Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Grading and "Girl Talk"

Tonight I will be swamped with research papers, final exams, journals, and all-what-else as I wrap up another sweet semester as part-time Prof. For some crazy reason, my final exam is scheduled for 8:30 PM this evening....my students are not happy. Neither am I, but it does give me all of today to do many things which are fun while, I'm sure, my students are scrambling to complete assignments. Such is life in mid-December...

So, I'm creating the syllabus for my Pop class for next semester because it is a very easy and satisfying task. Cut and paste the current into a new Doc, edit the calendar, tweak various sna-fus that popped up throughout the fall, and yahoo! Done. Print. Copy. File 'til January.

I am horrible at keeping track of grades in an official/professional manner. I write them down on sheets of paper that contain a high risk of getting lost (but never have) all the while knowing that Excel spread sheets exist for my convenience. So at this moment on this crisp sunny morn, I'm Excell-ing and organizing my gradebook. What makes this so much fun is that I have the house to myself and am BLASTING the music of Girl Talk.

Who? you say. The name is misleading. "Girl Talk" is a young and savvy tech-y guy exactly a decade younger than myself who specializes in mash-ups. What? you say. I understand. I know the term "mash-up"--taking various tracks of two or more songs, piling them on top of each other and *poof*--new song. Fun stuff. But, I had know idea who this "person" was until a Pop student brought him into class last week (see blog from 12/10) as an example of music from 2008. And I'm so glad he did! I'm having the time of my life right now...entering little numbers into even littler boxes, tabbing, calculating, and listening to Greg Gillis/Girl Talk weave his way through the history of pop music. Whoo-hoo. How? you say. Here it is:

From what I can speculate, Gillis/"GT" has more command of his computer's music making functions that 99% of us (well, definitely me, at least) while ALSO displaying an absolutely astonishing and keen awareness of pop music form, content and history. I have a smattering of his work rolling through my iTunes today, and below are the contents of one particular song and the pieces that I can identify:

"Play Your Part" length: 4 mins, 45 seconds

--drum intro--2 seconds...ARgghhh. sounds like the intro to Roy Orbison's "Pretty Woman" but faster
--bass line--"Gimmie Some Lovin'"--Traffic
--vocals, no idea
--hand-claps--damn....taken from something familiar....grrr..... can't identify
--new vocal loop--no idea (i'm beginning to feel inferior by now.....)
--new rhythm track--i've got nothing
--new melodic/harmonic track. YES! "Let My Love Open the Door" slow remix, Pete Townshend
--new-"We're Not Gonna Take It"--Twisted Sister with unidentified female vocals
--new--"Hunger Strike"--Temple of the Dog
--new--can't get the harmonic track, new vocals, didn't get that either
--handclaps--same as earlier sample
--new--Sinead O'Connor "NOthing Compares 2 U" sped up
--last sample--can't get it.
Song over.

So, I would certainly lose at "name that tune" if this was the selection, although, I usually kick-ass at that. I could lose hours of my life due to Girl Talk....

OK, one more...this is the one my student brought in called "Like This:"

--opening--a mash of stuff. I can get the early low track as something from early 90s hip hop. Then it's "Back to Life" by Soul II Soul,
--snippet of LL Cool J's "don't call it a comeback" song
--"body movin"--can't get the artist
--bass line--nothing
--"Rock and Roll Hoochie-Coo"--guitar riff
--organ track--remake of "Superstar"
--Diana Ross, "Upside Down"
--Janet Jackson rhythm track...what song, dammit?!?! something early. "Rhythm Nation"?
--The Carpenters are in there somewhere
--can't get the rapper
--song over.


I'm am exhausted yet exhilarated. How in the hell would I do a mash-up of my own? The time! The meticulous matching/mashing/mixing.....mon Dieu! But the potential that exists to create and re-create is endless. I'm actually glad that I DON'T know how to do this with any efficiency. My Diss would NEVER get done.

OK, back to my mid-morning mash-up...grades, music, coffee, snacks. Not as interesting as "Girl Talk," me thinks......


Byron said...

Girl Talk is featured in and interviewed throughout an excellent documentary on music and copyright called Good Copy Bad Copy (http://www.goodcopybadcopy.net/). If you have an hour, you should check it out!

Judy B said...

I do, indeed, have an hour today! Yahoo!!! Thanks, Byron.

Allison Bloom said...

I was just thinking that I need to revamp my pieces-of-paper grading system because.... I came close to losing some exam grades and had a panic attack yesterday. Fortunately they were at home under a pile of crap. Um.... next semester, definitely doing excel.

rrb said...

I'm going to leave one more comment (and then stop procrastinating on writing my Christmas cards) to let you know about this awesome GT chart:

And this craziness:

Have fun at the final!