Ross School - Senior Project 2006-07
Mentor: Carrie Clark
Consultant: Jane Hastay
Domains: Cultural History/Performing Arts
Title: Activism Through Song: Truth and Harmony
I chose to entitle my project “Truth and Harmony,” because I believe that to create meaningful work, there needs to be truth to the meaning and harmony between the music and the lyrics. My product was an original composition combining my conception of “truth and harmony,” and my expressions about the issue of global warming, and three shorter papers about other artists who expressed their opinions about global issues through music. Global Warming is a very prevalent issue right now, and very important to me, and so I based my papers on artists who showed the same passion about the issue in their music. My inspirations for my project were Bob Dylan, U2, and Bob Marley, who I wrote my papers about. Throughout the process, I ran into unpredicted obstacles in writing my music, and researching for my papers. I chose to write my song unusually, writing the lyrics first, and the melody second. Because of this, I had trouble developing and harmonizing the two. However, I eventually realized that I had to take what originally was poetry, and manipulate it to a powerful song.
Each of my papers were about seven-eight pages long, and my one song had six parts, two repeated, and 4 minutes and 36 seconds.
My project is entitled Activism Through Song: Truth and Harmony because I decided to look at music from a different perspective than the sexual, fame related perspective that is so prevalent in music in present times. I decided to write one activist song of my own, and three papers that went in depth on the subject of activist music and that looked at the music from a global perspective.
For my activist song, my goals were to write a song that was not clichéd but rather poetic. Through the process, I wanted to learn about my musical composition capabilities, because so many times I had written a song and looked back on it with dislike. It was important to me to finally write something that meant something to me and ultimately to the world. I also wanted to include “truth and harmony,” hence the title of my project, in my song because I believe that that is what is important in music. The truth, depending on the artist, should be expressed though the harmony of the lyrics and melody. In my song, I wanted to express the eerie truth about global warming, through the harmony of beautiful lyrics and dark melody. I wrote the song in order to continue awareness, express my feelings on the issue, and evoke a meaningful response from the listener, hopefully a proactive one.
My song Blatant Catastrophe is truly a warning about Global Warming, and shows what is to come if everyone keeps treating the world with such nonchalance. The song expresses my emotions through a series of distinctly different parts that are placed in a specific order and in some cases repeated. The song begins with a strong warning, progresses to paint with words what will happen if we do not do something and explains what to do to prevent it, and then finishes with warning with less faith, because if nothing is done then there will be no hope left. In writing it, I did not hope for an instant response, I just hoped that others would realize the horrors to come if there is no change in their lifestyles.
For my papers, I though that rather than focusing on the specific topic of Global Warming like in my song, I wanted study the subject of activist music in general because the fact that musicians are actively trying to change issues in the world is just as important as the topic that they are focusing on. In order to achieve a diversified and in depth view on activist music for my papers, I chose to study three different artists from different countries. For each artist I was to analyze one song each, and study the background information behind each song. My goals were to learn more about the general community of a genre of music that I was passionate about, and to learn about individuals that I believed to be important additions to the community. I also chose to write papers so that I could express my interpretation of the artists an their music
I included the background of each artists and each artist’s song to enhance the understanding of the artist’s ideas, style, and reasoning for writing the song. I studied the lengthy disagreement between members of Northern Ireland over the decision to be fully under British lead or Irish that was intensified by the “massacre,” Bloody Sunday, in Derry. This led to the activist song “Sunday Bloody Sunday” by U2. I also chose to study the impoverished life styles in Jamaica and Bob Marley’s protest with his song “Exodus,” and the unjust racial treatment in the USA that led to the protest song “Hurricane” by Bob Dylan.
My three papers were a combination of biographical information, analysis of a chosen song, and the background information of the song. The most difficult parts were finding valuable resources and connecting all of my writing. I had always had problems making my writing flow, and think that through this process I successfully learned how to connect my thoughts.
"An Exploration of the Northern Ireland Conflict." Wars and Conflict. 23 Nov 2001. BBC . 8 Jan 2007 <http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/recent/troubles/>.
BBC, "U2 steal Grammys glory from Carey." BBC News / Entertainment. 09 Feb 2006. BBC . 10 Jan 2007 <http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/low/entertainment/4692222.stm>.
"Bloody Sunday." Encyclopĺdia Britannica. 2007. Britannica Concise Encyclopedia. 15 Jan. 2007 <http://concise.britannica.com/ebc/article-9389458/Bloody-Sunday>.
Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton, and Larry Mullen Jr. U2 By U2. Hammersmith, London: Harper Collins, 2006.
Cocks, Jay. "Bob Dylan." The Time 100. 2000. Time. 15 Dec 2007 <http://www.time.com/time/time100/artists/profile/dylan.html>.
Colombia Records. Bobdylan.com. 2007. Colombia Records. 28 Nov 2007 <http://bobdylan.com/moderntimes/home/main.html>.
Davis, Stephen. "Marley, Bob [Robert
Nesta]." Grove Music Online.
2007. Oxford University Press. 28 Nov 2006
Elliot, Michael. "Right Man, Right Time." Time. Time Inc. 10 Dec 2006 <http://www.time.com/time/covers/1101020304/global.html>.
Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "U2." All Music Guide. 28 Nov 2006 <http://www.emusic.com/artist/11701/11701507.html>.
"Garvey, Marcus." Encyclopĺdia Britannica. 2007. Encyclopĺdia Britannica Online. 11 Jan. 2007 <http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9036129>.
Griffiths, Dai. "Dylan, Bob [Zimmerman, Robert
Allen]." Grove Music Online.
29 May 2002. Oxford University Press. 28 Nov 2007
Henke, James. Marley Legend. Bellevue, Washington: Beker and Mayer, 2006.
Jamaica." Encyclopĺdia Britannica. 2007. Encyclopĺdia Britannica Online School Edition. 15 Jan. 2007 <http://0-school.eb.com.opac.esboces.org:80/eb/article-54497>.
Moore, Allan F.. "U2." Grove Music Online. 2007. Oxford University Press. 28 Nov 2006 <http://www.grovemusic.com/index.html?authstatuscode=202>.
Online Photograph. Encyclopĺdia Britannica Online School Edition. 15 Jan. 2007 <http://0-school.eb.com.opac.esboces.org:80/ebi/art-73401>.
"Rastafarianism." Compton's by
Britannica. 2007. Encyclopĺdia
Britannica Online School Edition. 15 Jan. 2007 <http://0-school.eb.com.opac.esboces.org:80/
Researching Industry Association of America,
"Press Room." RIAA. 21
Dec 2006. Recording Industry Association of America. 28 Nov 2006
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation, "Inductees." Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation. 10 Jan 2007. <http://www.rockhall.com/hof/inductee.asp?id=2348>.
"Rubin Hurricane Carter Biography." Biography. 2000. A&E Television Networks. 5 Dec 2007 <http://www.biography.com/search/article.do?id=9542248&page=2>.
Santelli, Robert. The Bob Dylan Scrapbook. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2005.
Stevens, Robert. "Northern Ireland: Eyewitness accounts of 1972 "Bloody Sunday" massacre indict British army." World Socialist Web Site. 31 Jan 2001. World Socialist Web Site. 28 Nov 2006 <http://wsws.org/articles/2001/jan2001/inq-j31.shtml>.
"Timeline: Through The Centuries." Black
History. 2007. Encyclopaedia
Britannica. 13 Jan 2007 <http://www.britannica.com/blackhistory/
"Troubled Island in the Sun." CBC News. 28 Feb 2006. CBC. 6 Jan 2007 <http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/jamaica/>.
U2, U2.COM Official Website. 2006. Signatures Network Inc. 28 Nov 2006 <http://www.u2.com/home.php>.
Who2. "Bob Dylan." Infoplease. Who2, Pearson Education. 28 Nov 2007 <http://www.infoplease.com/biography/var/bobdylan.html>.
Community Member (Details)
My outside community member was Jane Hastay, who used to work as a choral teacher in Ross School. She now does private singing and piano lessons as a profession, and has been giving me private lessons since she left the school when I was in Eighth Grade. I met with her about four times, because she helped me create the piano arrangement for my song and was a motivator for me throughout my songwriting process. Every time I was stuck and had writing block, she would give me positive and optimistic outlook on my music and help me move on to continue my writing process.