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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Artist explains how music can give meaning to life’s events through self-expression, song

By Shirlett Warren/reporter

Art and music are tools people use to respond to life experiences in order to shape culture and the world, the keynote speaker told NW humanities students Nov. 17.

Speaking at the fourth annual Creative Voice Symposium, artist and scholar Nicholas P. Ippoliti said artists and musicians throughout history have used personal experiences to incite change, whether in self or society.

“Artists write songs in protest to the way things are,” he said. “Songs change individuals, but it extends way beyond that.”

An individual’s conflict with self, with nature and with society is what drives artists and musicians to create, Ippoliti said.

“All subject matter may be shared by everyone, but in the realm of art, the form in which the subject is expressed is not the same,” he said.

He showed pictures of four different types of chairs to the students: a recliner, an office chair, a rocking chair and an electric chair. He asked them to say the first word that came to mind when they saw each chair.

“Words like ‘relax, nap or comfort’ come when you see a recliner, but the word ‘death’ comes to mind when you see an electric chair,” he said. “Form does make a difference when you’re dealing with a specific subject matter.”

Students were asked how it is possible to represent non-musical ideas or emotion in song. Ippoliti played music samples that were written to express various themes. One song described a flood both lyrically and musically. The music in the song actually modulated into a higher octave every time the lyrics talked about the water rising. Another song was a biographical tribute to civil rights activist Medgar Evers by Bob Dylan that simply used uncomplicated guitar chords.

“Not much occurs musically in a biographical song,” he said. “The chords are usually simple so that they don’t overpower the meaning of the lyrics.”

While there is nothing musical about a flood or someone’s life story, an artist can communicate meaning through musical expression, Ippoliti said.

“Sometimes we don’t have to be so deep,” he said. “The life of an artist isn’t always in conflict.”

Ippoliti has recorded four full-length releases, two music videos and is currently working on a fifth album to be released June 2012.

“We create not for accolades or entertainment,” he said. “But we create to give life meaning.”

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