music exploration

World Music Exploration 2010/11 Week 4 - INXS

My students and I wrap up our exploration of Australian music this week with the popular rock band INXS. Best of INXSThe group first performed as the Farriss Brothers in Sydney, Australia in 1977. Original band members included Michael Hutchence (vocals), Kirk Pengilly (guitar/sax/vocals), Garry Gary Beers (bass), Tim Farriss (guitar), Andrew Farriss (keyboards/ guitar/ percussion/vocals) and Jon Farriss (drums).

Throughout the band's 30 year history, INXS has sold over 30 million records worldwide. They have performed all over the globe, most notably at Wembley Stadium (with the band Queen), the HFS-Tival, the US Festival, the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games and the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games. INXS has won numerous awards and accolades, including International Live Act Of The Year (1986), Rolling Stone Magazine Awards (1991) and ARIA Hall Of Fame inductees (2001).

The death of singer/songwriter Michael Hutchence in November 1997 was a devastating blow. The band continued to perform with guest artists Terence Trent D'Arby and Jon Stevens, however, it wasn't until 2005 that a new lead singer was found. That year, INXS launched their search with a reality TV show “RockStar INXS.” Out of the 100+ singers who auditioned, INXS chose Canadian JD Fortune as the band's new lead singer.

Here's this week's clip: What You Need

(c) 2010 by Musespeak(tm), Calgary, AB, Canada. All rights reserved.

Music through the Ages Exploration Engages Students

This year, my students are exploring a different genre of music every month. Sometimes, it's a quick study. Sometimes it's just a case of listening to a CD or watching youtube and then discussing the music afterward. My student Namitha calls our exploration, "Music through the Ages". Last month, we explored the Classical period. Their comments on the music were colourful, ranging from "it sounds like someone's being chased" during Beethoven's 5th Symphony to "it sounds happy yet sad" for Mozart's Rondo alla Turk. The intermediate students have started to notice patterns that are similar to their pieces (sonata allegro form, anyone?).

This month, I've fast forwarded the timeline to the present for them to explore pop, rock and country. One student classified Carrie Underwood as "country", while the next day, one classified her as "pop". We listened to a couple of her songs and I asked them to tell me what madeJust a Dream more country than Cowboy Cassanova. A similar scenario happened with Taylor Swift.

(FYI: my students said it was the instrumentation and drum groove used that differentiated the styles).

After listening to The Beatles, I asked my student Tess what she thought of song and the style. "What am I supposed to say?" she asked me.

"The truth," I replied. "Did you like it? Love it? Hate it? Doesn't make you feel anything?"

She discovered that it doesn't make her feel anything and that it's a style she'll probably stay away from.

A few days later, I learned that young Gabe loves the 80s band Journey ("They're just cool!").

That's what it's all about for me, showing them what's out there. I hope by the end of the year, they will have a better idea of just how wide and diverse music is and along the way, find out what they would like to explore further (or avoid like the plague). If their active listening skills improve along the way as we discuss melody, timbre, rhythm, form and texture - all the better!

(c) 2009 by Musespeak(tm), Calgary, AB, Canada. All rights reserved.