Implications of Interactivity: What does it mean for sound to be “interactive”

Video games have had a turbulent life in the short time they have been around. With sales exploding over recent years however it is no surprise of the quality of sound development that has been made. Cheng tells us in her “Monstrous Noise” article, how In the early days of video games composers took limited sounds and had to make grandiose effects with them. The technological restraints limited the early development of these interactive features. In Keren Collins article she talks about this growth and how over time music has been developed in games to provide feedback to a player. Feedback is all those sounds that you hear every second of the game. Some are interactive while others are non-interactive. I’m a video game enthusiast and although I dont play as much as I would like, I can personally attest to the benefit of sound quality development over the last decade. Games of course can be played with the sound off, but turning the sound off in a videogame can be detrimental to some. I mentioned during my presentation that I was watching my friends play NFL Blitz 2001 on Nintendo 64 one night, when one of them decided to put on some music instead of listening to the game through the television. My other friend protested saying he likes to hear the “hike” sound from the quarterback, and that having the game audible helps him play better. When my other friend initially refused to raise the volume, he put the game on pause and refused to play until the volume was adjusted. While this may have been an extreme reaction, after reading Collins article, it is more understandable.

The main issue the article deals with is how interactive sound differs from non-interactive sound. This next generation of sound style focuses on how interactive sound literally helps the user. As Bert Bongers notes “Interaction between a human and a system is a two way process. The system is controlled by the user and the system gives feedback to help the user to articulate the control or feed-forward to actively guide the user.” An example of this is in  Cheng’s article. “The white noise causes fear but also guides the player through the game and helps identify enemies.” Interactive sound “steers the players actions with masterful efficiency.”

The Real Jay-Z

In the article “I’m From Rags to Riches: the Death of Jay-Z,” by Cynthia Fuchs, the author seeks to portray Jay-Z as a series of fictional personas. Fuchs recounts many of Jay-Z’s famous songs and videos, and demonstrates how he purposefully represents himself. Many of his songs and videos portray a young man struggling in the “hood,” and how he deals with such a lifestyle. What must me called into question is whether this and many other rap personas are real, and if so, to what extent? The first red flag in the “hood” persona of Jay-Z is the frequent flashes of opulence alongside the ghetto imagery in his music. While it is clear that the artist is attempting to depict a “rags to riches” story, it leaves the audience wondering which of these dichotomous lifestyles is the real Jay-Z? Fuchs main focus is on Jay-Z as somewhat of an enigma, a manikin able to put on whatever costume suits him at the right time. While this may be an acceptable way for a star to conduct oneself in other aspects of the music industry, a rapper is granted far less leeway. This is due in part to the nature of the rap industry. Rappers are expected to tell their story through thoughts and feelings, manifested in rhyming patterns. This is why it seems surprising to the author that Jay-Z now can be seen wearing professional attire such as suits with bowties. It is clear that Jay-Z is attempting an image change, but the change is so radical, and so antithetical to the image that made him famous in the first place, that it can potentially call into question the authenticity of his previous work. Fuchs notes however, that if one analyzes Jay-Z’s lyrics, they would understand that this was his goal all along, and he makes it quite clear. When asked about violent imagery in his music Jay-Z responded that he is “Just like Denzel in Training Day, I was acting out a part.” Furthermore on his “Black Album” he admits, “I dumbed down for my audience to double my dollars, they criticized me for it, yet they all yell holla!” Jay-Z continuously alludes to the many roles he plays, and the article focuses much of its attention of his latest role as a classy entrepreneur. The most interesting aspect of the article however is the debate whether Jay-Z has the “right” to be a mere actor. While it is true that Shawn Carter is a boy from the Brooklyn Marcy projects, is he granted the leeway to morph in and out of personas? Rap is an industry in which the artists are expected to come as close as possible to authenticity. If Jay-Z is indeed just playing roles he seems to be violating one of the cardinal sins of rap music. But a closer look reveals that he is as clear as day in what he represents. Jay-Z is a self-proclaimed hustler, who will win over fans and make money in whichever way he can, sporting any persona in order to make it to he top.

Dylan, the Brits, and the Blue-Eyed Soul

Ive learned that blues is hard to define. In Craig Werners article “Dylan, the Brits, and the Blue-Eyed Soul” the message conveyed is that blues can’t be pinned down with a simple definition. Bob Dylan, Muddy Waters, and The Rolling Stones are three of the main artists depicted in this article but I don’t believe any one them are more “bluesy” than the other. Dylan was famous for challenging himself and his fans by straying away from folk, his initial musical choice, and adding electric guitar. Why was Dylan harassed for this? Werner tells how the “British bands felt none of the aversion to rhythm and volume that drove pacifist Pete Seeger into a violent rage when he threatened to cut the electric cords plugged into Dylan’s guitar at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival.” Blues isn’t confined to one musical form. It could be about politics like was thought initially about Dylans “Ballad of a Thin Man”, but its just as likely to be about the sound and how it makes you feel. When questioned on the subject of war Dylan responded satirically “ How do you know, that I’m not as you say, for the war?” Dylan’s work also shows the heart of the artist and portrays the struggles he endured. Werner states “It isn’t about the consolidations of philosophy or the dodge of ideology. Its about how it feels to be existentially adrift, a broken piece of a fallen world.” Dylan work was a new blend of blues. The Rolling Stones were another band that redefined Blues. Werner points out “They introduced black music to multitudes of white americans who didn’t know John Lee Hooker from John Hope Frankin. “Their songs hit hardest in the vanilla suburbs and cream-of-wheat heartland, where American teens lacked exposure to the real thing.” The Stones were just one band that covered songs from other Blues players.Their first U.S. Single was Muddy Waters “I Just Want to Make Love to You”. The relationship between Mick Jagger and James Brown is a perfect example of the interaction between the British rockers and their black idols. Brown describes the Stones as “Brothers” and even revels in the immediate impact he had over Micks performance on the T.A.M.I show. This mixing of types of blues as well as the the impact of the british invasion on blues cannot be overlooked, and “the nation was on the verge of a fundamental change”.

Videogames

Hey everyone,

I wanted to show this trailer during my presentation but didn’t have enough time.

check it out. One of the most amazing game trailers I have seen. Great score as well.

In Defense of Disco

In Defense of Disco

Richard Dyer, in his article “In Defense of Disco,” seeks to silence all of the critics of Disco music. He addresses all of the popular criticisms of Disco, and point-by-point explains how they are invalid. But while he successfully debunks certain myths about disco, I believe he is missing the point as to why this particular style of music culminated in ridicule. He first addresses the critique of Disco being too capitalistic. Dyers’ counterpoint can be diluted into the simple retort that all music is inherently capitalistic; any popular music is popular because there is value in the product that has been exploited. While Dyer addresses that Disco is more of a finely produced product, he fails to understand exactly why that matters. Music means many different things to many different people, but Dyer fails to acknowledge that there is an ideal at the heart of music for many. This ideal consists of the sheer artistic beauty of real people producing mellifluous sounds with actual instruments. This is conceived, as music in is purist form. I do not say this as an objective fact, but a subjective ideal held in the public conscience of generations. Music can be enhanced by technology, but the more technology is infused, the further away the music tends to be perceived as pure. The underlying theme of the article is that Disco died because it was viewed as an inauthentic capitalist product. Dyer directs his counterpoints to this assumption. He goes into great detail as to why Capitalism is no more a virus to Disco than any other form of popular music, such as rock and roll. Dyer even argues that the main tenants of Disco are inherently antithetical to socialist ideology. He explains that Disco has three main characteristics; eroticism, romanticism and materialism. These three intertwine well with gay culture, and “prove stumbling In Dyer’s defense of Disco however, I believe he misses the point as to why it died. He addresses Disco’s relation to Capitalism as though society made a collective intellectual decision that a specific form of music was inauthentic, and thus must be discarded. The reality as to why Disco died I believe is far more simplistic. Disco was a fad, and like all fads in pop culture, there is a backlash and an eventual dilution. Disco didn’t die per se; its musical influence can be heard in many popular songs being produced today. It was the culture that died off. Disco’s close ties to capitalism only served as an excuse for the publics’ insatiable desire for something new. Did grunge music die off because of any particular reason, or how about glam rock? While Dyer eruditely dispels the publics’ criticism of Disco, It seems to me an exercise is futility, because academia essentially has no place in the comings and goings of popular fads.

Bibliography

  • I want to show this time period and the oppression and how the youth felt obligated to rock-and-roll.
  • Also discuss how in America: the civil rights movement was going on and how the Beatles were in full support of the struggle for racial equality
  • How they brought a symbol for individualism and freedom
  • Their embrace and influence over the youthful counterculture
  • How the Beatles discussed current events and were somehow orchestrating them through their records
  • Their shift from love and peace to politics and struggle

 

“”Beatlemania”” Newsweek (1963). Print.

Beatles, Anthology. Beatles Anthology. [S.l.]: Apple, 2003. Print.

Everett, Walter. The Beatles as Musicians: Revolver through the Anthology. New York: Oxford UP, 1999. Print.

Garofalo, Reebee. Rockin’ Out: Popular Music in the USA. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2008. Print.

MacDonald, Ian. Revolution in the Head: the Beatles’ Records and the Sixties. Chicago, Ill: Chicago Review, 2007. Print.

Stark, Steven D. Meet the Beatles: a Cultural History of the Band That Shook Youth, Gender, and the World. New York: HarperEntertainment, 2005. Print.

Wald, Elijah. How the Beatles Destroyed Rock ‘n’ Roll: an Alternative History of American Popular Music. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2009. Print.