Music26AC Homework4

Review the Analyzing Narrative Song Lyrics document and use the included questions to explore the stories embedded in the songs for this module.

  1. Listen to “Barbara Allen” sung by Texas Gladden and summarize the story that the song tells. Make sure to pay attention to who, what, when, where, why, and how and don’t be afraid to make informed guesses. Remember to describe before interpreting and have fun putting the narrative into your own words!

As ballads were transmitted through oral tradition, they were passed from person to person with much room for each performer’s unique style to influence the story and music. You can find evidence of these variations in different versions of the songs that were recorded and scholars have used this as evidence of how songs have changed over time and across different geographic locations. Let’s practice listening for these distinctions (if needed, go back and review the musical basics we studied in Module 1).

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  1. Compare the recordings of “Barbara Allen” by Texas Gladden and Rebecca Tarwater. Note similarities and differences in vocal style as well as the storytelling.
  1. Continuing this exploration of song change, and drawing on the discussion of “Shenandoah” in the Ferris reading, analyze the recording by Pete Seeger in terms of the regional references it makes. What musical features might evoke the life and work of a sailor? What take on white-indigenous encounters does it offer?
  1. Listen to the recordings of “Binnorie (Twa Sisters)” by Custer LaRue and “Twa Sisters” the Ritchie Sisters. What changes in the story between the two versions? What stays the same? Use this information determine whether you agree or disagree with Hyman’s claims about how ballads changed in the U.S. In this exercise, you are adding the E of DIET to the conversation: describing what is present in the recordings, interpreting their distinctions, and evaluating their content in relation to Hyman’s argument.
  1. What does Hyman say the changes in U.S. versions of ballads say about a U.S. American “ethos”? Do you agree or disagree with this sentiment? Why? What about Hyman’s claim that U.S. ballads are not of a good aesthetic quality? Why or why not?
  1. Listen to “Gregorio Cortez” and compare the musical features to those of the Anglo-Celtic ballad. What are two similarities and two differences that you hear?
  1. From 1920-1933, the manufacture, sale, and transportation of alcohol was prohibited in the U.S., leading to much underground creation and distribution of liquor. “Contrabandistas Tequileros” is about smugglers who carried tequila from Mexico to the U.S. during this period. Listen to the song and discuss how it illustrates the confrontations of Mexicans and Anglo-Americans in the border region. How are the four facets of the border illustrated in the song lyrics? What is the storyteller’s point of view about these dynamics?
  1. What do “Mexicotejano” and “los de este lado” mean? In what ways does Flores contend that “Los Sediciosos” expresses these terms? Give one example from the song lyrics to illustrate this point.
  1. In what ways might corridos serve as, as Flores claims, “a means of responding to and resisting the encroachments and exploitation of the Anglo-Texans” (171)? Give an example from one of the songs from this week to illustrate your answer.
  1. View the video of Teatro Campesino’s “La Rielera” from their stage show, Canciones de Mis Padres (Songs of My Parents). In what ways does this song or performance differ from the other corridos we have encountered (in form, instrumentation, performance style, etc.)? What do you think about this performance as an update of a historic tradition? Should these styles be preserved in their earlier forms or re-imagined for the present day? What is gained or lost in staging these songs?
  1. What are two other identities you hold, distinct from the one you discussed last week. Give an example of a song, piece, or musical style that might express this identity (your own musical creations or pieces/styles that you or others associate with those identities).

Extra credit (5 points):

  1. Select one of the identities you listed in #11 and think of a story that relates to it. Write two verses of a ballad (either style) that tell are piece of this narrative.

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