An Insight on Protest Songs and Their Use in the History

All throughout the past, right from the beginning of the human civilization, music and dance have been integral parts of all our lives. Be it the earliest forms of sounds produced by rocks and pebbles or the modern form of music aided by complex musical instruments, it is no fable that rhythm and beats engage us like nothing else. Be it the symphony of the crickets or the sound of the cascading waves, music finds its way into all our lives right from the time we first breathe to the last thud of our hearts. In such a situation where music plays such an intricate role in all our lives, how can politics be aloof from this wave of pulsation? From a past that is probably as old as the institution of politics itself, music and politics have been intently linked sometimes, harmoniously preaching the tenets of the political parties and sometimes itself being a cause for a political tumult.
All throughout the pages of history, we find examples of the use of music to suit a greater social purpose. Protest songs, patriotic songs or the more basic form of music and songs that are used in political campaigns, rally etc. are validate the point that politics is not untouched by music. Although of all us must have heard or some even participated in some or the other kind of political movement, there are many misconceptions that go about these protest songs. Read along to get a brief overview of what it actually is and the ways in which these songs have stirred social movements.

Coming first to the broader meaning of protest songs, these fall under the category of Topical music and imply to all forms of music that conjure up a political picture or message through direct lyrics as in case of patriotic songs or through the overall feel and marketing of it. Some of the most important and clear examples of movements and political causes that have seen the extensive use of music are the movements for the abolition of Hierarchy, racism, feminism, protest movements for suppress women sufferings and the more recent ones like protest against animal crudity and veganism.

As already mentioned, these songs are rarely explicit in nature. Instead, it the time of their composition or the social conditions prevalent during the time or maybe the composer himself is a cause for them being categorized as protest songs. Examples of such a trend are songs like ‘Goodnight Irene’, ‘Ode to joy’ by Lead Belly and Beethoven respectively rightly qualify this condition. Just because the former was sung by a Black outcast, the originally love song transformed into an expression of disgust among the people. Other examples of protest songs that not only served the purpose of the social cause they were involved with but in a way become the blood and bones of the movement are songs by Pins and Needles.

All regions of the world that faced social upturn of some type have re-casted their own gallery of such songs that summarize the social and political history of the region. Songs from Jamaica and the Caribbean islands, particularly the ones sang by the legendary Mob Marley have been associated with the racist movement from ages. There are several other examples that rightly inkling this obvious link between music and politics.