Alan Silvestri “Forrest Gump” The Country Music Genre

Bill Laurance and Alan Silvestri Bill Laurance is a British composer and producer who has been a professional musician since the age of fourteen. He is best known for being a founding member of the Grammy-winning jazz fusion group Snarky Puppy. Bill is currently touring and recording as a solo pianist. He is also working with David Crosby of Crosby, Stills, and Nash on Crosby’s forthcoming album. Through his production company, named Twenty Thousand, he has produced music for corporations such as Apple, Nokia, and Hewlett-Packard. His genre-crossing style adds a fresh new take, blending jazz tones with classical and electronic music, bringing an appreciation for jazz music to a younger generation of listeners. Laurance’s style incorporates brief spats of atonality coupled with varied rhythms to create a unique yet pleasing musical experience.

Alan Silvestri has been a composer of film scores for over thirty years. He developed a love for music in his younger years and began playing drums. His repertoire quickly grew to include bassoon, clarinet, saxophone, and guitar. Silvestri majored in composition at the Berklee College of Music and moved to Hollywood shortly after. His big break came working with director Robert Zemeckis on the “Back to the Future” trilogy. He has since composed music for over 100 movies and television shows. Other notable scores Silvestri has composed include music for the films “Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)”, “Forrest Gump (1994)”, “The Polar Express (2004)”, “The Avengers (2012)”, “Lilo & Stitch (2002)”, and many more. Silvestri’s style and theme are fluid due to the fact that the films he scores encompass many different genres. Laurance’s music consisted mostly of Jazz, with one of his famous songs called “Swag Times.”

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This piece is played in major chords throughout with a consistency of a four/four-time signature. Many instruments were involved, such as the trumpet, bass, saxophone, and clarinet. Overall the song “Swag Times” is homophonic as the “instruments play the same line of melody in the same rhythm; however, one instrument plays one note and a second instrument places a note in harmony” (“Homophonic” 1). At the beginning of the piece, it starts off as monophonic as it begins without the accompanying harmony or chords. Another famous song Laurance has composed is called “Ready Wednesday.” This piece is also played in major chords throughout the song and only involves one instrument, the piano. Silvestri is famous for writing songs used in movies such as “Forrest Gump” and “Back to the future.”

“Forrest Gump” is in the country music genre, as the piece creates a calm and gentle mood for the audience. This song is set in major chords as it “reflects the sweet fairy-tale-like story and encourages the audience to feel a certain way about the film” (“Analysis of the music featured in Forrest Gump”). The other famous piece Silvestri wrote is called “Back to the future,” which drastically differs in terms of the mood of the song compared to “Forrest Gump.” In this piece, Silvestri expresses the intensity of sound through the use of accents, staccatos, fortes, mezzo fortes, and crescendos. Throughout the piece, he creates an exciting mood from the effects of the full orchestra and secondary instruments.

Debunking The Inevitability Of Confederate Defeat

For over a century, many writers and historians theorized that the Confederate loss during the Civil War was, in fact, inevitable and that they were only fighting a losing war against an overwhelming invading force. This idea shows the southern gentleman, in his honor, taking up arms against what was obviously a superior enemy in order to preserve their state’s rights, their families, and their homes, with no hope of coming out the victor in the contest. This is a romantic notion of a time forgotten where gentlemen fought a barbaric would-be conquering force in order that their economic tyranny be forced upon the southern gentleman. This can be countered by the fact that they were only looking for a way to soothe their own defeat, that many sought post-war political gain, and that invading the north during the war was a hope to achieve victory.

There are many myths about the American Civil War, fought from 1861-1865. One such myth is that the south was forced into action by the tyranny of the north, specifically that of newly elected President Abraham Lincoln. Another was that the war was not about slavery in any way, shape, or form; rather, it was a war over a state’s right to govern itself without interference from the federal government. But no other myth has permeated through the decades more than the myth of the Lost Cause, which presupposes the inevitability of defeat to the Union army. The term was first coined by journalist Edward Pollard in his 1866 book entitled “The Lost Cause” (Civil War: A Visual History). There are people today who will still argue that those men who fought for the Confederacy were fighting an invading Yankee horde and were destined to lose. The north had high tariffs and an unwanted economic direction that the southern economy rejected, thus war.

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Like a machine, eating up everything in its path, uncaring for any man, woman, or child in its wake, the north waged a war of attrition against the southern genteel, and despite the honor and convictions lost; the north with their overreaching industrialization could not go unopposed. It is inconceivable to them that the Confederacy should have had any other outcome than that of its surrender at Appomattox, that winning against such industrial brutality was not going to happen. The denial of slavery as a catalyst for contention is part of the creation of this fable.

This romantic revisionist history seeks to lessen the blow of defeat, and it taints history in order that cures the wounds of the war itself. Another point to make about this fable is a more individual point. After the war was over, many on both sides just wanted to move on with their lives. In order to do this, they would need work and prospects to build themselves up for a better future. Some even sought careers in politics, and what better way to gain favor in their careers than by building themselves up with the southern citizenry? Ex-soldiers had partisan agendas causing a mini civil war of sorts with bitter former Confederates who saw this as a betrayal of what they fought for (Levin, K.M.).

Attacks, most specifically against Major General William Mahone and General James Longstreet, sought to diminish their role in the war or even blame them for losses as a way to cover the actual losses suffered (Levin, K.M.). Though nobody said so at the time, General Longstreet was blamed for the loss at Gettysburg because he had joined the Republican Party, headed by his old WestPoint friend and Union general Ulysses S. Grant. Mahone himself was making headway in Virginia, also with ties to the Republican Party, and getting African-Americans jobs and positions of power. This act directly threatened the memory of Southern Plantation Aristocracy, as they were the ones with power. Editors of Richmond newspapers attacked these ambitious veterans, coming very close to calling them traitors stating, “The Revolution only gave us one Benedict Arnold…while the Confederate war failed to yield a single one on either side until after it had been fought” (Levin, K.M.).

The most damning evidence against the myth of the Lost Cause, however, is the fact that both General Robert E. Lee and Confederate President Jefferson Davis, though they differed, had strategies for winning the war. That they both had ideas on how to overcome the might of the United States is reason enough to dismiss the idea of a lost cause (Farwell, B.). General Lee preferred an offensive strategy that saw him marching his Army of Northern Virginia toward the enemy and facing him on their own ground if he could. Jefferson, however, sought a defensive war, having the Union smash against fortified southern forces again and again (Farwell, B.).

According to both of these tactics, winning was possible, thus negating the myth. They hoped that the north would eventually tire of the fight and seek an end to hostilities, thus granting Confederate independence. Like their fathers and grandfathers before them, they sought to overthrow a more powerful foe and secure freedom. These men, in their roles of leadership, would have known better than to attack if winning was not hope. There was hope from Confederate leadership that, like the French in the Revolutionary war, France or England would recognize the Confederate States as an independent nation. Such recognition from an international body would force the Union to withdraw and for the United States to see its opponents as an independent entity (Henry, S.C.).

So why, then, does this myth persist? The northern army was never sure of its own victory, having suffered great losses and terrible defeats at the hands of the Confederates. Even after Gettysburg, seen as the turning point of the war, where the south was actually assured defeat after a time, there were moments when the Army of Northern Virginia dealt heavy blows to their enemy, driving them back (Gallagher, Gary W.). The myth, though not so much in scholarly circles anymore, still pervades the American consciousness. This is largely due to popular media such as novels and films, and perhaps even stories passed down from veterans to their children and on down the line to the present day.

Books like The Clansmen by Thomas F. Dixon (which became the film “Birth of a Nation”) and Gods and Generals by Jeffery Shaara keep the idea of a romantic southern hero facing incredible odds alive where it counts: within the minds of the people who will continue to tell such stories. Perhaps the myth persists because it is too hard to think of so many dead and maimed and all of the political complexities of the time. People would much rather believe in the romantic view of the honorable hero on a quest, and, in fact, the idea of those riding off to face the horde with certain defeat is a pleasant one, of sorts.

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