Saturday, May 21, 2011

Pop Culture - a stepping stone for expression

One of the interesting things I studied in college was the idea of "cultural memory". Each culture has an oral tradition that is passed on through the generations and impacts the context in which the following generations perceive events. For example, the Kennedy Assassination happened before I was old enough to be cognizant -- and yet I feel I partake of not only the loss of innocence that day, but the distrust of hope and prosperity.

Once upon a time, the oral tradition was geographically specific. It moved from person to person and from village to village with the population deciding what would be remembered and what would be shared -- but that was before technology made images and stories accessible to the world. Stories became mass media -- but the flow was controlled by distributors. Newspaper editors and motion picture standards boards decided what warranted remembrance and what deserved audience.

The internet, however, has placed distribution back in the hands of the populace. Once again any story can be shared. The only thing that remains the same is that these stories and events are building blocks -- shared cultural events -- that we as human beings use to cement relationships and expand upon in our own shared expression.

For those of you who haven't viewed Rebecca Black's YouTube video, I am providing a link here so you can fully appreciate the Pine View High School's performance of said piece. It also makes reference to a parody by Jimmy Fallon that can be found here.

On an interesting note, you can watch JoJo's face turn red as he plays this as he plays his clarinet. Apparently he usually plays his part on his Saxophone, but since he only had his clarinet on him, he had to transpose on the fly.

He was awarded Pine View's Instrumental Music Outstanding Student Award that day. He and his friend Cameron were also awarded the Louis Armstrong and John Phillip Sousa Awards -- meaning their names will be engraved on plaques that hang in the band room. It has been an awesome year for them. Cameron's grandmother remarked to me how lucky they are to have a band director who is so "bouncy" and lets the band also be "bouncy" -- but I am appreciative of even more than that. They have a band director who allows them opportunity. Thursday night's concert featured music arranged by and directed by students.

I know our family was excited to see JoJo's arrangement of The Troubadour come to fruition -- not just because we are so proud of him, but because we are so glad we won't have to listen to the hours and hours of his playing that song, playing along with that song, transcribing that song -- and then writing the arrangement.


  1. You must be so proud of Joe, with his special award, as well as having his song played at the concert! He is so talented! He can do anything! Go Joe!

  2. Congrats to J-Jo. Interesting observation on the Kennedy Assassination. I was 13 and I remember it well. Although, my memory differs from the media portaryal. I also remember 911 differently, but I don't see a lot of bloggers pointing out a different view. Perhaps, anyone with a diffferent view and a healthy fear of homeland security. Or maybe I am just having a bad day.