Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

Consider how the earliest storytellers recorded their legacies on walls, floors, caves, tombstones, or bas-relief carvings, as they did over the millennia. They were intent on preserving the stories of their societies with the tools and resources available to them. If we fast forward to our millennium, we can observe the rapidly expanding role social media play in minor and monumental events in society. The street vendor’s death that catalyzed the Arab Spring in Tunisia and throughout the Middle East, police brutality, riots in London, and other significant events have been documented and gone viral on social media. Facebook pages call attention to salient issues; concise “tweets” provide “spin” on presidential candidates. Meanwhile, YouTube videos expand on the “picture is worth a thousand words” mantra, launching independent artists’ careers, and developing fan bases for them.

Writing Prompt Apply Your Media Literacy: Storytelling

What classic genres have survived until today? Are they reflected in any way in the newer genres—for instance, reality television? If so, what similarities or patterns do you see?

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7.3 Music

Study Preview Audio technology accelerated the unifying effects of music. This is illustrated by the integration of traditional black music and country Western music into rock ‘n’ roll, which in its own way furthered racial integration in the United States. Music’s impact has been enhanced by its growing role in other media forms, including movies and television.

Learning Objectives By the end of this module you will be able to:

  1. 7.3.1 Identify ways that music has integrated with other entertainment media
  2. 7.3.2 Summarize the historical origins of contemporary U.S. music
  3. 7.3.3 Describe the cultural impact of rock’n’roll
  4. 7.3.4 Outline the dissent traditions of U.S. music
  5. 7.3.5 Compare the rise of rap to that of other music genres

7.3.1 Transformative Effect on Culture 1. Objective: Identify ways that music has integrated with other entertainment

media

Although today’s music often is identified as stand-alone content published and recorded by the few conglomerates that dominate the industry, it has been, throughout history, integrated with dance and theater. When the first silent films were produced, music was an important component of the storytelling. Until the advent of the “talkies,” a piano player seated near the theater’s orchestra accompanied the films to

provide dramatic, comic, or special effects. A 70-piece orchestra accompanied D.W. Griffith’s 1915 epic film The Birth of a Nation.

Some movies have been little more than musical vehicles for popular performers. Beginning with The Jazz Singer, the first “talkie,” starring Al Jolson, and continuing through crooners like Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra, and later through legendary rockers like Elvis Presley and the Beatles. The trend has continued with postmodern MTV music video icons like Madonna, Michael Jackson, and more recently, Katy Perry. Some of these and other artists’ songs are heavily featured and credited in movie scores.

Early radio recognized the value of music jingles and ditties that helped establish many brand names. Today many composers and lyricists derive significant income from their work being featured in advertisements for television, radio, and online. McDonald’s “I’m Loving It,” or “Nationwide Is on Your Side” may be annoying, but with repeat commercials, these jingles become engraved in our minds.

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