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How 'Sesame Street' Started a Musical Revolution

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https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/22/arts/music/sesame-street-anniversary.html

nytimes.com

How 'Sesame Street' Started a Musical Revolution
Fifty years ago, the television show united children's education, puppetry and songs. Pop stars have been singing the Muppets' tunes (and vice versa) ever since. How many ways can you sing about the letter B? On "Sesame Street," that question has many furry answers.

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Sesame Street

Sesame Street

Before Sesame Street, music wasn't even considered as a means to teach children. But Sesame Street changed that and proved that kids are very receptive to a grammar lesson contained in a song.

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Musical stars

Big-name stars lined up to make guest appearances. Stevie Wonder and Grover; Loretta Lynn and the Count; Smokey Robinson and a marauding letter U. "Sesame Street" also showcased Afro-Caribbean ...

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The goal

The aim of "Sesame Street" was to build school preparedness and narrow the educational gap between lower- and upper-income children.

They used pedagogy advice from a Harvard professor. Resea...

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The music

The music

Music on "Sesame" functioned in three ways: As backing tracks for animation and film clips, as live performances by well-knows guest artists, and as songs for the human actors and Muppets to sin...

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Famous Faces

In 1973, Stevie Wonder participated in an episode-long musical guest, to teach Grover about vocal dynamics. Other stars also featured through the years, including Carly Simon, Diana Ross, Paul Simo...

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Building a 'Sesame' Song

"Sesame" songs were built on a curriculum. Each year, outside experts outline pressing academic and social issues, and from that, an educational theme for the season is built.

After a song h...

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Background music is powerful

Background music is powerful

Even if you are hardly aware of it, music can be surprisingly powerful.

Researchers have found that it can affect:

  • how much time we think has passed while waiting
  • how co-op...

The background music industry

It is also known as music design, music consultancy, or as part of a broader package of experiential design or sensory marketing.

The work involves creating distinct,  compatible musical identities for brands.

Muzak and background music

Muzak, a brand of background music, set the template for background music. It played in retail stores and other commercial premises and sold itself on the basis that it could increase productivity in workplaces. 

Muzak's template for background music persisted for decades. The music was a balm to ease awkward silences and to encourage and brighten the mood.

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The Inventor Of Rock & Roll

The Inventor Of Rock & Roll

… was originally, according to Billboard Magazine, Rhythm & Blues music. This was until Producer Sam Phillips (Sun Records), the ‘inventor’ of Rock & Roll, started promoting little known ar...

Sam Phillips

He was not looking to make big money. His heart always wanted to do something great and original, to leave a mark. He recorded new music from upcoming artists, only to stop doing that once the real surge in sales was about to begin.

Race Music

... was the original name given by Billboard to the genre which was later called Rhythm & Blues.

Black artists were more creative, edgy, talented, and had a wild style that was light years ahead of white performers. This made ‘race music’ popular across all demographics and regions, something that was picked up by many record companies, including Sun Records.

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Using music

During the plague of Saint Charles in the summer of 1576, religious gatherings were banned in Italy for fear of contagion. But nothing could stand in the people's way.

Following a call t...

Music connects

Music is a very powerful tool during quarantine. People in Italy, Spain, and the wider world are using music to bring their communities together.

When you're making music, you submit your mind and body to its regulation. When you're doing the Macarena with your neighbors, you're contributing to the larger goal of the group and inspire global solidarity.

Other benefits of music

Since the time of ancient Greece, medicine claimed that maintaining a positive mind can help treat physical disease.

  • During the Renaissance, patients were encouraged to compose and study art and play music.
  • When plague approached England, Henry VIII chose his organ player as one of the five men he quarantined with.

Music asks that we laugh, and sing, and dance, and seems to be a real antidote to fear, just as the Renaissance doctors claimed.