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Music Assignment #1

For the following lesson, answer the following questions in 5-7 sentences EACH

1. Choose 3 of the musical forms in this lesson and describe them and their cultural/political/social significance.  Why did you choose these 3?

2. What did you learn from the lesson that was impactful?

3. What did you learn about the connection between music and identity or music and culture? 

4. How are music and culture connected in your own life? Give 1 example from the lesson that connects.

5. How do you engage with music in your every day life?  Why?

Music Assignment1

Source and link
Music, like many of our other recent performance topics, dates back to pre-history. It also is often integrated with other performance genres, such as theatre, dance, and spoken word. In this unit, we will look at music specifically as performance, i.e. how it is presented before a live audience. 

Supaman – Apsalooke Native Hip-Hop Artist


We will consider how live music performance operates as spectacle, a term that goes back to Aristotle’s Six Elements of Drama, as it is defined in our unit on theatre: “Spectacle – the visual and auditory components of a play: actors and their costumes, the sets, lights, sound.”



· Opera – 16th century high art form that blends classical music with theatrical performance.

· Musical – Popular storytelling form that also mixes music with theatre style performance for general audiences.

· Jazz – Music form that emerged from early 20th century African-American culture of New Orleans.

· Country – Evolved from Folk music in the poor and rural white immigrant communities of the U.S. in the early 20th century

· Rock and Roll – Rhythmic form of popular music from the 1950s that combined such diverse genres as rhythm and blues, country, and gospel.

· Rap / Hip-Hop – Socially conscious form that originated in 1980s New York and combined spoken word with dj turntablism and breakdancing.

Source 2

Hip Hop Is a Culture | Patrick Wamaguru | [email protected] 



Culture in Music-Hip Hop and Black Culture 


Hip hop is a cultural phenomenon that coalesced around a new style of music, one that involved djs, turntable mixing, and rhythms that emerged from the New York underground scene in the late 1970s to early 1980s.

It connected new forms of music with visual art (graffiti), fashion, and dance (break dancing). DJ Kool Herc was one of the first practioners of this new form, mixing records together in a style that had never before been heard.

Hip Hop and Black Culture:

In the mid to late 1970s the cultural shockwave that would be known as hip hop emerged from the economic paralysis of New York City, especially the neglected black and Latino neighborhoods in the Bronx. However, while hip hop music was born in the Bronx, it both is part of and speaks to a long line of black American and African diasporic cultural traditions. Much of what is written about hip hop traces this culture through a series of stages, from a music- and dance-focused phenomenon created for and by people “on the block” to a dominant global youth culture. Many observers also make a connection between rap and West African griot tradition, the art of wandering storytellers known for their knowledge of local settings and superior vocal skills. Additionally, rhymed verses are an important part of African American culture in both the public and private realms.

A profound influence on rap music comes from what many might consider an unlikely source: the black church. Black preachers and clergy combined testimonials and parables in a way that engaged the audience and brought their sermons to life. A main tool of black clergymen and women (one which virtually all music historians and critics draw attention to in black music) is the “call and response,” in which the preacher calls out a sentence or phrase to which the congregation responds, creating a connection between speaker and audience. Call and response challenges the line between speaker and audience by encouraging a discursive form of public address, an open dialogue between preacher and congregation that makes the church service a spiritual and interactive experience for everyone alike.

Another early and continuing influence on hip hop culture is the competitive oral competition called “playing the dozens,” which combines humorous insults and oral skills in a battle to shock and ultimately silence one’s opponent. A famous practitioner of this oratorical contest was Muhammad Ali, who used short rhymes to belittle his opponents and stupefy pundits. Often used to predict a victory in the ring, whether the odds were for or against him, Ali’s verbal skills became a metaphor for his fighting prowess—his mouth becoming an extension of his fist. In hip hop the “dozens” grew into the tradition known as “battling,” in which rappers face off against each other to see who has the best lyrics and stylistic flow. Battling, like the dozens and other oral traditions, relies on the art of exaggeration to bolster the status of the rapper.

Comedians such as Richard Pryor, Redd Foxx, and Flip Wilson influenced the development of hip hop by using their gifts of oration to bring the style, rhythms, and stories of the streets into their comedic narratives. Like people playing the dozens, these comedians used humor to shock and provoke, at the same time imbuing their narratives with a knowing social commentary that reflected the black experience. As entertainers they told stories that the everyday person could understand but punctuated it with a style that was unique to black America. Early rap musicians used these and other oratorical techniques to impart knowledge and entertain through rhymed verses that form narratives. This interweaving of vocal skills and storytelling traditions affected how rap was produced and what was said in the lyrics, giving rise to a new expressive culture that reflected the social conditions of the day.

For its musical grooves, early hip hop incorporated elements of the party-based sound-system subculture popular at the time in Jamaica and brought to the Bronx by DJ Kool Herc from Kingston. Kool Herc transported the large mobile sound units used in Jamaica to parties in the Bronx. Herc also brought a form of the verbal art of “toasting” to his parties. Jamaican DJs excited crowds by making up short raps to the beat of music, adding “vibes” to the party. The toasts often referred to people in the crowd or to events at the party itself. Ironically this style of toasting was derived from the “rapping” of black American radio DJs from the 1940s through the 1960s, men who influenced the toasting style of the Jamaican dancehall producer Coxson Dodd. Dodd took rapping to Jamaica and Herc brought toasting back to the United States, where it quickly became known as rap, the verbal side of hip hop music. Herc is also credited with popularizing the break-beat style of DJing. Instead of playing an entire record or song, Herc focused on the break, a section of the record where there was a drum or horn solo, for example. By playing this section repeatedly, thereby creating and stressing a new rhythm that could be sustained as long as he wanted, Herc greatly heightened the crowd’s (especially the dancers’) excitement. Other pioneering DJs used these methods and the latest stereo and sound system technology of the day to create some of the most influential songs in hip hop history. Afrika “Bam” Bambaataa fused the R&B music of James Brown, the funk of George Clinton, and even the sometimes synthetic and cold European electronic music of groups like Kraftwerk to create songs like “Planet Rock” and “Looking for the Perfect Beat,” and helped deepen the musical roots of hip hop as a result.

In the music that they played and created Bambaataa and early DJs like Grandmaster Flash were part of a long line of music and oratorical traditions that coalesced into hip hop. The richness of African American and diasporic cultures, the mix of vocal techniques and storytelling traditions from those cultures, and the fluidity and ease with which DJs moved among musical styles all combined to launch a new form of expression for young men and women in New York City in the 1970s, which became hip hop as we know it today. All these influences and events together bring to hip hop a diversity not often acknowledged by the music’s critics, but well understood by its admirers.


Music performance has evolved over the centuries, blending with theatre (opera and musical), African influences (jazz), and the blending of American cultural identity and experience (rock and roll, rap / hip-hop). 
In today’s world of music performance, cultural influences both ancient and modern blend together in new and unique ways. An example of this would be Apsaalooke native musician Supaman, who combines ritual dance with rap music performance. Watch Supaman’s Prayer Loop Song here 
Another example is Ki & Ki, a Japanese duo of two young women who have adapted the traditional Shamisen style of stringed instrument with a contemporary sensibility. Watch here