It’s True That We Love One Another: Gender Roles in the Music of Jack White

To say that Jack White has a complicated history with women would be a bit of an understatement. Many of his songs reflect on relationships with women. Several warn of the dangers of redheaded temptresses, and few have fairytale endings. He has survived two divorces, one of which was to a woman he led people to believe was his sister. Yet he frequently collaborates with women, and his most successful musical venture (The White Stripes) consisted solely of himself and his aforementioned sister/ex-wife, Meg White. If any music were ripe for comparison to an understanding of the nature of masculinity/femininity, this would be it. ***Masculinity/Femininity in Musicology*** Frankly, most attempts to analyze music through the guise of feminist criticism seem misguided and uninformative. The process of arbitrarily describing certain traits of music as masculine or feminine is archaic and counterproductive towards better understanding music, yet it is not as outdated as one might think. In his 1989 article “Dangerous Liaisons: The Literary Text in Musical Criticism,” noted musicologist Lawrence Kramer described aspects of musical uncertainty as “weakness characteristic of women’s thinking.” The 4th edition of the Harvard Dictionary of Music (copyright 2003) uses the terms “masculine” and “feminine” regarding cadences more »

Two Decades: Differences between 90’s & 00’s rock radio, and what it can teach us about orchestration

Isn’t it weird how pop/rock music from any given decade has such a distinct sound?  Even if I’m hearing a song for the very first time, I can usually guess with reasonable accuracy the year (or, at the very least, the decade) in which it was recorded.  Of course, decades are just arbitrary spans that make it more convenient for us to organize time, but for whatever reason it seems to be a convenient unit for categorizing periods of rock music. Case in point: a couple months back, WXRT (93.1 FM in Chicago) celebrated its 40th year of broadcasting by showcasing a different year from their existence for each of 40 selected days.  Because they only did this for four days out of every week, it worked out conveniently that they would generally feature one year from each decade over a ten-week span. As I would listen daily on my commutes to and from work, I began to get a pretty good sense of what defined each year from within this genre.  In many ways this just reinforced what I had already known.  The 70’s were dominated by the rise in popularity of distortion and sprawling epic rock from the more »