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Adaptations are everywhere and are found in many mediums we see and use today. In the film industry, novels and autobiographies often get adapted into movies and films. For instance, in the past couple of years, the Marvel comic books have been hitting the big screen. Many of these films have new interpretations of the previous films and incorporate new special effects and digital animations that distinguish them from their predecessors. The comic book, the first movie, a cartoon series, and the new released version of a movie generally attempt to preserve the storyline of the original media. Each new medium is distinguished by the new adaptations they create in respect to the original. Linda Hutcheon states that “Adaptation is repetition, but repetition without replication.” A film can repeat the ideas and characters of a novel, even the settings and events, but a film does not have to follow a novel as a script. There is freedom in an adaptation for new interpretations. It is not so much about the preservation of the original media as it is about the process the adaptations go through to become new mediums.

Possibly one of the most prevalent forms of adaptation that we are able to see, we likely pass by every day with out recognizing. It has been a method publicly expressing social critiques, art, territory, pride, nationality, and image. This form of adaptation has given proletariat artists the ability to create works of recognizable anonymity. Graffiti is the adaptation of property (usually urban environments) as a mode of public self expression. The debate on whether or not graffiti is or is not a “legitimate” form of art is irrelevant to it's contemplation as a form of adaptation. Hutcheons in her A Theory of Adaptation calls adaptations “palimpsestuous”; this is a perfect description of the very nature of graffiti. What is more of a palimpsest than the buildings, public property, and urban environment that defines the structure of our lives, yet has been made legally unavailable to the artist. Any work of graffiti on public property has a limited lifespan. Whatever has been adapted as the canvas by the graffiti artist to be used as her mode of expression possesses a limited lifespan. Almost inevitably, what was once a canvas is repainted, wiped clean, or rebuilt to their original form. For that short time, however, while it is being used as the temporary mode of statement it becomes an adaptation. One such artist only anonymously known as Banksy has turned graffiti into a whole new kind of expression through adaptation. He adapts original pieces of art by shifting the imagery in some way to repossess within the context of his own statements. He even goes as far as to do as what is called illegal installations, by placing his adaptations of works of art in a museum, in a way he challenges the idea of art itself by turning it into a palimpsest. What is widely seen as “street art” or even graffiti by its classical definition: writing or drawings scribbled, scratched, or sprayed illicitly on a wall or other surface in a public place (wiki), is still up for debate as a legitimized art form. However where there is graffiti some form of adaptation had to take place, however subtle.

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Graffiti pictures under the following url:

Hutcheon, Linda. “A Theory of Adaptation” Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group: New York 2006.
"Graffiti." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 12 May 2011. <>

To adapt, according to, means “to make something or oneself suitable to requirements or conditions; adjust or modify fittingly.”

Music is one of the most map-able mediums that are continually adapted to new social conditions. The United States of America has a total history of less than three hundred years, and yet it has existed as a giant melting pot since the beginning. America obviously had no part in originating classical music or African songs, but during the slave trade, when Europeans were forcing people from Africa to work in the West, they inadvertently changed music forever. African chant songs were applied English lyrics so that white owners could know whether or not a mutiny was on hand. Soon, classical music knowledge made its way into the ranks of the lower classes, and the music adapted into an early ragtime, with the horns of classical music combined with the percussive rhythms associated with the emerging African-American culture.external image spirituals-1.jpg

As slavery was abolished, a mass migration of freed slaves headed to the cities to find production jobs in factories. The turn of the twentieth century led to the march tunes of the city music halls to blend with the bluesy rhythms of the country guitar. Over the next few decades, a music defined by its swinging of eighth note rhythms, came to be known as swing, and more loosely, Jazz. There are several stylings of jazz depending on which instruments are included in the ensemble and how many of each instrument is needed to get the effect of the musical piece across to the audience. Big Band swing music is like classical symphonies in that they both require a large number of musicians in order to complete the arrangement, whereas a Mozart quartet is similar to small jazz ensembles, like in the Bebop style of jazz that emerged in the 1940s and 50s.

By the mid-1950s, the educational system combined with the social shift toward racial and gender equality opened the doors for a lot of people to learn the language of music who wouldn’t previously have been able to in their social condition. With musicians like Chuck Berry showing African-American children the future of rock guitar, and white musicians like Elvis Presley following close behind, one can see how American music is actually the systematic phenomenon of white people copying black culture. Rock & Roll was an adaptation of jazz in which the swinging rhythm was shifted back to straight eighth notes, and the electronic instruments like guitar, bass and electric organ were the featured instruments.

Of course, the history of American music is actually just a map of social conditions over the last 230 years, and that is only a fraction of the time spent on adapting music over the course of human history. American music is European classical, African tribal, and way later, the British Invasion in the 1960s (which was actually just the British take on African-American rhythms from America that were a social result of America’s institution of slavery) all have had an effect on the music we hear today, be it rap music, electronic music, or even a bad combination of both (pop music).

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When asked the question, do we really need another adaptation of Carmen? I answer, I don't see why not. Carmen is so engrained in our culture that even children are unknowingly exposed to the story and becoming familiar with classic songs from Bizet's opera. Before I even knew who Carmen was, I was already humming her theme song in elementary school thanks to cartoon adaptations.