United States

THE POPE IN AMERICA

Posted on

Obama-Papa-Casa-Bianca-4-757x505

 

THE POPE IN AMERICA

This is a historical week not only in the life of the United States of America but for the Roman Catholic Church as well.   This is the first visit to The United States by Pope Francis, and will become the first Pope to address a joint session of Congress. Where it is anticipated that he will touch on several key issues close to his heart and key elements in his papacy, including income inequality, climate change, abortion, the definition of marriage, religious freedom and immigration. The Holy Father also brings a message to Washington that its power and wealth should be used to serve humanity. The Holy Father will also address the U.N. General Assembly in New York on Friday and an open-air Mass in Philadelphia where 1.5 million people are expected to attend, and he is expected to take part in a Vatican-sponsored conference on the family in Philadelphia.

A highlight of the papal visit in Washington, DC will be a mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception (the largest Catholic Church in the United States, 10th largest in the world) where the Holy Father will canonize Franciscan friar Junípero Serra.   Fr. Serra  founded a system of Catholic missions where he was ministering to Native Americans.   This will be the first canonization to be held in the United States, and possibly highlight the role and contributions Hispanics have made to the church.

Analysts say the historic trip is simply an extension of his peripheral philosophy. Pope Francis will call attention to the issues he has prioritized all along — aid for the poor, the environment, the margins of society — in an effort to sway the world’s superpower to his side. More than anything else, the pope is hoping to reframe, both for American Catholics and people of goodwill across the country, all of these issues in the contemporary world in a kind of moral dimension.   The U.S. is a central figure in so many of these issues he’s passionate about. He’s going to call on Americans’ conscience. Many see the Holy Father’s visit serves as a strategic platform for him to advance the causes he has been preaching about since he became pope.

The United States is the richest and most powerful country in the world, and it is incredibly blessed by God. He also has the advantage that people like him and respect him, and as a result, they’re going to be open to listening to him.     The Holy Father has also been instrumental in bringing both the governments of the United States and Cuba back to the table. Those talks resulted in reopening of diplomatic relations, travel between both countries and discussions on the trade embargo, amongst other matters.

Sprinkled throughout his six-day trip are meetings with the homeless, the hungry and even the imprisoned.   The pope’s visit also is about tending to his own flock, experts say. The United States is home to the fourth-largest Catholic population in the world and is a powerful arm of the Catholic Church.

There is a declining Catholic membership, particularly in the Americas. The U.S. is part of the dynamic of Catholic losses. The pope’s job number one really is evangelization — reaching out to lapsed Catholics and converting new people.” It doesn’t hurt that Francis, a native Spanish speaker originally from Argentina, is especially admired by the Hispanic contingent of American Catholics. His trip is pastoral but also strategic. Between 35 and 40 percent of Catholics in the United States are Latinos. The future of the Catholic Church in the U.S. is a Latino one.

The first Latin American pope has electrified liberal-leaning U.S. Catholics, Democrats and many non-Catholics with a shift in emphasis toward concern for the poor and immigrants and his appeals for action against climate change. But his criticism of unbridled capitalism has unsettled U.S. conservatives.

He’s assured of a warm welcome from millions of U.S. Catholics, and his poll numbers — which would be the envy of any politician — suggest that curious adherents of other faiths and even the non-devout are also eagerly awaiting his visit. In other words, he is highly respected and admired not just by the Catholic faithful, but by others of different religious faiths and tenants.

But the first Latin American pope’s blessings on America could also contain uncomfortable challenges as he addresses a country that encapsulates many of the ills he has denounced as the head of one of the world’s largest religions. Though there are aspects of American life that Francis embraces, he has quickly become known for blunt critiques of contemporary society and global economics, and his criticism — from capitalism to climate change to technology — spans the political spectrum.

Many observers expect Francis to implicitly rebuke Republicans — some of whom deny a link between human behavior and climate change, a topic which he addressed in an encyclical in June — for their reluctance to tackle global warming. The Pope may also wade into the raging debate about immigration in the United States, after warning earlier this year that nations that close the door on migrants should seek God’s forgiveness.

And the gesture Francis will make is by going directly to lunch with homeless people rather than with his congressional hosts after his speech on Capitol Hill will resonate on both sides of the aisle.

He is a walking, talking parable. This is a Pope who looks at the world from the bottom up and from the outside in. I think he brings to Congress and the White House a different perspective than they are used to hearing. And that perspective could be galling for both parties.

The role of the Christian is to comfort the afflicted — of course — but also to afflict the comfortable. We have people who need to be afflicted a little bit, particularly in their outlook towards the poor and the marginalized.

“An unfettered pursuit of money rules. The service of the common good is left behind,” he said at a conference in Bolivia in July. “Once capital becomes an idol and guides people’s decisions, once greed for money presides over the entire socioeconomic system, it ruins society, it condemns and enslaves men and women, it destroys human fraternity.”

Kathy Kiefer

Advertisements

HEAVY METAL, PUNK AND HIP-HOP STYLE MUSIC

Posted on Updated on

covers1

HEAVY METAL, PUNK AND HIP-HOP STYLE MUSIC

Following the turbulent political, social and musical changes of the 1960s and early 1970s, rock music diversified. What was formerly a discrete genre known as rock and roll evolved into a catchall category called simply rock music, which came to include diverse styles like heavy metal and punk rock.

During the ’70s most of these styles were evolving in the underground music scene, while mainstream audiences began the decade with a wave of singer-songwriters who drew on the deeply emotional and personal lyrics of 1960s folk rock. The same period saw the rise of bombastic arena rock bands, bluesy Southern rock groups and mellow soft rock stars. Beginning in the later 1970s, the rock singer and songwriter Bruce Springsteen became a major star, with anthemic songs and dense, inscrutable lyrics that celebrated the poor and working class.

Punk was a form of rebellious rock that began in the 1970s, and was loud, aggressive and often very simple. Punk began as a reaction against the popular music of the period, especially disco and arena rock. American bands in the field included, most famously, The Ramones and Talking Heads, the latter playing a more avant-garde style that was closely associated with punk before evolving into mainstream new wave. Other major acts include Blondie, Patti Smith and Television. In the 1980s some punk fans and bands became disillusioned with the growing popularity of the style, resulting in an even more aggressive style called hardcore punk. Hardcore was a form of sparse punk, consisting of short, fast, and intense songs that spoke to disaffected youth, with such influential bands as Bad Religion, Bad Brains, Black Flag, Dead Kennedys and Minor Threat. Hardcore began in metropolises like Washington, DC, though most major American cities had their own local scenes in the 1980s.

Hardcore, punk, and garage rock were the roots of alternative rock, a diverse grouping of rock subgenres that were explicitly opposed to mainstream music, and that arose from the punk and post-punk styles. In the United States, many cities developed local alternative rock scenes, including Minneapolis and Seattle. Seattle’s local scene produced grunge music, a dark and brooding style inspired by hardcore, psychedelic and alternative rock. With the addition of a more melodic element to the sound of bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam, grunge became wildly popular across the United States in 1991.

Heavy metal is characterized by aggressive, driving rhythms, amplified and distorted guitars, grandiose lyrics and virtuosic instrumentation. Heavy metal’s origins lie in the hard rock bands who took blues and rock and created a heavy sound centered around the guitar and drums. Most of the pioneers in the field were British; the first major American bands came in the early 1970s, like Blue Oyster Cult, KISS and Aerosmith. Heavy metal remained, however, a largely underground phenomenon. During the 1980s the first major pop-metal style arose and dominated the charts for several years kicked off by metal act Quiet Riot and dominated by bands such as Motley Crue and Ratt; this was glam metal, a hard rock and pop fusion with a raucous spirit and a glam-influenced visual aesthetic. Some of these bands, like Bon Jovi, became international stars. The band Guns N’ Roses rose to fame near the end of the decade with an image that was a reaction against the glam metal aesthetic.

By the mid-1980s heavy metal had branched in so many different directions that fans, record companies, and fanzines created numerous subgenres. The United States was especially known for one of these subgenres, thrash metal, which was innovated by bands like Anthrax, Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer, with Metallica being the most commercially successful. The United States was known as one of the birthplaces of Death Metal during the mid to late 1980s. The Florida scene was the most well-known, featuring bands like Death, Morbid Angel, Cannibal Corpse, Decide, and many others. There are now countless death metal and death grind bands across the country today.

Hip Hop is a cultural movement, of which music is a part. Hip Hop music for the most part is itself composed of two parts: rapping, the delivery of swift, highly rhythmic and lyrical vocals; and DJing and/ or producing, the production of instrumentation either through sampling, instrumentation, turntablism or through beatboxing, the production of musical sounds through vocalized tones. Hip hop arose in the early 1970s in The Bronx, New York City. Jamaican immigrant DJ Kool Herc is widely regarded as the progenitor of hip hop; he brought with him from Jamaica the practice of toasting over the rhythms of popular songs. Emcees originally arose to introduce the soul, funk and R&B songs that the DJs played, and to keep the crowd excited and dancing; over time, the DJs began isolating the percussion break of songs (when the rhythm climaxes), producing a repeated beat that the emcees rapped over.

By the beginning of the 1980s, there were popular hip hop songs, and the celebrities of the scene, like LL Cool J, gained mainstream renown. Other performers experimented with politicized lyrics and social awareness, or fused hip hop with jazz, heavy metal, techno, funk and soul. New styles appeared in the latter part of the 1980s, like alternative hip hop and the closely related jazz rap fusion, pioneered by rappers like De La Soul.

Gangsta rap is a kind of hip hop, most importantly characterized by a lyrical focus on macho sexuality, physicality and a dangerous criminal image. Though the origins of gangsta rap can be traced back to the mid-1980s style of Philadelphia’s Schoolly D and the West Coast’s Ice-T, the style broadened and came to apply to many different regions in the country, to rappers from New York, such as Notorious B.I.G. and influential hip hop group Wu-Tang Clan, and to rappers on the West Coast, such as Too Short and N.W.A. A distinctive West Coast rap scene spawned the early 1990s G-Funk sound, which paired gangsta rap lyrics with a thick and hazy sound, often from 1970s funk samples; the best-known proponents were the rappers 2Pac, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube and Snoop Dogg. Gangsta rap continued to exert a major presence in American popular music through the end of the 1990s and early into the 21st century.

 Kathy Kiefer

AMERICAN CLASSICAL MUSIC

Posted on Updated on

american-classical-music-hall-of-fame

AMERICAN CLASSICAL MUSIC

What is the American Classical Music Tradition? Is it similar to European classical Music Traditions? Or what are the differences?

The European classical music tradition was brought to the United States with some of the first colonists. European classical music is rooted in the traditions of European art, ecclesiastical and concert music. The central norms of this tradition developed between 1550 and 1825, centering on what is known as the common practice period. Many American classical composers attempted to work entirely within European models until late in the 19th century. When Antonin Dvorak, a prominent Czech composer, visited the United States from 1892 to 1895, he iterated the idea that American classical music needed its own models instead of imitating European composers; he helped to inspire subsequent composers to make a distinctly American style of classical music. By the beginning of the 20th century, many American composers were incorporating disparate elements into their work, ranging from jazz and blues to Native American music.

The earliest American classical music consists of part-songs used in religious services during Colonial times. The first music of this type in America were the psalm books brought over from Europe by the settlers of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The first music publication in English-speaking North America — indeed the first publication of any kind — was the Bay Psalm Book of 1640.

Many American composers of this period worked (like Benjamin West and the young Samuel Morse in painting) exclusively with European models, while others, such as William Billings, Supply Belcher, Daniel Read, Oliver Holden, and Justin Morgan, also known as the First New England School, developed a native style almost entirely independent of the most prestigious European models, though it drew on the practice of West Gallery music composers such as William Tans’ur and Aaron Williams. Many of these composers were amateurs, and many were singers: they developed new forms of sacred music, such as the fuguing tune, suitable for performance by amateurs, and often using harmonic methods which would have been considered bizarre by contemporary European standards. Some of the most unusual innovators were composers such as Anthony Philip Heinrich, who received some formal instrumental training but were entirely self-taught in composition. Heinrich traveled extensively throughout the interior of the young United States in the early 19th century, recording his experiences with colorful orchestral and chamber music which had almost nothing in common with the music being composed in Europe. Heinrich was the first American composer to write for symphony orchestra, as well as the first to conduct a Beethoven symphony in the United States.

Because the United States is made up of many states, some of which were parts of other empires, the classical music of the nation has derived from those empires respectively. The earliest classical music in what is now California, and other former Spanish colonies, was the renaissance polyphony of Spain. This sacred classical music was provided to support the liturgy of the Catholic Church

During the colonial era, there were two distinct fields of what is now considered classical music. One was associated with amateur composers and pedagogues, whose style was based around simple hymns that were performed with increasing sophistication over time. The other colonial tradition was that of the mid-Atlantic cities like Philadelphia and Baltimore, which produced a number of prominent composers who worked almost entirely within the European model; these composers were mostly English in origin, and worked specifically in the style of prominent English composers of the day.

European classical music was brought to the United States during the colonial era. Many American composers of this period worked exclusively with European models, while others, such as William Billings, Supply Belcher and Justin Morgan, also known as the First New England School, developed a style almost entirely independent of European models. Of these composers, Billings is the well-remembered; he was also influential “as the founder of the American church choir, as the first musician to use a pitch-pipe, and as the first to introduce a violoncello into church service”. Many of these composers were amateur singers who developed new forms of sacred music suitable for performance by amateurs, and often using harmonic methods which would have been considered bizarre by contemporary European standards. These composers’ styles were untouched by “the influence of their sophisticated European contemporaries”, using modal or pentatonic scales or melodies and eschewing the European rules of harmony.

Classical music is also listed as art music that is produced or rooted in the traditions of Western music (both liturgical and secular). It encompasses a broad span of time from roughly the 11th century to the present day. The central norms of this tradition became codified between 1550 and 1900, which is known as the common practice period. The major time divisions of classical music are as follows: the early music period, which includes Medieval (500–1400) and the Renaissance (1400–1600); the Common practice period, which includes the Baroque (1600–1750), Classical (1750–1830) and Romantic (1804–1910); the 20th century (1901–2000) which includes the modern period (1890-1930) that overlaps from the late 19th-century, the high modern period (mid-20th century), and contemporary or postmodern (1975–2000) period, the last of which overlaps into the 21st-century.

European music is largely distinguished from many other non-European and popular musical forms by its system of staff notation, in use since about the 16th century. Western staff notation is used by composers to prescribe to the performer the pitch, speed, meter, individual rhythms and exact execution of a piece of music. This leaves less room for practices such as improvisation and ad libitum ornamentation, which are frequently heard in non-European art music and in popular music. Another difference is that whereas most popular styles lend themselves to the song form, classical music has been noted for its development of highly sophisticated forms of instrumental music.

The term “classical music” did not appear until the early 19th century, in an attempt to distinctly canonize the period from Johan Sebastian Bach to Beethoven as a golden age.

The New York classical music scene included Charles Griffes, originally from Elmira, New York, who began publishing his most innovative material in 1914. His early collaborations were attempts to use non-Western musical themes. The best-known New York composer was George Gershwin. Gershwin was a songwriter with Tin Pan Alley and the Broadway theatres, and his works were strongly influenced by jazz, or rather the precursors to jazz that were extant during his time. Gershwin’s work made American classical music more focused, and attracted an unheard of amount of international attention. Following Gershwin, the first major composer was Aaron Copland from Brooklyn, who used elements of American folk music, though it remained European in technique and form. Later, he turned to the ballet and then serial music. Charles Ives was one of the earliest American classical composers of enduring international significance, producing music in a uniquely American style, though his music was mostly unknown until after his death in 1954.

Many of the later 20th-century composers, such as John Cage, John Corigliano and Steve Reich, used modernist and minimalist techniques. Reich discovered a technique known as phasing, in which two musical activities begin simultaneously and are repeated, gradually drifting out of sync, creating a natural sense of development. Reich was also very interested in non-Western music, incorporating African rhythmic techniques in his compositions. Recent composers and performers are strongly influenced by the minimalist works of Philip Glass, a Baltimore native based out of New York, Meredith Monk and others.

 Kathy Kiefer

CULTURAL INFLUENCES IN AMERICAN MUSIC

Posted on Updated on

silk_road

CULTURAL INFLUENCES IN AMERICAN MUSIC

The process of transplanting music between cultures is not without criticism. The folk revival of the mid-20th century, for example, appropriated the music of various rural peoples, in part to promote certain political causes, which has caused some to question whether the process caused the “commercial commodification of other peoples’ songs and the inevitable dilution of mean” in the appropriated music. The issue of cultural appropriation has also been a major part of racial relations in the United States.

The Native Americans played the first folk music in what is now the United States, using a wide variety of styles and techniques. Some commonalities are near universal among Native American traditional music, however, especially the lack of harmony and polyphony, and the use of vocables and descending melodic figures. Traditional instrumentations use the flute and many kinds of percussion instruments, like drums, rattles and shakers. Since European and African contact was established, Native American folk music has grown in new directions, into fusions with disparate styles like European folk dances and Tejano music. Modern Native American music may be best known for pow wow gatherings, pan-tribal gatherings at which traditionally styled dances and music are performed. The 13 of the original United States were all former English possessions, and Anglo culture became a major foundation for American folk and popular music. Many American folk songs are identical to British songs in arrangements, but with new lyrics, often as parodies of the original material. American-Anglo songs are also characterized as having fewer pentatonic tunes, less prominent accompaniment and more melodies in major. Anglo-American traditional music also includes a variety of broadside ballads, humorous stories and tall tales, and disaster songs regarding mining, shipwrecks and murder. Folk dances of British origin include the square dance, descended from the quadrille, combined with the American innovation of a caller instructing the dancers. The religious communal society known as the Shakers emigrated from England during the 18th century and developed their own folk dance style. Their early songs can be dated back to British folk song models. Other religious societies established their own unique musical cultures early in American history, such as the music of the Amish, the Harmony Society, and of the Ephrata Cloister in Pennsylvania.

Spain and subsequently Mexico controlled much of what is now the western United States until the Mexican-American War, including the entire state of Texas. After Texas joined the United States, the native Tejanos living in the state began culturally developing separately from their neighbors to the south, and remained culturally distinct from other Texans. Central to the evolution of early Tejano music was the blend of traditional Mexican forms such as mariachi and the corrido, and Continental European styles introduced by German and Czech settlers in the late 19th century. In particular, the accordion was adopted by Tejano folk musicians around the start of the 20th century, and it became a popular instrument for amateur musicians in Texas and Northern Mexico

The single largest niche industry is based on Latin music. Latin music has long influenced American popular music, and was an especially crucial part of the development of jazz. Modern pop Latin styles include a wide array of genres imported from across Latin America, including Colombian cumbia, Puerto Rican reggae ton and the Mexican corrido. Latin popular music in the United States began with a wave of dance bands in the 1930s and ’50s. The most popular styles included the conga, rumba and mambo. The most famous American form of Latin music, however, is the salsa. Salsa incorporates many styles and variations; the term can be used to describe most forms of popular Cuban-derived genres. Most specifically, however, salsa refers to a particular style that was developed by mid-1970s groups of New York City-area Cuban and Puerto Rican immigrants, and stylistic descendants like 1980s salsa romantica. Salsa rhythms are complicated, with several patterns played simultaneously. The clave rhythm forms the basis of salsa songs and is used by the performers as a common rhythmic ground for their own phrases.

Latin American music has long influenced American popular music, jazz, rhythm and blues and even country music. This includes music from Spanish, Portuguese, and French-speaking countries and territories of Latin America.

Today Latin music has become a term for music performed by Latinos regardless of whether it has a Latin element or not. Acts such as Christiana Aguilera, Shakira, Jennifer Lopez, Enrique Iglesias and Marc Anthony are prominent on the pop charts. Iglesias who holds the record for most #1s on Billboard’s Hot Latin Tracks released a bilingual album, inspired by urban acts he releases two completely different songs to Latin and pop formats at the same time. Mainstream artists and producers tend to feature more on songs from Latin artists and it’s also become more likely that English language songs crossover to Spanish radio and vice versa.

The United States played a significant role in the development of electronic dance music, specifically house and techno, which originated in Chicago and Detroit, respectively.

The government of the United States regulates the music industry, enforces intellectual property laws and promotes and collects certain kinds of music. Under American copyright law, musical works, including recordings and compositions, are protected as intellectual property as soon as they are fixed in a tangible form. Copyright holders often register their work with the Library of Congress, which maintains a collection of the material. In addition, the Library of Congress has actively sought out culturally and musicologically significant materials since the early 20th century, such as by sending researchers to record folk music. These researchers include the pioneering American folk song collector Alan Lomax, whose work helped inspire the roots revival of the mid-20th century. The federal government also funds the National Endowment for the Arts and Humanities, which allocate grants to musicians and other artists, the Smithsonian Institution, which conducts research and educational programs, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which funds non-profit and television broadcasters.

Music has long affected the politics of the United States. Political parties and movements frequently use music and song to communicate their ideals and values, and to provide entertainment at political functions. The presidential campaign of William Henry Harrison was the first to greatly benefit from music, after which it became standard practice for major candidates to use songs to create public enthusiasm. In more recent decades, politicians often chose theme songs, some of which have become iconic; the song “Happy Days Are Here Again”, for example, has been associated with the Democratic Party since the 1932 campaign of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Since the 1950s, however, music has declined in importance in politics, replaced by televised campaigning with little or no music. Certain forms of music became more closely associated with political protest, especially in the 1960s. Gospel stars like Mahalia Jackson became important figures in the Civil Rights Movement, while the American folk revival helped spread the counterculture of the 1960s and opposition of the Vietnam War.

 Kathy Kiefer

EARLY MUSICAL INFLUENCES

Posted on Updated on

history-of-american-music

EARLY MUSICAL INFLUENCES

 

The music of the United States reflects the country’s multi-ethnic population through a diverse array of styles. It is a mixture of music influenced by West African, Irish, Scottish, Mexican, and Cuban music traditions among others. The country’s most internationally renowned genres are jazz, blues, country, rhythm and blues, ragtime, hip hop, barbershop, pop, experimental, techno, house, dance, boogaloo, salsa and rock and roll. The United States has the world’s largest music market with a total retail value of 4,481.8 million dollars in 2012, and its music is heard around the world. Since the beginning of the 20th century, some Forms of American popular music have gained a near global audience.

Native Americans were the earliest inhabitants of the land that is today known as the United States and played its first music. Beginning in the 17th century, immigrants from the United Kingdom, Ireland, Spain, Germany and France began arriving in large numbers, bringing with them new styles and instruments. African slaves brought musical traditions, and each subsequent wave of immigrants contributed to a melting pot.

Much of modern popular music can trace its roots to the emergence in the late 19th century of African American blues and the growth of gospel music in the 1920s. The African American basis for popular music used elements derived from European and indigenous music. There are also strong African roots in the music tradition of the original white settlers, such as country and bluegrass. The United States has also seen documented folk music and recorded popular music produced in the ethnic styles of the Ukrainian, Irish, Scottish, Polish, Hispanic and Jewish communities, among others.

Many American cities and towns have vibrant music scenes which, in turn, support a number of regional musical styles. The Cajun and Creole traditions in Louisiana music, the folk and popular styles of Hawaiian music, and the bluegrass and old time music of the Southeastern states are a few examples of diversity in American music.

Folk music in the US is varied across the country’s numerous ethnic groups. The Native American tribes each play their own varieties of folk music, most of it spiritual in nature. During the colonial era, English, French and Spanish styles and instruments were brought to the Americas. By the early 20th century, the United States had become a major center for folk music from around the world, including polka, Ukrainian, and Polish fiddling, Ashkenazi Jewish Klezmer and several kinds of Latin music.

The music of the United States can be characterized by the use of syncopation and asymmetrical rhythms, long, irregular melodies, which are said to “reflect the wide open geography of (the American landscape)” and the “sense of personal freedom characteristic of American life”. Some distinct aspects of American music, like the call-and-response format, are derived from African techniques and instruments.

Throughout the later part of American history, and into modern times, the relationship between American and European music has been a discussed topic among scholars of American music. Some have urged for the adoption of more purely European techniques and styles, which are sometimes perceived as more refined or elegant, while others have pushed for a sense of musical nationalism that celebrates distinctively American styles. Modern classical music scholar John Warthen Struble has contrasted American and European, concluding that the music of the United States is inherently distinct because the United States has not had centuries of musical evolution as a nation. Instead, the music of the United States is that of dozens or hundreds of indigenous and immigrant groups, all of which developed largely in regional isolation until the American Civil War, when people from across the country were brought together in army units, trading musical styles and practices. Struble deemed the ballads of the Civil War “the first American folk music with discernible features that can be considered unique to America: the first ‘American’ sounding music, as distinct from any regional style derived from another country.”

The Civil War, and the period following it, saw a general flowering of American art, literature and music. Amateur musical ensembles of this era can be seen as the birth of American popular music. These early amateur bands have been described as combining “the depth and drama of the classics with undemanding technique, eschewing complexity in favor of direct expression. If it was vocal music, the words would be in English, despite the snobs who declared English an unsinkable language. In a way, it was part of the entire awakening of America that happened after the Civil War, a time in which American painters, writers and ‘serious’ composers addressed specifically American themes.” During this period the roots of blues, gospel, jazz and country music took shape; in the 20th century, these became the core of American popular music, which further evolved into the styles like rhythm and blues, rock and roll and hip hop music.

Music intertwines with aspects of American social and cultural identity, including through social class, race and ethnicity, geography, religion, language, gender and sexuality. The relationship between music and race is perhaps the most potent determiner of musical meaning in the United States.

Economic and social classes separates American music through the creation and consumption of music, such as the upper-class patronage of symphony-goers, and the generally poor performers of rural and ethnic folk music. Musical divisions based on class are not absolute, however, and are sometimes as much perceived as actual; popular American country music, for example, is a commercial genre designed to “appeal to a working-class identity, whether or not its listeners are actually working class”. Country music is also intertwined with geographic identity, and is specifically rural in origin and function; other genres, like R&B and hip hop, are perceived as inherently urban. For much of American history, music-making has been a “feminized activity”. In the 19th century, amateur piano and singing were considered proper for middle-class and upper-class women. Women were also a major part of early popular music performance, though recorded traditions quickly become more dominated by men. Most male-dominated genres of popular music include female performers as well, often in a niche appealing primarily to women; these include gangsta and heavy metal.

The United States is a melting pot consisting of numerous ethnic groups. Many of these peoples have kept alive the folk traditions of their homeland, often producing distinctively American styles of foreign music. Some nationalities have produced local scenes in regions of the country where they have clustered, like Cape Verdean music in New England, Armenian music in California, and Italian and Ukrainian music in New York City.

Ragtime was a style of music based around the piano, using syncopated rhythms and chromaticism. It is primarily a form of dance music utilizing the walking bass, and is generally composed in sonata form. Ragtime is a refined and evolved form of the African American cake walk dance, mixed with styles ranging from European marches and popular songs to jigs and other dances played by large African American bands in northern cities during the end of the 19th century. The most famous ragtime performer and composer was Scott Joplin, known for works such as “Maple Leaf Rag”.  His music was also featured in the movie “The Sting”.

The Creoles are a community with varied non-Anglo ancestry, mostly descendant of people who lived in Louisiana before its purchase by the U.S. The Cajuns are a group of Francophiles who arrived in Louisiana after leaving Acadia in Canada. The city of New Orleans, Louisiana being a major port, has acted as a melting pot for people from all over the Caribbean basin. The result is a diverse and syncretic set of styles of Cajun and Creole music.

The United States has produced many popular musicians and composers in the modern world. Beginning with the birth of recorded music, American performers have continued to lead the field of popular music, which out of “all the contributions made by Americans to world culture… has been taken to heart by the entire world”. Most histories of popular music start with American ragtime or Tin Pan Alley; others, however, trace popular music back to the European Renaissance and through broadsheets, ballads and other popular traditions.

kathy Kiefer

LEADERSHIP, CITIZENSHIP AND CIVIC EDUCATION

Posted on

sol-price-picture

LEADERSHIP CITIZENSHIP

AND

CIVIC EDUCATION

I recently had the opportunity to attend a fabulous lecture at Mount Vernon, George Washington’s estate in Virginia. The subject matter being Leadership, Citizenship and Civic Education.   This lecture series explores the Father of Our Country’s lifelong accomplishments, providing a better understanding of him as a man, as well as his remarkable leadership, professional achievements and lasting legacy.

What do we think of when we think of citizenship?   What is citizenship about? How does it relate to the founding of America and equality in civic education, morality and public policy?   You are a citizen of a country by birth or by choice. Allow me to share an example of a citizen: I am a citizen of the United States by having been born in the State of New York.   Someone that is a citizen by choice is a person(s) that come to the United States from other countries (for work, as a result of war, famine or other) or a person that marries a United States citizen.

Citizenship is the status of a person recognized under the custom or law of a state that bestows on that person the rights and the duties of citizenship. That may include the right to vote, work and live in the country, the right to return to the country, the right to own real estate, legal protections against the country’s government, and protection through the military or diplomacy. A citizen may also be subject to certain duties, such as a duty to follow the country’s law, to pay taxes, or to serve in the military. A person may have multiple citizenships and a person who does not have citizenship of any state is said to be stateless.  Although the term is sometimes understood as denoting a person’s membership of a nation. In some countries, nationality and citizenship can have different meanings.

A person can be a citizen for several reasons. Usually citizenship of the place of birth is automatic; in other cases an application may be required.

(1) Parents are citizens – If one or both of a person’s parents are citizens of a given state, then the person may have the right to be a citizen of that state as well. Formerly this might only have applied through the paternal line, but sex equality became common since the late twentieth century. Citizenship is granted based on ancestry or ethnicity, and is related to the concept of a nation state common in China.  A person born outside a country, one or both of whose parents are citizens of the country, is also a citizen. States normally limit the right to citizenship by descent to a certain number of generations born outside the state. This form of citizenship is not common in civil law countries.

(2) Born within a country – Most people are automatically citizens of the state in which they are born. This form of citizenship originated in England where those who were born within the realm were subjects of the monarch (a concept pre-dating citizenship), and is common in common law countries.

(3) Marriage to a citizen. – Many countries fast-track naturalization based on the marriage of a person to a citizen. Countries which are destinations for such immigration often have regulations to try to detect sham marriages, where a citizen marries a non-citizen typically for payment, without them having the intention of living as man and wife.

(4) Naturalization – States normally grant citizenship to people who have entered the country legally and been granted leave to stay, or been granted political asylum, and also lived there for a specified period. In some countries naturalization is subject to conditions which may include passing a test demonstrating reasonable knowledge of the language or way of life of the host country, good conduct (no serious criminal record), swearing allegiance to their new state or its ruler, and renouncing their prior citizenship. Some states allow dual citizenship and do not require naturalized citizens to renounce any other citizenship.

(5) Excluded categories – In the past there have been exclusions on entitlement to citizenship on grounds such as skin color, ethnicity, sex, and free status (not being a slave). Most of these exclusions no longer apply in most places. Slavery permitted slave-owners to have substantial free time, and enabled participation in public life. Citizenship meant having rights to have possessions, immunities, expectations, which were “available in many kinds and degrees, available or unavailable to many kinds of person for many kinds of reason”. And the law, itself, was a kind of bond uniting people. During the Renaissance, people transitioned from being subjects of a king or queen to being citizens of a city and later to a nation. Each city had its own law, courts, and independent administration. And being a citizen often meant being subject to the city’s law in addition to having power in some instances to help choose officials. The rise of citizenship was linked to the rise of republicanism, according to one account, since independent citizens meant that kings had less power. Citizenship became an idealized, almost abstract, concept, and did not signify a submissive relation with a lord or count, but rather indicated the bond between a person and the state in the rather abstract sense of having rights and duties.

The modern idea of citizenship still respects the idea of political participation, but it is usually done through “elaborate systems of political representation at a distance” such as representative democracy. Modern citizenship is much more passive; action is delegated to others; citizenship is often a constraint on acting, not an impetus to act. Nevertheless, citizens are usually aware of their obligations to authorities, and are aware that these bonds often limit what they can do.

Citizenship is a status in society. It is an ideal state as well. It generally describes a person with legal rights within a given political order. It almost always has an element of exclusion, meaning that some people are not citizens, and that this distinction can sometimes be very important, or not important, depending on a particular society. Scholars suggest that the concept of citizenship contains many unresolved issues, sometimes called tensions, existing within the relation, that continue to reflect uncertainty about what citizenship is supposed to mean. Citizenship is based on the extent that a person can control one’s own destiny within the group in the sense of being able to influence the government of the group. One last distinction within citizenship is the so-called consent descent distinction, and this issue addresses whether citizenship is a fundamental matter determined by a person choosing to belong to a particular nation––by his or her consent––or is citizenship a matter of where a person was born––that is, by his or her descent.

The United States has a federal system in which a person is a citizen of their specific state of residence, such as New Jersey or California, as well as a citizen of the United States. State constitutions may grant certain rights above and beyond what are granted under the United States Constitution and may impose their own obligations including the sovereign right of taxation and military service; each state maintains at least one military force subject to national militia transfer service, the state’s national guard, and some states maintain a second military force not subject to nationalization.

Active Citizenship is the philosophy that citizens should work towards the betterment of their community through economic participation, public, volunteer work, and other such efforts to improve life for all citizens.

But what about civic education? Civic Education in a democracy is education in self-government. Democratic self-government means that citizens are actively involved in their own governance; they do not just passively accept the dictums of others or acquiesce to the demands of others. If liberty and equality, as is thought by some, are chiefly to be found in democracy, they will be attained when all persons alike share in the government to the utmost. In other words, the ideals of democracy are most completely realized when every member of the political community shares in its governance. Members of the political community are its citizens; hence citizenship in a democracy is membership in the body politic. Membership implies participation, but not participation for participation’s sake. Citizen participation in a democratic society must be based on informed, critical reflection, and on the understanding and acceptance of the rights and responsibilities that go with that membership.

The founders of the United States tried to reduce the burdens on citizens, because they observed that republics had generally collapsed for lack of civic virtue. However, they also created a structure that would demand more of citizens, and grant citizens more rights, than the empire from which they had declared independence. So virtually all of the founders advocated greater attention to civic education. Opposed to this idea of developing a national identity was Thomas Jefferson, who saw education as the means for safeguarding individual rights, especially against the intrusions of the state. Central to Jefferson’s democratic education were the “liberal arts.” These arts liberate men and women from the grip of both tyrants and demagogues and enable those liberated to rule themselves. Through his ward system of education, Jefferson proposed establishing free schools to teach reading, writing, and arithmetic, and from these schools those of intellectual ability, regardless of background or economic status.

Kathy Kiefer

FALL FOLIAGE WHAT MAKES IT UNIQUE AND SPECIAL

Posted on Updated on

otozno_vreme

FALL FOLIAGE 

WHAT MAKES IT UNIQUE AND SPECIAL

Autumn leaf color is a phenomenon that affects the normally green leaves of many deciduous trees and shrubs by which they take on, during a few weeks in the autumn season, various shades of red, yellow, purple, black, orange, pink, magenta, blue and brown. The phenomenon is commonly called autumn colours or autumn foliage in British English and fall colors, fall foliage, or simply foliage in American English.

In some areas of Canada and the United States, “leaf peeping” tourism is a major contribution to economic activity. This tourist activity occurs between the beginning of color changes and the onset of leaf fall, usually around October in the Northern Hemisphere and April to May in the Southern Hemisphere.

A green leaf is green because of the presence of a pigment known as chlorophyll, which is inside an organelle called a chloroplast. When they are abundant in the leaf’s cells, as they are during the growing season, the chlorophylls’ green color dominates and masks out the colors of any other pigments that may be present in the leaf. Thus the leaves of summer are characteristically green.   Chlorophyll has a vital function: that of capturing solar rays and utilizing the resulting energy in the manufacture of the plant’s food.   During the growing season, however, the plant replenishes the chlorophyll so that the supply remains high and the leaves stay green.

In late summer, as daylight hours shorten and temperatures cool, the veins that carry fluids into and out of the leaf are gradually closed off as a layer of special cork cells forms at the base of each leaf. As this cork layer develops, water and mineral intake into the leaf is reduced, lowly at first, and then more rapidly. It is during this time that the chlorophyll begins to decrease. Often the veins will still be green after the tissues between them have almost completely changed color.

Chlorophylls degrade into colorless tetrapyrroles known as non-fluorescent chlorophyll catabolites (NCCs). As the chlorophylls degrade, the hidden pigments of yellow xanthophylls and orange beta-carotene are revealed. These pigments are present throughout the year, but the red pigments, the anthocyanins, are synthesized de novo once roughly half of chlorophyll has been degraded. The amino acids released from degradation of light harvesting complexes are stored all winter in the tree’s roots, branches, stems, and trunk until next spring when they are recycled to re‑leaf the tree.   Carotenoids are present in leaves the whole year round, but their orange-yellow colors are usually masked by green chlorophyll. As autumn approaches, certain influences both inside and outside the plant cause the chlorophylls to be replaced at a slower rate than they are being used up. During this period, with the total supply of chlorophylls gradually dwindling, the “masking” effect slowly fades away. Then other pigments that have been present (along with the chlorophylls) in the cells all during the leaf’s life begin to show through. These are carotenoids and they provide colorations of yellow, brown, orange, and the many hues in between.

The carotenoids occur, along with the chlorophyll pigments, in tiny structures called plastids within the cells of leaves. Sometimes they are in such abundance in the leaf that they give a plant a yellow-green color, even during the summer. Usually, however, they become prominent for the first time in autumn, when the leaves begin to lose their chlorophyll. Carotenoids are common in many living things, giving characteristic color to carrots, corn, canaries and daffodils, as well as egg yolks, rutabagas, buttercups and bananas.   Their brilliant yellows and oranges tint the leaves of such hardwood species as hickories, ash, maple, yellow poplar, aspen, birch, black cherry, sycamore, cottonwood, sassafras and alder. Carotenoids are the dominant pigment in coloration of about 15-30% of tree species.

The reds, the purples, and their blended combinations that decorate autumn foliage come from another group of pigments in the cells called anthocyanins. They develop in late summer in the sap of the cells of the leaf, and this development is the result of complex interactions of many influences — both inside and outside the plant. Their formation depends on the breakdown of sugars in the presence of bright light as the level of phosphate in the leaf is reduced.   During the summer growing season, phosphate is at a high level. It has a vital role in the breakdown of the sugars manufactured by chlorophyll. But in the fall, phosphate, along with the other chemicals and nutrients, moves out of the leaf into the stem of the plant. When this happens, the sugar-breakdown process changes, leading to the production of anthocyanin pigments. The brighter the light during this period, the greater the production of anthocyanins and the more brilliant the resulting color display. When the days of autumn are bright and cool, and the nights are chilly but not freezing, the brightest colorations usually develop.

Anthocyanins temporarily color the edges of some of the very young leaves as they unfold from the buds in early spring. They also give the familiar color to such common fruits as cranberries, red apples, blueberries, cherries, strawberries and plums.   Anthocyanins are present in about 10% of tree species in temperate regions, although in certain areas — most famously New England — up to 70% of tree species may produce the pigment. In autumn forests they appear vivid in the maples, oaks, sourwood, sweet gums, dogwoods, tupelos, cherry trees and persimmons. These same pigments often combine with the carotenoids’ colors to create the deeper orange, fiery reds, and bronzes typical of many hardwood species.

The brown color of leaves is not the result of a pigment, but rather cell walls, which may be evident when no coloring pigment is visible.   Deciduous plants were traditionally believed to shed their leaves in autumn primarily because the high costs involved in their maintenance would outweigh the benefits from photosynthesis during the winter period of low light availability and cold temperatures. In many cases this turned out to be over-simplistic — other factors involved include insect predation, water loss, and damage from high winds or snowfall.

In the matter of apple trees, not all domesticated apple varieties (unlike wild ones) lack red leaves in autumn. A greater proportion of aphids that avoid apple trees with red leafs manage to grow and develop compared to those that do not. A trade off exists between fruit size, leaf color and aphids resistance as varieties with red leaves have smaller fruits suggesting a cost to the production of red leafs linked to a greater need for reduced aphid infestation.   Consistent with red leaved tree providing reduced survival for aphids, tree species with bright leaves tend to select for more specialist aphid pests than do trees lacking bright leaves (autumn colors are useful only in those species coevolving with insect pests in autumn). Autumn colors would be a signal if they are costly to produce, or be impossible to fake (for example if autumn pigments were produced by the same biochemical pathway that produces the chemical defenses against the insects). The change of leaf colors prior to fall have also been suggested as adaptations that may help to undermine the camouflage of herbivores.

Many plants with berries attract birds with especially visible berry and/or leaf color, particularly bright red. The birds get a meal while the shrub, vine or typically small tree gets undigested seeds carried off and deposited with the birds’ manure.  Poison Ivy is particularly notable for having bright red foliage drawing birds to its off-white seeds (which are edible for birds, but not most mammals).

Although some autumn coloration occurs wherever deciduous trees are found, the most brightly colored autumn foliage is found in four or five regions of the world: most of southern mainland Canada; most of the eastern part of the United States as well as smaller areas of forest further west; Scandinavia; Northern, and Western Europe north of the Alps; the Caucasus region near the Black Sea, Russia and Eastern Asia, including much of northern and eastern China, as well as Argentina, Chile, southern Brazil, Korea, Japan and New Zealand’s South Island. Eastern Canada and the New England region of the United States are famous around the world for the brilliance of their “fall foliage,” and a seasonal tourist industry has grown up around the few weeks in autumn when the leaves are at their peak. Thick forest cover and distinct seasonal changes make this part of the world an ideal setting for the types of deciduous trees that produce wonderful fall foliage.  Fall colors are typically at their peaks in early to mid-October for much of the northern and interior parts of the area, late October for areas further south, and early November for the warmer subtropical areas of the region.

Some television and web-based weather forecasts even report on the status of the fall foliage throughout the season as a service to tourists, the most well-known of which is The Weather Channel. Fall foliage tourists are often referred to as “leaf peepers”. Fall foliage tours to the Rocky Mountain States, the northwestern United States and far western Canada are becoming more popular as well. The Japanese momijigari tradition is similar, though more closely related to hanami. In Finland the time of the year is called ruska (russeting). In Latvia during russeting, leaf peeping is promoted both internationally and locally. Other lands may also promote this, but mushrooming may be more culturally significant, for example in Lithuania provides many more arbor species (more than 800 species and about 70 oaks, compared to 51 and three respectively in Western Europe) which adds many more different colors to the spectacle. The main reason was the different effect of the ice ages—while in North America, species were protected in more southern regions along north–south ranging mountains, which was not the case in Europe.

Global warming and rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere delay the usual autumn spectacle of changing colors and falling leaves in northern hardwood forests, and increase forest productivity. Experiments with poplar trees showed that they stayed greener longer with higher CO2 levels, independent of temperature changes. However, the experiments over two years were too brief to indicate how mature forests may be impacted over time. Also, other factors, such as increasing ozone levels close to the ground (tropospheric ozone pollution); can negate the beneficial effects of elevated carbon dioxide.

 

Kathy Kiefer