Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Final investigation

Here is a straight up lesson on the Progressive Era and its music. You may work on these in class. The project has two due dates: a blog post analysis of a song/sheet music by Friday 1.June.2012; and the creative work is due Monday 4.June.2012.

1. Using the Interactive Timeline from Digital History scan the decades between 1870 and 1930. Look for clues about how industrialization first affected Americans. Note any unrest, environmental issues, injustice for workers and the rise of reform movements.

Keep the First Amendment in mind while you think about how we Americans express ourselves.

2. Examine all of these images of sheet music from the late 1800s and early 1900s. (They are in a couple formats; all are multi-paged.)

Out in the Snow: a drunkard's child
The Alcoholic Blues (some blues)
Can You Tame Wild Wimmen
The Argentines, the Portuguese and the Greeks
The Battle of the Sewing Machines
Tammany: a pale face pow wow

3. Choose one song to study in detail. Inspect its cover, lyrics, music, etc., and, by June 1, write a blog post including the following, in any order.

a. Describe any important, interesting or surprising details of the cover and sheet music. Look for anything unfamiliar, identifiable (names, geography), play the music if you can.

b. Reflect on the purpose(s) of the audiences and authors. Whom do you think the publishers intended to play the piece? Why?

c. Identify the reform movement touched by the song. If you wrote a song with a similar purpose for a similar audience/purpose today, how would it be different?

c. Ask at least four questions you have about these works that are not answered by the texts (the sheet music) themselves.

5. Read about the 1970 Kent State massacre. Listen to the Neil Young's Ohio written days after the massacre, performed by Crosby, Still, Nash and Young. (The comments demonstrate how heated this event remains today.)

6. Remind yourself about the Occupy Movement and its goals.

7.  Write a song, at least one verse and a chorus, that speaks to either a Progressive Era reform or Occupy.


  1. a. •Cover uses both hand-drawn graphics and photographs.
    •2/4 time suggests the song is a quick-paced one.
    •The cover and lyrics compare women to circus animals, who can be tamed.

    b. The song was most likely meant to be played in a place where there weren't a whole lot of women, like a bar or Gentlemen's Club-type place. A place where men would go after a long day of work, or somewhere to go to escape from their wives.

    c. The song was written at the end of the Progressive Era (1901-1918; Song published in 1918). One of the issues that was trying to be resolved in this era was women's suffrage. This would mean that women would be starting to think more independently as they gained more power, thus leading more men to become "Henpecked" by the sudden surge of independent-ness. If I were to write a song today along the same lines, It would most likely be played at the same places (someplace without a lot of women), and be about the "it's only sexist when men do it" type situations that seem to be becoming more and more common.

    -Ask at least four questions you have about these works that are not answered by the texts (the sheet music) themselves.

    1: Why did the writer choose a circus animal tamer to be the one the man in the song goes to for help?

    2: Why is the song such a quick-paced song?

    3: What were the writer's views on women's suffrage?

    4: Was the song written to be a joke?

    1. The Kent State Massacre is such a big deal, because most people believe that the soldiers who fired into the crowd of college student protestors fired without good reason. The soldiers say that they were fired at by a sniper on the roof of one of the buildings, but the students all said that there was no sniper, and that the only projectiles that flew at the guards were a few rocks and small pavement chunks. This event caused 4 students to lose their lives.

      This event has similarities to events going on today. One big one is the bullying of GLBT students in schools. While it is a big problem, it seems that nothing is being done. There are seminars and guest speakers at school across the country, but whenever it becomes narrowed down to singular cases in schools, a common occurrence seems to be the principal and other administrative staff say that there is no bullying happening, or they almost seem to stand up for the bullies, instead of the bullied.
      The band Rise Against made a song concerning this issue "Make it Stop (September's Children)" (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XP4clbHc4Xg&ob=av2n). It is a powerful song with a clear and powerful meaning, enhanced by actual people speaking during the song about how, despite how crappy things might be now, it does get better.

    2. What do you think it means that you observe that the skirmish lines and issues of the "Battle of the Sexes" have not really changed since before women got the right to vote?

  2. I chose to study the song Alcoholic Blues (Some Blues) by Edward Laska and Albert Vontilzer. The cover has two colors, black and yellow, and has a picture of a moon with an owl and black cat on it. I am not sure how the front image is related to the song. The lyrics discuss the prohibition of alcohol in the United States during World War I.
    Herbert Hoover, the United States Food Administrator at the time, recommended that people ration their food and supplies, in order to feed and provide for the American army troops overseas. Hoover actually designed a program which promoted voluntary food conservation. He claimed that by altering our eating habits, there would be more food available for those overseas. The song lyrics read, “When Mister Hoover said to cut my dinner down, I never even hesitate. . . I cut my sugar I cut my coal But now they dug deep in my soul”
    The song now refers to the prohibition of alcohol. In 1920, the Eighteen Amendment was added to the Constitution, stating that “the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes is hereby prohibited.” The amendment actually had negative effects on the United States, organized crime increased, corrupted law enforcement, overloaded police and prisons, thousands of people lost their jobs, and prohibition was generally expensive. Due to these negative effects the amendment was repealed in 1933 when the Twenty-first Amendment was ratified.
    This song seems somber and commiserative, the person singing the song is depressed because he can’t drink his beer and whiskey. He doesn’t bring up the facts as to why Prohibition is bad for society. I assume that this was written for groups of people who are upset they aren’t allowed to drink alcohol. If a song was written today for a different movement it would be more revolutionary and demanding, rather than depressing. It would ask for change and give more reasons why a movement needed to happen rather than just complaining about the problems.

    -Has prohibition negatively impacted society?
    -Who is “Mister Hoover”?
    -What war is he referring to?
    -Why is it important to give attention to prohibition (other than it takes away alcohol)?
    -Why did alcohol become illegal?

    The song “Ohio” differs from “Alcoholic Blues” because “Ohio” feels more angry and less depressed. Both songs use the names of political figures which gives context to the story that each is telling. The song “Ohio” also predicts what lies ahead and warns against future conflict when it says, “This summer I hear the drumming” and “Tin solders and Nixon’s coming.”