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Music and Its Emotional Effects on World Politics

For ages music has been used as an instrument of expression of one’s thoughts and feelings and has affected and helped shape many societies, communities, countries and in fact the whole world. Be it Bandwagons, movement music or garage bands, they have all helped in restructuring the social, political and cultural relations among human groups around the earth. A piece of music has often been used to showcase the hardships, displeasure and hatred of the people from different social classes, ethnic groups, cultures and classes, exerting a greater impact on the world cultures and making it possible to imagine the world in new terms. Songs like ‘We can overcome’ have played an important role in changing the world politics.
Bandwagons meant a wagon carrying a band usually meant for spreading ideas of the new world helping in the structuring of movements and revolutions for bringing a change in the society by creating a shift in the thoughts of the people. Songs can link together ideas or events that the listener may not have grouped together. Music has had multifarious functions from its origin. It is agreed that music serves the purpose of spirit maintenance or reaffirmation, which is an essential function for movements. It helps to lift the spirits of members who are already involved in the movement as well as it helps in the education and recruitment of potential masses which greatly helps in the boosting the enthusiasm.

Songwriters like Bob Dylan and Bob Marley have contributed to the changes in the psyche of the people in today’s world with a hope to make it a better place to live in. They have helped persuade people who have identified with the movement but continue to remain inactive, to take the step into concrete movement activity. The SNCC freedom singer’s tour of the north, in Virginia, in the early 1960s informed potentially sympathetic northerners that there was a movement of resistance in the south during the Civil Rights Movement.

Genres like Anarcho-Punk and Anti-War songs evolved after revolutionary musicologists started using electronically mass distributed music as a weapon to fight for bringing a change in the minds and behavior of individuals. Political songsters used the ability of music to educate people and dominate their mind to bring new approaches to politics and society. Recruitment of individuals by pushing them beyond their intellectual awareness also helped change the political face of the world. An evidence of such recruitment is found Pablo Vila’s account of how “Rock Nacional” partisans became an essential component of the Anti-Military-Dictatorship movement in Argentina or Peter Wicke’s account of the role of rock music in political change in the former East Germany. Thus, we see that not only do the lyrics of a song echo the sentiments of a movement they also have the potential of conjuring up tumults for creating a better political environment around the world.

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.

Connecting Links between Music and Politics

The morning raga of the cuckoo, the song of the crickets or the Beetle’s track playing in your stereo, no matter what form of it is, music is something that has managed to enchant human lives from time immemorial. The cosmic sounds that are believed to have been the source of energy on the planet are testimonials to the fact the music is eternal and that there is no second thought about it. Music has been an integral part of the human civilization from time immemorial, right from the first breath that a child heaves to the final thud of its heart. All these obvious facts make one thing clear that there is hardly any part of our lives that is still untouched by the divine presence of musical notes and serenity. The same follows in case of world politics and if we turn the pages of history, we find several powerful instances where clear correlations between the two have been established.
Before we lay direct examples to ascertain the links that music and politics have in common, it is best to discuss the main points that back the use of music in politics or the political influence in musical genres.

We all have come across songs that seem to stir up feelings of national integrity or patriotism in us. These are also, in a way examples of music being used to preach a political ideal. One thing that is markedly different from strictly patriotic songs and other forms of music that have a light political background is that the former genre of songs often have lyrics that explicitly put forward a social message or words that talk of unity or national integrity. This is however, not the case with the second class of music. Instead of expressing the idea through words, it is generally the time of its composition and the overall marketing that weaves the required web to preach the desired political opinion. The national anthem of a country is undoubtedly the greatest example of the musical expression of politics and patriotism.

The pages of history are full of citations that assert a connection between music and politics. Parodies are one of the most popular form of campaigning, which not only saves the money and effort needed to compose a new song but because popular chart numbers are chosen, reach a wide number of minds due to catchy and upbeat tunes. If we talk of art music, as early as Beethoven’s third symphony was a great example of this connection. It was originally called Bonaparte and was a symbol of the Napoleon conquest. RAPM was a Russian musician collaboration formed in the 1920s under the powerful backing of Stalin and aimed in popularizing the then prevalent ideologies through the avenues of music and instruments. Given below are some of the more contemporary forms of music that found way into world politics over the years and became as iconic as the political movements themselves.

Rock bands such as Crosby, Nash and Young, Living colors, Maniac Street Preachers and the highly powerful form of rock, punk rock have been associated closely with such music. Social issues like hierarchy, was one of the most addressed ones and many great punk rockers like the Crass, The Sex pistols and many more faced a great deal of critical judgment while being the blood and bones of the nation at that point in history.