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Friday, August 28

August 28, 2015
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Songwriting: For our first meeting, we talked about some Survey Poetry terms we’ll be using. These include (but aren’t limited to) consonance, assonance, alliteration, onomatopoeia, and the two most common feet (iamb, trochee) and three most common meters (pentameter, tetrameter, trimeter).

Then we discussed four songs. The Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby” accomplishes an astonishing amount in just two minutes. Here it is, with lyrics:

And here’s a great interview from 1991 with Bob Costas, in which Paul talks about “Eleanor Rigby” (and a bunch of other stuff) and in which he says something really smart — and I paraphrase: if being a great artist requires having a painful life, then I don’t want to be a great artist. Remember that the next time someone starts saying the only way to art is throuhg angst.

So does “The Long Black Veil,” a country tune given a definitive reading by Johnny Cash. He does it here, live from Folsom Prison:

And here is a great piece from American Songwriter about the history of “The Long Black Veil.”

Both of those are story songs that fit a complete narrative into a tiny space. The next two songs aren’t at that level — think of them as “scene (setting) songs,” instead of story songs.

Men At Work’s first single, 1982’s “Who Can It Be Now?”, is super simple — the chorus is just the title, repeated! But it’s a surprisingly effective little sketch of a paranoid person panicking at a sudden visitor (“tiptoe across the floor”).

Meanwhile, Phil Collins’ ” In the Air Tonight” is very impressionistic. Some of that’s musical, of course, but the lyrics are foreboding and dreamlike, and they perfectly compliment the sense that something big (that drum fill!) is about to happen. Here it is, with lyrics. And here’s Phil Collins talking about the history of the song, and how it was inspired by his divorce — and by a drum machine:

No assignment for next week, but be thinking about a song you can bring in and play. And expect an assignment to come up with a parody song (I’ll be assigning the song to be parodied.)

Critical Reading: Today we went over the syllabus (Critical Reading 8.28.15 – Syllabus). We talked a bit about what “critical reading” means and how it differs from just plain old reading, then we generated a list of different kinds of texts (things that can be read critically). See the photos attached for the notes that went on the board, and here is the guided notes sheet: Critical Reading 8.28.15 – GN Day 1).

We also watched a clip from SNL and talked a bit about it (it’s from season 33, episode one – starts at 10:51).

Your homework for next Friday is as follows:
1. Read this article: Critical Reading 8.28.15 – So article. It starts off in reference to the clip from SNL.
2. Write up a short analysis of “Mary Had A Little Lamb” using the restate/describe/interpret method we talked about in class. You don’t need to type this – you can just write directly on the sheet given (the second sheet of the guided notes sheet).

If you were absent, please see me at your earliest convenience so I can catch you up. You can also get notes from a classmate, and of course, look at the photos!

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Less Miserables: First class. I went over some refresher terminology from Act One (stage directions; the qualities of drama) and the schedule, which is:

Aug. to mid-Sept.: Watch a half-dozen musicals, taking notes and discussing.

Latter half of Sept.: Pitches. (More details next week.)

Oct. to mid-Jan: Work on musicals (two or three) in groups.

You’ll begin watching stuff on Monday with Mr. Cageao. I will give out the syllabus and we’ll talk more Wednesday.

BatCat: Today we went over the syllabus and talked about a whole bunch of stuff. Please check your email for something from Submittable – I have added all of you as staff members of BatCat. You don’t have access to any of the manuscripts yet, but that will start to happen next week. Keep bringing up ideas! Thank you for your enthusiasm.

7th Grade: Filled out getting-to-know-you cards.

Survey: Combined: Today we were all together and played poetry telephone. See you Monday!

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