Jamaican Music Term Paper

Pages: 18 (4850 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 0  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Music


(The same dynamic obtains today in the way in which hiphop is marketed. But reggae internationally succeeded because its listeners were eager to see themselves as radicals - and so were eager to buy a form of music that was marketed to them as the voice of the revolution.

Launched on the anniversary of Marley's death the Legend campaign was aimed at a broad-based, record-buying public. The Legend album, a compilation of Marley's "greatest hits," was heavily promoted through television advertisements and video releases compiled from old film footage. (Companies like K-Tel had already proved television to be a highly lucrative medium for record marketing with their successful series of chart-hit compilation albums promoted almost exclusively through television advertising.) Island's campaign revolved around the attempt to present Marley as an all-round entertainer and a pop-hero of "legendary" proportions, a strategy reflected in the seemingly deliberate omission of the term "reggae" from the campaign and in the attempt to surround Marley's music in a posthumous aura of nostalgia. On the video film which accompanied the chart hit "One Love," for example, Marley appeared as a "cute" and "lovable" father-figure, while in full-page press advertisements it was proclaimed that "the legend lives on." Marley was promoted as a household name on the basis that "everyone should own at least one Bob Marley album." Such was the campaign's success that Island took the second biggest share of the UK market in 1984, Legend being one of the company's biggest-selling albums for ten years (http://www.easystar.com/feature2.html).Download full Download Microsoft Word File
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TOPIC: Term Paper on Jamaican Music it Is Never Assignment

During the rest of the 1970s and into the 1980s, reggae would blend with other genres. It would help span the dancehall deejays of the 1980s and the first years of the 1990s who took the political elements of reggae and used them in "toasting" - which was simply an early form of rapping over instrumental music. And these deejays in turn would give birth to hiphop, another angry form of music. The links - both historical and artistic - between reggae and hiphop would make the former newly popular among African-American audiences, who would recognize in both forms of music the crying out of the oppressed.

The world of hiphop, like that of reggae, is one that remains in many ways defined by race - at least by the race of the artists:

White critics - whether those from within the academy or those within the power structure of the music industry - tend to sound like racists when they criticize an art form that gives voice to the experiences of young people of color and money and power to young black and latino artists. Their plaints that hip-hop condones - and even encourages - violent acts sound like the sour grapes of those who are being left out of the power and prestige of the latest music craze. Or possibly the fears of a white majority (as least in terms of overall social power and wealth) who see in every young man of color a predator (George, 1999, p. 38).

Reggae succeeded in large part because it was a politically revolutionary voice - but also a controlled revolutionary voice. Those who were oppressed saw hope in it while those who were in power saw the anger of the oppressed diverted into lyrics, dancing, and ganja.

Reggae Reader Response

The lyrics of reggae - compared to those of hiphop, for example - are not in fact terribly radical - especially if we look at the work of someone like Beenie Man who spends his time now singing about (more or less) girls and high living. Rather, the revolutionariness of reggae lies not so much within it and within the response of its audiences, which is why a reader response model of understanding reggae is most appropriate. And in looking at the ways in which audiences respond to reggae we may ask ourselves to what extent that response - of seeing reggae as revolutionary - is valid.

Another way of posing the question of how is it that we may analyse a text (or how it is that we should read a text) is to ask how do we know, when we read a text, whether or not our interpretation of it is correct? This is a question that many of us may never even have thought of, assuming that however we ourselves respond to a text is the most appropriate way. Unknowingly, if this is what we have done, we have unknowingly allied ourselves with what is known as a reader response model, a model of interpreted texts that privileges the position of the audience. Is reggae revolutionary even when its lyrics or not simply because we as listeners believe it to be so?

Audience response models assume that the truth that exists in a text lies outside the text itself, in the audience's interpretation of it. Alternatively, some critics assume that the meaning of a text lies outside the text itself but not in the audience's response to it but rather in the creator's original intent.

And yet there are other models - what might be called original intent -- that look to what the author intended when she or he wrote the text. This presents us with a fundamentally different power relationship among the text, the reader and the author: While reader response models place the power with the reader, then the text and then the author, the model of authorial intent reverses this order: Author, text, reader.

While these approaches are obviously different from each other in the key factor that one privileges the audience while the other privileges the creator, we will for the purpose of the argument in this paper consider them as equivalent to each other because in each case the meaning - the truth - of the text lies not within the text but outside of it. This seems to be the case with reggae, and indeed perhaps with all popular music because the action of engaging with the "text" in the case of music tends to take place in a social context.

We begin this section by presenting a definition of a text. This is a trickier proposition than one might suppose it to be, because it encompasses not only literary texts (with their clearly delineated borders) but also such expressive forms as films, paintings, symphonies and commercials. Any bounded act of communication (whether for purely expressive or mixed commercial and expressive reasons) may be considered to be a text and so subject to the same forms and modes of analysis as a book.

This definition of a text is analogous, in linguistics, to a speech text, a concept that we are all familiar with, although probably not by this name. The idea of the speech text (or speech act) is simply the idea that each linguistic and cultural group has a specific idea of how a conversation (or a lecture or a sermon or a speech or a commercial or a novel) should be structured and that these rules vary widely from one culture to another. Within any given culture, the borders of any particular kind of "speech act" are widely recognized and this recognition provides the boundaries necessary first to recognize and then to analyse a text.

It may seem strange to consider reggae music as a collection of "texts" but for the linguist or the literary scholar any bonded form of language-based expression is a text.

As has been noted above, and as our own good commonsense would tell us, under a reader-response form of analysis, the primary focus is on the readers and the process or reading rather than on the author or the process of writing (on the text itself). This sounds relatively straight forward as a model, and indeed it is, but it must be noted that it actually contains a number of rather sophisticated theoretical assumptions. The first of these we will call the assumption of the performative nature of the act of reading. This can be compared to that tree falling in that empty forest: The text does not make a sound unless it is being read.

Texts, under this model, do not matter unless someone is actively engaged in reading them in the same way that while a script of course continues to exist after the last curtain comes down on the run of a play, that script is not the same thing as the play itself; it is arguably in fact at some level not as important or as authentic as the script made into a living act of performance.

Meaning under this model is recreated in each new act of reading or listening; just as no one performance of a play (even by the same cast and even if the exact same audience returned) is exactly the same as any other, no one reading is exactly like any other (even by the same reader). The fact that the text itself has not changed is irrelevant.… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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