Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Analyzing Robert Schumann's Julius Caesar Overture, Op.128

With this post, I wanted to show a specific way in which Shakespeare's works have inspired musicians.  For instance, Robert Schumann was inspired by Shakespeare's play, Julius Caesar, when he composed his overture, "Op. 128."  While the connection between the overture and the play may be hard to see, Christopher Wilson states in the following in his book Shakespeare and Music:  "I cannot see any connection between this work and Shakespeare's play, the overture having quite a happy ending; but perhaps it represents an early phrase in Caesar's life before he met too many "lean and hungry" men" (48-49). Wilson's observation shows the universality of Shakespeare's work.  While Shakespeare might have had specific meanings in mind while writing his plays, whether it be on the stage or in music, they are open to interpretation.

Here is a video of the overture being performed:

Wilson, Christopher. Shakespeare and Music. New York: Da Capo, 1977. Print.

Evaluating Myself or Evalutating "Get Thee to a Nunnery"

The end is in sight and it is time to evaluate my progress, or the progress of my blog, over the course of the semester.

Posts: In total I have published 35 posts as of right now. The content has been mixed(see my post on "Shakespeare's Influence on Rush" and my analysis on "Kozintsev and Hamlet"), but has mostly focused on the premise of my blog, "Shakespeare's Influence on Pop Music." The format of my posts has also been mixed. However, I seek to make each post aesthetically pleasing to my readers. I have done this by adding video clips and images that pertain to the specific subjects I am blogging about with each post.

Research: As I have already mentioned, the thematic focus of my blog is "Shakespeare's Influence on Pop Music." My research has been cohesive to my thesis in that I have tried to relate everything I have done back to Shakespeare's influence on pop music. My sources have been adequately referenced in their corresponding blog posts as well as in a sources page. The sources page makes it easier for those viewing my blog to see where I have taken my research.

Personal & Social: Within my blog, I have made my personal tastes and interests apparent. For those of you who may not know me very well, it is obvious from the images posted on my blog and the subject titles of my posts that I am interested in music and Shakespeare's influence on modern music. I have documented my findings by posting frequently and informing my reader's how and where I have received my information. During the course of the semester, I have made it a priority to actively engage in commenting on fellow classmates blogs. While my comments have usually been small encouraging notes to individuals, I feel that the interactive aspect of my blogging has been very beneficial to me and to others.

Design: I feel that the design of my blog is appropriate to its theme in that it is focused on Shakespeare and music. For instance, on my main page, the picture underneath my blog name refers specifically to Shakespeare and music. This makes it easy for those looking at my blog for the first time to know what the focus of it is. My side content is subtle and does not take away from the overall theme of the blog. i think all of the widgets included on my side bars are relevant and helpful to my viewers.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Shakespeare Inspired Director Inspires

Earlier in the semester, I blogged about the music used in Laurence Olivier's Hamlet. Upon further research, I found that Olivier's film adaptations of Shakespeare's works served as an inspiration for Peter Sellers' comedic adaptation of the famous Beatles' song, "Hard Days Night."  In Stephen Purcell's book Popular Shakespeare, he makes the following observations regarding Seller's unique adaptation:
Perhaps the most famous parodic allusion to Olivier, however is Peter Sellers' version of the Beatles'  Hard Days Night, which he recorded in 1965 (making the Top 20).  Sellers caricatures the idiosyncrasies of Olivier's verse-speaking- accent, offbeat pauses, rhythmic delivery, sudden and dynamic changes in tempo and pitch- and in applying them to the lyrics of a popular song, he satirically deconstructs their aggrandizing effect.  Sellers performed a televised version of the piece in costume as Olivier's Richard III. (107) 
With Sellers' Olivier-esq rendition of "Hard Days Night" we see a chain reaction of Shakespeare inspired works.  Originally, Olivier was inspired by Shakespeare who inspired Peter Sellers.  This shows that not only does Shakespeare inspire by himself, but those inspired by Shakespeare inspire others as well, creating a circle of inspiration beginning and ending with the Bard.

Here is a video with Peter Sellers' performance of "Hard Days Night" as Richard III:

 Purcell, Stephen. Popular Shakespeare. New York: Palgrave Macmillian, 2009. Print.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

"Ahhh, the Power of Research!" (Shakespeare and Pop Music Continued)

So I just found a reference book in the library entitled Shakespeares after Shakespeare that has been very helpful to me in my quest to find more research on Shakespeare's influence on pop culture, specifically pop music.  The reference book, edited by Richard Burt, makes the following observation about Shakespeare and pop culture."The conjunction of Shakespeare and popular music dates back to the original composition of the plays.  Shakespeare often incorporated contemporary tunes in his plays, sometimes writing lyrics set to popular melodies, other times having his characters refer to songs and dances then in or out of fashion.  Between his time and ours, many musical upstart crows have in turn beautified themselves with Shakespeare's feathers" (367).  This quote shows that Shakespeare himself was influenced by pop culture, specifically pop music.

I also decided that I would post one of my favorite posts within Shakespeares after Shakespeare.
I personally am a huge fan of the singer-songwriter, Beck.  I have been listening to his music for years, but I never knew that one of his album titles, Sea Change, was directly inspired by Shakespeare himself.  Check out my findings:
"The title of this 2002 album invokes Ariel's speech in The Tempest as a way of describing the dramatic shift Beck makes in his sound, from heavily ironized postmodern collages of folk, blues, and hip-hop, to his new persona as a confessional singer-songwriter right out of the early 1970's.  The songs themselves recount the story of the singer coming to terms with a failed love relationship, of a sea change, that has occurred in his own  life, and of the artist's transformation of that pain into something rich and strange" (398).

I thought this information was really useful and informative! I owe it all to my library research!

Burt, Richard. Shakespeares after Shakespeare. Westport: Greenwood Press, 2007. Print.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Elizabethan Songs; Pop Music's Predeccesors

As of late, I have been working towards adding more scholarly research and critiques to my blog.  With this said, I would like to display some of my findings regarding Elizabethan song and what I see as its influence on pop music.

In John H. Long's book Shakespeare's Use of Music, he analyzes Shakespeare's use of music in many of his most popular plays.  Among the plays that he mentions are The Merchant of Venice, As You Like It and Much Ado About Nothing.  As a preface to his research, Long describes the use of song in Elizabethan drama.  "The Elizabethan Age, is often referred to as the golden age of English song.  Vocal music pervaded the life of that time to an extent which we hardly realize.  The songs of the period reflect the manners and tastes of all stations of its society and the range of emotions of its people," remarks Long.  This focus on vocal music can especially be seen in works such as The Tempest. In The Tempest, one of the main characters, Ariel, uses vocal music to describe her feelings and situations.  By using these vocal songs, the play becomes more entertaining and unique.  Specifically in The Tempest, music serves as a window into Ariel's personal life.  These songs and analysis help us understand the importance of music in specifically understanding Ariel as a musical character.

Later, Long makes the following observation: "In general, the folk tunes were marked by strong rhythms, simple melodies, and the crudeness often associated with popular art.  They were danced, as well as sung, to a simple instrumental accompaniment"(2).  After reading this statement, one can immediately see the connection between Elizabethan music and pop music.  Like the Elizabethan music Long discusses here, much of today's pop music uses simple melodies, strong rhythms and crudeness to attract the attention of the listener.  Through the use of these musical techniques, today's artists are able to gain a greater audience.

By analyzing Long's research, one can see the connections between Elizabethan Era music and today's pop music.  Inevitably, pop musicians have been inspired by the Elizabethans.  While many pop musicians may not realize this, Shakespeare and his followers should be viewed as some of their greatest influences in composing music that is enticing to the listening public.

Long, John. Shakespeare's Use of Music. Gainesville: UP Florida, 1955. Print.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Evaluating "Shake It"; Encites into Shakespeare's Feelings about Love and Romance

With this post, I will be evaluating Hannah Pulley's blog, "Shake It." The focus of her blog is Shakespeare's use and portrayal of love and romance.

Posts: I feel that Hannah has done a good job of making posts devoted to the blog's evolving theme that are sometimes casual and other times analytical.  After scanning the content of her blog, I did not notice any videos directly embedded in any of her posts. However, she does frequently incorporate eye catching images and illustrations that contribute to her blog's theme. Her blog also includes primary textual analysis as well as media analysis. As for the format of her posts, her titles are very specific and focused. Regarding the posts aspect of her blog, I think that it would be helpful for her to embed some media files so that her posts are more eye-catching and enticing to the reader as well as add subject tags to individual posts.

Research: To me, this is one of the strongest points of Hannah's blog.  She frequently uses and cites academic and non-academic sources that support her thoughts and ideas.  This research helps clarify her blog's theme. Her hub post correctly uses hyperlinks and clearly states her main claim as a Shakespearean blog writer. Her sources page is easy to understand and formatted correctly, making it easy for others to see where she has found her information.

Personal & Social: Unfortunately, there is not a picture and bio of Hannah on her page to make it easy for blog users to get a sense of who she is, but her posts do demonstrate a personal connection to topics. The design of the blog is a little bare but, I believe, the pictures on her posts make it more inviting.  Many of Hannah's posts have long conversations between she and other bloggers regarding her topics and themes.  This shows her great understanding of the importance of social communication in the blogging world.

Design: The media color and design choices are both kind of plain. However, the pictures that have been added to each post bring more color and life to the blog.  The side content is also kind of plain, but is appropriate to the style and content of her blog.  It might be helpful for Hannah to put a bio and description of herself on the side bar so the reader can get to know and understand her better.

All in all, I think Hannah has done a great job of developing her claim over the semester... Good work!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Recapturing the Semester for Get Me To a Nunnery

So the time has come, boys and girls, to do a little recap of where my blog, Get Thee to a Nunnery, has been this semester. As is the customary sane for students at the end of every semester, right now I am thinking to myself, "Wow, where has the time gone?!" In this post, I plan on recapturing the places my blog has come and gone.

First, I would like to outline my thesis statement and the purpose of this blog....

Thesis: In modern day culture, Shakespeare's influence has been very wide spread. One of the areas in which his work has been extremely influential is in pop music and film scores. While each composer of pop music and film scores has their own unique take on what Shakespeare was trying to accomplish with his works, I believe that, for the most part, modern day artists accurately display Shakespeare's ideas in their works. By doing so, they create a new interest in the author, his characters, his themes and, most importantly, his works.

Now I would like to display some posts that show my research and ideas regarding my thesis...