Alexis Battle's Digital Past Blog

Just another college student trying to get by, one procrastinated assignment at a time.


Posted in Uncategorized on December 3, 2018 by abattle6

Today in class we talked about displacement in terms of, “displacement of people in space and time.” One rhetorical questions that were asked were, “Who are the people singing and drumming in GarageBand?,” in terms of space and time. This question made me really wonder who were the people that I was just dropping in my song for the final project, and do they embody in their music what I want to convey through my song. Through my song, I want to try to capture the cries and the possible feelings of Africans and African Americans during their physical displacement during slavery, to the civil war, and even today’s societies. However, I’m having a hard time doing that because it doesn’t seem that any of the people that are at my disposal in GarageBand fit into my idea. Within GarageBand themselves the blank faces give no indication of who these people are, but the names and genres assigned to them allows the user to infer the race and ethnicity of them. The only problem is that the genres that are typically enjoyed throughout the African American community are an accurate depiction. It all just sounds like a bunch of whitewashed meaningless nothingness making it difficult to convey my ideas throughout the music.

Funk: “And 1!”

Posted in Uncategorized on December 3, 2018 by abattle6

I’m not a musician by any sorts. However, I am a dancer, and I can appreciate the technicalities and the importance of beats in music. The rhythm of beats can drastically change the sound of a song, and that is very similar in dance. The performance of particular movements are heavily dictated by the beat that they are supposed to be performed on. Growing up, I listen to artist such as James Brown, Curtis Mayfield, The Temptations, etc… Mostly I listened to them because that is what my parents listen to, but I always thought that it was good music. I never took into account the contributions that those artist have made to music’s  advancement in terms of how they utilize specific beats to completely change the sound of a song. Today in class specifically we talked about James Brown, and his usage of the “and 1…” beat. In dance, this usage of “and 1” beat can take away or add to the complexity of a phrase.  A lot of times the “and” is used to squeeze in a fast movement in between phrases, but it can also be used as a moment to take a breath before going into the next phrase. At the time when James Brown used this way of emphasizing the “1” beat was seen as something absurd to do; however, he utilized in a way to create a unique sound to his songs that other artist began to want emulate. One artist in particularly is Curtis Mayfield, and his song “Give Me Your Love”. There is very little singing in this song; however, the opening of the song constantly puts an emphasis on the “1”. It’s not as pronounced as it is in some of James Brown’s songs and it is a little bit slower, but you can definitely recognize his influence within the song.


(P.S. This entry was done in October, but wasn’t published until December)

The Reuse of Music

Posted in Uncategorized on November 26, 2018 by abattle6

One question that was asked during lecture today was, what do we think about the the appropriation and the recycling of music? A quote that stood out to me most from the slides was, “If a song is good, if a groove is good, people will use it and re-use it and adapt it to different styles.” For years and years throughout the history of music, artist have re-used samples from songs in order to create new bodies of work. I personally don’t think that is a problem as long as homage is paid to the original creator of the music. In sense I think that when artist reuse music that they are appreciating the original body of work, and the original musician should see it as compliment to them and their art. Especially in music because when someone reuses it then that could serve as confirmation that the original piece of work being good enough for other’s to want to put their name on and share with their audience. I do however think that it becomes a problem when artist just slap their names on something that wasn’t originally there, and don’t credit the original which is when regulations should come into play. I don’t think that it should policed so strict though especially when it comes to fans using music. I don’t think that youtubers should have to be faced with getting their videos removed just because they used their favorite artists songs in their “vlog” or “get ready with me” video. They aren’t attempting to receive any type of gain from playing the songs, and really it’s free promotion for the original artist. But I guess when we live in a world that so many people take credit for things that aren’t theirs that artist have to go through great lengths to protect their music. In my last post, I talked about the illegal downloading of music which resulted in artist losing money for their recorded work. In this sense I think that it is right for regulations and copyrights to be in place requiring people who use other’s work to have to pay them for it especially if they use it in way in which they receive monetary gains. For example, Cardi B’s Billboard 100 Hit song “I Like it Like That” sampled the boogaloo song “I Like it Like That” written by Manny Rodriguez and Tony Pabon. In Cardi’s version she added a trap-salsa beat on top of the original, and sampled part of the hook from the original. In this scenario of the reuse of music Rodriquez and Pabon are credited as co-writers and they receive royalties from Cardi’s version of the song which in my opinion is the appropriate way for artist to use other’s work because all of the artist involved benefit from it.

Witt, How Music Got Free

Posted in Uncategorized on November 26, 2018 by abattle6

In this book, Witt explored the phenomenon of music media consumers no longer paying for and appreciating the music that they consume. Throughout the years it has become easier and easier for people not pay for recorded music through softwares like limewire and other downloading apps that allow you to download music from youtube and convert them into mp3 versions that can be played on any device. Musicians are becoming less and less paid for the actual artistry of making music, and Witt acknowledged that within this book. One quote that stood out to me the most from this was, “Most listeners didn’t care about quality, and the obsession with perfect sound forever was an early indicator that the music industry didn’t understand its customers (page 92-93).” I found this to be interesting because I am one of those listeners. Growing up my family had a ton of records, Cds, and tapes that I came up on as a child; however, after a certain point I no longer actually paid for music. I like many other people during the early to mid 2000’s downloaded mp3 versions from the internet added them as files to iTunes and downloaded them to my device. It wasn’t until streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music came around that I actually started paying for music again. During that time I didn’t even listen to music the same anymore. When I was a kid, I played many instruments and I would listen to songs and try to identify the different instruments that were harmoniously composed together to make them. I found great enjoyment, and appreciation for the musicians that put in time to make those songs. I thought that listening to the music that I enjoyed was very much so worth my penny, but when free options became available to access music I lost that appreciation for it. I even think as if the content and quality of music started to diminish during that time and even still till this day. Maybe that was because artist weren’t getting paid as much for their recorded music they didn’t put in as much effort to make it. I often times just find myself listening to music because it has a catchy beat or hook, but I don’t even think to care who produced the song or who should get paid for it. It’s unfortunate because creating music isn’t easy which I am now learning through creating a song for this class. Artist stress themselves out trying to develop the perfect musical project for their audience, and often times the hard work that they out into it just becomes a catchy beat. 


Posted in Uncategorized on November 7, 2018 by abattle6

I found this weeks class discussion to be very interesting. Prior to this week, I didn’t fully understand what the difference between a patent, trademark, copyright, and public domain was. All I knew is that when I started my business a few years ago that I was advised to get my logo and name of my business trademarked, so people couldn’t use it without a real explanation of what those things were. Although I may add that I should have looked it up for myself. The one thing that stuck out the most to me about this discussion were copyrights, and how they only grant temporary ownership to the creator. I found it interesting that there was a copyright on the “Happy Birthday” song primarily because it is a song that is sang somewhere around the world everyday along with a number of other songs. There is no real way to police who sings the “Happy Birthday” song. This made me wonder if prior to Jennifer Nelson making the documentary called “Happy Birthday” did anyone question having to pay $1500 to use the song or bother to do proper research on where the song came from. Warner/Chappell knew that they were scamming people over for their money which is why they initially hesitant to turn over the documents to assist with the court case. When the song was published it was the only song amongst the other songs that were published along with it that was not copyrighted instead it read, “Special permission through courtesy of The Clayton F. Summy Co.” According to documents from the case when they did finally turn them over, that line was,”blurred almost beyond legibility.” They were trying to hide it in order to get away with not disclosing that piece of information because that was literally the smoking gun that stood in between them being able to still charge people to use the song when the whole time it should have been a part of the public domain.

Digital Scavenger Hunt: Hip Hop

Posted in Uncategorized on October 31, 2018 by abattle6

By doing the digital scavenger hunt I found that hip hop began during the 1970’s in the Bronx, but it didn’t start getting popularized until the 1980’s. On the Ngram Viewer however, it didn’t really peak until about 1997. The purpose of hip hop during this time was to serve as a form of activism for minorities. A big time hip hop producer during its early development was Afrika Bambaataa. He included a wide variety of different types of music to create his style of hip hop including, “Balinese monkey chants, electronic German disco records, James Brown, reggae, obscure disco non-hits, and a Perez Prado mambo – all spliced together and overlapped on two turntables.” His early contributions to hip hop allowed him to develop a reputation, and he eventually was coined “the godfather of hip hop.” He was a very controversial musician, and he used his platform to fight political injustices and inform the community. He headed what used to be a street gang called the Black Spades and reformed it into the Zulu Nation. Through his leadership of Zulu Nation the culture of hip hop was being spread throughout the community starting with the youth. Over time hip hop began to develop a negative reputation due to the controversial and violent nature. Bambaataa however, continued to pursue hip hop despite the threats that geared towards members of the hip hop community. In fact he featured this verse, “You Can Have Watergate Just Gimme Some Bucks and I’ll Be Straight” from the N.W.A song “F***K the Police” during his set at one of his Wednesday night performances at the Wetlands. People who attended on Wednesday nights often times received threats, but Bambaataa continued to serve controversial content week after week. N.W.A’s song “F***k the Police” was one of the most controversial songs in hip hop history. It told the truth of police brutality in minority communities, and questioned the morals and ethics of the whole judicial system. The government went through great lengths to try to censor the song, and it resulted in the members of N.W.A getting arrested numerous times for performing the song. The song caused an uproar within the African American community. The government has tried to silence the African American community for years; however, this song and the governments attempts to try to keep the song and the people quiet actually brought the African American community together. That’s one thing that hip hop is always done is brought the people that it was created for together. Hip Hop artist originally used it as a tool to tell their stories. These stories were relatable to its audience because they were about real experiences and situations that occured and still occur in the African American community which is why it will always be relevant.


By, J. L. (1990, Jan 26). The history of hip-hop. Newsday Retrieved from

Segregating Sound by. Karl Miller

Posted in Uncategorized on October 19, 2018 by abattle6

To my surprise, this book was very interesting. It explored the cultural divide of music between Southern whites and blacks during the 20th century. During this time, there was this notion that blues music was to be enjoyed by black people, and country/folk was to be enjoyed by white people. This ideal led to the development of “Race Records”. These were records developed to be purchased and enjoyed by African Americans during the 1920s-1940s. It wasn’t common for Caucasians to to listen to these records due to the cultural climate at the time seeing that this was during the time of Jim Crow. However, some did begin to pick them up over time. One quote that stuck out to me the most was, “White southern artists faced a different challenge. They had to paint the pop tunes they loved with a patina of down-home credibility. (pg 227)” I found this to be a very profound statement in this book because when thinking about music created by African Americans, it is often said that they naturally bring a type of soul and passion into their work. That generally is because they use their music to tell real stories about their lives, experiences, and general things that are  relatable to everyone within the culture. On the other hand, it is often said that soul is something that white people often lack in their music. The way that I interpreted this quote was as if white artist struggle to bring their own personal stories into their music making them lifeless. I found that the use of the word “paint” was a unique in this sentence because I immediately thought of painting a picture of false images. To me pop music fits in this typical type of mold of unoriginality, and any deviation from that mold can make the song less popular because that’s what people want to hear. This made me question whether or not that is what creates the challenge that Miller was talking about. Possibly it is difficult for southern white people to create songs with ‘down-home credibility” because unfortunately that’s not what sells in the music industry for their demographic.

The Science of Clapping

Posted in Uncategorized on October 10, 2018 by abattle6

I never knew that there was a specific reason for why some White people have trouble clapping on the right beat. I always thought that clapping on the right beat was something that was common sense, or an innate bodily response to listening to music. I didn’t know that there was an actual cultural aspect to it in terms of where different types of music originated.  I thought that the development is a displacement beat was interesting because it in a way it sets up a signal for when the audience is supposed to clap next. In one of the videos that Professor O’Malley showed, the singer literally had to adjust the song that he was playing in order to accommodate the audience’s poor clapping. I never even thought that how improper clapping could affect the performer. It makes sense though because singers with different tones tend to be separated from each other because it can be hard for them to stay on their key, and that same rule can apply to musicians.


Posted in Uncategorized on October 3, 2018 by abattle6

Growing up I always wanted to play an instrument. For a little while, I played the piano then the violin, and one day I just decided to stop. As I got older, I began to wish that I never gave up playing instruments because when I wanted to try again I had completely lost everything that I learned. One instrument that I wanted to try to play was the guitar because it is very similar to plucking the strings on the violin, so I that learning to play it would be easy. I was definitely wrong about that one, so I decided to just admire the guitar and any other instrument for that matter from afar. I find it so interesting that there are so many different variations of the same instrument, and how they all have their own unique sounds. In class today, we listened to songs that were played on the steel guitar. This was actually the first time that I have even heard of the steel guitar. I think that it sounds a lot like a ukulele which makes sense because the steel guitar originated in Hawaii like the ukulele. I personally do not like that sound because to me is sounds like none of notes flow together. For some odd reason in recents years that sound of the ukulele has become quite popular in pop music, and some artists like Megan Trainor have even launched their careers by posting videos of them performing pop songs on the ukulele. After today’s class discussion, I began to wonder if the purpose for this increase in the use of ukulele in music has to do with it actually being Hawaiian influenced, and if so then is that why I don’t personally care for it. In my opinion,  I think that it takes away from the essence of Hawaiian music because it lacks soul. In some cases, I think that people who use cultural musics styles in the way that recent celebrities have been using, is a form of appropriation. I say this because often times these people don’t actually know the history behind the art and the cultural meanings, and they rarely ever take the time to try.

White Guys in Black Face

Posted in Uncategorized on October 1, 2018 by abattle6

Today I learned something about minstrel shows that I never knew before. Minstrel shows were put on by white men in order to make a mockery of African American people during the 19th century. What I learned that was new today was that a popular minstrel song the “Yellow Rose of Texas” was an anthem in Texas. Texas is considered a southern state which has a history of racism which made me take further interest in this song. In the song, a white man in black face is professing his desire to want to sleep with a black women. This made me question whether or not if the man performing this song while not in black face would openly make the same profession of his desire for black women, and if he did would it be an act of admiration or supremacy. The reason why I question whether or not it would be supremacy is because if these White men wanted to act upon those desires to sleep with Black woman they could do that with or with black face because they were the supreme race and could do what they want to, but a Black man couldn’t do that with White women. This demonstrates the double standards that were maintained between White and Black people during this time. It was okay for White people to publicly mock Black people on stages and in everyday life without consequences, and those same rules didn’t apply for Black people. I think that in general this can be related to the evolution of music because as Black people began to be to take on stages and create music for public consumption, there were constantly limits being set on the content that they were able to create. An example of this is N.W.A “F**k the Police”. This song represents the epitome of censorship because the government restricted N.W.A’s ability to make money off the song, and they were even arrested for performing it.