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Classical and Rap Music

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Compare and Contrast Essay: Classical and Rap Music

Kristin Conway

COM/155 - UNIVERSITY COMPOSITION AND COMMUNICATION I

March 15, 2014

Instructor: Kathleen Case

In contrary to common thought, classical and rap music have as many similarities as they do differences. The sound may be completely different, but there is a way to show emotion that will affect the listeners. For example, they both have ways to bring emotion and feeling into both performance and their audience’s effectiveness. Classical has an effect on the listeners that makes them cry, laugh and be happy. Rap music has an effect on a person that makes them get up and dance to the beat of the song. Classical and rap music are different in many ways but are also the same, especially in musical influences, musical evolution, and the musician’s techniques.
Classical music is the first type of music performed. Classical music started in the year 1150, with the development of Medieval music, where according to Naxos.com, where 1“The earliest written secular music dates from the 12th century troubadours (in the form of virelais, estampies, ballades, etc.), but most notated manuscripts emanate from places of learning usually connected with the church, and therefore inevitably have a religious basis. Gregorian chant and plainsong developed during the 11th and 13th centuries into organum (example: two or three lines moving simultaneously but independently, almost inadvertently representing the beginnings of harmony). Organum led to the Ars Nova period of the 14th century, represented by Philippe Di Vitry, Guillaume de Machaut, and Francesco Landini.” 2In the fifteenth century, the Renaissance Period (1400-1600) would bring more harmonious, choral singing, along with instrumental music. The Baroque era (1600-1750) introduced the world to modern orchestra music, along with opera, which included the overture, prelude, aria, recitative, and chorus. Although Baroque brought many musical genres that would maintain hold on composition for years, it was the Classical era (1750-1830) that introduced the form that dominates musical composition to this day. After the Classical era came the Early Romantic era (1830-1860). According to the Get Into Classical website 3” This was the point at which composers stopped trying to make technically perfect (and hence always a little cold and dry) pieces, and started to really express their feelings in the music”, which is why it was called early romantic music. Also according to the Get Into Classical website, 4“In general the more exciting instrumentation, rhythms and melodies make this era way more appealing to modern listeners than Classical and Baroque.” Ludwig van Beethoven, who is one of the most famous names in classical music, is one of the composers who started the early romantic music. After early the romantic era came the late romantic era (1860-1920), where composers started to write non-standard time signatures, and using non-standard instruments, as well. This era also brought larger orchestras to make the music more layered, textured, and subtle. In the Post Great War era (1920-present), where according to Naxos.com, 5“The period since the Great War is undoubtedly the most bewildering of all, as composers have pulled in various apparently contradictory and opposing directions.” Rap music has not been around as long as classical, but the evolution has been extraordinary.
Rap music began in the 1970’s with DJ’s playing popular soul and funk music, according to rapworld.com, 6Due to the positive reception, DJs began isolating the percussion breaks of popular songs. This technique was then common in Jamaican dub music and had spread to New York City via the substantial Jamaican immigrant community. These DJ’s developed “turntabling”, such as scratching, mixing, and beat juggling to go with these breaks that created a base to be rapped over. The first recording of rap was The Sugar Hill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight” in 1979. In the 80’s, according to the rapworld.com, 7” The lyrical content of hip hop evolved as well. The early styles presented in the 1970s soon were replaced with metaphorical lyrics over more complex, multi-layered instrumentals.” Rap music also spread its popularity into other countries in this decade as well. In 1986, the development of Gangsta rap, which is more violent, and became the most lucrative. In the 1990 decade, MC Hammer’s album Please Hammer, Don’t Hurt ‘Em became the first certified diamond album for sales over ten million, according to 8rapworld.com. In the 90’s also came the development of East Coast and West Coast rap, which brought artists such as Wu Tang Clan, 2Pac, and Notorious BIG. In the year 2000 came the artist Eminem and his album The Marshall Mathers LP, which sold over ten million copies and became the fastest-selling album of all time. In the 2000’s came Alternative Rap, a different style, which brought artists like The Roots and Gnarls Barkley, which introduced us to performer Cee Lo Green.
Classical music has been around for centuries. From the beginning of classical music, starting with Medieval continuing to the post Great War years, classical music has inspired young children to become pianists, violinists, among others. Musical composers such as Ludwig van Beethoven, Frank Schubert, and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, for example, continue to have their music performed either by an orchestra, or a single artist. For rap music, it the influence can depend on the type of artist, it could be a positive or negative influence.
Rap music, around since the late 1970’s, has not only influenced young children who want to become a rapper but it also has influenced future DJ’s to “sample” their songs. Early rap artists like The Sugar Hill Gang (they recorded the very first rap song, “Rapper’s Delight in 1979), Run-DMC, in the beginning of rap, to 2Pac and The Notorious BIG in the later years. Rap music also has gotten some bad publicity in the past decade, due to the language that is used, as well as certain lyrics. A rapper who children look up to listen to lyrics all about drugs, violence, and sex. Children grow up thinking that it is appropriate.
While there are ways classical and rap are the same, there are some ways that they are different well, such as the way the music is recorded. Classical musicians let their instruments (piano, violin, cello, among others) do the “talking.” It is not recorded the way that other types of music is recorded. According to Joe Hannigan’s online Blog, 9“Any experienced engineer who works in any of these styles will tell you the “Classical” approach is different right at the start of the process in that musicians will always prefer to get it right in the first place: onstage, as an ensemble. Be it a concert or recording session, the performance is not some producer’s computer-sequenced dream or built from the ground up with a drum-machine click track. Frankly, the conductor/music director should have as much or more control of the sound than anyone else in the entire process. Very often, it is incumbent on the recording engineer and producer NOT to ruin a perfectly good performance with overproduction or any heavy handed processing.”
With instruments being used for classical, in rap music, instruments are rarely used, it is all recorded with electronics and rappers talk into the microphone. Rap artists record and produce their music by using synthesizers, beat boxing (their own mouth), and by DJing. Current rap songs also “sample” music from old songs from 60-70 decade, which could be a good way to introduce children to an old song.
Classical and rap music have been listened to for decades, or for classical music, for centuries. These two types of music may sound different, but they also have similarities. One should listen to each and find out.

References:
1, 2, 5: Naxos.com. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.naxos.com/education/brief_history.asp
3, 4: Get Into Classical. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.getintoclassical.com/guide-to-the-eras/early-romantic-era-1800-1850/
6, 7, 8: Rap World. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.rapworld.com/history/
9: http://westonsound.wordpress.com/2012/04/07/recording-classical-music-microphones-and-multitracks/

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