Friday, October 7, 2016

Symposium Reflection


If you’re reading this blog for the first time, or you haven’t gotten the chance to know me, I need to preface this by saying that I have interests in music, cultures, and especially how those interplay. Essentially, I to want to grow up to be an ethnomusicologist, or an anthropologist of sound. So when my professor, who I travelled to India with in 2015, shared that my university was hosting a music symposium where scholars, composers, and performers that brought together Western and Indian traditions would come to speak about their work I was ecstatic.

The three days of the symposium were filled with many inspiring conversations and opportunities to explore. This whole event was significant because (even as one of the presenter’s pointed out...) this was probably one of the few spaces in our region where people who are interested in cross-cultural musical phenomenons and projects could come together for a discussion. The presentations ranged from composer’s debuting and talking about their work, to performances that showcase both Indian classical and Western influences, to new technology and systems to accommodate cross cultural communication, and a dissection of classical, pop, indie, fusion and every genre in between.

One of the greatest aspects of the symposium was the intimacy throughout the weekend; the personality of the symposium was kept light and welcoming, which is probably a big reason why I stayed as long as I did. Simply as an attendee, I was able to have lunch with the presenters, make connections, and felt comfortable enough to ask questions freely. This isn’t the case in many other situations like these. The relaxed ambiance of the symposium made the entire weekend so much richer and allowed for more learning opportunities than had it been run with formalities.

If I'm to highlight one session from the entire weekend, I would say I was most touched and intrigued by the last one. Pavithra Chari is a musician from New Delhi, India who wears many hats. She is a composer, performer, educator, etc.  While everyone shared their life work, her speech to the symposium attendees was particularly raw and personally driven. I'm not sure if she would identify this way, but from my perspective there was something so innately feminist about it all. Calling upon the feminist theory, "the personal is political," Pavithra's fusion of Hindustani classical with ethereal electronic music was so authentically her and embraced tradition in a unique way. I was able to see Pavithra again when she came to my class the following Monday; she led a discussion on her life as an indie/classical fusion artist and composer in India with our class. Her band Shadow and Light can be heard on soundcloud!

So what did this weekend mean for me? It meant that I was in a space surrounded by those with the same particular interests that I had, which is a really cool thing especially in academic settings and the topic at hand is reworking and undoing the western dominance in social and artistic standard. It was reaffirming that I was in a space that I needed to be in at that moment, that I had arrived to a moment of right place and right time in my life.

Check out Shastra and go here for an indepth schedule of how the weekend went. Info on the image in the post header can be found here.

Musically yours,
Priscysinger1

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

I try to listen through my Discover Weekly playlist on Spotify every week, and I don’t get to do so every week, but when I do I usually come across at least one song that I adore. Early in January I was suggested this song, “Deewani Mastani.” I was OBSESSED, I played it over and over. Having just returned from India studying Indian classical, I was happy to be exposed to more popular music of the region. (That being said, I do not claim to be an expert on Indian music! I am a student and appreciator of the art, and may have overlooked something that could enrich this short analysis, I’m happy to be enlightened!) The song is from a Bollywood film called Bajirao Mastani, which is the tale of warrior princess Mastani, who trades in her home life to follow Maratha Peshwa Bajirao I., becoming his second wife. 




I didn’t watch the film until recently, which is why I’ve once again become so obsessed with this song. Seeing it in the film is absolutely chilling, but even as a stand alone video, it is mesmerizing. The infectious song is the moment where Mastani declares her love for Bajirao. Mastani is stepping out in front of everyone and unabashedly letting everyone, including Bajirao, just how deep her love runs. In my interpretation, this is a feminist move. We are still being fed the false idea that men must be the ones to declare feelings first or be the ones who do the chasing, portraying their emotions holding greater importance. Understanding this, her bold movements can be interpreted as resistant to a norm. And adding to her depth as a great feminist character, Mastani’s love is as fierce and piercing as her swordsmanship; the film includes many scenes of Mastani’s masterful battle skills. This scene alone is so visually stunning and the song is absolutely wonderful, but I do recommend watching the entire film to see Mastani in all her glory. 

Musically yours, 
Priscysinger1 

originally posted on 08 aug 16 at 10am

Straight Outta Oz - Visual Album Feminist Review




After being obsessed with this album for the last month, I knew that I had to do a review. What a year for visual albums! (Ahem. Lemonade.) And whereas Beyonce blessed us with a narrative on the experience of the Black Woman, Straight Outta Oz is Todrick Hall’s personal portrayal of his experience as a Black Gay Man in Hollywood. And it is divine! The story takes us on a ride following Todrick, our modern day Dorothy, as he navigates his identities, dreams, and career in a complex world. 




What I had to share this morning in response to the Christina Grimmie news. There is a large issue at hand here and it breaks my heart that someone, a young woman with so much talent and heart for music had to lose her life because of violence that someone thought they had the right to commit. This is why we cannot let the small things, the microagressions and small acts of violence happen. This is why we must examine and critique our musical culture. This is why we must not turn away from acts of sexism because they are not solitary occurrences, but products of a culture that conveys the idea that violence is acceptable, that womxn creators aren’t capable of existing in a space where they can express and create music.
Completely saddened to hear of this and completely angered because this only reflects the larger toxic culture in which womxn musicians operate in. 
Originally posted on 11 jun 16 at 12pm

On #FreeKesha and a look at the state of women in music.


Happy New Year! Sorry, I’ve been MIA. But here’s a post because something big is happening for the state of women in music. 

If you don’t know, Kesha has been battling her record label Sony to end her contract so that she doesn’t have to work with her alleged rapist, producer Dr. Luke. The recent ruling was in favor of Sony, forcing Kesha to remain and work within the confines of her recording contract. This has resulted in the use of the hashtag #FreeKesha for fans and others to show their solidarity. Celebs, and especially other women in music, have come out publicly sharing their sentiments of support. 

Many are reflecting how this is bigger than Kesha, this involves the state of women in music. I wholeheartedly agree on this. This will not only affect Kesha, but other women, as well as other marginalized groups in music and other forms of art. The result may have not been ideal, but it’s been an opportunity to talk about injustices against women in music on the public stage, which is a step in the right direction. 

Here’s the thing: Kesha even as a privileged and beloved pop star faces naysayers who deny and negate her experiences as a woman in music that she has shared with the public, can we imagine how much harder it would be for other women? 

Unfortunately rape culture tells us to question Kesha and her motives for coming forward. Rape culture removes the credibility of women’s experiences, tells us that she did something to deserve the violence done to her, and protects the abuser in question. Understand that, and begin to undo the work of rape culture. Listen to Kesha and other women’s experiences when they come forward because undoubtedly it’s no easy thing to do. 

Musically yours,
Priscysinger1

originally published on 25 feb 16 at 1am

Spotify’s Most Streamed

A few days ago, I came across this post on instagram… 



Let’s use our critical lens… Can you pick up on a pattern here? Because even spotify does when they explicitly say, “Recognize these guys?” So if you’ve haven’t picked up on the gendered language, let me explain: there are no feminine representations featured here as the main artist. 2015’s most played track? Major Lazer’s “Lean On.” No surprise that once again that the credit goes to men. Yes, of course we have MØ and Kimbra with vocal features, but they’re not the name on the song. 

So what does this pattern have to reflect? Do men tend to make the songs we don’t want to listen to and women tend make songs we don’t want to listen to? Not the case at all. Is Spotify a sexist app that skews our listening habits? Unlikely. What I can gather from this data, is that representation in music continues to lean a certain masculine way. 

Also, of interest to note: 


So following this link, the first category: Most Streamed Artist of 2015. The second? Most streamed women in music (Rihanna.)  I realize that, they make an effort for feminine representation by giving women their own category, but the point I’m trying to make is that we shouldn’t need that category. The fact is that this stems from a larger cultural issue that systematically effects women in music. 

Let’s support, and listen to, women in music! Shall we? 

Musically yours,
Priscysinger1

originally posted on 11 dec 15 at 9pm


Adele has caught the attention of the public once again with her latest track “Hello.” I’ve admired Adele as a musician and vocalist for years now. (I’ve also admired her for her body positivity.)  Adele, without any doubt is an amazing musician; I can say that and I don’t think any one would disagree with me. When we think of Adele we associate her as this amazing musician and to think of her in any other frame is odd for us. 
One day I was reading an issue of Teen Vogue, and this issue had a story featuring different artists and musicians. Adele had her own page, a photo of her with the caption I’ve shared above. I ripped that page out and hung it on my inspiration board, and it’s still there because the quote she shared means so much to me. The most impactful part is this,
“Some people say, ‘I was born to do this’–I don’t think I’m like that…. My passion evolved.”
I think for the arts and for music especially, we have this notion that people are either born with talent or they are not. That single sentence meant so much to me, because I struggled with this concept for a long time. Instead of being told that many good musicians actually aren’t born just magically playing well, that it was something they worked on, I was told that I was not born with it and so my insecurity and frustration didn’t allow me to understand the idea of development as a musician. 
In a media environment where we marvel at child prodigies and glorify teen stars that are getting younger and younger, with this quote Adele really helped me understand that in fact there is beauty in pursuing something you have to develop and work for. The music industry is especially agist, so I’m always happy to give contrary ideas platform. I’m proud to say that Adele influences me in many aspects including musically, vocally, mentally, etc. And I’m so happy to see her continue in success. 
Musically yours,Priscysinger1
originally posted on 12 nov 15 at 1am

Pioneer Divas - Highlighting Unsung Musician Influencers - Rose Marie McCoy


Recently, I was at an event where I was in a conversation with a professor. As I revealed my interests (you know, feminism, music, etc.) she suggested that I attend an event that her department was sponsoring. This event was a lecture and documentary on the life of Rose Marie McCoy, a song writer who was responsible for penning many of the hits of huge music stars, like Elvis Presley and Nat King Cole, among others. 
The lecturer and documentary maker, Arlene Corsano has spent a lot of time sharing McCoy’s life story with others. She also leads efforts to have McCoy inducted into the Songwriters’ Hall Of Fame. Thankfully, Corsano was able to establish a relationship with McCoy before her passing this January. 
The documentary discussed life as a woman in music, as a songwriter, musical appropriation, and other details about McCoy’s life. 
I was so happy to be introduced to her story because for too long women, and specifically WOC have been under represented and largely unrecognized for their work and the more we discuss this the faster we can change this pattern. So this post is to honor Rose Marie McCoy, and other women in music responsible for influencing our lives while going unnoticed. 
Musically yours,Priscysinger1
originally posted on 17 oct 15 at 3am

Live In Concert: Hozier

Ever since I came across the Irish crooner in a Teen Vogue article warning readers about the singer’s imminent success, I’ve enjoyed Hozier’s music. Soon enough, the world would become enthralled with his power ballad “Take Me To Church,” and it would end up rising the charts. That song was/is great, but I personally prefer other works likes “From Eden,” and “To Be Alone,” which were kept on repeat for a ridiculous amount of time.
So when concert dates we’re announced and I had the money, I bought myself a ticket to go see him as a birthday present to myself. My first concert as a 21-year-old, this concert had a certain air or maturity to it. Maybe it was because I drove myself into Manhattan for the first time or because couples surrounded me or another reason, eloquence resided throughout the evening.

Little Green Cars supported Hozier that evening. They charmed the audience with their tunes. I was especially impressed by the voice on the female vocalist, it rang strong and clear throughout the theatre. They had a delightfully vibrant and full sound. This was my first impression of them, and I enjoyed them and certainly suggest them if you’re looking for some mellow jams. 
Hozier seemed to leave no song unplayed; It was jam after jam, and he even delivered a three-song encore. As I mentioned previously, it was love at first listen with brighter tunes like “From Eden” and “Someone New,“ but it was his darker tunes, the ones that sit in the depths, like “It Will Come Back,” “Angel of Small Death and the Codeine Scene,” and “To Be Alone” that sold me on him. To my delight, the concert rose and fell gracefully in mood. Hozier’s transitions were smooth, something I believe translates a true understanding and connection to his music. He had me on my feet swaying from song to song, something I personally didn’t expect to occur that night. Honestly though, one standard of measure I have for concerts is whether or not I can mentally zone in to the moment and just enjoy the music and energy well. That being said, Hozier did not disappoint. And in my final statement to share of the eventing, his on-stage company included a great amount of women musicians. As a supporter of women of music, of course that means a lot to see. 
The set list:
Like Real People Do
Angel of Small Death and the Codeine Scene
From Eden
Jackie and Wilson
To Be Alone
Someone New
Blackbird (The Beatles cover)
It Will Come Back
In a Week
Arsonist’s Lullaby
Sedated
Take Me To Church
Encore:
Cherry Wine
Problem (Ariana Grande cover)
Work Song
I was cell phone-less so no photos from the concert, although I did take one of the stage for snapchat using my iPad. Of course I didn’t use it during the concert; I refused to be that person with an iPad at a concert.
Excuse the grainy quality. 

I did take a polaroid camera with me! I snapped two shots of the Radio City Music Hall signs and marquee as well as a shot from inside the theatre. Here’s an artsy array of those prints with my ticket. 

Musically yours,
Priscysinger1 

originally posted on 05 oct 15 at 11pm

Musical Travels: India




I’m an anthropology major with minors in music and media, which should help reveal as to why I took this trip in the first place. I declared my music minor while I was taking a World Music (although it really was ethnomusicology) class that I enjoyed much. During this class, we had a chapter on Indian music and the students erupted with delight commenting that a certain professor of the department was currently there learning Indian music. I remember thinking to myself how cool that was. About a year or so later, I was scrolling through Instragram and I come across a flyer posted by my school’s music department. It advertised a study abroad opportunity to India, and then I remembered the conversation held in that World Music class. I figured it was the same professor. I looked at the ad in front of me and said to myself, “An opportunity to study music in a foreign country and travel to India with a group?” I knew that it was something that I needed to be a part of. I rushed to reach out to the professor listed on the post expressing my interest in joining the group. I simply explained my academic interests and how I found out about the program. Leading up to the trip, I was tense, nervous, and worried. We had rehearsals, meetings, paper work to fill out. Being a non-music major had me on edge. I was nervous to be up to par with my group mates, worried that I wouldn’t be enough. Fortunately, the group of students and my professor helped me feel welcome, and before we knew it it was time for us to leave!



India was so awesome that I’m still astonished as to how well the trip went. We went to study a classical Hindustani (North Indian) music called dhrupad with two world renowned master performers of the genre, the Gundecha Brothers. They’ve opened a school, Gurukul Dhrupad Sansthan, to teach dhrupad to a new generation. We stayed at the school’s hostel for a month, taking daily classes under the guru-shishya tradition. Musically, this trip was wonderful for my development. I learned how to practice, worked on my ear, and was always surrounded by musicians and lovers of music and art. Plus, I attended an insane amount of concerts. I loved only having to wake up and worry about being a better singer than I was the day before. If it could be like that here in America, wouldn’t that be grand?

In other aspects, as in socially and culturally, the trip was a blast. I never declined any invitation, so I was open to everything the trip had to offer. My excursions included seeing the Buddhist monuments at Sanchi, late night dining at a hotel that was formerly a palace, a weekend trip to the city of temples known as Ujjain; essentially whatever it was I was up and ready for it all. It just so happened that the people showing us all the best places to check out were the Gundecha kids, the sons and daughter of our teachers. These three (and some other friends included!) helped make our trip so invaluable because of the good times we shared exploring!



Living at the hostel was a challenge but incredibly enchanting. The Gods were smiling down on me as I was set up with awesome travel mates and especially great roommates. It was harmonious living. The local students and other foreigners were welcoming and friendly, always up for conversation. We threw a kitty party for the ladies of the gurukul, essentially a slumber party without the sleeping part. As a true air child, the roof of the hostel was the magical spot for me. Plenty of reflective moments happening there and even some yoga action.

So without a doubt, it was hard to leave India. I knew from the second week in that it would be hard for me. I had called it, “When we leave I am just going to be so ugly with tears.” And when the day came, I did cry many tears. As everyone shared to console me, “Just keep thinking about your ten year visa.” Until next time India!



Musically yours,
Priscysinger1

originally posted on 28 sep 15 at 10pm