- Oct 2017
Although most of us arc used to hearing sound all around us every day, we don't often pay attention to how il signals information, including feelings, responses, or needed actions.
One of the activities in our class textbook, Guide to First-Year Writing (6th Edition), asks us to “consider a song as an argument” (70). This activity (activity 2.12, found in chapter two) requires the participant to locate a song that appears to make an argument and answer the activity’s given questions. For this exercise, I chose the song “Love Is Dead” by Estonian musician Kerli.
The title alone presents Kerli’s argument: love is dead. Answering the activity’s given questions, however, caused me to contemplate Kerli’s song as a complex communicative device; I soon realized that Kerli’s message is not as simplistic as the title implies. In my response, I hypothesize that Kerli is a mistress who has made the difficult decision to leave a secret relationship. By referencing lyrics that support my interpretation of the song’s argument, I was able to appreciate the narrative present in the song, and analyze its method of storytelling.
Previously, I felt most drawn to the aural mode of “Love Is Dead,” however, this activity prompted my explicit admiration of the song’s linguistic mode as well. Through the following questions, I discuss how and why the linguistic mode of the song’s argument is supported by its aural mode:
How would you describe the musical style of the song? In what ways does the style of singing and instrumentation help convey the rhetorical argument?
Here is a snippet of my response:
*The composition of the piece seems to describe the navigation of a dangerous path. It’s as if one has to look over one’s shoulder while listening to this song. By employing a sense of danger, the ballad mimics the traitorous and deceptive nature of Kerli’s secret relationship.
In the song, Kerli’s vocals are slightly distorted. She sounds as if she is singing from behind a glass wall, showing that she is both unsure of the words she is singing to herself, and afraid of being honest about her doubt of the worthiness of her relationship. The instrumentation is forceful and almost overpowers Kerli’s voice at times. One is never unaware of the thematic orchestra scoring Kerli’s ascent through perilous territory. As the song advances, however, Kerli’s angelic voice increases in power. She continuously repeats and chants variations of “love is dead, love is gone, love don’t live here anymore,” alternating between singing these words, chanting them, and crying them to the audience.*
As this article’s authors point out, the aural mode of media “signals information” even when we are not consciously aware of those signals.
At first, I only appreciated the superficiality of the composition of “Love Is Dead,” and simply recognized that it sounded good to me. I now realize, however, that the aural mode of the song also performs the deeper, more complex function of storytelling. The sound of Kerli’s song influences the emotions that I feel upon listening, and the imagery I conjure in accordance with the music.
Read the full response on my website, Postscript Reverie: My Analysis of "Love Is Dead"