Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Ever-Evolving Post-Punk Genre

The Ever-Evolving Post-Punk Genre: Tracing its origins back to the late 1970s, the post-punk genre developed in a hybridized manner. It borrowed the basic elements of original punk rock and combined them with the stylistic features of New Wave music in the early 1980s. The melding of these two genres gave post punk a wholly modern and experimental feel. Common instruments included drums, guitars, bass guitar, synthesizers, drum machine, and vocoders. Bands like The Cure (depicted in the above video) and Talking Heads became associated with post punk, even though some critics would argue that these bands belonged more to the New Wave genre than post-punk. Additionally, there is a psychedelic component of post-punk that recalls aspects of the hippie subculture in the 1960s. This component centers on engendering erratic tones not only in the singer's voice, but also in the music's notational progression. Above all, post-punk offers its listeners the ability to experience a variety of musical genres as one.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

On Black Monday (1987)

On Black Monday (1987): On Monday, October 19, 1987, stock markets around the world declined by massive margins. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) in New York, which often comprises the 30 largest publicly traded companies in the United States, shed over 20% of its value. It was the biggest single day (percentage) drop in the index's nearly 100-year history. And since the DJIA generally signifies a bellwether for the nation's financial markets, broad-based losses continued to widen across the country. Although the systematic declines had originally started in Asia, they spread across Europe and into the Americas. This October crash became known as "Black Monday," as financial analysts began to digest the extent of the damages. Lawmakers sought answers through congressional hearings. The primary culprit appeared to be a mix of investor confidence and electronic trading. Interest rates remained high during most of the 1980s to "break the back of inflation." And with the advent of computerized trading programs, investors began to trade stocks on a whim. Therefore, trader psychology became an essential component in determining the market's overall direction.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Brutalism in Architecture

Brutalism in Architecture: Often characterized by sharp geometrical repetition in the form of raw concrete, brutalist architecture signified Western diplomatic stoicism in the Cold War. Having originated in Western Europe in the 1950s, brutalism's aesthetic appeal centered on creating an atmosphere of impersonality. At the time, Americans and Western Europeans maintained a dreadfully serious outlook toward the communist threat posed by the Soviet Union. One of brutalism's main purposes, therefore, was to prove that liberal democracies, which had failed during both World Wars, could be just as efficient and disciplined as totalitarian regimes (but without the blatant civil rights violations). Even though the basic philosophical tenets of brutalist architecture contain utopian underpinnings, its two major principles include repetition and rigidity. Brutalism's repetitive nature gives it a sense of consistency while its rigid (angular) geometric features engender an aura of permanence. In short, brutalist architecture represented a Western effort to demonstrate the socio-political stability of postwar democratic societies.