I didn’t read the brief properly and its all completely wrong structurally.

So I decided to take a whole different approach:

I chose to write about social media and how our lives are affected by it, but with the main topic that you don’t know who’s looking through your social media pages…

The song I have titled ‘Virtual Window’. This is a section taken from my hook line that gets repeated throughout the song. The idea behind the virtual window was that anyone can look through your literal window without access, let alone with access and through the song you question who is looking through, and was it because you gave them this easy access. The virtual part obviously because of It being an imaginative metaphor of a window based on your social media ‘home’.

 

Lyrics-         Virtual Window

Scroll through friends, strangers and lovers

Photos upon photos, sharing a glimpse to one another

Personal information for all to see

Birthdays, interests, relationships and family

 

But do you know who’s looking through your virtual window

 

Meaningless text for people to make presumptions

Creating problems to draw attention

Arguing for the sake of it

Spreading rumours, but to their face you won’t admit

 

But do you know who’s looking through your virtual window

 

Accepting friend requests over many platforms

Questions is do you know all of them

Allowing access to search through your pages

Whats the consequence of these social media ages/phases

 

But do you know who’s looking through your virtual window

 

Anyone can take a photo

Take your name, date, identity

Theres a whole show dedicated

So don’t be alarmed if you get a call from Neve.


 

Below I’ve analysed the song and written in parts that are a direct reference to social media.

Protest song analysis

 

There is a lot more work that I would like to do to this. With it being my first song structured like this I don’t think its a good piece of work really, it needs a lot more work and development that in future I want to do. On the other hand I think this is a big jump from the work I showed for this task in class.

 

 

 

Advertisements

MD5313 – Protest song research

Strange Fruit – Billie Holiday

 

  • Name of musician/Band 

Billie Holiday

  • Reason behind protest and subject 

Originally a poem by Abel Meeropol, this song is about the lynching of African Americans partially in southern america. Abel was spurred on to write the song after seeing graph images of Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith who had been lynched.

The subject of this song has the underlying topic of white supremacy and it is protesting American racism and the lynching of African Americans.

  • Reason you picked artist/singer 

Billie Holiday is one of the most inflectional jazz singers, and her music is what i was introduced with when falling in love with jazz and blues. I also know the song Strange Fruit extremely well so having this chance to delve deep into the meaning of it was perfect opportunity.

  • Date

Recorded April 20th 1939 and Released in the same year

August 7th 1930 – Lyric significance date

  • Location 

Indiana – southern america  ‘The heartlands’

  • Historical significance 

Billie Holiday was released from her contract specifically to record this song as her label were afraid as the lyrics were so controversial. It was the first time any black artist had sung such controversial lyrics. The song became one recognised to spur on a civil rights movement, A symbol of the racism and violence that was endured, no other artist has yet released a song that spoke about such topics so literally and graphic.

The song brought many success to Billie Holiday, with many others jumping to the chance to cover it. It is still to this day seen as being a historical significance for black americans, a protest against white supremacists.

  • Connection with contemporary events

Lynching was a huge racial attack and was brought to promote white supremacy and black powerlessness. Nearly all of whom lynched were black/african americans, these people were being accused of crimes and without any justice were sent to get lynched. This lynching being a way to rid of african americans after slavery.

Politics and communism also the at the forefront of a linking topic, the civil rights movement being a underlying theme through the song. Racial equality, something that was being brushed under the carpet at the time.

The Jim Crow era… this topic was introduced through analysis of the lyrics so more on this topic is answered in the section below.

  • Sample of lyrics with appropriate analysis including evidence

With there only being three verses creating the whole song I chose to look at the song as a whole and annotate it…

Strange fruit analysis

The one lyric that spurred on much researching opening a new meaning was:

‘Here is fruit for the crows to pluck’

This line took me on to find out about the Jim Crow era, at first the reference to a crow I thought was because the connotations a crow has with black and death but after looking into it more I think it was a reference to Jim Crow.

Jim Crow was a racial caste system, involving a series of anti black laws and was deemed as a way of life. This system was operated primarily in the south but in other areas to, this leading me onto to believe why ‘crow’ was referenced in the song.

Evidence –

https://ferris.edu/HTMLS/news/jimcrow/what/

This website delves into the Jim Crow era, proving why it would be a reference in ‘Strange Fruit’

The song lyrics are very literal and this is why the song had such a huge impact as it shone a light on the brutality of white people on black people. A taboo subject that the song captures in true form, not holding back but also using clever techniques such as juxtaposition to evoke emotion.

  • Song Form and explain why it is used 

The song form is AAA

The song is made up of three verses, no chorus, this form I think really captures the haunting that the song provokes.  The verses offer this haunting sound and with it not changing empowers this feeling as you are left on edge.

  • Relevance of the lyric: is the message convincing

As stated before, the lyric is literal and brutally honest, sharing the brutal nature of what was happening at the time the song is referring to.

The lyrics touch on an extremely important subject in not only american history but world history. Racial inequality was a huge part of american history, black people had no power and this song shows this at its true violent nature. Sharing what white supremacy is and what it was they did.

The poem and the message was extremely convincing and Billie Holiday managed to get it heard. She was the voice that the southern african american people didn’t have.

  • Trivia related 

This song was covered by many well known artist, with the likes of Nina Simone and Jeff Buckley being just two of them.

The song was also sampled in a Kanye West track – Blood on the leaves. Only not the Billie Holiday version but Nina Simones being the sampled cover for it.

 

 

 

MD5313 – Song Writing and Context – Poem Rework

Source a Pre 1920 poem.

The poem I found I couldn’t find the exact date of the poem when published but the authors dates indicate that it was definitely written pre 1920. With his dates being 1819-1892.

I Chose the poem Glimpse by Walt Whitman

A glimpse through an interstice caught,
Of a crowd of workmen and drivers in a bar-room around the stove late of a winter night, and I unremark’d seated in a corner,
Of a youth who loves me and whom I love, silently approaching and seating himself near, that he may hold me by the hand,
A long while amid the noises of coming and going, of drinking and oath and smutty jest,
There we two, content, happy in being together, speaking little, perhaps not a word.
Below is the poem written out and analysed through looking at each line and word individually.
poem-analysis.jpg
Through analysis of the poem i have come to conclude that the poem is written through one persons perception and their  single view, this shown through the first line, ‘A glimpse through an interstice’. A glimpse being a ‘momentary or partial view’ and Interstice meaning ‘A small intervening space’.
The poem moves on to share his perception of the ‘bar-room’ and then linking his outside views with his inside thoughts.
This inside thought runs coinciding with the idea that his lover and him are almost a secret, not drawing any attention to one another just ‘speaking little, perhaps not a word’ and we are previously told that the speaker is sat ‘unremarked in a corner’.
Through further research it is thought that the poem touches on homosexuality. What indicates this is the perception of the ‘workmen and drivers’ (masculine perceived jobs) alongside with ‘drinking and oath and smutty jest’ this line giving a sense of sexually charged masculinity. This feeling is also felt from the speaker and lover but in a romantic way.
  • Re-work the content as a workable lyric and song structure

 

Late on a winters night

A crowd of workmen gather

In a bar room around the stove

Me, unremarked in the corner

 

A glimpse, A glimpse

Through the interstice caught

A glimpse, A glimpse

Through the interstice caught

 

A youth who loves me

And whom I love

Approaches me silently

And sits near to hold my hand

 

A glimpse, A glimpse

Through the interstice caught

A glimpse, A glimpse

Through the interstice caught

 

Amid the noise of coming and going

Of drinking and smutty jest

There we two content and happy

Speaking little, perhaps not a word

 

A glimpse, A glimpse

Through the interstice caught

A glimpse, A glimpse

Through the interstice caught

 

 

  • Outline how you have achieved this to make the lyric relatable and your reasons for the structure related to the context of the song

I approached the song with a folk song sense, Folk songs convey a story and this is exactly what the poem did and what I wanted to keep.

Each verse tells the story with the chorus taking the starting line from the poem, ‘A glimpse through an interstice caught’. I chose to use this line as the line indicates clearly the idea that this is the singers perception so is of importance, therefore it becoming my chorus.

In the first verse I set the scene, chopping out words to make the lines fit in a melodic and structural format for a song. Then headed straight into the chorus, this harnessing this typical folk genre structure.

The second verse introduces the ‘Lover’ which is the next step of the story and then carrying on to the thirds verse where the ‘lover’ scene and ‘workmen’ scene are joined together.

Structurally I split the poem verse up into three song verses by taking two lines from the poem for each verse. You can see what words I chose to cut out and which I used in this annotation below…

Poem annotation reworkPoem annotation rework key

A lot of the time i decided to leave the word ‘Of’ out as they made the poem dated, which obviously it is a poem from the 1800s but I found just leaving this use of the word ‘Of’ out instantly modernised it.

Most of the other words I left out because melodically they just didn’t work or didn’t make sense into how I reworked the structure and lyric. There wasn’t any deeper meaning behind that.

 

 

 

 

MD5319 – Music in communities

Polyphonic Me Sm2 – Evaluation

Creating a non conventional song was always the idea behind this track, we wanted it to be abstract and quite simply really spooky which I feel we managed to capture in some ways but I feel that nerves took over the final performance. The theme of this track was schizophrenia, this topic is something that is a little taboo especially when it comes to writing songs about it, so the intentions for this song was for it to never be too obvious but we wanted listeners to feel unease when watching and listening to the performance. The concept being schizophrenia grew many ideas for us as a group and from the start we all could imagine many voices with reverb and echo creating a confusing sound bubble of words.

Chloe – Vocals, Looper and Push.

Ophelia – Vocals, Piano Preset and looper.

Rosie (myself) – Vocals and Roland drum pad.

We used reverb and delay on each vocal track and used the looper to add layers for the harmonies. The piano was captured as pre set audio which we could start via the pedal as this was also on a looper. We used the Abelton Push with a sample pad sound through called ‘siren voices’ and the Roland Pad was used as a midi with a drum sound preset on Abletons sample library.

The final performance didn’t really go as well as it did during rehearsals but definitely went better than we thought considering how bad the technical rehearsal went. We had a lot of problems during the tech rehearsal due to the pedal board not working, the siren sound sample ended up mapped over each midi instrument which took a while to sort out, leaving us with little time to have a run through of the track.

Final performance:

The overall performance I felt managed to portray the confused, spooky vibe we were going for but it wasn’t the best we have performed the track. When the preset piano track was started it also started the looper vocal tracks which weren’t cleared after the practice run before the actual performance, so everything came in at once and we didn’t have the gradual build of voices; This gradual build of harmonies and voices was one of the main parts of the track so this mishap really affected the overall feel of the performance. The space bar we mapped to stop the piano track but it ended up stopping the vocal loopers as well so this meant instead of a gradual delayering to bring us to the end of the piece it all abruptly stopped, this shortened the track and created a messy ending which is really disappointing considering how well the rehearsals went. If we were to perform the song again we would definitely make sure the loopers are cleared before starting and map the piano to something other than the space bar as I think this was our main issue, this due to Ableton’s start and stop controls being preset to the space bar beforehand.

To develop this track further I think first of all more practice is definitely needed as things can always go wrong in a live situation, so being prepared for these things would help a lot. I want to experiment with the Push more as it was in a different key to the piano track so the song changed key when the piano was introduced, this at the time created a creepy, eerie sound so it did fit in with the track but, I feel it would be better if it matched keys. More time is the overall thing that was needed for this song, we were very ambitious which worked in our favour at some points but for the final performance I feel it disappointed us.

PolyPhonic Me Sm2 – Developmental performance

Task 4 – Developmental performance

Group – Ophelia Neville, Chloe Wood and Rosie Mountjoy (myself)

After creating the playlist for the last task it really spurred on ideas of what we can create using loopers and being able to layer harmonies. We were all inspired by the Alt J’esque idea and decided that we wanted to create something that wasn’t a conventional song but something that was attention grabbing and haunting like Alt J’s interludes. We came up with the idea of ‘Haunting’ we wanted to take inspiration from this word in all aspects of the piece, the instrumentation, vocals, harmonies and lyrics. Following on from this we stumbled across the idea of through having many voices with the harmonies creating confusion, this could reference schizophrenia; After researching a little into schizophrenia we found a definition that mentioned three parts that it affects, the thoughts, feelings and actions so we chose to each take one of these categories and inject that into the individual performances with in the group track.

The track we were creating was going to heavily rely on the looper as this would carry the haunting harmonies that mainly define the track, so getting used to using a looper was the main thing to focus on when we rehearsed. We also had a pre set piano loop which we recorded with a click to make sure it was in time as this was the base of the song. The Roland pad I used to create a simple beat to add some texture to the track.

This was what we created during the first rehearsals…

During the next rehearsal we decided to add the Ableton push, this was too add more sounds and layer to the track. We also needed more lyrical content for the track so this is when we made a small spider diagram which is shown below, writing down words associated with schizophrenia. We took some of these words and repeated the same one over and over again to create this eerie sound. I chose the phrase ‘Help me’ as through the rehearsal process we decided on the idea that as I was providing the beat, this beat could mimic the heartbeat so I was the person suffering with schizophrenia and Chloe and Ophelia were the voices in my head.

18716481_1699875800023407_1694003286_n

After implementing these final ideas we recorded the outcome, here it is below:

Making sure the fade outs and stopping of the loopers at the right time will be the trickiest part about our performance so this is what we need to practice the most to make sure it runs smoothly on the day.

Below is a photo of our set up – Chloe on the right in front of the mac with mic and pedal board, Ophelia in the middle with Mic, piano and pedal board, and myself on the Left with mic and Roland pad.

18642071_1656288071065585_2137324374_o

 

We made sure we booked in early as we knew that we needed lots of practice to make sure everything is being triggered at the right time and to develop the song ideas further. Below are screenshots of email bookings, 3 made by me and then Ophelia booked two slots later on when we needed some extra practice time.

Screen Shot 2017-05-24 at 11.37.47Screen Shot 2017-05-24 at 11.38.05Screen Shot 2017-05-24 at 11.38.12

Plug and Play Sm2 – Reflect

Set task 5 – Write a 500 word reflection on the composition and production of your track, focusing on the creative and technical aspects of your production methodology.

Throughout this whole process I felt like I never stopped learning as there were constant  questions that I had to ask; I made mistakes which led to being corrected and I researched methods. I always had an idea in my head of how I wanted my music to sound, but always thought it was too straight forward and minimal, in fact mixing just a piano and vocal track was truly gruelling, as the levels had to be perfect as theres nothing to hide behind.

Booking the amount of sessions I did gave me time to find my way around protools and also the way in which each microphone can be used, thus giving me valuable knowledge that I went on to use in my final track.

I resulted in using the following sets ups in my final recording:

Upright Piano

  • A B set up – Rode NT3

This being positioned more to the left (Players perspective) of the piano as I didn’t use the higher range so I felt that this placement was preferred.

  • X Y set up – Neumann KM 184
  • Mid Side – AKG C414 (one cardioid and the other figure of 8)

These Set ups shown in pictures here – Plug and Play Sm2; Practice in the Studio

I found during my practice sessions that these two microphone set ups gave me a realistic, natural, rounded sound, where as the Mid Side sounded to close and created to much bass which was not the sound I wanted.

For the vocals I found that the U87 captured the rawness in my voice as it carried a clean stripped back tone where as the others I tried had a more synthetic sound to them.

This stripped back authentic sound was what I was striving for when creating the track, this all being reflected through the instrumentation, structure and even then lyrics. The emotion in the song was my main focus, I wanted the listener to feel the pain and confusion in the mind of someone experiencing suicidal thoughts.

Using the object writing technique created many starting points and ideas for the lyrics, this resulted in me settling on the Sea being my object and this theme carried throughout. The sea and suicide gelled together well for obvious reasons, this allowing me to create sense filled but not to obvious lyrics. These lyrics, my own accompaniment and harmonies helped with the personal feeling of the track, creating this vulnerable, exposed sound that I was aiming for.

When it came to the mix and master I had the same intentions, I didn’t want it to take this natural, raw sound away, ‘less is more’ was the phrase I referred to. Touches of compression, a little EQ and a splash of reverb was all that the track needed; The reverb bringing the vocals to life and gave the song that overall pop.

On reflection I am very happy with how my track turned out but the whole process had opened my eyes to what is possible for future tracks. I will definitely carry on experimenting with mic set ups and possibly do something more out of my comfort zone.

Plug and Play Sm2 – ‘Drowning’ – Final master and lyrics

 

 

 

Screen Shot 2017-05-16 at 01.05.50

Visual Musicianship – Music Video

For my final project I chose to create a music video with a hint of live performance, this involved a performance of my original song ‘Let Go’ with an interesting visual effect as I didn’t want to fall into just having a live lounge style video.

My initial idea was to capture ‘nature’, mainly a mixture of wide and close up shots of the wind blowing through the trees and shots of the sky as this is what ties in nicely with the subject and emotion of my song. I was going to take the shots and transition them alongside the live performance video, however when it came to editing, the colour of the back ground compared to the nature blue and green back grounds it clashed and looked horrendous jumping from those to colours to a deep red; If I was to re record this video I would definitely take into account using a neutral back ground or a white one, this would allow me to tinge the colour in editing to match the other clips.

My original song is a slow singer songwriter style so with creating a video like this there are boundaries, and restrictions to how creative you can be, this actually ended to be a problem for me as it dampened my creative ideas. I ended up experimenting with layers and focused on the performance shot. I used an adjustment layer to change the feeling of the performance shot so it wasn’t so harsh, I adjusted the colours and the warmth thus creating a smooth natural look.

I used all the natural shots as layers over the performance clip, this created a subtle but unusual effect and gave the plain performance shot some interest. I used the soft light layer as this is the one that was subtle and created a warm visual, this complimented the instrumentation and lyrics. All the ‘tree’ shots were ones I had taken myself in various outside spaces, all had a similar look but I made sure the ones I used in the final video were different shapes as it created variation in the layers, as the shapes are the most vivid. Once the editing was finished and I had watched through it I felt that it needed something as it was just tree shots, so I ended up finding a video online of flowers blooming which I proceeded to cut up and used them as layers again but this just gave the video a change from the trees. The blooming flowers were actually a juxtaposed idea as the song is about losing life whereas obviously a blooming flower is at the beginning.

If I was to shoot this video again I would:

  1. Make sure I was shot in front of a plain white/neutral coloured background as I had to change from my initial idea due to the red background that was behind me in the performance shot.
  2. Change the position in the shot of where I am sat, I would have much preferred it if I was sat more to the right of the screen as I feel it looks like I haven’t really thought about it in the used shot.
  3. Try creating a video for a more upbeat song where everything doesn’t have to be smooth, as a slow song really restricts you to slow and smooth transitions and theres not much else you can do.
  4. Never have an interesting pattern on the back wall of the shot, this created many problems as it distracts from the layer at numerous points due to it taking up the whole right hand side of the clip.
  5. Collect more footage than you need so you can experiment more.

Overall I really enjoyed creating this video and it has definitely opened my eyes to how creating music videos is something that I am capable of doing. I will most definitely be using premiere to create more videos and be sticking to the points I have mentioned above.

I hope you enjoy my video…

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑