Stephen Whitt

Stephen Whitt’s book

I really do feel very guilty for lacking on the blog posts. I’m not sure exactly where my paper is going, so Im trying to get a little bit of my thoughts out for each of the books in blog format.

Anyways, this is mostly what i can recall from the week we talked about Whitt. I bought a physical AND digital copy of this book.

I think i had a very different musical experience growing up than a lot of my other friends. While many of my friends fondly remember trying to download mp3s to turn into their ringtones off sketchy websites with a million pop ups, i was always too anxiety ridden to do so. 

i do however remember collecting cd’s and saving the songs to my computer, but still getting that small wave of anxiety doing so. even though i wasnt doing anything “wrong.” i thought all music must be bought. most of my friends had itunes giftcards, and id beg for ones for christmas just to be able to get new songs. whenever someone would ask me what kind of music i liked, what bands i was interested in, i never was able to make a long verbal playlist like my friends. i think it all really had to do with access.

now its a lot different. free streaming services have given me access to a wave of music at the tip of my fingers. my dad is in constant awe of the songs im able to find from his generation that “completely slipped his mind.” we talked about records i think in class the week we discussed whitt’s book. this wasnt in the book, but i began to wonder why some people my age collect records. i do, but i never really thought about w h y. perhaps were all just nostalgia junkies. we like to imagine how life was when we werent there. we see shows like stranger things and copy the style, the aesthetic of the time period we’ll never know how to exist in. i had a friend laugh at me a couple years back for saying i still buy cd’s for artists i really like. i dont see a problem with it. i like them, i want to support them. a friend of mine in class even had a conversation with our professor about cd’s after class. 

whitt talks briefly about the different forms of technology used to access music. homes used to all have a record player, and if you wanted to travel with your music you were doing it through portable radio. now we have music availble to us through our phones, through our watches, even. whitts book really made me wonder about the future of music, if things will continue to feel so free. will we be able to play music in our heads someday with the blink of an eye? 

last thoughts

I think one of the most interesting parts of Carr’s book to me came at the very beginning, in the conversation about neuroplasticity. “It comes as no suprise that neuroplasticity has been linked to mental afflictions ranging from depression to obsessive-compulsive disorder to tinnitus. The more a sufferer concentrates on his symptoms, the deeper those symptoms are etched into his neural circuits. In the worst cases, the mind essentially trains itself to be sick.” I dont know where to even dive in with that. I myself suffer from severe obsessive compulsive disorder so i wanted to say SOMETHING on it. I dont know why my brain feels like i have to. it for some reason reminded me a lot of an article i read about leonardo dicapro training for his role in the film the aviator. he himself didnt suffer from the disease, but on set they tried to get him to “train his brain to be sick” and even tried to claim he walked away with a mild form of the disorder, only to recover. the article claimed this was an example of neuroplasticity, the brains ability to change its functions. i really dont buy that. maybe its just because of my own personal struggle. maybe its my limited knowledge of neuroplasticity, but im not sure its that easy to just adopt a disease. i dont know. 

neuroplasticity tied in to the book in that Carr believes the adverse effects of becoming addicted to technology, addicted to the motions can be reversed. so, if technology is truly changing our brains, to be lazy, to lack a strong attention span, this can all be reverted. 

digital scavenger hunt : disco

Ok so Gino Stickley and I worked on this a bit together so I apologize if our blog posts sound a bit similar? I think we have two of the same sources.

Gino originally started looking up jazz but my inner (well maybe outer) love for 70’s music shouted “NO. DISCO.” And thus, here we are.

After screwing around on Ngram viewer for maybe 25 minutes searching every. possible. (non assignment related) word…. we finally looked up disco. The first result I clicked on was from 1805 and was a dictionary entry. Here, disco was used as a prefix for various words such as “discomfort” and “discompose” (all pretty unpleasant.. so the exact opposite of what I’d relate to disco.)

I wanted to stay with the sources provided to us but I also wanted a better idea of WHAT exactly I could search for using them so I looked up the definition of disco on Merriam Webster. Here, disco was defined as “a nightclub for dancing to live and recorded music” and “a popular dance music characterized by hypnotic rhythm, repetitive lyrics, and electronically produced sounds.”

I already knew that disco was also used to define a nightclub  (mainly because whenever I decide to play ABBA my dad reminds me of how my mom would “go out disco dancing” in the 70’s. Which, is also how I already had somewhat of a general idea of when the music itself originated.

I decided to try Google Books. One book I found is called “Turn the Beat Around” by Peter Shapiro. I scrolled through until I got to the chapter “A Prehistory of Disco” which I figured would be pretty helpful for some background info. One quote I found interesting was “discotheque and discontent go together like glitterballs and rhinestones.” The author further went on to say that although disco was a means of dancing ones blues away, it originated from a society “teetering on the brink of collapse.”

Some other things I learned from just from skimming this first chapter

  • disco comes from discotheque, which is a combo of two French words, disque meaning record and bibliotheque meaning library
  • the ancestral routes of disco culture can be traced back to Nazi Germany and Nazi-occupied Paris during WWII from the “Swing Kids”
  • the Swing Kids were a group of middle-class German youths dedicated to jazz and the flamboyant fashion accompanied by the music
  • a police order was issued where no adolescents were allowed to attend dances after 9PM, so secret gatherings based on availability of a gramophone and swing records were started

^ Peter Shapiro (23 June 2015). Turn the Beat Around: The Secret History of Disco. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. ISBN 978-1-4668-9412-9.

So I think all this gave me a pretty good insight onto how and when disco began/ got its roots perhaps. But I don’t know if this counts as finding the earliest references? But I thoroughly enjoyed this brief history of disco origins.

So, back to Ngram. Knowing disco came from discotheque, I made that my next search on Ngram. The first couple results seemed to all be from around 1965, so I figured I was onto something date wise. The first article I clicked on was titled “Girls a Go Go in Denver” by Bob Latimer which made me wonder if there was somehow a connection to go-go dancing/music and disco? I think they originated around the same time. From what I could gather from this article, discotheque is being used to describe the place where people were dancing as well as playing “discotheque” music. It didn’t really provide any insight on whether it was the same music as the disco I’m trying to find out about. Most of the articles I was finding were describing a discotheque as a place where live music wasn’t being played. Much like the Swing Kids, more and more gatherings at these discotheques were gathering in the 60’s. A lot of the attendees were those from marginalized groups at the time, who were against the dominant white music in America. (Which I got just from outside research. I’m trying to use the ones provided! I can’t help it. I’m wikipedia garbage.)

Proquest however was my last resort. I found an article from 1968 which talks about socialites attending one of these “discotheques” but the music in this article was described as “loud.” It also mentions a dance floor, and jammed tables. This sounds a lot more like the disco I was thinking of. So, theres my earliest reference closest to the definition of disco music I could find. Maybe I’m just bad at searching.

Savoy, M. (1968, Jun 25). Socialites take disco spin at newly opened club john. Los Angeles Times (1923-1995) Retrieved from

(P.S. –

Gino convinced me to post the disco playlist I was inspired to make after writing this so, here it is, world.)



So, this week was pretty intense. I really have no idea where to begin.

I guess first off I really had no idea just how long minstrel shows went on for.

I know these blogs should have a level of professionalism so I REALLY shouldn’t swear but I’m really just so ******* repulsed at America’s complete and utter dehumanization of black people.

I still really have no idea exactly what to talk about in this blog. I think I’m just angry, mainly. My previous blogs have been pretty long but this one may be a bit short. And repetitive. My mind is moving but I can’t seem to get my hands to.

A lot of the pictures we looked at in class made me sick. I’ve learned about blackface before but just seeing so many more examples and how long its been going on just UGH. And seeing just how many big “Hollywood stars” partook… Judy Garland.. and even recently Robert Downey Jr. I don’t know. Im still avoiding the urge to swear.

I’m glad a lot of people spoke up about this topic, and how sickening it is that there are still some people that exist that see nothing wrong with minstrel shows. I wish I would have spoken up in class and that I had more to say for this week.

WEEK 4 & 5

WEEK 4 & 5

Ok so I’m combining a few weeks here, I think. I try to take notes in class to be able to have more to say here, but my ADD really has me drawing on my paper instead. (I pay attention, I promise. I just need my hands to constantly move.)

Anyways, I believe week 5 was the week he showed us GarageBand. Im pretty mad at myself because the DAY before our very first class started I was deleting things of my computer to free space and though “Hm, whats something I’ll never use? Garage Band!” I was wrong.

Professor O’ Malley showed us just a few things in garage band but I’m already honestly excited to use it. I feel like I definitely had a general idea that its incredibly intricate since a lot of artists use it, but seeing it in action really just intensified my interest.

Aside from realizing it was pretty darn cool, we talked about some stuff I never even thought about. I think he mentioned that he downloaded some presets from someone who he later found out was extremely affected by a hurricane, and was using the money to help himself out. It’s so crazy that we can just download things and never even THINK about the person behind the creation? I don’t know. It almost made me sad to think about.

WEEK 2 & 3

WEEK 2 & 3

Ok so last week we didn’t have class, (so I guess this is technically week 3?) which gave me a chance to catch up on the reading assignments. One thing I forgot to mention in my week 1 blog was that I actually rather enjoy that we get to use blogging to express our thoughts.

I think while yes I do have an underlying fear of “Oh gosh, are my blogs going to sound smart enough?” I really enjoy this set up because its always been pretty hard for me to speak up in class. So yes yay for blogs.

On to this week though!

One part I found really interesting was the “medium is the message” conversation that was briefly touched on. I guess that means that, what you’re using to communicate with someone is more important than the message itself? Or it speaks for it in a way. Im not sure if thats right. So, email or text vs a phone call. A phone call you’re probably communicating a lot more information than if you just send one text. But some people are much more comfortable through messaging? I don’t know. Im planning on researching this a bit more, my thoughts are a bit jumbled right now. I don’t know if this is even an example but sometimes friends that I have that primarily communicate through text happen to call me or even video call me I think about THAT instead of what they actually are saying to me. Like “oH? you’re calling me, maybe you have something more personal to say?” I’ve even asked “are you ok?” to friends before that have called me. Sometimes they just say they decided to call instead and didn’t even really think about why, but the discussion in class just made me think of this. I don’t know, I told you my thoughts are jumbled.



So to start off- I’m uploading all of my blogs on the same day (probably not the best idea) but, alas, here I am. So since I’m going back and rereading these before posting I realized I actually wanted to go back and change some things as class went on and I started understanding them better but I think that really would just defeat the purpose of these blogs?? Anyways heres my thoughts from week 1.

I didn’t expect to learn much from the first week of class considering its syllabus week and people are probably still adding and dropping classes.

However, our Professor hit us with one question I’ve heard at various points of my life, “does my generation have bad taste in music.”  My initial response was “oh man am I in the right class” (and upon realizing, yes, I am) my response was “no, I don’t think we have bad taste.”

I mainly responded this way because so many people in my generation (like myself) listen to all sorts of music. Some friends of mine don’t even listen to anything thats “current.” Then I thought ok, does my generation PRODUCE, bad music. Which we also covered in class. And I think yea, I could agree that my generation produces some pretty rehashed versions of already lazily produced stuff. But, we like it. Were used to it. I don’t think or know really if thats a bad thing.

I have a lot of questions and a lot of confused rumbling around in my brain but this class seems to be pretty dang interesting and I look forward to seeing where it goes.


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