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Battle of the Fictional Bands: The Best Bands in Film We Wish Were Real

There are musical films like "Walk the Line" that tell the story of legendary real-life musicians, and then there are those like "Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story," that, while perhaps equally legendary, bring to life new, fictionalized musical talents. In the case of one of the more well-known fictional bands of all-time, Spinal Tap from "This Is Spinal Tap," the band ended up becoming something of a reality. After making their film debut, Spinal Tap actually went on to record a few albums and even embarked on concert tours. Is the experience of Spinal Tap something of an anomaly? Has Hollywood missed out on opportunities to capitalize on a potentially successful musical acts from film that could have been something more than just fictional? If so, what bands/artists from film might have made it in the musical industry?

  • This is an exciting and intriguing topic. My favorite is "Stillwater" from Almost Famous, which is almost the prototypical 70s rock n rock band. – Sean Gadus 8 months ago
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  • I sort of love this topic! I'll admit, I'm a big sucker for transmedial narratology and anything that blurs lines between fiction and reality, so this just pushes all the right buttons. Two more "anomal-ish" examples that come to mind are The Monkees and Hannah Montana, although they operated as almost an inverse of Spinal Tap, being conceived from the outset as both TV characters AND actual pseudonymous touring musicians, as opposed to Spinal Tap having (as you mentioned) only beginning to tour in response to the success of the film. Honestly, I think leaning into the anomalies might make for a more fruitful and thought-provoking discussion than what might otherwise read a bit like a Buzzfeed-esque list of micro fan-fictions about "what if Dewey Cox/Conrad Birdie/Llewyn Davis/Stacee Jax/School of Rock/Hedwig and the Angry Inch/Stillwater/Chum Bukkit/Mouse Rat/etc were real." Anyway, just some food for thought. Looking forward to reading the finished article! – ProtoCanon 8 months ago
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  • I’m not going to lie, I don’t think I’ve ever genuinely thought about this topic. But I would have loved to see school of rock tear it up as a kid, Jack Black is something else. – ShaniaRachelle 7 months ago
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Is Rock and Roll Dead?

Analyze how changes in technology (rhythm machines, streaming services) and people’s changing taste in music have led to the loss of influence rock music (Punk, New Wave, Heavy Metal, Grunge, etc.) had on mainstream pop culture. Also compare the number of new bands signed to major record labels to the number of acts of other genres (Hip-hop, country, folk, etc.) from the early 2000s to the present.

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    Punk Rock and Literature

    I am very interested in writing about how punk rock and literature intersect. I feel like both are mediums where its artists continually question the answer. I think about literary characters that are punk rock. For me the brooding indignation of Byron’s manfred is very punk rock because he tries to forge his own path despite the offered help of others. Expatriates like Hemingway’s Fredric Henry don’t just blindly follow orders or fight for the sake of fighting, but question why there is fighting to begin with.

    • Don't forget to either consider this through the lens of an applied reading, ie. applying the emerged concepts of 'punk rock' to previous literature; or perhaps more interestingly look at where 'punk rock' has drawn its themes and characteristics from previous authors/artists that challenged social norms. But yes I agree this could be a lot of fun. – SaraiMW 2 years ago
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    • You definitely need a definition of "punk rock" here to frame your discussion: are you discussing music? Punk style? Punk ideology (how would you delineate this?)? Maybe bleed into cyberpunk? Either way, fun stuff! – Heather Lambert 1 year ago
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    The Need for Music in Films

    Analyse how music has helped paved the way for the success of films. Without music, a lot of films would be missing emotions from the audience, and characters as well.

    • Love this topic. Music is so important to so many films, music has become a crucial element to so many movies. This topic could explore why and how this happens... – Sean Gadus 2 years ago
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    • Like this topic, would love to see what examples you would use for it! – CatBeeny 2 years ago
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    • I also approve of this topic. Perhaps you could focus on one or two major composers or specific films to illustrate your point, such as the music of John Williams or Peter Jackson's "The Lord of the Rings." Another possibility is to explore specific scenes from important films, such as the powerful bar singing scene from Casablanca. – drmatteri 2 years ago
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    • Good topic, I think one good addition would be to consider periods of silence in film. The proper use of music and silence in conjunction with each other can help make a good soundtrack even better (i.e. cowboy bebop, samurai jack) – Alacrian786 2 years ago
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    The Significance of The “This is” Movement in Rap

    It started in America with Childish Gambino’s “This is America” hit. It was a controversial music video saturated with modern issues for black Americans.

    However now there are two other “This is” videos coming from Nigeria and Iraq. Let’s explore the significance of these three videos. The major theme that can be gathered from Gambino’s video is the way media attention diverts is from the truth. How does this theme carry over into these other videos?

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      Why mumble rap is a thing today?

      Thinking about how mumble rap has become today’s pick of development. How exactly mumble rap is effecting society with meaningless lyrics and demobilizing people’s thoughts.

      • This is a very interesting topic as it something very current. If you can define what exactly what Mumble rap and how artists use it then it can be something very engaging to read. Also try yo figure out its origins and how it became the thing it is today – cbo1094 2 years ago
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      • You could bring sound poetry into this! It's kind of mumble rap for spoken word poetry. – DanielleBrylDam 2 years ago
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      John Lennon: Singular Talent Or Group Dynamic

      Was John Lennon a multi-talented individual or did his success arise from a mixture of personal and professional acquaintances, geographical destinations, life experiences, or generational appetite? Examine the events leading to his early struggles as a fledgling art student, to the final years of masterful composing in order to isolate and understand the potent recipe for musical ascendancy.

      • Interesting idea. I lean toward Lennon being a singular talent. He obviously benefited from his band mates in the '60s, but his solo material subsequently is quite wonderful. I think you could make a compelling argument for either side of this issue. – John Wilson 3 years ago
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      • Maybe worth considering: It seems like he had most of his eccentricities and strange musical proclivities ironed out by the Lennon-McCarntey song writing machine and producer GeorgeMartin. – DeanJr 3 years ago
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      How Music Makes Film and Television

      What would happen if John Williams’ theme for Star Wars played in the background of a sensual, romance scene? Or if a whimsical tune from Alice in Wonderland played as characters were being savagely slaughtered in a horror movie?

      This piece of writing would deal with why music is so important to a movie or television show and how song selection can make or break the impact of scenes. It would speak about why composers use specific instruments, sounds or techniques over others to portray certain moods.

      • There's a really good Youtube channel called 'Sideways' that discusses media music; check it out! – m-cubed 3 years ago
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      • A fascinating subject for a topic. It might also be relevant to make note of those composers who have deliberately created music for a particular scene that appears contrary to the mood of that scene and yet somehow seems to compliment it. Just one example off the top of my head is the music for the model train chase in Aardman Animation's 'The Wrong Trousers'. – Amyus 3 years ago
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      • Horror films often do this, like at the end of Halloween II when they play Mr Sandman through the credits. Creepy. – AGMacdonald 3 years ago
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      • I would suggest focusing--this is a very old, very broad topic. – IndiLeigh 3 years ago
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      • Accidentally posted before finishing--I suggest talking about different genres and using mostly examples of recent movies (e.g., Atomic Blonde, Darjeeling Limited, Moonlight). – IndiLeigh 3 years ago
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      • In my university major studies I did one subject called Survey of Film Music with Dr James Wierzbicki at USYD, in which we were introduced and discussed through the history of film music and the trends of making film music throughout the long film history. In classic Hollywood era, major studios hire full-time composers (most of them from Germany) and orchestra to compose music after the visual part is finished, whereas in contemporary film music making, there are also avant-garde or experimental films of which the film editing is after the music is written. "Film Music: A History (Routledge, 2009)" might be a good choice if you are looking further for film music history since the pre-cinema era. :) – Chenlei 3 years ago
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      • It's not about Hollywood, but in Bollywood, mostly movies are famous for their music and songs. – Vinita 3 years ago
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      • There is also the element of actually using these songs from one "classic" film in another film. The example that comes to mind is the use of the theme from 2001 in Clueless. – derBruderspielt 3 years ago
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      • An example of this that comes to mind is the use of Joanna Newsom's "The Sprout and the Bean" in The Strangers http://www.westword.com/music/joanna-newsoms-the-sprout-and-the-bean-created-the-perfect-horror-movie-moment-7745761 – midado 2 years ago
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      Writing in Music: The Shift from Rock to Hip-Hop

      Many classic rock songs were written poetically and had a message or story behind them. Now the element of strong writing behind music has shifted away from rock and towards hip-hop. An example could be juxtaposing Bohemian Rhapsody to Beyonce’s Formation, or a politically charged song about the Vietnam War to one of Kanye West’s songs. Analyze this shift and how the music scene has evolved as well as the poetic value of some of these songs.

      • I would also include a discussion of Kendrick Lamar and the underground hip-hop and rap musicians that have been creating complex and poetic songs for years. Some artists like Mos Def and Talib Kweli have been killin it since the late 90s. – Jonathan Judd 3 years ago
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      I watched you Nae Nae, now what? - Is the lack of lyrics a reflection on the attitudes of today's popular music listeners as a whole?

      Comparison between songs that are more recent and ones that are older throw up a large number of differences in terms of lyrics. One prime difference is that newer songs have an increasingly decreasing (heh, see what I did there?) number of lyrics.
      Examples –
      ‘You a Stupid Hoe’, ‘Turn Down For What’, ‘Now watch me whip, now watch me nae nae’, ‘I know you want me, you know I wan’cha’

      Is this constant reduction in the number of words in a song a reflection on
      a) Our memory – we can’t remember words to songs anymore, or it seems like a waste of time to do so.
      b) Our attention span has dropped so low, that we can’t be bothered to listen to music that isn’t composed of repititive phrases, we can’t be bothered to exert the effort to figure out what longer, more extensive lyrics say.
      c) Just bad taste.

      Is it a combination of all three?
      Is it a different reason altogether?
      Is there a more complex reasoning behind this?

      • I think the simplicity of minimal and shallow lyrics isn't exactly a reflection of our intelligence more so that it's necessary for certain moments. There are several music genres that thrive with complex, poetic lyrics such as Hip-Hop, Alternative and arguably some Pop music and they are highly praised. Kendrick Lamar, Big Sean and Kanye West are insanely successful rappers if for nothing else then for the complexity of their wordplay. All of the songs you listed weren't created with the intention of making people come to profound revelations; they are simply dance songs. The only job they have is to get you to shake what your momma gave you and they do it well. – sastephens 4 years ago
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      • I agree with sastephens. I think different genres of music are meant to satisfy different drives and relate to different moods. That's why if someone has an eclectic taste in music, he or she can more easily adapt and access a range of different personas than someone with a more limited musical palette. There are certain songs that are meant to be shallow, but incredibly catchy and there are deeply meaningful songs that aren't designed to get burned into listeners' brains via radio overkill. Obviously, there are those instances where songs are both catchy and deep (and it's really terrific when that happens, but not every song has to do that to be a good song). I do agree that there's a trend recently of repetitive, catchphrase-type songs. It may be an attention-span thing as you mention since our tech-obsessed world is dealing with that problem as a whole. I've heard this trend's been happening with movie titles for that very reason. – aprosaicpintofpisces 4 years ago
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      • I think its a combination of bad taste and the fact that it will simply make millions of dollars. Those songs are what dominates the charts. They aren't groundbreaking; they are just meant for a night out. And that's fine, but it would be great to get back to songs with more substance. That's just how our culture is right now. The attention span is decreasing. I like to believe that there are still a lot of people who respect and identify with great lyrics. Right now it's the trend but I think people want more depth in a song. – joshmccann 4 years ago
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