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Should we teach Rap?

Discussion in 'Music' started by i the t, Apr 5, 2011.

  1. i the t

    i the t New commenter

    Reasons to study rap in music lessons -

    The rhythm of raps is typically more complex/inventive than
    those typically found in sung pop music (and indeed much western classical)

    Raps feature different pitces, structures and timbres.

    Rap is specified to be looked at in aqa gcse syllabus.

    Rap has been best selling music globally for last 20 yrs.

    Lots of Students like it.

    Any futile and dubious inner-polemic you may be wrangling with regarding
    its categorisation as music is probably best ignored and put down to old age.
  2. florian gassmann

    florian gassmann Star commenter

    There are also many such examples in 19th-century melodrama. I still find Kaspar's spoken invocation of Zamiel, over spine-chilling music, utterly compelling in Weber's Der Freischütz.
    Then you have Walton's evocation of 1920s' pop styles that accompany Edith Sitwell's preposterous spoken lyrics in Façade, and Britten's wonderful music to accompany the spoken poetry of Auden's Night Mail.
    For me, rap has never matched the excitement of works such as these.
  3. i the t

    i the t New commenter

    Rap goes back a lot further than Romans and Greeks to the Griots and African oral history traditions.
    I think the lack of cultural understanding or relation to Hip-Hop many people have
    can easily alienate them at face value from the music and prevent any attempt at deeper investigation into what exactly is going on in the music; or as Zappa said of the typical Western academic approach "The only good black music's a dead one".
    A fundamental difference between rap (& other afro-centric music) and Western Classical music is the contrast between Western musics teleoligcal/goal-oriented nature and Afrocentric musics focus on mantaining an 'eternal present' through use of repetition.
    It's important to remember there is no hierarchy of musical parameters that can objectively place harmony and tonality above rhythm, texture and timbre.
    When you judge rap on its own terms the parameters of rhythm and timbre are exploited to create an ideal where 'Rupture and Flow' are more important than 'finding your way home from the dominant'.
    Your music students may well be bored repeating the music, but are they repeating the groove with the precision, consistent dynamic level and metronomicity that sampling, turntablism is capable of and required to inspire a rapper ?
    Extensive repetition is also fundamental to gamelan, african drumming, minimalism and contemporary dance music. If they have a value worth studying then why shouldn't rap ?

  4. i the t

    i the t New commenter

  5. Most rap, like most music, is forgettable.
    Problem is that its shelf-life is even shorter than most music and that it is even more forgettable than most music...
    Rap has also its roots in scat singing, Sir Rex Harrison 'raps' in My Fair Lady (film, 1964)
  6. Rex Harrison 'spoke' his songs in rhythm. 'Why can't a woman be like a man!' etc.
    Mohammad Ali also used to do rap type poems in interview but now only says ksjf nalawjf alwieflwue lfue la
  7. v12


    That is not rap; it was merely Rex Harrison making a feature of the fact that he couldn't sing very well.
    Apart from which, the music for My Fair Lady was beautifully crafted - extremely well composed. Not simply a repeating four note pattern against a programmed drum synthesiser.
  8. In an interview with Rex Harrison he referred to it as 'speaking in rhythm.'
    Of course that is not a pure rap like Eminem or Soprano the French rapper but it is still a form of rap. Rex Harrison speaks and does not sing. My Fair Lady is definitely well crafted- Audrey Hepburn and the Sherlock Holmes (Jeremy somebody Brett?) bloke in the film had their voices replaced on the film when they sang!
    There is a tendency for songs to mix rap and singing- BEP Don't Lie for example. As Bob Marley did on some of his songs.


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