Memories and Differences in Perspective- M9Q2

“In My Life,” a tune originally written and performed by the Beatles, is a song about memories. The feeling of nostalgia – a sort of happy longing over past memories – can be heard and understood from listening to the Beatles’ performance. Time changes the world around us; people are born, pass away, move into and out of our lives, but we can still hold onto the memories of the past and reminisce over the good times.

In contrast, Judy Collins’ cover of this song presents a much more lamenting mood than the joyful one of the Beatles’ version. Without any change to the lyrics, Collins creates a distinctively different tone for the song. Perhaps the solo performance style adds to this feeling of longing/loneliness – with only Collins’ voice, acoustic guitar and a bass accompaniment –  compared to the Beatles’ full electric band, bright vocal harmonies, and lively piano bridge section. The use of drums in the Beatles’ version adds a lively beat to the song, whereas Collins’ absence of rhythm emphasizes a darker emotion within the piece. Without a change in lyrics, the message remains the same for both performers; they are reflecting on their cherished memories. The Beatles are looking back on these life moments and carrying on with a brighter outlook on life. Collins looks back on these recollections and, though recalling some good times, continues to give off a feeling of longing.

Thank you for reading – have a great day – and be sure to check out our fellow classmate’s blog discussion on Nine Inch Nails’ and Johnny Cash’s “Hurt”! (I really like that selection!)



Meshel, Jeff (Uploader). “Judy Collins – In My Life”. YouTube video, 4:08. Posted [May 27, 2010]. (accessed November 25, 2016).

TabbyCat67 (Uploader). “In My Life – The Beatles [HD] (with lyrics)”. YouTube video, 2:24. Posted [Oct 18, 2012]. (accessed November 25, 2016).


Joni Mitchell’s “Blue”: Setting the Standard for Singer-Songwriters – M8Q2


In 1971, now critically-acclaimed and highly influential singer-songwriter, Joni Mitchell broke the conventions of folk style, creating a highly individual 10-song suite titled: Blue. This would be the album that kick-started her career, turned Joni Mitchell into a household name, and set the standard for all future singer-songwriters to follow. Listed below are three pieces from the album that exemplify this set standard through the transformation of folk lyrics, melody, and accompaniment into a deeply personal reflection of life and love.

A Case of You:

“A Case of You” reflects a relationship that has come and gone – sung as a conscience admission of the relationship’s end. Mitchell’s lyrics carry a level of poetic skill that constructs  vivid imagery in the minds of her listeners; this song is a prime example of the poetic skill that Mitchell is known for and the standard for other artists to try to match. As the title of the song discusses regarding the relationship, Mitchell could “drink a case” of this person and “still be on [her] feet” – a very sobering thought that leaves a strong impression on those who hear it.

This Flight Tonight:

“This Flight Tonight” tells the story of Mitchell’s conflict as she boards a plane, leaving her lover. The rapid-fire delivery of these lyrics could be compared to Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues” but with more musicality. This piece specifically highlights how Mitchell took the conventions of folk style and transformed them into a design of her own – filled with highly poetic lyrics, unpredictable melody, and unique rhythmic accompaniment.

My Old Man:

In “My Old Man,” Mitchell describes her significant other at the time and how he made her feel. It should be noted that while one’s “old man” is commonly referring to a father figure in today’s vernacular, the term was more-so used in reference to a boyfriend when the song was released. This tune has Mitchell playing the piano instead of the dulcimer like in most of the other tracks; this displays her multiple talents as a musician. The main feature to listen for in this piece is the distinct shift in mood when Mitchell describes how she feels with her partner near and when he is absent – switching from a happy-sounding major key to a sad-sounding minor key then back to the major key. Mitchell’s use of vivid imagery, distinctive melody and harmony, and solo piano playing in this piece further reinforce the significance of this album to the world of music.


Chalkley, Olivia (Uploader). “Joni Mitchell-A Case of You”. YouTube video, 4:24. Posted [Aug 24, 2009]. . (accessed November 18, 2016).

Davies, Christian T (Uploader). “Joni Mitchell – This Flight Tonight”. YouTube video, 2:53. Posted [Dec 22, 2012]. (accessed November 18, 2016).

“Joni Mitchell – Blue – Album.” (Accessed November 18, 2016).

TrixxyKatt (Uploader). “Joni Mitchell – My Old Man”. YouTube video, 3:41. Posted [Sep 9, 2013]. (accessed November 18, 2016).

“Why Joni Mitchell’s ‘Blue’ Is the Greatest Relationship Album Ever.” The Atlantic. (Accessed November 18, 2016).

The Motown Sound- M7Q1

Founded by Berry Gordy Jr. in 1959, Motown records lifted African-American music to a level of popularity where everyone and anyone could enjoy listening to its catchy tunes. Motown included several particular characteristics of production that gave songs of the record label a signature sound. Such characteristics are borrowed influences from other genres like the syncopation of jazz, the call and response of gospel, the use of strings, horns, and backup vocals from pop, and the storytelling of blues. Other aspects of the Motown sound include a melodic electric bass line, clear back-beat, catchy and memorable melodies, and simple, common themes like love and heartbreak, and distinctive melodic and chord structures that would appeal to the largest audience possible. Here are ten songs that highlight the best of Motown’s signature sound:

Ain’t No Mountain High Enough – Marvin Gaye/Tammi Terrell: melodic electric bass, call and response between two lead vocalists, distinctive back-beat, pop influence with inclusion of strings

Please Mr. Postman – The Marvelettes: distinctive back-beat, call and response with backup vocals, blues lyrical influence

Do you Love Me – The Contours: blues lyrical influence, distinctive back-beat, call and response with backup vocals, melodic electric bass

My Girl – The Temptations: call and response with backup vocals, distinctive back-beat, pop influence with inclusion of strings and horns

I Want You Back – The Jackson 5: melodic electric bass, pop influence with inclusion of strings and horns, call and response with backup vocals

Signed, Sealed, Delivered – Stevie Wonder: pop influence with inclusion of horns, melodic electric bass, call and response with backup vocals, distinctive back-beat

Stand By Me – Otis Redding: melodic electric bass, pop influence with inclusion of horns, jazz influence in syncopation, blues lyrical influence

Lean On Me – Bill Withers: melodic electric bass, blues lyrical influence, call and response with back-up vocals,

Dancing In The Street – Martha and the Vandellas: call and response with backup vocals, pop influence with inclusion of horns, distinctive back-beat

Love Train – The O’Jays: call and response with backup vocals, distinctive back-beat, pop influence with inclusion of strings and horns, melodic electric bass


Blaxter (Uploader). “MARVIN GAYE & TAMMI TERRELL “Ain’t no Mountain High Enough””. YouTube video, 2:23. Posted [Jun 16, 2006]. (accessed November 6, 2016).

Cavebitter (Uploader). “SIGNED/Stevie Wonder/ The Dick Cavett Show”. YouTube video, 3:40. Posted [Jul 20, 2008]. (accessed November 6, 2016).

DjCole100 (Uploader). “The O’Jays – Love Train (1972 Audio Redone By Dj Cole)”. YouTube video, 2:19. Posted [Aug 10, 2011]. (accessed November 6, 2016).

Groove Addict (Uploader). “Otis Redding Stand By Me”. YouTube video, 2:47. Posted [Nov 30, 2012]. (accessed November 6, 2016).

Jeffcher10 (Uploader). “Bill Withers live performance – Lean on me 1972”. YouTube video, 4:11. Posted [Nov 27, 2013]. (accessed November 6, 2016).

Mike Faison (Uploader). “The Contours Do You Love Me”. YouTube video, 2:54. Posted [Jan 6, 2009]. (accessed November 6, 2016).

MyMotownTunes0815007 (Uploader). “Marvelettes – Please Mr. Postman (1965) HD 0815007”. YouTube video, 2:24. Posted [Sep 4, 2011]. (accessed November 6, 2016).

Ok4602002 (Uploader). “The Temptations – My Girl”. YouTube video, 2:42. Posted [May 25, 2013]. (accessed November 6, 2016).

The Ed Sullivan Show (Uploader). “Martha & The Vandellas – “Dancing In The Street””. YouTube video, 1:24. Posted [Nov 2, 2009]. (accessed November 6, 2016).

Thiago Santos Macedo (Uploader). “The Jackson 5 – I Want you Back (1969)”. YouTube video, 3:02. Posted [May 25, 2016]. (accessed November 6, 2016).

Wikipedia contributors, “Motown,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, (accessed November 2, 2016).

Rock and Roll with Teens in Mind – M6Q2

As discussed in this module’s readings, the “teenager” became a new societal stage of life as a product of increased disposable income and free time post-war. Music was a popular choice to spend on this new-found time and money (Campbell, 173). Here are three musical selections that speak to the teenage persona of the 1950’s.

Chuck Berry’s recording of “School Days” specifically addresses a typical day for a teenager of the time period. The story conveyed through the song’s lyrics provide vision that many youth can subscribe to like the troublesome situations a teen might face in school, moving on to what many teens would rather be doing; listening to music, dancing, and “making romance.” This song is one of many tunes that reflect the rebellious attitude of teens both in its rock and roll sound and its relatable lyrics.

Elvis Presley’s “Girls! Girls! Girls!” is another prime example of excessive teen interest,and parental horror, to romance and sexual subject matter in song. Elvis’s performance paints an image of the stereotypical, “hormone-crazed” teenage boy and his never-ending attraction to girls. The song’s beat could convincingly make teenagers want to get up and dance as well as swoon over the thought of Elvis’ shaking hips on stage. One could say young women dreamed of meeting Elvis and young men hoped to imitate him as best they could – Elvis being an icon for teen appeal and a great fit for performing this song.

Drawing on musicians from unit 10 as well, teens could find some familiar ground in the lyrics of “Love is a Gamble” performed by Ike Turner and his former spouse Bonnie Mae Wilson. Though this kind of sound is but a precursor to rock and roll, teens could still relate to it thinking of the hardships of their search for young love. The lyrics warns that if love is a gamble, love must also be a sin. This represents the teenager’s acknowledgement that their parents are most likely discouraged with their rebellious behavior. That being said, the lyric goes on to say that if this behavior takes the teen “down below” (to hell), the teen believes they are already there – accepting their rebellion and carrying onward.

(Something just for fun, thank you for reading!)


Schöne, Torsten (Uploader). “Bonnie Turner – Love Is A Gamble”. YouTube video, 2:13. Posted [Jun 19, 2013]. (accessed October 21, 2016).

Schusterbersch (Uploader). “Elvis Presley – Girls! Girls! Girls! [HQ Studio Version/HD]”. YouTube video, 2:29. Posted [Jul 24, 2013]. (accessed October 21, 2016).

W, Nick (Uploader). “School Days – Chuck Berry”. YouTube video, 2:42. Posted [Jun 19, 2008]. (accessed October 21, 2016).

Wikipedia contributors, “Ike Turner,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, (accessed October 18, 2016).

Ella Fitzgerald -Jazz/Pop Singing Icon – M5Q3

Ella Fitzgerald: A jazz/pop singing icon in stature comparative to the likes of Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Sarah Vaughn and several others. From the lowest lows to the highest highs, Ella experienced a rough childhood of family separation, family death, and surviving through the great depression of the 1930’s; her life circumstance took a turn for the better at the young age of 17. Having won the opportunity to perform during amateur night at the Harlem’s Apollo Theater, Ella had her first taste of the spotlight and, with positive reception, went on to sing for numerous bands with a multitude of famous musicians and fellow singers. Ella lead an extremely successful career, winning 13 Grammys and selling over 40 million albums. She has been referred to as the “First Lady of Song” and the “Queen of Jazz.” Ella’s spectacular practice of song interpretation and vocal talents make her and her legacy an inspiration to future generations of vocalists. Listed below are a few of Ella’s recordings that best depict the concept of song interpretation in how a performer can personalize a pre-existing song and transform it into their own personal message:

Ella’s rendition of “It’s only a Paper Moon” reflects her optimistic personality despite all of the struggles she’s lived through. Her parents separated early in her life, with her mother passing away when she was 15 years old. Growing up as an African-American woman is the early to mid 1900’s was a struggle in itself, and continues to be a struggle today. Ella’s singing of this standard gives the listener an authentic feeling that with some love and positivity, she can overcome the worst of situations.

Ella’s version of “Someone to Watch Over Me” could be a nod to the struggles in her relationships. Her first marriage was annulled after learning of her first husband’s criminal activity. Her second marriage ended in divorce as a result of career pressure from both parties. There have been rumors of a secret third marriage. Shortly after this news the supposed husband was also convicted of criminal activity like the first. This song may be considered a statement on Ella’s lament of her love life.

Ella’s performance of “Misty” carries a similar feeling to “Someone to Watch Over Me” with the idea of struggles in love. This video of her live performance further reinforces the raw, inflicted emotion Ella provides in her singing (did she give you goosebumps too?). The power of her interpretation of this song is intensified by her use of melisma and vibrato.

Several other of her performances could be used, but I have chosen these three to represent Ella’s contribution to the history of popular culture. These three song selections highlight her strong, everlasting influence on the future of jazz/pop singing through her deep, personal song interpretation of jazz standards and her singing talents as a skillful vocalist.


“Biography.” The Official Website of Ella Fitzgerald. (accessed Oct. 7, 2016).

Cocomoonlight(Uploader). “Ella Fitzgerald – Misty”. YouTube video, 2:53. Posted [May 7, 2006]. (accessed October 7, 2016).

“Ella Fitzgerald Biography.” Ella Fitzgerald – Singer – (accessed October 7, 2016).

Overjazz Records(Uploader). “Ella Fitzgerald – It’s Only A Paper Moon (1961)”. YouTube video, 2:35. Posted [Oct 2, 2015]. (accessed October 7, 2016).

Seniors Jazz(Uploader). “Ella Fitzgerald – Someone to Watch Over Me (HD) Official Seniors Jazz”. YouTube video, 3:13. Posted [May 28, 2015]. (accessed October 7, 2016).

Wikipedia contributors, “Ella Fitzgerald,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, (accessed October 4, 2016).



Take Five (To Please Read This) – M3Q3

I’ve found my love for playing music as I started playing piano at a young age. In sixth grade I started playing the trombone and carried on with the instrument into high school; I still play the trombone in an ensemble today. I played tenor and bass trombone in my high school jazz ensemble and continue now to play tenor trombone in the Wooden Nickel Dance Band (of the Saskatoon Lindy Hop Organization).

I was doing some digging and found an old video from a music festival where our high school jazz ensemble competed. (Please excuse the cringe, or maybe it’s just me cringing from watching old videos of myself).

(Here we are playing “Take Five” composed by Paul Desmond and performed by The Dave Brubeck Quartet(1959). I am playing the bass trombone for this arrangement of the piece).

(Here is video of the Dave Brubeck Quartet playing their own tune. I think they are bit more polished than our high school ensemble – haha).

“Take Five”contains several influences of the early jazz icons studied in this module, more specifically icons of the swing era: Fletcher Henderson, Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Count Basie, and Duke Ellington.

Influences of these jazz icons in this piece can be heard from its fast tempo-ed, swing rhythm filled with syncopated riffs in an AABA form, including improvised solos throughout. Unique to this tune is its five beat rhythm instead of the traditional four beat. One could argue this uniqueness may be a product of Duke Ellington’s influence, as he was known for his distinct, artistic approach to composition. Other notable influences from the text would be the spotlighting of soloists influenced by Count Basie and furthermore, the use of different improvisational styles of solos influenced by Benny Goodman.

(Whereas the previous video spotlights solos of saxophone and piano, this recording features a drum solo in addition to the saxophone solo).

“Take Five” applies a unique rhythmic approach to jazz, while the roots of the genre and the influence of previous jazz musicians are still well entrenched into the piece at its core.


DaveBrubeckVEVO(Uploader). “Dave Brubeck, The Dave Brubeck Quartet – Take Five”. YouTube video, 5:25. Posted [Oct 29, 2013]. (accessed September 23, 2016).

Gor Re(Uploader). “Dave Brubeck – Take Five (Original Video)”. YouTube video, 5:11. Posted [Feb 12, 2013]. (accessed September 23, 2016).

Superduperdude60(Uploader). “Take 5 BCHS Jazz Band”. YouTube video, 3:05. Posted [Sept 23, 2016]. (accessed September 23, 2016).

“Take Five by The Dave Brubeck Quartet Songfacts.” Take Five by The Dave Brubeck Quartet Songfacts. (accessed September 23, 2016).

Wikipedia contributors, “Dave Brubeck,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, (accessed September 23, 2016).

Wikipedia contributors, “Take Five,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, (accessed September 23, 2016).




“All that Jazz” – Past and Present – M2Q1


From the genres studied in module 2, I’d have to say that jazz has resonated with me most this week (and resonates with me most every week). I find a great deal of interest and excitement to learn/hear/play jazz in that despite how “all over the place” it may seem at first, there is a science to jazz’s “madness” that makes sense of its sound through all the specific chord progressions, syncopation, and improvisations to create a distinct and unique genre of music with an infectious rhythm that leaves you happily seeking more. I will start with an older example of jazz, then continue on with a few more modern examples to finish.

“At the Jazz Band Ball” was recorded in 1917 by the Original Dixieland Band and carries familiar aspects as found in “Dippermouth Blues” from this week’s coursework. Specific qualities of early jazz to listen for in this song are its fast tempo, abundant syncopation, and collective improvisation of the front line trumpet, trombone, and clarinet with the rhythm section of drums and banjo keeping the steady beat. Instances of clarinet bends, trombone slides, and the influence of the 12 bar blues progression can also be heard.

“Bodhisattva” was recorded by the band Steely Dan in 1973. It takes a more modern approach to jazz while still maintaining several aspects of the genre. This modern form of jazz has a closer relationship to this week’s coursework of “Hotter Than That” than it does with the older sound of “Dippermouth Blues.” Steely Dan’s track uses the instrumentation of electric guitar/bass and some synthesizer in addition to the standard drums and piano (without the traditional trombone, trumpet, and clarinet). Despite the differences from what would considered to be traditional of this genre, roots of jazz can be heard from this tune in its swing rhythm, syncopation, chord progressions, harmony, expressiveness, and its solo-orientated, improvisational playing with the occasional segments of band members “playing-off of” each other during these solos.

While roots of jazz can be found in contemporary music like rock, R&B, and hip hop, it should also be said that jazz as a standalone genre still exists and holds popularity today (unlike that of minstrel, or parlor songs). The above video is a recording of Roy Hargrove’s Quintet playing their piece “Strasbourg / Saint Denis” that was composed in 2008. The swing rhythms, syncopation, harmony, chord progressions, solo-segments, and overall expressiveness that defines jazz are still present and relatively unchanged from their initial inception nearly a century ago.

Balajadia, Eric(Uploader). “Steely Dan Bodhisattva 1973”. YouTube video, 5:19. Posted [Nov 24, 2011]. (accessed September 16, 2016).

Incognitotraveler(Uploader). “Roy Hargrove Quintet – Strasbourg  Saint Denis”. YouTube video, 12:18. Posted [Oct 1, 2010]. (accessed September 16, 2016).

JoolyOTR(Uploader). “Original Dixieland Band: – “At The Jazz Band Ball””. YouTube video, 2:49. Posted [Apr 28, 2010]. (accessed September 16, 2016).

Wikipedia contributors, “At the Jazz Band Ball,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, (accessed September 16, 2016).

Wikipedia contributors, “Countdown to Ecstasy,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, (accessed September 16, 2016).

Wikipedia contributors, “Roy Hargrove,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, (accessed September 16, 2016).



Charlene Kaye – Stuck on Replay – M1Q1


Charlene Kaye’s latest solo album “KAYE” has been stuck on my Spotify replay for the past week and I am loving it – more specifically, her song titled “UUU.” This alternative pop/rock piece features the instrumentation of a synthesizer, electric bass, electric guitar, and drums that make up the rhythm section with Kaye’s voice providing the majority of the melody. Some vocal percussion is also used in combination with the drums, producing a four-beat rhythm with a lively tempo and a distinctive back beat. On top of Kaye’s voice carrying the song’s melody, she also shows off her talents as a guitarist with riffs played after the chorus before the following verse begins and later on with a guitar solo as the tune reaches its end. Several instances of harmony can be heard from the chords of the synthesizer and the backup vocals under Kaye’s voice throughout the song. The dynamics of this song could be interpreted as a mezzo-piano to mezzo-forte (medium soft/medium loud) during the verses with a forte (loud) sound and an increase in intensity when Kaye reaches the song’s chorus. UUU primarily follows Verse/Chorus form after further listening and reading of the lyrics. In the realm of texture, timbre, and pitch, listeners can hear a blended sound of light, alto-ranged, female vocals on top of a heavily distorted bass and guitar, with a strong, punchy percussive drum beat. In regards to performance style, the music video portrays Kaye’s strong, confident personality through her vocals, dancing in various outfits, and showing off her guitar skills – all assembled together within a colourful light display. It should be stressed that music videos are an edited production, meaning that performance style could change to a certain degree in the setting of a live performance. That being said, the persona Kaye brings to this song feels very real to me, and the catchy beat makes me want to get up, dance, and repeat the process all over again!


Kaye, Charlene. “UUU Lyrics.” Genius. (accessed September 10, 2016).

VEVO, Kaye. “KAYE – UUU”. YouTube video, 3:40. Posted (August 2016). (accessed September 10, 2016)

Intro Blog to Mus111 – Welcome!


Hello and welcome to my blog! My name is Ethan Swanson. I’m in my third year of Biochemistry studies and while looking for an interesting elective this term, I stumbled upon Music 111! Having played music for a number of years (Piano/Trombone) I am excited to learn more of the history of popular music and apply my knowledge of music theory to the material discussed in this class. When actually playing music I tend to stick to songs in the areas of classical and jazz, but when listening it could be just about any genre. I find it quite hard to just settle on picking just one favorite, as my list could go on and on, but I figured it would be interesting for me to share with the class a more recent, up-and-coming, Canadian band. Their name? T.W.R.P. TupperWare Remix Party. Their style is just as ridiculous as their name, and their rhythms and melodies will have you wanting to get up and dance!  Meeting somewhere in the middle of Styx’s synth-rock and Daft Punk’s electro-funk you will find TWRP. Seeing a live performance of these interstellar rock stars will have you laughing, dancing, and rocking out the whole night(Links to their website and a song from their youtube channel will be provided below).

Thank you for reading/listening and I’m looking forward to reading/listening to everyone’s awesome contributions!



TWRP’s official website – linking to their Bandcamp page