Music History & Facts

Interesting facts about music, music history, etc.

Punk rock was a very powerful force when it came to cultural change as it was not only about the music, it was about the ones that didn’t fit into the establishment or in musical terms, the mainstream audience.

This was a way to finally show true colors, and scream with all honesty what is being lost, taken, or disrispected. This made punk something more than an opportunity to protest, it was powerful bomb made out of lost teenagers, outsiders, but also women.

Playing drums in an all female riot grrrl/new wave band in Manchester called Killerdolls was very empowering. Winning first prize in two business competitions made me feel proud and capable and empowered.

Before Riot Grrrls There Was…

It was not very common to find big women with hard hitting lyirics in leather in the 70s, it was mostly a men thing but, some women didn’t think so.

With artists such as Patti Smith and Joan Jett with the Runaways, it was clear that the world was about to see something that was so much more than just a feminist protest.

It’s always hard to break barriers, and if done right, everyone will come from all sides saying it’s wrong. Joan Jett said in an interview:

When I was starting out in the Runaways, we took a lot of shit from feminists. All teenage girls think about sex, but a lot of women felt we were using our sexuality. We were just acknowledging what all girls go through and took shit for it. It was very confusing. I didn’t quite get it

There was nothing like the Runaways when they came into the scene taking over the world with “Cherry Bomb”. There was Heart, but even they were not an all women band, and they were not punk.

The Runaways were raw and harsh with their lyrics, with a challenging tone.

The 90s

The Riot Grrrl movement really began in the 90s, as a group of women in Olympia, Washington, discussed the importance of sexuality and sexism in punk rock. In the end they decided that it was enough, and that girls should riot against a society that doesn’t properly tackle important issues such as rape, incest and eating disorders.

Kathleen Hanna was the first Riot Grrrl in a way, and made it clear what the Riot Grrrls were all about

The Riot Grrrl movement started by bands like Bikini Kill and made famous by bands like Hole and Babes In Toyland in the 90s are feminist. In fact, even mainstream pop, indie and rock was more feminist in the 90s… then came a backlash with disempowered female role models in pop presented to us, which was disheartening to see- the promotion of the 50s housewife style female blueprint came back with pop groups like Girls Aloud. Quite the contrast to the Spice Girls with their feminism lite message for the masses. I feel artists like Gwen Steffani are role models for femininity and empowerment at the same time. Courtney Love presented female anger (and suffered for it a lot) which was very important contribution to feminism. No one else seemed to have been such an angry woman in public before (to my eyes)… I feel like all women in punk with a voice or on drums or guitar are feminist icons to some extent.

grrrlswithguitars.com/

It was a way to scream about all the topics that were “not important” at the time, and what better way to scream than with punk rock? It was all about being sexually open, speaking against violence against women, and dressing for the ocassion with grunge inspired outfits and the irony of wearing red lipstick and pretty dresses.

However the movement doesn’t come without its fair share of criticism. Courtney Love is often associated with the movement, however she is not very happy with it.

It was a big movement that inspired many other musicians, and although it may be a thing for the past for some, it was an important step for punk rock music.

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As musicians we are always amazed by the possibilities of merging different influences and finding new inspirations to develop different and fresh sounds. A good example of this result of making something new by mixing different genres is city pop.

City pop is a genre of music that originated in Japan around the 70s and became wildly popular around the 80s

Late 70s Japan

In order to understand the audience and the general feel of city pop we have to understand the context in which it was born. Maybe, some genres don’t necessarily need this sort of explanation but city pop does.

As its name implies, this type of music wanted to make the listener feel the city life in the best way possible, and it was the perfect time for that. Japan was reaching an economic peak , and technological advancement didn’t stop surprising people with arcades and the sony walkman.

At the same time, sounds from the west were “invading” Japan with new wave, jazz fusion, blues, and rockabilly.

According to Yosuke Kitazawa, trhere was a thirst for celebration and a very active nightlife, he says:

The public spent lavishly on imported wine and liquor, luxury clothing, art, and international travel. Japanese nightlife, from flashy restaurants and hostess bars to glitzy bars and discotheques, was second to none. Japan needed a soundtrack for this new lifestyle, and city pop was born.

It also inspired many visual artists such as Hiroshi Nagai, who found a way to mix pop art with American ads and surrealism. These sort of art eventually also inspired the graphic design for Sonic the Hedgehog’s Green Hill Zone.

80s Japan

The 80s was the golden age of city pop, which started with Yamashita Tatsur?’s single “Ride on Time”. From there on city pop got into the mainstream, as the sound of the city.

It became almost a cultural movement in Japan, and everyone was involved with city pop one way or another, and artists such as Yazawa Eikichi and Inoue Y?sui who were more along the lines of rock and folk, were also getting into the trend.

Women in City Pop

City pop had a big influence on women in Japan, not only from a musical perspective but as a way to express the fact that women also enjoy the same nightlife as men.

In a way this genre brought a new era when it comes to gender equality even though it came from a place of leisure.

To this days some of the biggest city pop hits are sang by women.

Singers like Hitohmi Tohyama and Junko Ohashi sang about the inner workings of their bedrooms as they addressed risque and sometimes taboo subjects like one-night stands and the pursuit of men. While most Japanese love songs hesitate to express emotions directly, this allusion to physical relationships encouraged women to take an active role in their own sexuality.

Plastic Love and City Pop Revival

The youtube algorithm sometimes takes us to very weird recommendations, videos that we don’t really know why they are for us, one of these videos was Mariya Takeuchi’s Plastic Love.

This started a new fascination for the genre in the 2010s which made it even more international.

This was also due to the vaporwave and future funk boom, which are heavily influenced by the sounds of the 80s. Artists going into these new genres went back to music that felt appropriate to have as an inspiration or sample. That’s how everyone just kept stumbling with city pop.

According to vice.com

Sample-heavy Internet genres like vaporwave and future funk soon rose to prominence, offering a hyper-commercialized take on 80s pop as fantastical and escapist as they were critical of the empty promises of capitalism. For these online communities, old city pop records would serve as a massive visual and sonic touchstone.

It’s still fresh, full of energy and contradictory as it feels both nostalgic and modern, but that is just what makes it so special.

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If you ever wondered how music was made around 10,000 years ago, now we have some answers thanks to archaeological research.

It’s important to have in mind that music or sounds for that matter, have changed in terms of its use, meaning that melodies and musical creations haven’t always been for entertainment or as something we have in our daily lives in order to help us keep going. Before CDs, mass media and musical institutions as they are known today, there were other uses for music, but just as it is today, music has always been a very human thing.

10,000 years ago in southern Africa, there were artefacts that can be easily considered some of the first musical instruments in the world, some resambling flutes, bells and even pianos.

There were two types of instruments found.

Aerophones

Aeorophones are musical instruments that produce their sound by air, this is, making the instrument vibrate making its way into sound.

Bone Tube

These instruments were made with bird bone and were very similar to flutes, but couldn’t be used to play several tones, just one.

Clay Whistle

A clay whistle is as simple as it gets when it comes to musical instruments, and it eventually evolved into clay ocarinas which had a bit more flexibility in terms of sounds.

Ivory Trumpets

An ivory trumpet was mostly made with elephant teeth, which then were carved, hollowed, perforated and polished.

The first of its kind was discovered more than 100 years ago:

This trumpet was collected in the Southern Sudan by John Petherick in 1858’ ; an account of his travels in that year is given in his 1861 volume, Egypt, The Sudan and Central Africa, when his expedition passed through Bongo, Shilluk, Nuer, Raik Dinka, Mundo and Zande territory. Petherick’s collection was shipped back to England in 1859. It was subsequently acquired by Pitt Rivers, perhaps via auction as Petherick is known to have sold some of his collection through Mr Bullock of High Holborn, London, on 27th June 1862

Idiophones

Idiophones also produce sound by vibrations like most instruments, however the vibrations isn’t produced by air, it is however produced by direct physical contact. These include concussion, friction, percussion, pluced, scraped, shkan stamping and shaked.

Thumb Piano

This is an instrument that works mostly like a piano and it’s considered a percussion instrument.

This instrument eventually became te Mbira which is made of a row of metal strips, used as key, attached to an open-ended wooden gourd or hollow resonator.

According to australian.museum:

Mbira was used in ceremonial functions such as weddings, funerals, and in honour of significant people, as well as for religious purposes, to call on spirits and seek their advice. When calling on spiritual ancestors, the tribe would perform a religious ceremony which involved continuous singing, dancing, and playing music until the spirits appeared. The ritual would temporarily stop in the presence of the spirit, and begin again once it departed. Thus it was necessary for the mbira to produce a sound that would ‘project into the heavens’ and attract the spirits to earth.

Musical Bells

These are just bells, as simple as that, but, the interesting part is to see that they were used at that time.

According to an article from theconversation.com:

Musical instruments are seldom found in the archaeological record and are not easily identifiable, so there is a lot of debate among researchers when it comes to identifying these instruments from the archaeological record. Some instruments may not have been musical instruments per se but rather sound-producing implements that were used to convey certain messages or used for ritual purposes.

 

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