A 5C CLIL PLAYLIST

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Here we are again with a very interesting work, directly written from the students of the “Liceo Scientifico Statale Luigi Cremona“. Please find below the playlist that the 5C selected for this CLIL history class 2017/2018 (How music changed history: Blues, Jazz and Rock’n’Roll).

LM

 

Elvis Presley – In the Ghetto
The song In the Ghetto, sung by Elvis Presley, was composed in 1969 by Mac Davis and it was originally titled The Vicious Circle, but it seemed to Davis that the desperation in the song was similar to the one in the wartime Jewish ghettos, so he changed it.
It is one of the few socially involved songs Elvis recorded, and it’s about a boy born in Chicago’s ghetto, forced by the circumstances to go down a path of criminality: “he learns how to steal, and he learns how to fight”, “he buys a gun, steals a car” – this will ultimately lead to his death.
The song is expressing a deterministic view of life: the boy had no way to escape his destiny, which was determined by the social environment he was born in. He could have had a different life only if someone had helped him (“The child needs a helping hand Or he’ll grow to be an angry young man some day”). In the Ghetto is criticizing the indifference of the society of that time (“Do we simply turn our heads, and look the other way?”) towards black people; indifference and discrimination were what lead to the awful condition afro-americans lived in in the first place (people born in the ghetto were likely to become criminals just so they could survive), so that’s what needs to be changed in order to give black people more chances at having a normal life.
It’s interesting to underline that the song has a cyclic structure: it starts with a baby being born, and it ends in the same way (“Another little baby child is born in the ghetto, and his mama cries”). On one hand, the fact that this baby is born in the same moment when the boy dies could be seen as some kind of positive balance the universe is trying to restore; on the other hand, the new-born baby has the same destiny as the boy who died.

STELLA CANTELMI – GIOVANNI STAFFINI

 

Billie Holiday – Strange Fruit

Strange fruit is part of a group of the so called “ difficult songs ” .
From the singer to the lyrics, this song is absolutely different from any other one of its time.
Billie Holiday, daughter of two young artists, had a difficult childhood. She moved in New York and started a prostitute career to survive. She had drugs and alchool problems, but this never stopped her. She began her story with music between a brothel walls, where she could listen to Bessie Smith and Louis Amstrong. Her singer career started when se was 15 and at 18 a big producer ( John Hammond ) noticed her and sponsored her two first albums.
She was one of the first black singer working with white women and, even if she was forced to stay in the fitting room until her show and to use a diffrent door to get into the clubs, when she was singing everyone stopped and listen to her. Or at least, this used to happen when she was not playing Strange Fruit. This song had the ability to make people feel unconfortable and. it wasn’t always the feelings that the public wanted to speriment.
Strange fruit is diffrent from her other songs and it was so intense that became an anthem for black civil rights. Out in 1939, it told the real story about black people and their life
conditions. The strange fruit that gives the title to the song is the body of a black man killed
and hanged at a tree, which is a message and a symbol of the victims of racism in the south of the united states. In fact, even if it was forbitten by law, there were a lot of people murdered and the 80% of the victims of 1940 was black, certanly not a coincidence.

GAIA CHIERICHETTI – CHIARA FRANCHINI

 

John Coltrane – Alabama

John Coltrane was an acclaimed American saxophonist and composer that became an
iconic figure of jazz in the 20th-century. He turned the jazz’s world into the expression of the human need for answers: he used music to make sense of senseless acts.
“Alabama” is perhaps a masterpiece in this regard.
Coltrane wrote the song in response to the bombing that was planted by Ku Klus Klan
extremists in the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham (Alabama); this tragic event
caused the death of four black girls between 11 and 14. Martin Luter King made a moving speech for these martyred children and Coltrane used King’s words as a basement for his song.
Both Coltrane’s music and King’s specchio are passionate, expressing or inducing sadness.
As Martin Luter King speech has a turning point becoming a statement of reniew
determination for the struggle against racism, “Alabama” changes his tone becoming a
crescendo.
Finally we think that “Alabama”s melody expresses both the sadness of that tragic event and the individual human injustice. Infact listening to “Alabama” and reading King’s words together is an incredibly moving experience.

GAIA GRIECO – AURORA MUSETTI

 

Mahalia Jackson – We shall overcome

“We Shall Overcome” is probably one of the most influent hymn of freedom among afro-american people but also for students who wanted their voices to be listened. This song became very famous and was sung all over the world by many important artists such as Joan Baez, Louis Armstrong, Diana Ross, Bruce Springsteen, Pete Seeger and Mahalia Jackson. Mahalia’s version was the most touching one considering that she sang it during Martin Luther King’s funeral that was a very important person to her and her people.
Due to her story she was strictly connected with this song, her voice was so moving and powerful that Dr. King Jr. himself had described her talent saying that: “A voice like this one comes not once in a century, but once in a millennium”.
Going through history this song has being changed by artists who decided to add or modify lyrics and structure. For instance, Pete Seeger gave his contribution by replacing the word “will” into “shall” in order to “make the mouth opened better”.
The roots of this song are not clear: it may come from Charles Tindley who composed a gospel song that contained the words “ I’ll overcome some day” or maybe from a following gospel song that says “deep in my heart I do believe/I’ll overcome some day”. Even if this song has ancient origins it become popular in 1960s thanks to Pete Seeger. However before the song broke through, it was an unofficial anthem of American Civil Rights Movement. It has had a social importance during the strike of 1946 in Charleston where a group of Afro-American tobacco workers were protesting for their rights. Thanks to the powerful meaning of this song, it was adopted not only by American students, indeed there is a Spanish version used by Galician students against the dictatorship in 1967-68. “We shall overcome” was also used as a rampart of civil rights by black people in South Africa against apartheid.
All in all, this song represents the voice of the whole African-American community that has struggled for ages. In particular it represents the hope for them to achieve freedom, which is an utopian outlook, that “SOME DAY” it will be utopian no more: Mahalia reminds every black people to continue the struggles and overcome this situation all together.

DAVIDE MAFFI – FRANCESCO RAINERI

 

Sam Cooke – A change is gonna come

The 1960s were years of poitical and cultural change in America, not only for the election of the first catholic president, who succeded in launching the first expedition to the moon, but mostly for the birth of the Civile Right Movement, which tried to affirm equality between black and white people using musicians’ creativity too. This is the story of many songs of that time, including “A change is gonna come” written by Sam Cooke and recorded in 1964.
Infact even if Sam Cooke is more famous for have been a play boy and for his strange death (occured when he was only thirty-three) rather than for his carrier, it’s important remember that he was sensitive to social problems and that “ A change Is gonna come” was inspired by a group of young black artist who hoped to raise awarness of their cause.
Here hope and pain coexists, because even if the string section soli at the beginning underlines how he has been struggled since he was “born by the river in a little tent” he doesn’t miss his optimistic dream of a real change.

Being considered as an answer to the questions posed by Bob Dylan in “Blowing’ in the Wind”, “A Change gonna come” recollets the frustration of all African Americans who has left their freedom since too much time and his personal Arrow for the death of his child.

ALESSANDRO MORLACCHI – MICOL ILARIA ROCCO

 

Woody Guthrie – This land is your land

This land is your land is a folk song written by Woody Guthrie. It was composed based on an existing melody in 1940 and then recorded and published only in 1944-45.
it’s considered like a national anthem by the people of the United States, singed by many famous artists like Bruce Springsteen or Lady Gaga, but what most of them do not know is that it was a kind of satiric response to Kate Smith’s hit “God bless America”, indeed the original title was “God bless America for me”. Guthrie had travelled a lot around his country during his youthness and had seen many violence, hunger and prejudice that had led him to think that the heavenly endorsement was still just a dream for the US; this is why he was so bothered by Smith’s that was always playing on the radios talking about a perfect country. He did not only change the title but also some verses, which sounded to angry and ironical, like “as they stood hungry, I stood there wondering if God blessed America for me”.
In this song Guthrie puts together all the typical music of his childhood like church hymns, outlaw ballads, blues, fiddle tunes and popular music.
Personally, we do not enjoy too much this song because it sounds too country and monotonous; although we do like the lyrics and theirs modernity.

LUCA PISANI – LAURA SUSTA

 

Chuck Berry – Roll over Beethoven

The song “Roll Over Beethoven”; is one of the most successful tracks composed by Charles Edward Anderson Berry, mainly known as Chuck Berry. This single belongs to rock and roll genre and, like all the songs from this kind of music, it imparts a revolutionary message. In fact, this is a reaction to classic tradition and it is clearly visible in the title and in some of the lines, such as “Roll over Beethoven // And tell Tchaikovsky the news”. The novelty of this kind of music is underlined by the association of a great composer from the past with the word roll, which reminded the name of this genre. But this is not only a musical reference, because roll is one of the main actions made in dancing this kind of songs. Rock and roll typical dance is individual and based on the absence of particular steps. The freedom of movements and the new way to express the body stress how the revolutionary contents of this music are not limited to composition or musical instruments, but they have also a social dimension. In facts, in the fifties rock and roll becomes youngers genre thanks the subversive potential it communicates with the songs texts and stars’ behavior. In this
period the main attempt of new generations is to obtain freedom and have less social limits or rules than in the past, and rock reflected these ambitions. This concept also emerges in “Roll over Beethoven”, where Chuck Berry used an entire stanza to describe how a girl dances over his track.
Finally, it is possible to say that this famous song completely embodies the soul of rock, because it contains all the main characteristics of this genre and it even recognizes the origins of this music, as clearly as it emerges in the continuous references to blues.

FRANCESCO SGARRA – PAOLO VALVO

 

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Annunci

La Radio del Doposcuola!

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Approfittiamo del blog per ospitare un altro simpatico e ben riuscito progetto scolastico: la trasmissione radiofonica del doposcuola dello Spazio Giovani di Affori (Milano)!

Con grande piacere pubblichiamo qui di seguito i contenuti radiofonici ideati, scritti e interpretati direttamente dai ragazz* che hanno partecipato al nostro doposcuola medie 2015/2016.

Potrete ascoltare:

  • l’inno rap del doposcuola
  • due radiodrammi (intitolati Che piatto saporito! e Chi la fa l’aspetti!) liberamente scritti ispirandosi alla novella Andreuccio da Perugia a Napoli tratta da Il Decamerone di Boccaccio.
  • una rubrica divertente di barzellette raccontate dai ragazz*

Buon ascolto a tutti (cliccate sul link qui sotto) e un ringraziamento speciale ancora a tutto lo staff, ai volontari e soprattutto agli studenti del doposcuola 2015/2016!

🙂

 La Radio del Doposcuola

The revolution will not be televised

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The revolution will not be televised (1970) is a poem and song written and sung by the American poet and musician Gil Scott Heron (1949 – 2011). Considered a precursor of rap and hip hop music, the song perfectly fits in the social atmosphere of discrimination towards black people that was still present in the USA in the ’60s and ’70s.

By 1970, there was a profound shift in the struggle for equality as the fight for civil rights gave way to the demand for the so called “Black Power“, a political slogan. In fact, the Civil Rights Movement had lost its focus, being ignored by a wartime US government, and the voices of its leaders were silenced by jail or bullets. Black popular music reflected this change. The voices on the radio stopped preaching brotherhood and togetherness and started reporting the real facts, while the music got more aggressive. This song makes no exception.

In the song, Heron criticizes television culture and its attention only for capitalism and the so called “WASP” culture: capitalism is not the route of change and, above all, the truth cannot and will not be correctly mediated by those people who are in control of the images that are broadcasted, because it would be dangerous; rather, the revolution and the truth exist out in the streets, but they always wait for someone to bring them up.

Popular culture works like a sort of “drug”, distracting people from what they really ought to be doing to change the world and to take control of their own lives. Television separates everything with commercial advertisement, synonymous of something false, fictional, inopportune towards what happens in real life: this is not possible in a real revolution and the spectator cannot rest for example during the commercial; that is the reason why television is inappropriate to make a revolution (at least by broadcasting it).

Since the first line of the song “You will not be able to stay home, brother” Gil Scott Heron invites people not to stay at home but to go out and to make a revolution to change the situation because the black Americans too are being distracted by what is broadcasted and hopes they will start taking action to bring about that change. Some of them have already done a lot for the revolution, but it is necessary to go further. Otherwise any real change for people will not take place in future:“the revolution will not be televised”.

Gil Scott-Heron – The Revolution will not be televised

Marco Tartaglia (VF)

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The Blues and his unsung heroes

heroes-of-blues-jazz-country

With the great migration, from 1910 to 1970, lots of African Americans left the south of the USA, where racial prejudice and discrimination were still present in society,  in order to go to the North. They searched for a job in cities such as Chicago, New York, Detroit and Philadelphia and an outcome of this movement was the Harlem Renaissance.

This was a literary, artistic, and musical movement that arose a new black cultural identity and  took its name from Harlem, which is a district of New York where it started and then branched out in USA. This Renaissance bring the idea of the “New Negro”, whereby a person could overwhelm racism trough the artistic production.

Blues is a kind of music that remembers the hard times of African Americans, indeed its inventors were slaves, ex-slaves and the descendants of slaves: African American sharecroppers who sang while they worked in the cotton and vegetable fields. Lots of blues artists were common people so they remain unknown until now even if they have been playing music for all their life.

For example the song Everyday I have the blues was first sung by B.B. King but probably people know it because it was sung for over  50 years  by lots of artists: the first one was Joe Williams, then blues artists such as Johnnie Ray, James Brown; rock artists like Carlos Santana, Lou Rawls, The Marshall Tucker Band, Elton John and nowadays artists like John Mayer and many others.

The lyrics are brief but they say: “Yes I’m gonna pack my suitcase, move on down the line where there ain’t nobody worried and there ain’t nobody crying”, so maybe it hides the idea of this movement from south to north America, where they think they would have found comfort and no racial prejudice.

Another bluesman that has an unordinary history is Robert Brown, better known as Washboard Sam, because of his talent in playing this instrument, a drums’ ancestor. His songs were written to fight against discrimination and injustice and he became rapidly famous thanks to his strong and wonderful voice. With electric blues his blues appears antiquate, then has again a little bit of fame with famous groups such as the Rolling Stones and Animals who brought back again the real blues but he soon died. Washboard Sam was buried anonymously, only years after big artists of this genre decided to raise funds to give a respectable burial to one of the most important bluesmen.

After all this words spent about this guy if you want to discover him there’s a playlist dedicate to him where you can finally listen to his beautiful voice.

Martina Rappa (VF)

Washboard-Sam-e1405515430314

Strange Fruit

DISCRIMINATION AND KKK

Fiorucci

“Southern trees bear a strange fruit…” sang Billie Holiday almost a century ago. Which fruit is she referring to? Why does it seem to grow only in the South?

First we have to look back to the past: the abolishment of slavery and involuntary servitude in the US (with the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution) in no way led to the elimination of racism;
Some words  taken from a John Reed (a US political activist and journalist) speech can help us understand the problem:

“In America there live ten million Negroes who are concentrated mainly in the South. In recent years however many thousands of them have moved to the North. The Negroes in the North are employed in industry while in the South the majority are farm labourers or small farmers. The position of the Negroes is terrible, particularly in the Southern states. Paragraph 16 of the Constitution of the United States grants the Negroes full civil rights. Nevertheless most Southern states deny the Negroes these rights. In other states, where by law the Negroes possess the right to vote, they are killed if they dare to exercise this right. Negroes are not allowed to travel in the same railway carriages as whites, visit the same saloons and restaurants, or live in the same districts. There exist special, and worse, schools for Negroes and similarly special churches.” (The report goes on depicting the disheartening condition of the Afro-Americans…)

We can comprehend the reality of racial segregation, legitimated by the doctrine of “separate but equal”. As we can easily imagine, the second part of this formula was almost never taken into account.

To sum up, it was sadly easy to see a black man dangling from a tree. According to the Tuskegee Institute, in the years between 1889 and 1940 3.833 people were lynched;  90% of these murders took place in the South, and 80% of the “bodies swinging” were Afro-Americans.  Very often it wasn’t even necessary that the individual had committed a crime to lynch him: the only fact that he was black allowed the people to consider it as a “preventive action” in order to completely avoid the possibility that he could “become too much arrogant”.
Most of these crimes were promoted or directly carried out by the KKK (Ku Klux Klan): this organization still exists and during the years had seen periods of high notoriety (in the Twenties more than four million people joined it). Moreover, it is a duty to say that, according to a survey developed in the Southern States in 1939, almost six white citizens over ten were in favor of this macabre spectacle.

”Pastoral scene of the gallant south,

The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth,

Scent of magnolias, sweet and fresh,

Then the sudden smell of burning flesh.”

This jazz song, which goes straight to the point referring to merciless images, was not well understood at first, or in other situations some company refused to release it, because it represented a scandal. This due to the persistence of racism among huge sectors of the US population.

To conclude, although Holiday was the first artist to perform this single, the song was originally written by Abel Meeropol, a teacher who lived in Bronx, and it was firstly published on the communist newspaper New Masses.  This song shouted something that was not to say, it sounded as a strong action of denounce and protest. Therefore the very writer felt disappointed when Billie Holiday asserted to be the author, together with her pianist.

Billie Holiday – Strange Fruit

Alessandro Fiorucci (VD)

Fiorucci 2

What a wonderful world

Louis Armstrong bezoekt Amsterdam *29 oktober 1955

A CONTROVERSIAL JAZZ MAN

Louis Armstrong – What a Wonderful World ♪

Louis Armstrong (August 4th, 1901-July 6th, 1971) is one of the most important Jazz singer and trumpeter. He was Afro-American (grandson of slaves), but he was one of the first to become truly famous, despite the color of his skin. He was able to shift the focus of the music from the collective improvisation to solo performance.

He had rarely promoted his political ideas, but he criticized the president Eisenhower for his segregation policy, during the Little Rock Crisis.

He was born in New Orleans, which was a city of racial discrimination, but where ragtime (the beginning of Jazz) was appreciated. He improved his cornet playing skills in the band of the city in his early life.

In the ‘20s, during the period of maximum growth of jazz music culture, his musicianship matured so that he was one of the first Jazz man involved in trumpet solo.

After many experiences in New Orleans and Chicago, he went to Harlem, playing in the Connie’s Inn, rival of the famous Cotton Club, where he reached great success.

Because of the “Great Depression” in the early ‘30s many musicians stopped to sing, but Louis moved to Los Angeles (to the new Cotton Club), then returned to New Orleans and afterwards started a tour in Europe.

He settled permanently in Queens, NY, in 1943 where he first created the All Stars (a band of six), then recorded many important and famous songs, and won the most important prize.

Until few years before his death he continued to perform.

He is a controversial figure, he was so famous and influential, but he never used his prominence with white Americans for the Civil Rights Movement, which alienated him from members of the black community.

He was largely accepted into American society, and he had the access to many things exclusive even for whites, and this makes the members of the Afro-American community call him Uncle Tom (the phrase “Uncle Tom” has also become an epithet for a person who is slavish and excessively subservient to perceived authority figures, particularly a black or brown person who behaves in a subservient manner to white people […]).

Some musicians criticized him for not taking part strong enough to the American Civil Rights Movement, but when he spoke against Eisenhower it made national news, and he cancelled a tour in the USSR as a protest. («The way they’re treating my people in the South, the government can go to hell»).

Despite this political neutrality, he wrote many songs asking for peace and inclusion, meanwhile the political reality was of racial division and segregation. One above all is What a wonderful world which conveys hope and optimism for the future, with reference to babies being born into the world and having much to look forward to.

Many covers had been made of this song, but the original one gave Armstrong many recognitions, and climbed the charts of many countries.

Riccardo Sala (VD)

WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

I see trees of green, red roses too
I see them bloom for me and you
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world

I see skies of blue and clouds of white
The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world

The colours of the rainbow, so pretty in the sky
Are also on the faces of people going by
I see friends shakin’ hands, sayin’ How do you do?
They’re really saying I love you

I hear babies cryin’, I watch them grow
They’ll learn much more than I’ll ever know
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world
Yes, I think to myself, what a wonderful world

Oh yeah

Everyday I have the Blues

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In 1865 Abraham Lincoln promoted the abolition of slavery and involuntary servitude and with the 13th amendment proclamed in december 1865 (after he was murdered), thus millions of black slaves had been declared free and at the same time started moving to the North, hoping in better living conditions. This huge migration was called The great migration. However white men didn’t change mind only with an amendment and continued to discriminate black people, considering them inferior. Indeed Afroamerican (black people are called so to underline their african origins) were relegated in cities’ ghettos (like Harlem in New York) and had difficulty to find a job and to see their rights recognized. But on the one hand the Afroamerican community remained isolated from the white society, on the other it grew up and created a movement of Afroamerican accomplishments that involved art, literature, and music. In particular music was an instrument  to share their moods, sad and depressed, and for this reason was called Blues (the word Blues  comes from the expression “to have the blue devils” with the meaning of  “being sad”).This genre resulted from the spiritual, the music of slaves in plantations, used in order not to think how hard was their job. At first the musicians sang their stories of slavery accompanied by music. Afterwards the music started to have that protest’s feature, which is characteristic of the successive genres. For example in Every day I have the blues the author, B. B. King, underlines how “Oh nobody loves me, nobody seems to care / Yes nobody loves me, nobody seems to care” and after “I’m gonna pack my suitcase, move on down the line”. In conclusion Blues was the first instrument of Afroamericans to share their common story of slavery and discrimination, but at the same time a way to relax after a week of hard work.

Guglielmo Novelli (VD)

B.B. King, Everyday I have the Blues

Everyday I have the Blues

Everyday, everyday I have the blues
Everyday, everyday I have the blues
When you see me worried baby
Because it’s you I hate to lose
Oh nobody loves me, nobody seems to care
Yes nobody loves me, nobody seems to care
Speaking of bad luck and trouble
Well you know I had my share
I’m gonna pack my suitcase, move on down the line
Yes I’m gonna pack my suitcase, move on down the line
Where there ain’t nobody worried
And there ain’t nobody crying

nast