July 8, 2007

Is this why musical styles are stuck?

A reader who teaches history in a public high school with mostly American-born, English-speaking Latino students writes:


My students in the back of the class are constantly sticking their iPods in their ears and blaring their music so loud that everybody else can hear it. What I'm amazed by, however, is that when I have to point and yell at them to turn off the music, how often the loudest instrument we can all hear is .. an accordion. Who would have thought that the wave of the future was accordion music?


For much of the 20th Century, pop musical styles in the English-speaking world changed at a breathtaking pace as each generation rebelled against not just their parents but also their older siblings. For example, the punk movement of 1977 was explicitly against the 1960s generation -- "Your generation don't mean a thing to me" sneered Billy Idol in Generation X's attack on The Who's "My Generation," "Your Generation."

And then not too many years after 1980, musical innovation slowed down. Most notably, African-Americans, who had been so stylistically fecund, got stuck with rap.

I wonder whether increasing ethnic diversity has played a role in the Great Slow-Down. To dislike accordion music because your dad and grandma like accordion music is now not just rebelling against other generations, it's rebelling against your own race.


My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

43 comments:

Anonymous said...

Rap circa 2007 sounds very, very different from rap circa 1987. To not even notice this shows a total ignorance of contemporary music. You could just as easily say that white people are "stuck" with rock.

tommy said...

And then not too many years after 1980, musical innovation slowed down. Most notably, African-Americans, who had been so stylistically fecund, got stuck with rap.

MTV came around in 1981. That increased the emphasis on attitudes and appearances relative to musical talent.

Video not only killed the radio star, it also killed a lot of talent.

Steve Sailer said...

Of course white people are stuck with rock. There hasn't been much change in electric guitar music in a quarter of a century.

TGGP said...

I was watching the Buster Keaton film "Sherlock Jr" yesterday, which (being a silent film) features a lot of background music. It is not terribly shocking that they used electric guitar rock for a chase scene at the end, but what was surprising was a scene in which a train suddenly appears and almost kills Buster (or, his spirit, since he's actually asleep at a projector). In order to get across the dissonant noisiness of the train, they use what could easily pass for heavy metal riffing.

I suppose 2007 rap does sound different from 1987 rap, just as camel droppings may taste different from cow droppings. It's all crap though.

tommy said...

Rap circa 2007 sounds very, very different from rap circa 1987.

You are right, of course. The difference is that actual musical talent has dwindled over the last two decades. A huge increase in gangsta attitude, heavily promoted by MTV, has filled the void. On the bright side, rock bottom.

What amazes me is that rap hasn't really went anywhere since maybe 1995. The theme of every rap song is about how a given rapper is the greatest and how they pimp all the ho's, have all the bling, drive nice cars, and party all the time.

It boggles the mind that anyone would pay money even once to hear bragging set to a beat and some badly sampled music—let alone listen to the same monotonous crap year after year. For all the talk about creativity coming from rappers, rap competes with Muzak for the title of most redundant musical genre.

onetwothree said...

*To dislike accordion music because your dad and grandma like accordion music is now not just rebelling against other generations, it's rebelling against your own race.*

Is anyone else puzzled by this sentence?

I can think of very few pop songs (aside from those by a certain novelty act) containing an accordian. "It's a long way to the top" by ACDC, for instance.

The rap from the earliest is almost identical to the current material. Even proto-rap numbers like "Subterranean homesick blues", "Walk this Way" and "Memo from Turner" are largely the same as modern rap numbers. Those were, by their respective performers, one-off flourishes for the purpose of variety. Ordinary hip-hop style rap is of a uniformity that is almost incomprehensible to me. The single biggest advantage of being black is probably avoiding their strict musical conformity requirements.

Rock, if nothing else, has more stylistic variety than separates Bach from Beethoven from Wagner from Schoenberg. That simply means: Any idiot can tell Elvis from Pink Floyd. Only educated ears can consistently tell Handel from Brahms.

onetwothree said...

"single biggest disadvantage of being black" I mean. You know, there's this new trend in comment sections that allows people to edit their previous comments. You'd think it would let people "cheat" during arguments, but it really just allows you to clean up the inevitable typos. Oh, well.

Anonymous said...

When such enormous numbers of young black men no longer bother to learn musical instrumentation it's simply ineivitable that popular music will suffer.

Anonymous said...

Rap is American blacks returning to Africa roots. So, why wouldn't it be a dead end? What, that is truly African, is not also a dead end? Africanization is the opposite of advancement.

That video a while back of the Akon stage faux-rape of the 13 year-old was so AFRICAN. It was like a witch doctor ceremony from the darkest jungle. The "music" is pounding drums. The "singing" is chants. Love is absent.

All of the European musical aspects have been thrown out the window. And the result is disposable nonsense that even the hardcore rap fan has no interest in, once the hype and buzz passes. Kanye West makes gimmick records. Gimmick records are nothing new, but this is a new low.

It's funny to look back now at the panic that surrounded Elvis. The moral authorities warned of the corrupting influence of rock & roll. And here we are 50 years later and, to a certain extent, it all came to pass.

Ask a music publisher how much he'd pay for the rights to "classic rap". Ya down wit OPP?

Anonymous said...

Great American musical trends spring for actual physical locations where the musicians can interact. But the cities are gone. The Detroit that produced all of that music is gone. The San Francisco that produced of that music is gone. And on and on. Ditto Los Angeles. Ditto Bakersfield! Ditto Memphis.

The last great musical gathering of whites was in Seattle 15 years ago.

Q: What are predominantly Latin cities with Asian minorities going to produce in the way of great music?

A: Not much.

Zach said...

I think post-modernist fragmentation and subjectivism is more to blame than multi-culturalism (of course, the latter is part of the former). The music industry has fragmented into dozens of major genres, and those are divided into dozens more each. "Progress" was previously defined, as you mentioned, as rebelling against the dominant sound. But there is no dominant sound today, really. Rebelling against a genre today simply places you in another subgenre.
Also, progress in music is primarily technology driven. The microphone kicked everything off and allowed for the crooners, like Sinatra and Bing to overtake the opera singers. Krupa standardized the drum kit, moving jazz forward. Electrified instruments, especially the guitar pushed it even further. The Beatles were progressive not just because of their arrangements and vocal/instrumental talents but because of their advanced production techniques, made possible by advances in recording technology, most notably stereo. The unique 80s sound is primarily a drum machine with synthesizers.
I can't really think of a genuine advance in instrumentation or recording techology in the past 25 years. Obviously music videos, cds, mp3s have changed the way we interact with the music, but not the way the music is produced. What instrument do we have today that we didn't have in 1982? What recording technique do we have today that we didn't have then?
Clearly, music videos (as opposed to music) have progressed greatly in the past 10 years. One need only look at cheesy, low-tech videos of the past. The end of techological progress and fragmentation means the end of musical progress. Or perhaps a Fukiyaman end of History.

Ron Guhname said...

"To dislike accordion music because your dad and grandma like accordion music is now not just rebelling against other generations, it's rebelling against your own race."

"Is anyone else puzzled by this sentence?"

Did anyone answer this? I believe Steve is talking about Mexican music. A person must live on another planet (or North Dakota) not to think "Mexican" when someone says accordion.

Steve Sailer said...

Yes, new instruments are crucial. Rock was largely driven by the electric guitar. Romanticism had a lot to do with the piano (piano-forte or soft-loud). The harpsichord had no dynamic range, so Baroque music of the "Here's something to brighten your day, Archduke" variety, while 19th Century music is of the "Come with me on a journey to the depths of my soul" ilk, which only became possible to compose with the piano's dynamic range.

mepo said...

onetwothree:

I expect that if the average Joe had listened to no more rock than he's listened to Brahms and Bach, he couldn't tell Abba from Donna Summer (pop music with roughly equivalent instruments/layout) reliably. I'll admit that I can't reliably distinguish different rappers, for the same reason.

Anonymous said...

What about music education, particularly in the middle-school years, along with HS?

Not knowing how to play either the guitar or saxophone (the two greatest expressive instruments) along with drums means a large drop in the skilled musicians who might go on to musical careers.

Also, what about the economics of the record business? In the late 1970's it was possible for groups like X to form and make records even if there wasn't much expectation of making money. Because all those super-groups were making money hand-over-fist for the record labels. Now with Ipods and MP3s and downloads, there isn't much excess slack.

Experimentation, requires risk. Which requires enough resources to sustain the loss inevitably that accompanies some experimentation.

I would not blame multi-culturalism. After all, it was Elvis who incorporated the Gospel music and Blues that he loved with the dance tempo of Country and Western Swing. You'd expect Latin rhythms and even yes accordions and Mexican ballad traditions to be updated with beat-heavy, electric guitar blues riffs.

No doubt there are very many ambitious, experimenting young men and women who could probably invigorate Rock with Latin-styled influences, but the lack of economic structure: fewer and fewer record labels, alternative rock stations (only Indy 103.1 in LA plays much new and local alternative rock, KROQ has a corporate playlist), and the inability to make a living from playing around locally.

jody said...

having worked in the music business and having been a music fanatic (but not anymore, because music sucks now), i have a lot of observations on this topic, but i don't really have the room here. i might email something to steve.

one thing i would warn people not to do when thinking about this, is to get stuck in the "the US is the world" mindset. the US is not the world, and represents perhaps only 40% of the available data on "which race is doing what in music right now?"

SP_Immortal said...

"I can't really think of a genuine advance in instrumentation or recording techology in the past 25 years. Obviously music videos, cds, mp3s have changed the way we interact with the music, but not the way the music is produced. What instrument do we have today that we didn't have in 1982? What recording technique do we have today that we didn't have then?"

I can think of plenty of advances since 1982. The introduction of computer sequencing, improved synthesis techniques, impulse response modeling, etc.

Dancehall techno as a genre that is only around 15 years old, but has advanced greatly during that time. That's the new sound, if your looking for it. Of course, you probably hear similar stuff all the time; ambient techno has either replaced or at least complements orchestral arrangements in alot of big budget movie productions.

michael farris said...

Why you gotta be so mean to accordeons? The humble accordeon is one of the most versatile, expressive and creative instruments in popular music history.

White middle-class Americans mostly associate accordeons with Lawrence Welk and Bavarian oomp-pah-pah (Northern Mexicans adopted the acordeon from German immigrants IINM).

But in much of the world, it's one of the backbones of (especially unelectrified) dance music. The constant push-pull of the instrument gives accordeon music a rhythmic base that's been exploited throughout Latin America, much of Africa (esp the south) and into (at least SE) Asia.

Accordeons rule.

michael farris said...

"Accordeons rule"

Accordions, even.

Fred said...

A visit to this website might cheer some of you up: Jonathan Coulton HQ. Coulton is a former a computer programmer who quit his day job to write music full-time and ended up carving out a living with it in some innovative ways.

Apropos of the rap-versus-rock conversation here, check out Coulton's folk-rock cover of Sir Mix-a-Lot's Baby Got Back.

For something completely different, check out Coulton's original song about the mathematician BenoƮt Mandelbrot, Mandelbrot Set

Anonymous said...

Steve:

The synth could have been the new instrument, but unfortunately the labels eventually realized that they could use it to replace traditional musicians or indulge in one of its cheapest capabilities, "sampling." So, the demand for these stuff almost killed that potential.

Modern instrument makers -- unlike the Stradivariuses of the golden age of classical who could charge all sorts of patron stratospheric figures -- have to survive on popular sales, and have to provide people with what they ask for: the easiest ways to sound like God with a bit of sampling.

(Please note that the synth is NOT a keyboard instrument. The keyboard is only a "controller." The synth is emancipation from the physical limits of instruments to *design* sounds as you like. You can invent an entirely new input device -- such as this Yamaha wind instrument: http://www.aabaca.com/gifs/wx5.gif -- and hook it up with your synth that produces the sounds.)

Unless a culture has a firmly rooted conservative regime (in the French sense of the word) for the control and usage of pleasures, this seems to be the destiny of innovations and advances. The more popular and populistic a "solution," the greater the potential at the tails: i.e. both magnificent results at the rightmost end, and a dismal inundation of it by garbage produced at the other.


-- JD

Anonymous said...

Of course white people are stuck with rock. There hasn't been much change in electric guitar music in a quarter of a century.

Post-punk, post-rock, shoegaze, grunge, all the weird offshoots of metal (death metal, black metal), various unclassifiable experimental groups (Mr. Bungle), etc. Rock has changed quite a bit in the last 25 years. Again, you need to listen to the music before you criticize.

Byrne Hobart said...

I thought I was the only one who noticed, but the accordion has gotten surprisingly popular in the last few years. I can think of one group that used an accordion pre-2003 (The Tiger Lilies), but as of today, reasonably well-known bands using them include: Mirah, Gogol Bordello, Arcade Fire, and Beirut.

Anonymous said...

What instrument do we have today that we didn't have in 1982? What recording technique do we have today that we didn't have then?

Starting in the late 90s computer synths and digital recording revolutionized the way most records are produced.

The theme of every rap song is about how a given rapper is the greatest and how they pimp all the ho's, have all the bling, drive nice cars, and party all the time.

Who cares? Every genre has a stock set up subjects to sing about, and ultimately there are too many songs compared to what people have to say to even try to be lyrically original. Might as well complain that emo's sing about angst too much, R&B has too many love songs, death metalers are obsessed with Satan, etc.

The difference is that actual musical talent has dwindled over the last two decades.

Howso? Production and rap rythmns have grown much more complex over the years. Old school sounds downright minimalist compared to the new stuff.

Anonymous said...

I didn't want to be so harsh with some of you people, but if you don't know anything about rap, shut up. While I do agree with Steve African-Americans are "stuck" with rap, they are stuck with what rap became. There is some very good rap music out there, but it gets drowned out by the 99% crap, just like pop music.

charlotte said...

I would tend to agree about "Africanization". Look at our cities.
However, some of the most beautiful music I ever heard was the traditional music of Mali and surrounding countries. Liquid, limpid, lilting, quick and melodius, haunting, it was absolutely NOTHING like anything done in the American black music. It might conceivably have something in common with reggae, but was much more ethereal. The singing is always done by females, the instrumentals by males. I heard this music haphazardly one day on BBC. A musicologist was had done a Phd on the music of Mali and they were playing some of what she had recorded. For once I thought the PC crowd would be correct in saying that Africans are gifted specially in something.
Perhaps few blacks from these areas were taken to America, because, again, the music is unique and bears no resemblence to spirituals, blues, rap, etc. Not only does it sound different melodically, but it has themes which are uplifting, scolding about bad behavior, gossip, etc.
So it's true. America is not the whole world. Music is being made elsewhere.

tommy said...

Who cares? Every genre has a stock set up subjects to sing about, and ultimately there are too many songs compared to what people have to say to even try to be lyrically original.

No, rap has become far more redundant than any other genre. It is the same three songs over and over again.

death metalers are obsessed with Satan, etc.

Then, by all means, rap sales should be where death metal sales are right now: in the toilet.

Howso? Production and rap rythmns have grown much more complex over the years. Old school sounds downright minimalist compared to the new stuff.

Oh, no they haven't. We've just recovered from the East Coast phenomena (started by the likes of Puff Daddy and Notorious B.I.G.) of flat-out stealing 80's songs outright. (Modern East Coast rappers seem to be particularly gaudy and talentless.) I could at least credit West Coast rap in the early 90s and rappers before that with some creativity in that area. Much less so the rappers today.

David Davenport said...

Great American musical trends spring for actual physical locations where the musicians can interact. But the cities are gone. The Detroit that produced all of that music is gone. The San Francisco that produced of that music is gone. And on and on. Ditto Los Angeles. Ditto Bakersfield! Ditto Memphis.

The last great musical gathering of whites was in Seattle 15 years ago.


Oh, Nashville is still there. Is Nashville product white enough for you?

David Davenport said...

Large bands and orchestras -> 3 to 5 member rock bands with electric amplification -> synthesized and sampled music: It's matter of increasing productivity and efficiency.

In the long run, you can't stop progress. ;0)

Anonymous said...

If you're really interested in [what is almost certainly] the underlying answer to this question, then you have to ask yourself whether "popular" music hasn't finally arrived at the point which "classical" music arrived at about 100 years ago: After Bruckner & Mahler [and opposite them, the traditionalists - Brahms and Tchaikovsky - with Dvorak often vascillating between the two extremes], there simply wasn't any more music left to be written.

Sure, we got Debussy & Stravinsky & Rachmaninoff and a handful of others, but, in retrospect, their historical roles were merely as pall-bearers for the tradition that ended with Bruckner & Mahler.

You still get a little of the "neo-classical" style in Hollywood; for instance, I enjoy comparing the themes from some of the great noirs of the last 30 years:

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Windows Media [Real Audio]

But what's remarkable about "neo-classicism", as practiced in Hollywood, is the inability of the Hollywood "composers" to write a theme that lasts for much more than a measure or two.

"Neo-classicism" in Hollywood largely consists of two or three chord changes which persist for a measure or two, but even in John Williams's heyday, you rarely heard themes that were tied together into something as coherent as a full stanza, much less a movement of a symphony [which needs about fifteen minutes' worth of material].

Don't know if that might change were the Hollywood composers given more formal training in [classical] music theory, but I kinda doubt it - I think what they're doing now largely amounts to glorified sound effects.

Otherwise we'd be seeing more full-length symphonies from the likes of Williams, Jerry Goldsmith [RIP], John Barry, Danny Elfman, Alexandre Desplat, etc.

James Kabala said...

Byrne Hobart: They Might Be Giants (dating back to 1986) are probably the modern-day accordion pioneers (and Weird Al, of course, but he is, as onetwothree says, a novelty act, albeit a long-lived and successful one). I've lost touch with present-day music (I've never even heard of the bands you mention, except for Arcade Fire), so I don't know if the accordion is truly becoming more popular in the mainstream or if it's just a Mexican phenomenon as Ron Guhame claims.

Zach said...

Clarification:
I didn't mean what technical innovations that make production easier/faster have been introduced in 25 years, but what musical technology innovations have occured that make the music sound different, of the same order as the microphone, the pianoforte, stereo, electrified instruments, synthesizers, etc. It seems the theremin represents to logical end point of musical instrumentation and that was invented almost 100 years ago.
Of course specialists can point out some marginal advances and there have truly been great advances in production but, for the most part, musical groups could have recorded something pretty similar to what they do now in a studio circa 1982.
Also, rap is different from other genres in that it prizes originality and authenticity over all other qualities. In rock (or punk or jazz, etc) if you love a certain sound, or even a certain song, you can imitate it or cover it, thus spreading the sound. The best sounds/songs will spread far and wide, thus hastening the evolution of music.
Rap, in contrast, is individual. No matter how much you may love a rapper or a style, you can't imitate it and you definitely can't cover it. Rap is about your own authentic experience, your own voice (it would be a complement in rock circles to say you sound like a famous band, but an insult in hip-hop circles). So, by its essence, it defies progress. All you can do is sample old music, not cover or assimilate. This is severely limite in terms of spreading a style.

onetwothree said...

"if you don't know anything about rap"

I'm not sure what people NEED to know. If 99.99 percent of shit tastes like shit...well, can .01 percent of material ever redeem the rest? Should I be somehow responsible for finding out?

I'm yet to hear any rap that rises above atrocious. Most forms (even very bad ones) have a few examples you can hold out and say, "This is good". There are, for instance, a few good dance-pop or disco or country or polka songs.

Rap? Eh. It's pretty clear that the main social purpose of it is to annoy other people, and to give the tone-deaf something to pretend to enjoy.

I remember a scene from a movie (children of a lesser god?) when deaf students turned amplifiers up all the way in order to feel the vibrations going through their bodies. That, I think, is the physiological effect of rap. It probably has all sorts of neurological/chemical effects on the body that have nothing to do with music as such--really, closer to the pounding of drums or blowing of bugles.

"How good bad music and bad reasons sound when we march against an enemy" --Nietzsche

"An enemy"...it's pretty clear that much of rap is antagonistic in nature.

David Davenport said...

The latest New Yorker has an article claiming that Sibelius was the last composer of really popular symphonic music.

I don['t know enough to judge that opinion.

Fred said...

Dozens of posts so far lamenting the quality of currently popular musical genres and no one has mentioned Reggaeton yet? Maybe I'm the only one here with any exposure to Puerto Ricans?

The gym I go to is blessed with diversity, but unlike Costco it doesn't get around different musical tastes by simply not playing music. Instead, it plays different genres at different times of day. On the rare occasion I get there at 6am, where the dominant ethnic group is blue collar white guys, I hear rock. When I go in the evening though, it's usually dance (ethnically mixed, more women working out), hip-hop (black) or Reggaeton (PR and other Latino).

I don't like rap music at all, but I can at least tell one song from the other; with Reggaeton, no such luck. It literally sounds like one song being played over and over.

Anonymous said...

The latest New Yorker has an article claiming that Sibelius was the last composer of really popular symphonic music.

Obviously there's a world of difference between "popular" and good.

Bruckner was wildly unpopular in his day [there's a possibly apocryphal story about how, during the premiere of the third symphony, the entire audience got up and walked out, with the exception of the young student, Gustav Mahler], and remains wildy unpopular to this day.

But that doesn't change his status as the best composer since Beethoven.

Cato said...

Why are musical styles stuck?

Because the current musical vocabulary is so limited, and because it has been that way for so long, learning to like anything more sophisticated is too much of an acquired taste.

It's pretty much impossible to do anything new today with the standard I-IV-V changes of rock (same with rap beats, but worse). The problem is, if that's all you've ever listened to, it's kind of tough to change and start listening to something a little more complicated. And, until a new musical genius comes and shows us the way out, cultivating a serious musical taste means going retro (jazz, classical, take your pick) -not forward.

As far as I can tell, about the only genre that is more advanced today than it was forty years ago is bluegrass. The playing and harmonies are much more polished (but not always better). Not coincidentally, it's probably the one folk idiom where listeners still place a high premium on musicianship.

fwood1 said...

Regarding the accordion:

I can't remember where I read this, but here goes,
"Polka was to the 19th century what rock was to the 20th, and the accordion was its electric guitar."

Dave said...

"Is Nashville product white enough for you?"

No. On its face, more than any other musical genre ever, it's shabbos goyim crooning corporate crap (past 15 years).

I lived and worked in Nashville. Oh, the tales I could tell.

tggp said...

death metalers are obsessed with Satan
Technically, that would be more black metal's shtick. They're both the retarded offspring of thrash though. The only recent straight-up thrash bands that have popped up I know of are Early Man and Rumpelstiltskin Grinder. Otherwise if you like style but can't stand all the XTREME! shit you're stuck with power metal, which can be very cheesy.

Sure, Mexican music is indistinguishable, but it's a hell of a lot better than rap or pop or whatever else MTV shovels out these days. I'll take accordions over drum-machines and synths anyday, at least they actually play real instruments.

Anonymous said...

Oh, Nashville is still there. Is Nashville product white enough for you?

Strawman idiocy. You should write music reviews for USA Today where every urban fart is celebrated as genius, and all white contribution is, uh, underplayed.

Obviously the references made to Detroit and Memphis as changed cities reflect changes in both the white and black communities.

And we all know that Nashville has always been a cynical packager of mush. Buddy Holly and Elvis and many others hated the place. Holding Nashville up as a standard for white music is bogus.

But as far as any musical community being "white enough", though you use the phrase as a pejorative, the stubborn fact remains that the vast majority of the great American musical styles have had heavy participation of whites.

White American music has penetrated the consciousness of the world. But the physical communities that were the wellsprings of the music are disappearing. This goes to the big left wing lie that America can continue as high-achieving America with gigantic non-white cities and entire non-white states. The story is that whites need not participate, and the country will in fact rise to greater heights. Diversity is strength.

iSteve has busted the sportswriters as the most politically correct sheep in journalism. Close second must be music critics.

David Davenport said...

Boy, Ah say, Seattle boy, whassamadduh wid you? You prejiced against Christian white folks in Nashville?

And naw, Stax records didn’t go BK cuz Chimpy MacBush Jr. let all the Mexcuns and Somalis and whatnots in:

Get that part about the Soulsville Charter School? They got one those in See-attle?

Stax history:

http://www.soulsvilleusa.com/about-stax/history/



1972 The Staple Singers come on board with "I'll Take You There" and "Respect Yourself." Luther Ingram scores with "(If Loving You is Wrong) I Don't Want to be Right." Bell negotiates a lucrative deal for CBS to distribute Stax. Stax takes almost its entire current roster of artists to Los Angeles and puts on the Wattstax concert to raise money for Watts charities, and films a documentary not only of the concert, but also of everyday life for African-Americans at the time.

1973 CBS begins ordering large quantities of records, paying large advances, then warehousing them. Unusual music business practices at Stax are investigated. IRS begins investigating Stax about another employee found carrying $100,000 in cash through an airport.

1974 Stax experiences extreme cash flow problems and cannot pay its bills or high overhead - including salaries for over 200 local employees. Stax becomes involved in a string of lawsuits and counter-suits involving Union Planters Bank, CBS, and Stax Records.

1975 A record pressing company sues Stax and Stax cannot not meet payroll. Stax owes millions to Union Planters and loses most of its artists. Al Bell is indicted by a federal grand jury for bank fraud. Isaac Hayes sues Stax. Al Jackson is murdered. Union Planters forecloses on the publishing arm of Stax. Three small creditors - encouraged by Union Planters--force Stax into involuntary bankruptcy December 19, 1975.

1977 Stax's master tapes are sold at bankruptcy auction for a fraction of their value -- $1.3 million. Fantasy Records in California buys the Stax catalog from Nassi & Assoc.

1981 Union Planters Bank deeds the Stax Records building to Southside Church of God in Christ for $10.00

1989 Despite many citywide efforts to save the building, Southside Church of God in Christ demolishes the original Stax Records studios with plans to build a community center, which never comes to fruition.

1997 The nonprofit Ewarton (taken from the other letters in Jim Stewart's and Estelle Axton's last names) board of directors is formed to explore the possibility of purchasing the empty lot at the original site of Stax Records ( which bears only a historical marker stating this was the site of Stax Records) and adjacent land in order to build the Stax Museum of American Soul, Stax Music Academy, and a performing arts center.

February 2000 The board, now named Soulsville, holds a press conference at LeMoyne-Owen College to announce that the project will take place. The press refers to the conference as a "Stax tent revival."

April 2000 Soulsville holds a massive "Ground Shakin' Ground Breakin'" at the site and breaks ground for the project.

June 2000 Soulsville begins its first Stax Music Academy SNAP Summer Music Camp at nearby Stafford Elementary. Participants include Rufus and Carla Thomas.

July 2000 Doors open and operation begin at the Stax Music Academy

2002 The multimillion-dollar state-of-the-art Stax Music Academy opens. Its mission is to use music education as a tool to enrich the lives of potentially at-risk children primarily in the Soulsville USA community.

April / May 2003 Soulsville holds a three-day grand opening celebration and ribbon cutting for the Stax Museum of American Soul Music. Festivities include the "Soul Comes Home" concert at the Orpheum Theater, with performances by Booker T. & the MGs, Isaac Hayes, Mavis Staples, Al Green, Ann Peebles, Rance Allen, Eddie Floyd, Jean Knight, William Bell, Little Milton, The Bark-Kays with Chuck D, Michael McDonald, Carla Thomas, Solomon Burke, Mack Rice, and others. Other events include a concert at the Gibson Lounge with performances by former Stax artists Linda Lyndell, Mable John, and others, and a screening of the film Wattstax.

2004 The Stax Museum continues to offer new programs, events, and exhibits. It continues to build its membership base and has become one of the most talked about music tourist destinations in the world.

April 2005 Soulsville announces the formation of the Soulsville Foundation, the organization's new fund-raising arm. Former Stax Records publicity director Deanie Parker changes roles as CEO of Soulsville and becomes president of the foundation, whose board members include, among others, Steve Cropper, Isaac Hayes, David Porter, Mavis Staples, and Sheryl Crow. Stax Music Academy director Marc Willis assumes role of Soulsville CEO.

June 2005 Isaac Hayes, Steve Cropper, David Porter inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

July 2005 Soulsville opens The Soulsville Charter School within the Stax Music Academy building. It is a Title I Tennessee public school and begins with one class of 60 6th-graders, with a class to added each year until the school becomes a 6th-12th grade school.

September 2006

Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau holds press conference at the Stax Museum to announce its 2007 national and international marketing campaign celebrating "50 Years of Soul in Memphis."
September 2006

Internationally renowned musician Kirk Whalum joins Soulsville as the Stax Music Academy’s first official Artist in Residence for one year with an option to continue for two years.
December 2006

Concord Music Group announces the re-launch of the Stax Records label and plans to record new music on it for the first time in 30 years. Concord signs Isaac Hayes and Angie Stone to the label and announces plans for deluxe reissued CDs, DVDs, and a documentary during 2007 to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Stax Records.
January 2007

Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau holds global press conference at B.B. King’s Club in New York City to announce "50 Years of Soul" campaign.

kevinm said...

Why are musical styles stuck?

They aren't, you're just not aware of the new styles. The music-industrial complex is ossified in the 1970's. I was a clerk at sound warehouse in 1983-5 and it was obvious then. The LP vinyl record is all they know. They killed off the single - it was dead in 1983 as far as what was actually sold.

The CD multiplied 5-fold? the number of titles that could be carried in a given sq footage. And then the web and amazon and mp3s happened.

There was a explosion of choice in the 1990's as music shed its dependence on the big labels for distribution. Now, the big labels are the McDonalds and Burger King of the music industry. Yuck, who wants to eat there? Little kiddies and old fogies.

I've followed "electronic" music all my life. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_electronic_music_genres
ouch. I have some modest familiarity with about 1/3 of that list. Nitzhonot? WTF??

So what I'm saying is that is if all you hear is the same old music, that's cause you listen to the same old music. Me, I can't keep up with even a fraction of it, and I try.