Events Calendar

Music Graduate Colloquium: Rob Bowman

Friday, March 23, 2018
3:30 pm
Talbot College (TC)
Room: 101
Graduate Colloquium

Presented by Graduate Studies in Music, the Don Wright Faculty of Music Graduate Colloquium series includes lectures by distinguished guests, Western faculty members, and senior graduate students on all fields of research and creative activity in music.

Rob Bowman (York University)
“The Determining Role of Performance in the Articulation of Meaning: The Case of ‘Try A Little Tenderness’”

The song “Try a Little Tenderness” was written and published in 1933. Its lyric content, harmonic progression, melody and structure place it squarely within the tradition of the North-Eastern urban pop publishing enclave known as Tin Pan Alley. Recordings of the song made in 1933 by artists such as the Ted Lewis Orchestra, Ruth Etting and Bing Crosby project a level of detachment altogether typical of urban white popular music of the time.

Given the origins of “Try a Little Tenderness” as outlined above, it is curious that a soul singer such as Otis Redding would elect to record such a song over thirty years later for Memphis-based Stax Records. Redding’s impassioned recording became a #4 hit on Billboard’s rhythm and blues charts in December 1966. This paper will discuss the history of the song, investigate why Redding decided to record it, and analyze what differences there are in potential meaning in a number of different performances of the song.

With the published version of the song (i.e., its lyrics, melody and chord progression) serving as a “control” factor, the results of this investigation shed lights on the relative roles of notated composition vis a vis performance style in determining the ultimate meaning/impact of a given “popular” music performance. In the process, issues of ownership and copyright will be broached.

All Colloquium series events take place on selected Fridays in Talbot College 101 at 3:30 pm. (unless otherwise noted). Admission is free, and all are welcome to attend!

Audrey Yardley-Jones - Graduate Program Assistant
519-661-2111 ext. 85654
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