5 Amazing Things Invented by Donald Duck!

So there you have it: Duck Tales is a verifiable force for awesome in the world! Where can I get my paws on some Carl Barks comics!?!

5 Amazing Things Invented by Donald Duck!

Leave a comment

The List Update

Added another “The List” to the forum. Enjoy.

Leave a comment

Tetris in Hospitals?

Can Playing the Computer Game “Tetris” Reduce the Build-Up of Flashbacks for Trauma?

Video games don’t exactly have a reputation for being good for you, but this study from a few years back suggests that they can be used to help people cope with trauma. If victims of car accidents, war, rape, or other patients who received or witnessed serious injury play a few games of Tetris shortly after their trip to the ER they might be less likely to be haunted by uncontrollable flashbacks of those nightmarish events.

After exposure to the same viewing of a film depicting real-life violence, the people who played Tetris afterwards reportedly had less flashbacks in the following week but were able to recall the events with just as much accuracy as the control group. The theory is that the increased visual stimulation and concentration on spatial tasks provided by video games effectively dulls the traumatizing imagery by competing for the same mental space. They did not forget or suppress details of the event; they simply stored them in a way that wasn’t emotionally overwhelming.

As much as I love Tetris I found this experiment a little disturbing. It’s not that I want to rob anyone of a coping strategy. If something fucked-up happens by all means keep a copy of Tetris around. That’s not what I have a problem with. It’s something buried deeper in the soil of American psychology.

It’s the way that they created a label called ‘PTSD’ to pathologize a natural response to the horrors of a modern dysfunctional and artificial society. Instead of trying to get rid of these terrible things we busy ourselves finding more and more ways to manipulate each other into adapting to, accepting, or making excuses for things like rape, war, and car accidents. Is it too late to forge a more human world? Is our global self-destruction so addictive that rather than give up our inhuman institutions we would rather keep them and edit out the last of our humanity? The only thing that seems to me to be more unsettling than the mere prevalence of violence in modern civilization is our acceptance of it.

Leave a comment

Duck Tales! Woo Ooo!

If you know me at all you’ve probly already seen this, but if not allow me to present to you the juxtaposition of 2 thigns that make life worth living: The Disney animated cartoon Duck Tales, and the band Rancid:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ivlg0Gux3cs

Also, allow me to introduce you to the wonderfully talented June Foray who you may or may not know as the voice of ‘Magica De Spell’ and ‘Ma Beagle’ from Duck Tales, but also ‘Rocky the Squirrel’ from Rocky and Bullwinkle, ‘Granny’ from Warner Bros. Bugs Bunny cartoons, ‘Grammi’ from the Gummi Bears, almost every cartoon witch ever cast, as well as a host of special appearances on other shows and even theme park rides!

Talent like this doesn’t come along very often, folks. Check her out!

Leave a comment

There’s Nothing ‘Gregorian’ About Chanting

Last week I showed you one of the reasons why I dropped off of facebook. This week I’d like to show you one of the reasons why I dropped out of college to study music on my own. There’s just something painfully wrong about spending over $100 on a ‘book’(actually a shrink-wrapped collection of loose leaf papers. binder not included) that has zero resale value(you need a special single-use code to join the class so you have to purchase a new book no matter what) and that includes NO REFERENCES whatsoever to back up any of the statements it makes. Not only is the bibliography non-existent, but there are no in-text references or footnotes so you pretty much have to take everything on faith. To add insult to injury, just add a teacher to the equation who never appears for his office hours because he’s not even spending time in the same state as the school he allegedly teaches at, doesn’t participate in online discussions, and has an automated e-mail response telling you not to e-mail him if you ask him any questions.

So here’s the full text of my writing assignment submitted on September 13:

Early religious service in the Catholic Church had music to accompany it. One of the earliest collections is known as Gregorian chant, in reference to Pope Gregory from 600AD, who gets credit for these works by virtue of the Church saying so, even though there is little historical evidence to claim authorship. Regardless of who wrote them, the significance of these works is that their style consisted of a single melodic line sung by a choir. Over the next several centuries a second choir of pre-pubescent boys was added to sing the same line but a 5th or an octave higher. This was known as ‘parallel organum’. Through spontaneous performance the two lines would soon diverge into a ‘free organum’ where one might go up while the other would go down creating a more complex harmony. Eventually the upper line would also perform triplets or other rhythmic and tonal variations of the lower part and gave rise to the ‘melismatic organum’. “O Successores” by Hildegard is a good example of this.

Much later on, in the 12th century, these chants were used as the foundation to build new melodies in the style that came to be associated with the School of Notre Dame. The old chant was known as a ‘cantus firmus’ and was sung down low. The newer melody was called a ‘duplum’. A good example of this is Léonin’s “Alleluia Dies Sanctificatus”. The effect was similar to today’s rock songs where the bass guitar will play a slow and simple melody while the lead guitar will play something higher and faster that creates varying textures of consonance and dissonance with the bass notes.

By the 14th century the French and Italian musical movement “ars nova” or “new art” was sweeping across Europe much as the “new wave” of British punk and synth-pop did in the early 1980′s. This much earlier movement was similar in that it grew out of a period of social unrest where it was obvious that mainstream culture had failed to provide the masses with what they needed, and as a consequence older traditions were becoming eroded. For the first time we see the incorporation of non-secular music in the cathedral, as well as a clear influence of polyphonic technique spread from religious inspiration to folk music through university education and the widespread adoption of a more elaborate system of musical notation. A good example of the rise of polyphony in Church service is Guillaume de Machaut’s “Agnus Dei”.

It’s obvious that the invention of polyphony in Western music was the accomplishment of many different people over the centuries rather than the creation of any single person. What is not so obvious is how much of that accomplishment was the result of oral traditions of music, both European and imported, since all we have to go on is the written records left behind, which are themselves far from complete.

============================================

And here’s some correspondence with my teacher(Mr. Rackley) about this assignment, submitted on Sep. 23:

Dear Mr. Rackley:

I don’t see how my ‘opinion is valuable’ as you stated in your assignment description when you give me a failing grade for expanding on what I feel is important in the polyphony writing assignment. I can’t help but feel that your comments were far too brief, inaccurate, and dismissive and I certainly don’t think the grade you have given me reflects the long hours of research that I put in for this work. At the very least I believe you owe me an apology. My responses to your specific comments may be found below and are written in italics:

MY COMMENTS IN UPPER CASE(ed. note: Rackley’s Comments are in all caps– like his ego)
Early religious service in the Catholic Church had music to accompany it. … IT ACTUALLY DIDN’T ACCOMPANY THE SERVCE; IT WAS AN INTEGRAL PART OF IT.
—————————
Let’s not mince words, shall we? The text from our book reads, “…the music was used to accompany parts of a religious service”.
——————————-
One of the earliest collections is known as Gregorian chant, in reference to Pope Gregory from 600AD, who gets credit for these works by virtue of the Church saying so, … HE ACTUALLY CAUSED THEM TO BE COLLECTED AND CATEGORIZED.
—————————-
That he ’caused them to be collected’ is false, or questionable at best. The text from our book reads, “The chants collected by Pope Gregory I were credited to him through legend, but many of them existed long before his lifetime.” The fact that his authorship was discredited as myth made me question whether or not his act of collection could also have been discredited, so I did some research on my own to find out the answer.

First of all, there is no physical evidence to support the notion that Pope Gregory wrote down any chants. The argument that he did write down a final arrangement of chants is based largely upon a comment made by John the Deacon in 872 that Gregory composed an antiphonary. But this comment comes after centuries of silence on the subject, and even if we don’t question John’s character, the accuracy of his statement demands questioning since this collection was never found. In fact, the earliest extant records of ‘Gregorian’ chant are from the 9th century. Furthermore there is no mention of anything like it by Isidore of Seville, a contemporary of Gregory who wrote his biography in the “Liber pontificalis”. Exactly to what extent Pope Gregory could even have been capable of notating chant is problematic, to say the least, since the medieval system of using neumes hadn’t been invented yet and the old Greek system of notation had fallen out of use in Europe centuries before during the final collapse of the Roman empire.

So who did compile these chants? What history does supply evidence for is that Charlemagne, the king of Franks in the 9th century imposed the Roman form of chant at the expense of other ethnic variations: for example the Ambrosian, Spanish, and Gallic. It was shortly after this that the first written versions of chant appear. I have to conclude that it was at this time the Carolingian standard was mistakenly attributed to Pope Gregory. One can only guess as to how and why this happened, but perhaps it was merely a convenient way to legitimize a standard by associating it with a venerable saint. At any rate, the notion that Pope Gregory collected these works is far from a historical certainty: it is a suspicious and unsubstantiated claim. To mention it without reference to its scholarly disputed status is either ignorant or unethical and I will be contacting the authors of our textbook.
—————————
even though there is little historical evidence to claim authorship. … RELEVANCE?
Regardless of who wrote them, the significance of these works is that their style consisted of a single melodic line sung by a choir. Over the next several centuries a second choir of pre-pubescent boys was added to sing the same line but a 5th or an octave higher. This was known as ‘parallel organum’. Through spontaneous performance the two lines would soon diverge into a ‘free organum’ where one might go up while the other would go down creating a more complex harmony. Eventually the upper line would also perform triplets or other rhythmic and tonal variations of the lower part and gave rise to the ‘melismatic organum’. “O Successores” by Hildegard is a good example of this. …. WHY IS THAT A GOOD EXAMPLE? WHAT ABOUT THE OTHER FORMS? WHAT MUSIC EXAMPLES REFLECT THEIR STYLE?

Much later on, in the 12th century, these chants were used as the foundation to build new melodies in the style that came to be associated with the School of Notre Dame. The old chant was known as a ‘cantus firmus’ and was sung down low. The newer melody was called a ‘duplum’. A good example of this is Léonin’s “Alleluia Dies Sanctificatus”. …. WHY IS IT A GOOD EXAMPLE?
The effect was similar to today’s rock songs where the bass guitar will play a slow and simple melody while the lead guitar will play something higher and faster that creates varying textures of consonance and dissonance with the bass notes. … SINCE ROCK IS VERY RHYTHMIC AND TONAL AND ORGANUM IS NOT, OTHER THAN TESSITURA, I DON’T SEE THE COMPARISON.
————————-
First of all, how do you get off saying that organum is not rhythmic? The School of Notre Dame INVENTED rhythmic notation!

Secondly, In parallel organum the high part is often sung a 5th higher than the lower part. In simpler rock music the lead guitar parts are often played a 5th higher than the bass guitar to form, in modern parlance, a ‘power chord’. Sometimes the high part is sung an octave higher than low part in parallel organum whereas sometimes the lead guitar part is played an octave higher than the bass part which merely thickens the sound of the melody.

Thirdly, If you look at melismatic organum you can clearly tell that the lower part has longer notes organized around a simpler structure than the high parts. In rock music you can clearly tell that the bass guitar plays longer notes with simpler structure whereas the lead guitar plays a variety of short, high notes which are often improvised over the melody of the bass line in the same way that singers would sometimes improvise the higher melodic variations in melismatic organum.
———————————
By the 14th century the French and Italian musical movement “ars nova” or “new art” was sweeping across Europe much as the “new wave” of British punk and synth-pop did in the early 1980′s. … RELEVANCE/COMPARISON?
This much earlier movement was similar in that it grew out of a period of social unrest where it was obvious that mainstream culture had failed to provide the masses with what they needed, and as a consequence older traditions were becoming eroded. … I DON’T FIND THE SOCIAL UNREST AT THE START OF THE ARS NOVA. THEREFORE, I DON’T THINK YOUR COMPARISON IS VALID. PERHAPS YOU ARE TRYING TOO HARD TO IMPRESS 20TH CENTURY SOCIAL EVOLUTION ON THE 14TH CENTURY.
——————————–
No social unrest in the 14th century? What about the Plague? As I recall, 1/4 of Europe died from it. You don’t think the deaths of tens of millions of people in a short few years caused a stir? What about the Hundred Year’s War? When Charles IV died in 1328 France had to fight off England to regain control of the throne. It took over a century of fighting– including relatively short periods of ‘peace’ where both sides simply reformed and rebuilt their armies– before France was able to ultimately turn the tide towards victory with the help of Joan of Arc. In addition to that, there were peasant revolts in both France and England in 1358 and 1381 respectively as a result of overtaxing the people for the war effort.

What is perhaps more relevant to our discussion was the growing conflict between Catholic and secular factions of European society in the 14th century. In Italy, for example, one of the most popular composers of the time, Francesco Landini, composed almost exclusively secular music. This was a radical departure from previous centuries which were heavily dominated by religious compositions. In France, the inception of the ‘ars nova’ can be traced to a man by the name of Philippe de Vitry who is credited with writing the book on, and coining the term of ‘ars nova’ in 1322. The very first composition he made in the new style was a a musical arrangement of part of a poem written in 1310 called “Roman de Fauvel” which was a stinging satire of the Catholic church. So how can you fail to ‘find the social unrest at the start of the ars nova’ when the very first example of that style was written about the hypocrisy and corruption of the church? This was the century which precipitated the early Renaissance transition of power from Catholic to secular society. To exclude one of the most significant social evolutions of the last millennium from a discussion about the history of music is myopic at best.
———————————————————

For the first time we see the incorporation of non-secular music in the cathedral, as well as a clear influence of polyphonic technique spread from religious inspiration to folk music through university education and the widespread adoption of a more elaborate system of musical notation. A good example of the rise of polyphony in Church service is Guillaume de Machaut’s “Agnus Dei”. …WHY?
It’s obvious that the invention of polyphony in Western music was the accomplishment of many different people over the centuries rather than the creation of any single person. What is not so obvious is how much of that accomplishment was the result of oral traditions of music, both European and imported, since all we have to go on is the written records left behind, which are themselves far from complete.

DID A RADICAL MONK ALTER THE STYLISTIC COURSE OF MUSIC HISTORY?
———————————-
No, I said quite clearly in my conclusion that polyphony was the result of ‘many different people’ which excludes attributing it to any single monk. Furthermore, the very definition of polyphony implies activity by more than one person.
———————————-
WHY IS THE MOVE FROM MONOPHONY TO POLYPHONY SUCH AND IMPORTANT STEP IN MUSIC HISTORY?
TRY TO MAKE BETTER USE OF YOUR MUSIC EXAMPLES.
—————-
I’m not sure what you mean by that.

====================================================
Mr. Rackley’s response on Sep 28:

I will comment on one of your statements:

“*First of all, how do you get off saying that organum is not rhythmic? The
School of Notre Dame INVENTED rhythmic notation!”

I “… get off saying that…” , because I am the teacher. You seem to have lost track of that fact. If you would like to continue this discussion in a less confrontational manner, I would be happy to participate. If you don’t think that is possible, perhaps you should consider dropping.

====================================================

I actually stuck with the class, then ended up in the hospital during finals week and failed all 5 of my online courses. To his credit, he let me change the ‘F’ to a ‘W’ for a withdrawal so it doesn’t count against my GPA so he wins a few points for being a decent human, just not for being a decent teacher. It’s sad to see this sort of lackadaisical approach to education partnered with compost-worthy textbooks is not an exception but much more so the rule in college. I’ll save my hard-earned money for beer and burritos from now on thank you very much.

1 Comment