Week 5 (Sounds of Laughter)

Academic Conversation Skill: Signaling
Concept:
 Rockism/Funk
Time Period: 1970s
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Signaling

Signaling Who is Saying What

  • X argues _________________.
  • My own view, however, is that __________________.
  • But X is wrong that ______________________. (adapted from Graff and Birkenstein 2006, 67)

Embedding Voice Markers

  • X overlooks what I consider an important point about ______________________.
  • I wholeheartedly endorse what X calls _______________. (adapted from Graff and Birkenstein 2006, 70-71)

Funk

“A rockist isn’t just someone who loves rock ‘n’ roll, who goes on and on about Bruce Springsteen, who champions ragged-voiced singer-songwriters no one has ever heard of. A rockist is someone who reduces rock ‘n’ roll to a caricature, then uses that caricature as a weapon. Rockism means idolizing the authentic old legend (or underground hero) while mocking the latest pop star; lionizing punk while barely tolerating disco; loving the live show and hating the music video; extolling the growling performer while hating the lip-syncher.” (Sannah 2004)

“…the problem remains that most people do not realize that a significant musical movement occurred during the 1970s, generated primarily by outcast musicians from the black underclass in America. The music of the funk spoke directly to those people, while others simply danced to it. The fact that The Funk is a non-logical concept with an assortment of coded meanings and slang terms did not help to clarify the situation. Yet today’s rap music movement and its music have nonetheless shown a phenomenal affection for funk music and its message. This is because the music music is from the same class of people – dispossessed blacks with a bizarre combination of poverty, hope, bitterness, and humanity. The Funk rests at the core of hard hitting urban dance music of today, and is the missing link for a long lost generation of funky people to find their place in history.” (Vincent 1996, 30)

Performance Example (1970s)

Watch 29:40-34:40

This documentary clip focuses on the addition of Bootsy Collins (electric bass) and Bernie Worrell (keyboards) into George Clinton’s Parliament-Funkadelic bands. Both Collins and Wornell were members of James Brown’s bands before quitting and eventually connecting with Clinton. The clip touches on funk’s use of Afro-American musical styles (derived partially from Motown music in 1960s Detroit), science fiction imagery, and psychedelic rock (more associated with White musicians). Clinton’s groups transcending many boundaries or race, culture, and style. As alluded to in Vincent’s excerpt above, Parliament-Funkadelic were one of the most heavily sampled artists in 1990s (particularly West Coast) hip hop.

See Also:

Funkadelic on YouTube

Parliament on YouTube

Reading Questions

  • In the first paragraph, how does Vincent signal his own ideas (verses those of George)?
  • Why does Vincent think that The Funk is not taken seriously in academic scholarship? How does this relate to musical humor?

Performance Questions

  • What kinds of qualities do you associate with funk music? Does this clip confirm or complicate these associations?
  • In what ways do Clinton and his associated performers create musical comedy?

Assignment

Review your introductions and responses to sources from Week 3 and Week 4, respectively. Identify any signaling that you have already used (use the highlighter function) and add, if necessary, at least one additional sentence to signal your own ideas versus the ideas of others (use the underline function). Post as a Word file. (Due the Friday after class @ 5pm PST)

Additional Sources for Funk

Sanneh, Kelefa. 2004. “The Rap Against Rockism”. New York Times. October 31, 2004.

Vincent, Rickey. 1996. Funk: The music, the people, and the rhythm of the one. New York: St. Martin’s Griffin.

Other 1970s Performers

YouTube Links

Alice Cooper

Dr. Demento

Mel Brooks

Randy Newman

Ray Stevens

Warren Zevon

Blog Posts

Other Funk Performers (multiple eras)

YouTube Links

Cameo

James Brown

Red Hot Chili Peppers

Rick James

Roger Troutman

Blog Posts

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