Alessandro van den Brink
EDITOR IN CHIEF
ACTING FACULTY ADVISOR
Volume 3, Issue 3 Summe 2012
t’s summer! We made it. This issue is a primarily visual affair - from Photo Pit to our Urban Aid feature to our run-down of the summer’s biggest and most exciting festivals - and is easy on the brain, summer-style. After three years of publishing, this is my last issue of Amplified. This magazine has grown so much, and I am incredibly proud of the changes we’ve made over the last three years. The magazine is more sophisticated in content and design than it has ever been. What I’ll value most about my time working on Amplified, though, is not my time as editor, but the time spent writing - I hope that Amplified’s staff always remembers that the communication of ideas comes first. I have absolute confidence in the group of rising seniors who will be in charge of the magazine next year. Good luck! Gideon Broshy Editor in Chief
JOURNAL When I was in 8th grade, I was in the epitome of my music career. I was in a band that later dissolved several months later and finally I was starting to get a good grip on playing contemporary music since the only things I knew how to play beforehand were classical pieces and “The Scientist” by Coldplay. The whole band experience was great because I was able to see for the first time how rock and alternative musicians were actually composing their music, a process that had seemed so alien to me just a couple years earlier. Then, obviously, my 13 year old naivety kicked in and I told myself something every experienced songwriter can immediately disagree with: “Writing music’s easy.” I had never really tried putting together musical components in a sensible way before, but how hard could it be, right? All you needed to do was jumble a couple chords together, maybe throw in a nice riff and write meaningful lyrics and then you had your number one single. This was going to be easy. So one day, as I was jamming out on my new keyboard I had got a month or so before for Christmas, I stumbled upon some nice sounding progressions and I just laced them together simply to create a basis for this song I suddenly was devising out of nowhere. They weren’t that shabby and I even was able to throw a minor chord in there, so I felt like an adolescent Beethoven toiling over this project until I thought I had the instrumentals down. Next, the lyrics. I picked up my computer, opened Word and titled it “Something New” just to see what I could write about with that name. Then, I suddenly started writing something I would never have predicted: a love song. There it was, reaching out to some far away girl I could never reach, or something cheesy like that, but it was a ballad, no question about it. Now, of course, this would make sense and nothing would be at all strange, if I had actually ever been in love. The closest I’d ever gotten to romance was eating the cheese fries at Shake Shack, so how could I be writing this song to some impossible girl that didn’t even exist? The short form answer that could certainly be a possibility was that I was in love with music and this was my ode to everything it had done for me so far in my life, but that doesn’t seem to explain it fully. What seems much more plausible is that the ballad as we know it, an element that gets utilized by practically every rock band and pop artist at least a million times per year, is just the most comfortable way for a writer to pour out his or her emotions into the music. Even though many of us have never even been close to getting a real sense of romanticism towards another human being, it’s clear that sometimes just the prospect of affection and endearment as a whole can be enough to driving us musically. When you get into that compositional state of mind, you feel like you need to tell the world or whatever audience you’re directing to something about yourself, and by giv-
ing away this emotional side to yourself, it makes any song feel more genuine. While we can often decipher the authentic love songs from the faux-serious ballads, the reason we need them in the first place is to add passion to a certain song. While fervor can take other forms than fondness, such as tributes to certain people you may have the utmost respect for, music has always shown from its earliest days that it’s simple to fuse love and melodies to create this beautiful concoction that can spark emotion from even the most stoic people when done correctly. So, of course, when I played the song for my parents, they both gave each other a look and asked me, “Who’s the special girl?” I just stared at them with a confused expression on my face and started contemplating what I had actually done. Alessandro van den Brink
If you had three months to live, what would you do? There are thousands of answers depending on whom you ask, but the common denominator between all of those responses would probably be that the participant in question would prefer to do something they’ve never done before. That means that a man who was a banker for most of his life probably wouldn’t say, “Oh man, I need to accomplish one of the greatest banking achievements of all time in the next three months,” but instead would try to become a master skydiver or champion paint-baller. Why would you ever choose to continue something you’ve already done when you have a legitimate excuse to do whatever you want with your life? However, that never fazed Franz Schubert. After being diagnosed with syphilis for several years to that point and developing serious cases of mercury poisoning (mercury was often used to treat syphilis), Schubert came to the despondent realization that he didn’t have much more time to live. His health was deteriorating dramatically, but quite similarly to Beethoven’s growing deafness later in his life, Schubert was intensely penning music to the last weeks of his life, when he eventually died at the disappointing age of 31 on November 19, 1828. Schubert’s “Winterreise” is often regarded as one of his greatest works, a desolate piece depicting a snowstorm in which the hallowed operatic singing of love poems by Wilhelm Muller creates a Teutonic sense of bleakness that could only be replicated in its gorgeousness by fellow Germans such as the aforementioned Beethoven, whose resemblance to Schubert was elevated just before Schubert’s death. Published in January of 1828 and written in 1827, classical critics often overlooked the “Winterreise” at the time, who saw the lengthiness and informal coherence as being un-pianistic in regards to the dramatics from Beethoven
and the romanticism that was evolving towards the west in France at the time. Despite this criticism, Schubert was adamant in sticking to the structural forms that were so crucial to his music, and by the end of September he had pieced together three sonatas (958, 959 and 960 in order) that stand as possibly the greatest trio of pieces outside of the powerhouses like Bach and Mozart. While Schubert never actually intended the three sonatas to be a trilogy (as far as we know), the reason they’re usually classified together is because of the immense almost autobiographical emotion poured into them and their vastly similar cyclical structures that were quite experimental for the time period and became the basis for early romanticism. The personal anguish that Schubert sifts into the sonata perfectly reflects the sheer amount of physical and emotional that was slowly killing him from the inside out as the solo grand picks apart these grim pieces in such a painfully frozen way that it’s hard to think of the Austrian composer as anything less than a genius. However, the most interesting part about the three sonatas is their gorgeous patterns that follow a basic but highly efficient that Schubert lays out for the pieces by splitting them each into four movements that flawlessly complement other without losing any unity or gracefulness between transitions. While it’s certainly not true that the sonatas have the exact same formulaic skeletons, Schubert works very likewise on each to bring across analogous auras for the corresponding division. The first movement of each sonata is usually regarded as Schubert’s dedication to a more classical style moving between tonics and dominants in the majors or relative majors in the C minor sonata (958). These sections usually utilize moderate to high speeds (moderato to allegro) for a booming initial effect that allows Schubert to quickly interchange between his cyclical sequences and then finally unveil a polarizing shift into the adagio second movement. The easiest way to see the second and third parts of these sonatas is in an A-B form in which A and B represent contrasting elements with A being more tranquil and B embodying a more intense and violent persona. The adagio or andante is usually in a different key from the tonic and takes an A-B-A or A-B-A-B-A, while the third movement refers back to the tonic in a scherzo or minuet form that also employs a ternary (A-B-A) or binary configuration in which the B segments might apply different key signatures. Then Schubert goes absolutely wild on the finale movement, as he brings the speed back up to an allegro that keeps a flowing rhythm throughout until an animated coda rushes in at the last second and wraps the piece up perfectly. Through perfect tonal balance and excruciating melodies that can often allude to Beethoven’s classics, primarily the Pathetique (number 8), Schubert has such a distinct style that builds up to a distraught question, then sinks into a gentle melody, occasionally skipping back up with full force to beg at you once more with a dynamic force that can get your heart racing. While many can easily see the resemblance of the trilogy to the Winterreise or Schwanegesang compositions in the alienation and wandering themes that prevail throughout most of the sonatas, these pieces are just on a completely different plane from everything else Schubert had done before. Those instances where Schubert arpeggiates the left hand to a point of near oscillation while maintaining a tonal stasis on the right hand through in-
creased usage of melody that’s magnificently carved to the very tip are just so profound next to what had been accepted as the social norm for classical music beforehand and it’s hard to find a contemporary composer who wouldn’t be shocked by the progressions that Schubert so passionately instills into the sonatas. As mentioned before, the sonatas were originally seen as disappointing finishing touches to the life of a man who was capable of so much more prowess, and one of the post-mortem blows dealt to Schubert after his demise was the disapproval of his very close contemporary Robert Schumann, who ironically was the dedicatee of Schubert’s final composition (960). Schumann claimed that the sonatas had a “much greater simplicity of invention” and that they droned on “as if without end,” thereby killing some of the emotional “vehemence” that otherwise could have persisted prominently. One man, however, believed the trilogy to be a wondrous accomplishment: Johannes Brahms. Brahms sometimes performed the sonata in B flat (960), one time performing it in front of Clara Schumann, Robert Schumann’s wife, to her great approval, and eventually Brahms in his First String Sextet and Piano Quintet heavily referenced some of the components of these sonatas. Unfortunately it wasn’t until more than a century after Schubert’s death that the trilogy became globally accepted as a first rate work of art, but thanks to the writings of Donald Francis Tovey and performances by Artur Schnabel, the last sonatas eventually were placed on magnificent pedestals. To this day, some argue that Schubert’s final compositions are on an even level of skill as Beethoven’s paradigms, in particular the Pathetique and the Moonlight, some of his most mature sonatas. Yet, there’s nothing the bland title to these pieces that actually displays the gargantuan feat that Schubert performed in writing those final sonatas. While many illnesses can knock composers out of the music world indefinitely, such as Schumann’s depression that caused him to spend the final two years of his life in a mental ward, Schubert persevered to hammer away three of the greatest works in musical history. And even though we admire the thoughtfulness and technique that Schubert so expertly crafts and assembles to properly manufacture these sonatas, there’s a level of emotional disarray that you can’t simply get out of stringing notes together. However, Schubert makes this look easy and although no haunting vocals are used to enhance the piano-only pieces, the composer derives the same amount of emotional fabric just from these rhythmic cycles that he accomplished on the Winterreise earlier in his life. It’s just a remarkable coup that Schubert exhibits so elegantly on these sonatas, quite akin to the aforementioned deafness that plagued Beethoven but didn’t prevent him from completing his illustrious ninth symphony. It’s hard to imagine any modern-time songwriter or composer even nearly approaching the same amount of musical brilliance that could really only be replicated in the 19th century. While the final trilogy of Schubert’s life may never reach the same level of acclaim that any of Beethoven or Brahms’ pieces hold right now, they present an echelon of proficiency in their spearing sentiment that may never be replicated again with such deftness for the rest of all time. Alessandro van den Brink
Urban Aid April 13th, 2012 Cohen Dining Commens Photos by Gabby Reid
Photo Pit Bear in Heaven/Bowery Ballroom/May 8, 2012
Photo: Gabby Reid
Bear in Heaven/Bowery Ballroom/May 8, 2012
Photo: Gabby Reid
Blouse/Bowery Ballroom/May 8, 2012
Photo: Gabby Reid
Photo: Andrew Fabry
Photo: Andrew Fabry Portugal. The Man/Music Hall of Williamsburg/April 20, 2012
The Lonely Forest/Music Hall of Williamsburg/April 20, 2012
Portugal. The Man/Music Hall of Williamsburg/April 20, 2012
Photo: Andrew Fabry
Wu Lyf/Bowery Ballroom/April 27, 2012
Photo: Gabby Reid
Photo: Gabby Reid Wu Lyf/Bowery Ballroom/April 27, 2012
Photo: Gabby Reid Widowspeak/Barnard College/April 28, 2012
Photo: Gabby Reid Photo: Gabby Reid
Widowspeak/Barnard College/April 28, 2012
Widowspeak/Barnard College/April 28, 2012
MAC MILLER King of Bro’s
By Christopher Kim
The independent act harbored in Pittsburgh, PA, has shocked millions with his undeniable success. His recently released debut album “Blue Slide Park” stole the number one spot on the selling charts opening day. With “Blue Slide Park,” Miller is the first indie act since 1995 to reach number one on the album charts. His album has sold in the hundred thousands already, and continues to give him prominence in the music industry. Aspiring young artists looking for success of the kind produced by Miller can only ask; how did he do it? To begin answering that question it would be appropriate to take a closer look into his first creation. The record features notables such as “Party on fifth Ave,” which incorporates the classic tenor sax line from Martha Whitney’s “Unwind Yourself,” and my personal favorite “Of the Soul.” The record idea is very abstract, featuring an “artsier than most” statement as an album cover. The content of his music rarely varies. In
this album he raps about the change that comes with success and the nostalgia he feels for his previous simpler party lifestyle. We see this in tracks like “Up all Night,” and especially “PA nights,” which is reminiscent of his wilder high school nights in Pittsburgh. People have criticized him for having no depth in his music, but it’s hard to blame someone for being genuine. He raps about what he knows, and he knows how to throw a party. Initially one may describe the album as a little bit redundant, with many similar sounds and one consistent voice. This is true to every word; there’s no denying it. But as an independent act a little repetitiveness is expected. Without any other featured artists, Miller and his producers Young Germ and Chuck Inglish were able to create a debut unit that spoke mostly good things to the music community. Miller was in the game long before the release of his album though. He compiled multiple mix tapes, including
“Best Day Ever” and “Kids” while producing dozens of music videos that attracted a lot of attention. His adept marketing strategy is really what set him apart from most artists. With over 1 million twitter followers, millions of views on YouTube and an ever-growing presence on Facebook, Miller used and continues to use the media to his upmost advantage. Tracks like “Knock Knock” and “Donald trump” compiled close to 50 million views on YouTube. The content of those videos yes, consisted of partying, but in a sincere nuanced way. The videos for the most part moves people’s focus away from drinking and sex and depicts a party lifestyle that is both fun and genuine (as genuine as a party lifestyle can be.) During his “Blue Slide Park” release concert, he revealed his musical talent beyond hip/hop by playing guitar, and even going as far singing a Weezer song. Whether you like him or not, its unarguable that he genuine in almost every aspect of his persona. He doesn’t
hide anything, which can be both a good thing and a bad thing. There is a lot more to Mac Miller than what meets the eye/ear. Through as many mediums as he could, Miller put his name out there and attached it with an way of living that everyone wants; fun. He is a whole new kind of rapper, one that focuses on his image as much as his music. His success with “Blue Slide Park,” can be labeled nothing less than a success. During a recent Forbes interview, Miller said that he planned to remain independent until he and his team meet something that is too great to carry out without the resources that a big label could offer, a point which he says they have not reached yet. It would be hard to find an indie act better put together than Miller’s. As far as they go, Miller is among the smartest and if not the most talented undoubtedly one of the most successful.
SUMMER The Roots Picnic When: June 2-3 Where: Pennâ€™s Landing, Philadelphia Who: The Roots, Kid Cudi, De La Soul, Major Lazer, Tune-Yards, St. Vincent, Floostradamus, Rakim, and more. Cool Special Things: Being there for the awesome 5th anniversary lineup.
Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival When: June 7-10 Where: Manchaester, Tennesee Who: The Shins, Young the Giant, The Joy Formidable, Bon Iver, Grouplove, The Black Lips, The Temper Trap, Das Racist, SBTRKT, The Roots, Dispatch, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Santigold, Skrillex, The Kooks, tUnE-yArDs, Two Door Cinema Club, Radiohead, EMA, and more. Cool Special Things: You can rent RVs and tents.
The Governor’s Ball When: June 23-24 Where: Randall’s Island Who: Beck, Passion Pit, Kid Cudi, Modest Mouse, Duck Sauce, Explosions in the Sky, Chromeo, Santigold, Cults, and more. Cool Special Things: Full vegeatian and kosher items along with craft booths!
Pitchfork Music Festival When: July 13-15 Where: Chicago Who: Feist, Vampire Weekend, Beach House, Dirty Beaches, Real Estate, Cults, Atlas Sound, Sleigh Bells, Lower Dens, Dirty Projectors, and more. Cool Special Things: Tickets go for only $45 a day.
Newport Folk Festival When: July 28-29 Where: Newport, Rhode Island Who: Iron & Wine, My Morning Jacket, Tallest Man on Earth, Tune-Yards, Dawes, Deer Tick, Sharon Van Etten, Of Monsters and Men, and more. Cool Special Things: You can bring a lawn chair to relax while you listen.
Outside Lands Music Festival When: August 10-12 Where: San Francisco, California Who: Metallica, Stevie Wonder, Foo Fighters, Beck, Skrillex, Sigur Ros, Justice, Dispatch, The Kills, Passion Pit, Bloc Party, Santigold, Portugal. The Man, Washed Out, Sharon Van Etten, Yellow Ostrich, and more. Cool Special Things: You can be nice to the environment with Ecolands.
Electric Zoo When: August 31-September 2 Where: Randalls Island Who: David Guetta, Pretty Lights, A-Trak, Tommy Trash, Luciano, Above & Beyond, and more. Cool Special Things: Get your body or face painted while partying.
Bumbershoot When: September 1-3 Where: Seattle, Washington Who: Skrillex, Gotye, M83, Mac Miller, Passion Pit, Low, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Oberhofer, The Wombats, and more. Cool Special Things: Children under 10 get in for free!
REVIEWS KOREAN FESTIVAL OCTOBER 8-9, 2011 OVERPECK PARK, BERGEN COUNTY, NEW JERSEY BY BRENDA AND AMANDA ZHOU
The Korean Chuseok concert in Overpeck Park, New Jersey was hosted by Christine J, sponsored by KBS (Korean Broadcasting System), a popular television network. The concert consisted of popular modern K-Pop artists and traditional trot singers. At first, people were asked to sit in the seating areas until 12PM. Afterwards a man onstage asked, in Korean, for people to go back in line, causing a large amount of confusion. Around forty minutes afterwards, everyone was asked to enter the seating area once more. The concert seating was not well organized overall. During the dress rehearsal, when a popular boy band group, named BEAST, came out, the 4-foot fences that were put up all got pushed down by eager teenagers. The security had to push everyone back behind the fences and threatened to cancel the concert if there was any more damage. As you could imagine, the concert was chaotic. The concert lasted for 5 hours from 6-11pm. The stage was large and magnificent, capturing the attention of all the attendees. The lights resembled fireworks and stars, giving the audience members the feeling of being up in the sky, sitting on clouds. The opening act featured The Village People, who sang Macho Man, In The Navy, and their biggest hit, Y.M.C.A. Next, 4Minute, G.NA, and SISTAR performed Single Ladies (by Beyonce) perfectly and created an overwhelming
response among the crowd. SHINee, who sang and danced to Ring Ding Dong and Lucifer, their most successful songs, pumped up the audience with their impressive choreography. 4Minute performed Mirror Mirror and Hot Issue, putting admirers into a trance. B2ST performed their songs Fiction and Beautiful, overflowing with charisma. After some trot singers, SISTAR sang So Cool, How Dare You, and Ma Boy, wowing the crowd. Subsequently, G.NA sang her latest song, Top Girl, embedding the catchy melody into the audienceâ€™s minds. The male K-Pop groups, B2ST, 2PM, SHINee, TVXQ presented the crowd with a pleasant surprise when they started singing to New York, New York by Frank Sinatra. 2PM performed Hands Up and 10 Out of 10, exciting the fans. TVXQ presented Before U Go, Keep Your Head Down, and Rising Sun. Overall, all the artists sang with passion and talent. At the end, all the performers poured into the stage to give a final bow, and the crowd cheered with shouts of gratitude and screams of happiness. The concert gave a representation of Korean culture and the increasing spread of K-Pop in U.S.A. The stage ended with vibrant colors and full applause, finishing off a successful concert.
THE MAGNETIC FIELDS LOVE AT THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA
BY ALESSANDRO VAN DEN BRINK
If you were to say that Stephen Merrit doesn’t know much about pop music, then we’d kindly ask you to stop reading at once. Merrit, who’s been in charge of The Magnetic Fields for what feels like ages, is a mastermind in the art of pop and has dabbled in just about every region of contemporary music, even considered one of the first to immerge into the craft of indie synthpop. However, since 2004, Merrit and his gang have been staying quite clear of the mystical synth in what he’s called the “No Synth” trilogy, which caused some of the general public to tire of Merrit’s consistent essays in the arts that are spewed out every few years ago. Merrit’s latest record, though, “Love at the Bottom of the Sea,” breaks all of those laws and unveils synthesizers that didn’t even exist the last time Merrit included those in an album, invoking a sort carnival-themed aura that’s fast paced action and insane, with those qualities getting reinforced throughout each bizarre track. The first thing to realize, though, about “Love at the Bottom of the Sea” is that no single track on the entire record exceeds three minutes, just a limited amount of time to condense all of the jovial exhilaration that evokes an inner child-like behavior switching off with its fairly adult counterpart at intervals directly proportional to the vocal intonation used in each song. On more seemingly genuine tracks, Merrit invokes his inner baritone to give a seductive tone that gets interplayed on the instantclassic “Andrew in Drag,” but then gets switched in for a high pitched Kevin Barnes-like chant in marvelously ridiculous stories that can get even so wacky as to be on the level of the incredibly
sexual “God Wants Us to Wait.” It feels as if all those laborious days of studying music were thrown in the dumpster, but there still is a level of intellectual allure that keeps the album from seeming like a joke. It’s not a shame that most of Merrit’s songs don’t maintain the seriousness of his “no synth” days, which is why when the digitally sonic synthesizers in “Your Girlfriend’s Face” get initiated, it brings the listener to a state of unhinged bliss that could only have been replicated from the band in their heyday. But even though the hilarity of the amorous “I’d Go Anywhere With Hugh” can be exhilarating at times, it still doesn’t measure up too much in the midst of its other components that never provide any listenable stability despite how much respect you may garner for Merrit and his work to this point. As the crystallizing funhouses start to mark their territory, simplistic acoustic guitars, chirping bells and lazy basslines outline one of the most eccentric setups that feels as if it’s advertising your local 80’s arcade if somehow Jeff Mangum became the owner. It’s an odd combination, so keep in mind that there’s still something left in “Love at the Bottom of the Sea” that can top even the creepiest of your imaginations with nothing more than the unusual rhythms and melodies of Merrit’s extremely extravagant imagination. To put it concisely, as interesting and reminiscent “Love at the Bottom of the Sea” may be at times, especially due to its resurgence of old school synth riffs on new kid technology, it still can’t deliver any true form of satisfaction that doesn’t wear off after a while, resulting in something just below the status quo for Stephen Merrit’s work to date..