Music as Power

A blog article by Bonniejean Alford (Educator, Activist, World Citizen)

I like music.

Who doesn’t?

Fact is, I love to listen to the words, the beat, the intermingled sounds of emotion and artistic abilities.  Genius to my ears, even when it is a genre I do not enjoy listening to.  My heart flutters at the very first note of a particular song or another, bringing back memories of moments passed, moments wished for, and anticipation of moments yet to come.

But what does music have to do with social justice?

So much that I could only begin to scratch the surface of understanding.

Historically, music has been used to convey many societal messages.  For instance, the Native American rain dance music was perceived with a goal of bringing on the rain.  But truth is, it conveyed a societal message about a desire to bring about change within the community and the environment in which community lived. And for them, in that moment, that change was simply the need for rain.

The protest music of the 1960s has inspired dissertations, novels, and entire movements of social change.  Woodstock was somewhat meant to be a meeting of the activist minds.  It brought together people from all over the country, people with an interest in making the world different.

And often much of what they had in common was the music (and, of course, maybe drugs. But that is a digression I may come back to in a future blog).

Music truly is a powerful tool that connects people. Whether or not you speak the same language, the feeling of music can come through.  The beat, the tone of the words, the context of the performance, all speak to the message that is intended.

Most recently, I can think of one song meant to honor and stand up for something. The band U2 wrote and recorded the song “Walk On” in honor of Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of the National League for Democracy in Burma (illegally renamed Myanmar by the government). It is meant to further inspire her to continue the fight, but also to share the story with the rest of the world.

The United States Campaign for Burma (http://uscampaignforburma.org/), an American group working for Burmese Democracy, has taken the next step by creating a CD which includes U2’s song, but also other artists’ work as well. It is a compilation of American, Burmese, and other world music artists designed to raise awareness, raise funds, and hopefully one day help bring down an oppressive military regime. All through working in unity across politically imposed borders.

No matter the type of music, no matter the intended audience, music simply has power.

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89 thoughts on “Music as Power

  1. I’m not sure I agree that it’s the music that has power so much as the message people convey from it. For example, the big theory about the Beatles that there are messages hidden in the songs that can be heard when you play them backwards. Truth? Who knows? But, this is just one example of how the messages people draw from a song can give it power… This debate began in the 60s and continues to this day. However, some examples are more clear cut, like the theme of many songs that love is out there for everyone. They gain power because people draw a message that it is true and believe in it.

    1. The fact is people learn through music. Think about the child’s ABCs song that we all learn. It sticks with me to this day and the truth is when I’m reciting the ABCs I sing that song. I think music is a powerful learning tool that seems to stick with us. The only problem is if the music is hateful it can lead people to become against each other or to believe untrue things about another culture.

      If you ever watch the movie Bringing down the House, there is a scene where the old heiress, in her 70s most likely, starts singing a rather unpleasent song about her southern plantations that her family owned. And in the movie you see how it angers Queen Latifa and I can see why she is angry! My point is this music is not only a learning tool but it also has a way of spurring emotions in people that can be either beneficial or hateful.

      1. I suppose you are right that we do learn through the music itself as well, but I still feel that the messages we get from the songs have more power than the songs themselves. Take as an example the song, “Strange Fruit” by Billie Holiday. It was not so much the words of the song that had the power, but the messages they conveyed to listeners… the feelings of power its message brought to its white listeners, and the reminder of suffering it brought to its black listeners.

      2. I agree with Erisalia. Music nowadays is very influential. Kids listen it to it and believe whatever they do in the song is ok to do in real life and in society. It’s sad that that is what our world has come to.

    2. I respectfully disagree with Mitch L, sound has been proven to influence people’s moods. A good example of that is elevator music. It has also been proven that plants grow better with background music. Even ignoring the above you can’t deny that some songs put you in a particular mood.

      1. I’m not denying that music influences people’s moods… just about anything in the world has an influence on people, whether big or small. I’m just saying that, in my opinion, it is the messages that people get from music that is more influential than the music itself… in many cases.
        Take the song “4’33” by John Cage as an example… It is a song with no music and no lyrics, it is simply 4 minutes and 33 seconds of silence where any sounds heard are the song… a sort of free style music if you will. So I ask you, what meaning does this music have?… It doesn’t have any meaning. It is the messages and themes people draw from it that has the power and meaning. It is the freedom and limitless possibilities it represents and the mystery of everyday life that it expresses… just as in this song, we don’t know what ‘note’ will come next in this song, just as in life we do not know what each day holds for us.

      2. Ok, you’re correct, ‘the nothing song’ shouldn’t just be taken at face value. You’re supposed to listen to it like you would any other song just because the song itself is nothing doesn’t mean there is nothing there. When that song was originally played it was in a hall full of people so what you heard was people’s breathing, which became a beat. This song made a bold statement. It radically redefined what music was. It’s not just traditional sounds. The human body itself is a music factory. For example, your heart beats the sound of your walking. Music is everywhere.

        Life/music can be predicted, it just takes a trained mind and ear to see what’s coming.
        Cause and effect: if I yelled fire in a movie theater, I have a pretty good idea of what’s going to happen next.

      3. See, but I disagree… I think that music is predictable as it has to follow certain patterns and guidelines… A trumpet will always sound like a trumpet that has its lowest pitch… and its highest pitch. However, life is unpredictable… I mean, every day thousands if not millions of people die… people who probably felt great not even days if not hours before. These people probably had future plans for vacation, work, family… everything, I doubt that a person who dies in a car accident woke up that morning thinking that it would be their last day alive.
        As for ‘the nothing song’ its radical statement you are speaking of is its message… it is the statement, or message it gives to its listeners that influences, inspires, or simply is just acknowledged.

    3. Music can have power in the sense that it’s audience is extremely large. Music is extremely popular and always heard. If a popular artist is interested in conveying a message or wanting to raise awareness about something, all they have to do is put it on a song and they will be heard as their messages in their songs will be played in their concerts, on their CDs, on their MP3 files, over the radio, and on the television. The more people to hear it, the more people that can be can be influenced. Music isn’t necessarily power, however the artists have power in the sense that they have a voice that will be heard by an an enormous audience.

    4. Whoa! What I must ask Mitch is which came first, the message of the music or the music itself? The message of the music is powerful, but obviously you can’t have the message without the music. John Cage’s silence is no exception, as the length of one whole note rest is only determined by the tempo of the song. So the silence did have an effect on you as you are still dealing with it. We are only limited by our ears. If you are listening to predictable music you are either psychic or maybe not listening to the right stuff! I agree that most accessible music is repetitious but there is an entire musical world around us filled with unpredictability. A trumpet follows guidelines you are right, but does the creative process in my brain follow yours? Music is the expression of what some words cannot. Power is power. Music is communication.

      1. You have many good points that I cannot argue against. However, music is in essence its own society. It has its norms, its laws, taboos… the only thing it is missing is life (physical life I mean of course). And just as in our society, as we evolve, so does the people and groups who have power. Just as with us, music began with just the music and thus only the music could have power. However, as things have evolved and the new songs of today are littered with messages and meanings, I feel that the power has shifted from the simple sounds of the music to the more deeper meanings they hold. Now, that being said… I am in no way denying that the music itself doesn’t hold power… only that the dominant power it once held has shifted to a new aspect of the music…. Its message.

      2. Yeah I like your thought process, and would agree with the comparison to a society and perhaps even argue that sound waves are the physical life of music. Either way I think you are right about the power shifting to a message, though I would here define power as money and listeners, as pretty much all popular music these days is messaged/lyrically based. But an example of straight musical power we can all relate to would be watching movies without the music. We would feel and see something much different I think.

      3. I agree because there are different types of music in the world and people try and listen to them. Whether it’s one song from all the different types like pop, rock, etc. I don’t think that music is predictable because there are songs about a lot of things in the world.

    5. While what you are saying may be true, I believe the message that is conveyed by a song is from the artist themselves. It is a means of communicating to the listener a story. Music is a form of art and story-making, not always do songs have meaning or a story attached though. Some artists do make a sculpture, painting, and even a piece of music just to make art, it’s the process of making art just to make art.

    6. I agree with this because nowadays many people my age seem to be influenced heavily by music. It seems as if they are starting to become fake in fact, as they try to become these people that they really are not just because of what a popular song or music genre is expressing.

  2. I agree with erisalia that people do learn from music. It’s sad that people can memorize music and sing along with it but can’t remember what they learned in school from a teacher preaching to them.
    Music moves people in many different ways. I personally listen to different types of techno, trance, and dance music. My parents hate it and think it is repetative, stupid, and has too much bass. That type of music keeps me in a good mood. It’s also what I grew up with. I have many DJ friends that have introduced me to this and it is what I like best from other types of music that I have heard.
    People come from different backgrounds. That may influence what they like and some types of music that other people would like others would absolutely think it is annoying.

    1. Music has opened up so many opportunities to meet new people from all over the world. I also enjoy techno/ EDM (Electronic Dance Music) and I believe it has allowed me to become a nicer person. EDM concerts and festivals bring a ton of people together to dance and have a good time. These concerts allow people to forget about their everyday lives of working or studying, and enjoy the music. Seeing a group perform live or hearing your favorite song blasting throughout a stadium really changes your perspective of the music. Besides that, the people at these festivals are all about positive energy. That includes acceptance of everyone regardless of sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, and beliefs. There is little to no judgement among these people, which is a policy I have attempted to live by. We should be trying to lift everyone up, and not tearing them down like we see today.

  3. Music is a big part of my life and I agree that artists can play a big role in what happens in society. Have you ever heard a song that you haven’t heard in a while and you remember a time in your past where you where really happy or sad? I go to a lot of concerts and every artist seems to have a message they want to send. It could be problems with our society, it could be a story about there life that changed them, or it could be about making it through hard times. Whatever the message, music brings people closer and teaches society about real problems that we are having.

  4. Music is powerful. I grew up involving myself with music and dance. It was always a way for me to express myself. It always brought me closer to my dad too because he’s a musician. Music influences our lives so much. In the American culture alone, there is so much variety in music style. Sometimes, different music styles put people (mostly youth) in social groups related to that music style. I, myself dressed in “dark clothes” because i listened to rock music and that sort of set my personality for other people to see. Music can set a mood, and even change a personality. It takes a lot of power to be able to do that.

    1. I agree with Cindy. I don’t think that music is all about meaning all of the time. I mean think about it! What about music that does not have words? Then, there really isn’t a precise message to gather as it can be interpreted multiple ways.

      And as Cindy says music is powerful enough to affect a person’s appearance and even behaviour. It really isn’t something that can be put into words. When we hear a song we may start to unconsciencely dance. It’s a very innate thing and it’s almost to powerful and beautiful for words. =D!

  5. I agree with Cindy V’s opinion that music is powerful. Other words that evolve from the word music in my head would be things like meaning, emotions, and different time periods. To me, I see music as something that brings people together and I think that it has a powerful effect. Through common interest, music is something that is able to unify people in one-way or another. I think it’s awesome how there are so many songs that are able to cater to specific emotions, memories or events in our lives. There are songs that affect me emotionally, songs that hold strong memories in my mind, and songs that are connected to certain events that have happened in my life. I also think that music can be used as a learning device. In 8th grade I was taught the preamble to the U.S. constitution. I remember listening to it day after day on the tape player. It was the Schoolhouse Rock version and to this day I have not forgotten the words to that song. Music genres and music itself may change over time, but I think the different impact’s it has on people will last forever.

  6. People think of music in many different ways, a lot of it has to do with what the artist is singing about but the beat has a lot to do with it to. I know a lot of people that don’t like rap/hip hop because they think everything that comes from those songs is bad. I think a lot of those songs have a good message, you just have to listen for it. A lot of country music has good messages but also bad, so it depends on how you take in the information that they are singing about.

    1. Hmm..I don’t really hear many bad messages in country music. Most of the time they simply tell a story about some aspect of life. Maybe you could elaborate more on that, since I myself have never really heard a bad country song when I listen to the radio.

      However, I agree that the meaning in a lot of music is relative. Music is something that can be decifered in many different ways as to meaning.

    2. I agree with you in the aspect of messages depending on interpretation of the lyrics. I personally do not enjoy country music because I think it is repetitive. I could generalize the songs in their use of beer, tractors, and horses. Of course, that would be a stereotype. I have not listened to country in depth enough to evaluate the whole genre. As an example, when I interpret a country song, I feel like it explores a carefree lifestyle all about having fun and being with a significant other/family. I do not get the same vibes from a hip-hop or pop song. I could be completely wrong about the messages, but that is simply my interpretation. To reiterate, it is definitely all about the individuals’ interpretation

  7. Cindy V, I agree! Music is beyond powerful. As you know Bonniejean, I myself am an Artist, and I think that music has helped shape my life and my personality, while also helping to release emotions that go through my head and during stressful times. And as for Sam’s comment about rap/hip hop is right, people associate rap and hip hop with being negative and sending out a bad image, but those people who assume those negative thoughts don’t listen for the postive message. A lot of the rap songs that have violence and stuff to them aren’t trying to glorify that side of life, but they are speaking on what they know and it is a way to express the frustration without going out and commiting a crime or becoming a victim of that kind of life style.

    1. That is a good point that you just made… People don’t listen to the positive message… But this is how everything in life seems to be (for the most part). It seems that so many people in the world today do not use their Sociological Imagination to see “the big picture,” they only see things from the perspective they choose to see it from. If we could learn to get through this barrier and take everything in life from someone else’s perspective… it may not solve 100% of our problems, but it would sure make a huge difference.
      When I think of this, one thing comes to mind… Road rage. It may seem random, but I just think about the reason so many people have road rage. It can be anything from a slow driver, to someone who cuts someone off, But the thing is that the people who get so angry aren’t considering the reason for the other persons driving. I mean, I know that when I got a speeding ticket a couple years back and got in court supervision… I drove much slowly for that 1 year period so that I wouldn’t get another ticket and thus not have 2 on record.

    2. Charles. This will be a rather short reply to your post, but I wanted to say that I completely agree with everything that you said. I think that since you are an artist you can view things completely different and as we all know in today’s society lyrics in rap music have become an “issue”. I am quoting that because I disagree. It is all a form of expression. As for the people complaining about the music, there are FAR more serious issues that society should be focusing on.

    3. Charles, you are like a son to me, but I have to disagree with you. You know that there is bad rap out there when a rap song is calling out a woman names in a negative way. What I mean is in a disrespectful way. Now, there is good rap out there that is positive. As for music, overall it can change your mood the way you think and feel the words of a song or the melody of the music can change the way you think.

      1. I appreciate that response deb. I agree that there is bad rap that exist, but at the same time i think todays society of women puts themselves into that negative category of being identified as Ho** and Bi*****. I mean the fact that these women will actually strip down near naked and dance for these rappers and singers in their video just for a small piece of change, and really no fame because nobody cares what their name is, they are just eye candy, I think that’s outrageous. A lot of the same women that complain about these things are the same ones that go out and buy these rap records and dance to them in the club, and put themselves in videos where they are being disrespectful to women. Also sometimes an artist isn’t trying to associate all women in that negative light, they are speaking on a woman they may have known from their old ‘hood and everybody automatically assumes that they mean every woman.

      2. Charles, Deborah is right. Women these days are honestly now just as equal as us years ago. Women couldn’t do the things men do. Now they can do whatever they want. I respect that. I think it is right. I think women should have that power. When certain negative rap songs appear calling women a ” slut” or “hoe” or “bustdown,” we’re looking down on women. When in all honestly we should be looking side to side as a partnership to beomce great and do great things. I think when you look at it the other way around you wouldn’t like it if women call us “Sluts” and “hoes.” Think about it, if you had a sister or something and men are calling her those kind of names you would get very upset and want to say something. Noone wants this kind of language anymore. It must stop.

      3. Jordan F, I agree. I have a sister and I wouldn’t want anyone calling her outside of her name, however I think that if people don’t want the language they don’t have to listen to it, or buy it for that matter. I mean a lot of these women are all for women’s rights and women being respected during the day, but at night or on the weekends they end up in the club shaking a tailfeather to the same trashy song. Also, I think that before some people judge they should break down the song, not all of the songs, that call women sluts and hoes are trying to convey that message.

    4. I agree with charles to an extent. Yes, there is rap that is good out there. There are rap songs that make you feel good and make you laugh but there are also ones with negative emotions. These songs may be too harshly judged though. Regardless if they downgrade women, or send a wrong message about a specific group of people, they are still expressing their views. Just like rock songs that do the exact same thing. I’ve heard metal songs that are downgrading men as well. It goes back to what I said about emotions. People usually litsen to this music when they aren’t happy. And if they are in a good mood, it is likely it’s gonna bring them down.

  8. I agree with this post because I do believe that music has a lot of power on us as individuals. I believe that depending on what kind of music a person listens to and how long a person listens to music could have a positive or negative result. Dorothy Retallack used plants to do a study with music, and had two chambers with plants and radios in each. In one chamber the radio played rock music and in the other smooth music for 3 hours and what she noticed was the chamber with the smooth music the plant was very healthy and actually grew towards the radio but the chamber with the rock music the plant was small and was on its last days. I am not saying that listening to rock music is bad for a person and don’t do it, because I personally love rock music, but I am saying that depending on how much of an intake we take on certain music could effect a person.

  9. I agree with Samantha Jo C that how much of an intake we take on certain music could affect a person. I enjoy a lot of contemporary music, but I also really enjoy listening to rap/hip hop. There are a lot of things in those songs that I disagree with morally, but I really enjoy the beats and the catchy tunes. I personally think it is your choice if you’re are going to let the music you listen to and the messages within those songs to affect you in a negative or positive way.

    1. That’s true, smantha. I agree that you can choose whether that message effects your way of living or not. However, I think that repeated listening to negative messages is kind of a brainwashing so to speak. Kind if like if someone constantly tells you that you aren’t good enough. After a while you start to believe them, correct? So, the same goes for music, if you consistently listen to negative messages than inadvertently you will eventually be effected even if it is in a small way.

  10. I agree with the fact that music has Power , and I agree with Charles W. and Cindy V. about Music being beyond power. For example, have you ever been in a funeral that has no music? Or in the Holocaust people straving to death, having no energy whatsoever, but they did had energy to express their emotions through poems, story and songs. Wouldn’t that mean that art is essential to our life?

    1. I also believe that music is very powerful. From my own experiences music has helped me through a lot of different things. There have been times where I have been sad and music had put me in a better mood and there have also been times where music has put me in a bad mood to because some music is very sad. I use music for pretty much everything, I use it to get motivated or pumped up before a big event and I also use to relax. There is a lot of music out there where i can just sit there listen and relax and not have a worry in the world.

    2. I agree because music can make people happy and so can art. Music is powerful and it is fun to learn to play an instrument. But it takes a lot of practice because you have to know the notes and then make words for a song.

      1. I believe music is one of the most influential factors when Music has always been a huge part of my life. I grew up with all different genres of music traveling throughout my house. I was involved in chorus and band, which immensely increased my appreciation for music. Music sets the tones for our lives. Restaurants have music playing based on their theme/ type of food. For example, Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria plays classic rock to keep the Chicago vibes. Portillo’s plays instrumental upbeat jazz music to keep their “good ol’ days” theme going. Music is pertinent in movies. It sets the mood instantly. Scary music plays during a suspenseful scene; emotional songs play during a sad part. Music has such an impact on us. I don’t know about you- but I can think of songs relevant to situations at just about any time.

  11. I agree with many of the posts. Music is indeed powerful. It allows people to express themselves. I recently have just found an interest in christian music. I believe not only are the lyrics important in music but it is also in the instrumentals. When listening to this type of music, I almost feel inspired more so than I do when I listen to other music. I believe that it is all how an individual interprets the message themselves, how it makes them feel. Different music makes me feel all different ways. So, I guess what I’m trying to say is that I believe music is one of the most powerful things known.

    1. I agree with Charli and many of the posts. Music is powerful if you are feeling down and you had a bad day, and put on some classical music it really relaxes you. It takes your mind off your problem and puts in a different world. Classical music is very instrumental so I agree with Charli. I also love christian music, it takes you to another level. So music is very powerful. I love music that takes me away from the cares of life.

      1. Thanks Deb! Just going back to what I said in my previous comment about how my new found interest in christian music. I agree with how you say it takes you to a whole different level. When I listen to this type of music, I feel so centered and my mind is off of everything negative in my life and im only focused on the positive, and referring back to the powerful aspect of music, this is one of the only things that can center me this way.

    2. I also agree with Charli. Music is different to everyone’s ears. This is why there is so many different styles of music. People tend to like different kinds. I like a lot of different music including rock, metal, alternative, rap, dance, classical, instrumental etc.! The different instruments cause different waves of emotion. That said, I like to listen to rock or metal when I’m angry, rap when I’m chillin’ with my friends and classical if I’m feeling creative or something. And like Samantha said, the amount of music we listen to in a specific genre could really affect our personality.

      1. I agree because I listen to pop, rock, and country music. I also think that different instruments make people feel different emotions. I also agree with Samantha because if people listened to more songs in a genre then people could learn to like the genre.

  12. I’am not saying all country songs are bad, just a few. just some people seem to think that all hiphop/rap somgs are bad when there is a lot of good messages in them if you really listen.

  13. I think that certain artists and listeners have different goals when creating and listening to music. To me, most radio pop and rap is more focused on what these famous people say and how catchy and real the words are. It is built on hype and it seems like many people just listen to whatever because its popular. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, its’ about the money. Then there is the opposite end of the spectrum with music that is crafted for the evolution of musicianship, where the artist or listener wants to write or hear something new and unpredicitable, and the lyrics and vocals may not exist, but whatever. The downfall to this music is that it’s usually not catchy or accessable and requires patience to listen to. But hey, then there are those folks who just like to get down!

  14. I agree with PDZ. Word of mouth has to do with how popular the songs get, also if they get played on the raido all the time they become big songs. Usually depending on your age, people like music from their time better then today’s music. But I think all Music has power depending on how you take what their singing about.

    1. I agree with Sam, a good example of the power of music is the Manson thing. I kid kills his family and then goes to school and shoots kids there. Later, his behavior is blamed on the kind of music he was lessoning to. Music has a way of defining a generation (the 60s for example) and that is why people, especially older people, cling to it, because it reminds them of the past.

  15. music is power. music has such an big influence in your everyday life and can help influence the way you think about things. music is a weapon and it can be used for good or bad it’s just the way you interpret what you are hearing.

    1. I agree the message in the song can be used as an influential tool. In the 60s and 70s music was used to rile people up and question the government and the meaning of war. Music is a powerful form of art that advertising companies employ to sell their products, and people usually dismiss this fact. Many advertising executives use music from popular culture to influence people to buy their products. I believe it was Socrates and Plato, who are ancient philosophers who believed that music is important to culture. Music is a language which influences our mind and our emotions and can encourage order and or disorder.

  16. basically, music influences our everyday lives. what music you like could possibly even describe your character. yes, I agree with what Travis said, music could be used as a weapon. sometimes you hear music that points out specific people and have names in the lyrics. and sometimes lyrics can be positive, but taken in a negative way. it’s all about how we interpret them.

  17. yeah, I agree with cindy v. it depends a lot on how you interpret the song. I would really like to know what music of the future is going to sound like, what kind of power it’s going to have and how it’s going to affects us.

  18. Music to me is like eating a beef with mozzerella cheese and hot peppers with fries from portillos. Every bite is pure bliss and as for music, every beat makes my bones tweek and a special feeling comes over me. I love music of all types of genres from rap and country to the oldies like Marvin Gaye. When I hear a wounderful, moving song I get a smile on my face and chills in my body. One person that real gets me going is Eminem. Since he came out when I was sixteen, I have been able to relate to many of his songs very well. Rap isn’t the same today though. Do or Die, Three Six Mafia, Crucial Conflict, Twista, Bone Thugz and Harmony to name a few of the rappers I grew up listening to and doing rebelous things to. Rap today is nothing compared to those sounds. Now that I am alittle older I don’t listen to rap as much, but still love the rap dance beats and chill sounds. Today I listen more to a variety of music. The article talked about U2 and when at a concert not to long ago, the honor of the lady was in thier concert performance. I had no clue what was going on, but this was a half hour performance for her alone and they really got the crowd involved. This was an experince I will never forget, very touching. Music is just wow, wounderful, sensational, sometimes sad and makes me tear up. Music is for sure very powerful in my life today and always making memories in many of my life situations.

  19. My idea about music is that it is a huge influential power in today’s society. It gives people a means of expressing feelings and emotions that normally would be hard to express with words or images. It is something that is taken in with your mind and nothing else. Music is what you make of it, and all music has some sort of emotion or message its trying to send. In the end, its up to you to make what you want of it. It has a huge impact on society spreading ideas and messages like wildfire, it shapes generations and influences their thinking and acting out with what they’re being exposed to. But in the end, it’s a person’s choice to decide what he/she listens to and how they interpret it; and how they let it impact them in their everyday lives.

  20. I myself also love music for me, as I’m sure for others music is an escape. When I listen to music I dream a lot. It makes me think about all of the things I would like to accomplish. I feel that if a song negatively influences someone, it could have a totally different approach to someone else. It is all about what you make of the words. They mean whatever you feel they should mean. There is no right or wrong interpretation. It is different for everyone.

  21. Music is my only escape. Saying that music is powerful does not even to begin its impact on me. Music helps people cope with problems. People can find music with a beat and lyrics that relate to their own issues and make them not feel alone. Music influences my everyday life. If I do yoga, I need yoga music to sooth me and relax me. If I take a bubble bath I play beautiful instrumental music so I can ponder and think for a bit. When I’m warming up for practice I play fast up beat music to get me energized! If I’m angry I play a song with really negative emotions. When I’m happy I play Taylor Swift because her music just speaks to me. In figure skating music is a major component to the sport, because we use it for our performances. There is not a day that goes by where I don’t play music. I think it is safe to say the same for everyone!

    I think music brings people together. My friend and I sit at our computers at 2 in the morning sometimes and send each other links to new songs we like on youtube. At parties people unite to sing a good song together. Our country came together after 9/11 when popular artists started creating songs and melodys dedicated to that day. The fact that music has been with us since before we can even remember must signify its importance. We can relate that to C. Wright Mills for sure!

  22. As many have agreed on the topic, I can as well. Having grown up in a family of musicians, I can definitely say that music is my life. My father is a career musician and songwriter. He taught my 2 sisters and I how to sing harmony with the bell in the car (when the door is open). The 3 of us also played piano, flute, clarinet; and boy can we sing. That is where my passion lies. Not only does music communicate the way people feel, it allows listeners to relate those same feelings to personal experience. I for one can say that music has gotten me through the most difficult times in my life. I thoroughly enjoy sitting in a dark, quiet room and soaking in an album that speaks to me from start to finish. But the ability to use my voice as a means of communicating the way I can relate to the beauty of a song, is simply amazing.

  23. I would have to agree with gybs, music is a great escape for me also it is the one place that we can go just to get away from everything. The music is what you make of it, any song can have totally different meanings for two people.

  24. I agree that music had the power to influence society. For example, the song “We Are the World” was made by many popular musicians when Haiti had the terrible earthquake that killed thousands to get people to see what happened and spread the message to help in anyway possible. Messages are sperad through all music whether good or bad. It is up to you and know one else to decide the message it is giving to you. There are many different genres of music in our culture, and everyone likes different things therefore, this is how we choose are friends most of the time. Music affects the mood were in too. Someone may be heavy in the metal genre and start to dress in all black to fit the music. Music affects the way we think, dress, the friends we make, and our behavior.

  25. I believe music certainly has power. It conveys many meanings for people for many different purposes. Anything from religion, politics, pure emotion, to simple entertainment. Yes the power in music can be the messages people interpret from the lyrics, however that is only one aspect of music. I believe its power is demonstrated by the fact that we are the only creatures in existence that can create such a thing. Music exists as a non-destructive splendor. I think it’s probably the only thing that almost justifies our existence on this planet. Only through music can we architect a creative work or purpose with such complexity by utilizing our intelligence and emotions; along with tone, pitch, and rhythm.

  26. I definitely agree with this blog. Music is a way to escape the every day issues for a while and go to a place where everything seems so much. It is very relaxing and often times a great motivater. Music makes tasks easier such as working out and doing homework. Without music, there would be a lot of tension and boredom in this world. It is amazing to see how different music is and the ability it has to change one’s mood and attitude.

    1. I also agree that music is a great motivator and escape mechanism. It is nice to put on some Pink Floyd and pound out a few calculus problems or just stare at the ceiling for a bit. Music is a great way to eliminate the silence or background noise of the surrounding world, and allow you to focus on your thoughts or the task at hand. Also I also agree music can help ones mood, if I am feeling down I can throw on a more cheerful song to improve my mood, or if I am angry or up-set a loud, fast paced, song to release the built up anger.

    2. I agree with this on a certain level. Yes, music can be escape from the every day and stress that we humans have, but can sometimes too much music be harmful for you? For some people, the music can make you feel as if you don’t have any problems, and that when you’re listening to it you can feel like there’s no responsibilities for yourself. This could be harmful because a person may over attach to this idea and when they listen to music, they would feel that no matter what they are supposed to do, they should be left alone.

  27. Music to me is a doorway into your soul. You know when a certain song comes on and you don’t know why but you have to tap your foot? or nod your head? Maybe a certain song comes on and you a memory rushes through your head. The different sounds and vibrations communicate with your brain and make you feel good. I’ve been playing guitar since i was about 11, and over the years i’ve used everything from pianos, to xylophones, to drums to make music. I love everything about it. Writing poetry and recording music to me is the most therapeutic thing i can do in a day. I love meshing together new and crazy sounds. Music is very much an art, although i think a lot of todays music is just created to be background music at parties. Not that I don’t listen to new music like everyone else does, i just believe its lacking in real content.

  28. One of the first comments posted to this blog entry states that it may not be the music that has power, but the message that the music contains that has the power. I very much agree with that. Music is a universal language. On my trip to Italy two years ago, my Italian cousins (one of which doesn’t speak any English) were obsessed with Britney Spears. They would always sing and dance to her music. To me that was fun, A- because they were singing all the wrong words, and B- because it gave us a way to bond because of the language burier we held. Music has the ability to cheer you up and make you forget about whatever bad is happening in your life even if it’s for a minute and thirty seconds.
    When I was younger, my mother put my sister and I in piano lessons. At the time I absolutely despised the classes, but it was something my sister and I were forced to do together. Being able to read music, appreciate it, and understand it makes a person more open to other things in life. That may sound cliche, but it at least broadens your horizons to another aspect of life that everyone can enjoy.

    1. Once you understand how music works at it’s most basic levels, it changes the way you listen to it. I believe that musicians hear something quie different coming out of their speakers than does the layman when a song is on.

    2. I agree somewhat with your statement that people who produce music themselves can hear a song differently, or that someone who doesn’t understand the language hears or understands the song differently than someone who does understand the language. But, it believes that the artist has a story or a meaning he/she is trying to drive across to the audience. The audience may misunderstand the songs meaning, but the artist does have a set idea he is trying to communicate.

  29. I strongly believe that music has power. I can think of many times in my life where music has comforted me. For example when my grandpa passed or when I’m going through a tough time I turn to hymnals and gospel songs. They remind me that everything is going to be alright and to not give up on my faith or hope. Music can also motivate, for example when I’m exercising or dancing and a fast paced, up beat song comes on, it encourages me to keep going. And like the article mentioned, music can be an avenue asking and supporting social change. The musicians have power because they have fans and their music is widely distributed. I think that they should use that power that music gives to make a change for the better.

  30. I could not agree more about this post because music can do so many different things. Music is more addicting the sex and most drugs. I love going to concerts because of the relationships you can create with people who love the same kind of music. Music can be used as therapy as well. One of my friends brothers studied music therapy at Western Illinois and helps people who struggle with mental handicaps to achieve goals and gain life skills. there are so many people in music who do good things like I know on 12/12/12 they are having many stars perform in order to raise money for the people effected by super storm sandy. Music can bring people together. Three years ago I went to a concert in Chicago with two friends. I ran into a long lost friend and I caught up with her and one of my friends ended up hitting it off with one of her friends and they have been together ever sense that night! Music can do some crazy things for this world.

  31. “Politicians hide themselves away
    They only started the war
    Why should they go out to fight?
    They leave that role to the poor”
    (Black Sabbath – War Pigs)
    Naturally so, what you say is spot on, we hear many messages meant to alert us to everything from war and domestic violence to the dangers of love and drugs. I of course have heard many of these messages myself, as most of them are quite obvious, though my only concern is more of the grey line or even more so, the cryptic messages, metaphors and beyond. My concern in thus, how many people actually receive most of these messages as a whole? How many people listen, blissfully ignorant of the purpose? How many people even listen to the words to begin with?
    If I recall correctly, I believe both Jim Morrison, as well as Kurt Cobain had a small conflict because of this problem, I recall both saying, more or less, that people didn’t care what they had to say, only that they were saying something, they would listen to them sing no matter what (Kurt had gone on stage literally playing the entire show off stage to test this, cracking his voice, missing notes, and people still cheered him on, this is one example of the ignorant audience).
    Though assuming we do hear it, or the majority of us at least, how much can it help? It can alert us but how much does music influence us? I’ve heard of some fundraisers by bands and the like, but more often I assume it simply expands our minds of a short amount of time, before we return to our daily tasks. My point is, the music only goes so far, is there a common catalyst to make people that understand act? If so, what could that be?

  32. From what I’ve heard music is an international language. Whether it be the lyrics meanings or the type of beat, people from different countries do understand. I believe music can give out a powerful message, no matter whatthe case may be. If you are fighting for freedom, or proposing to your significant other, people listen to music and take into consideration the message given off the song. For example, the collaboration of artists making the song after 9/11 formed unity within American citizens.

  33. Music is universal no matter what culture or society your a part of. It is embedded in our genes. Now a days since technology has progressed its easy for musicians to express themselves. Music is an influential tool to release messages to the world. Some musicians produce music that breeds violence, hate, and drug use, and some musicians strive to produce songs with positive messages. For example Macklamore produced a track “I can’t change.” which supported homosexual equality.

  34. I respect all music even if it is a genre a don’t particularly like. Some people absolutely refuse to listen to a song because it is by a certain artist or categorized by a certain genre and that really is a shame. Most musicians only excel in one style and it is not their fault. An example of this would be singers because everyone is born with the voice they have. In other words, you can’t change your voice, you’re born with it. If somebody has a great country voice, they will choose to make music of that genre to benefit their sound. Those people who neglect a certain genre could miss out on bold messages within the lyrics. In System of a Down’s song Hypnotize, they talk about how government manipulates people, essentially hypnotizing them into believing what they say, which keeps people from standing up to their governments. It also has a song lyric commenting on the massacre in Tiennamen Square, where the Chinese government sent in the army to kill protesting university students. Music can teach people a lot of things and open listener’s eyes to new perspectives.

  35. Music is power! I agree, music is suppose to make people feel and think. And the only thing that can do that is the power of music. I believe that everyone can make music and embrace what they can think of and create.

  36. I feel that music is much more than a societal message. It could heal another’s emotions and the song could tell a story. There are so many different types of music out now. People just choose what they are into or what music they connect with. Music can help people learn with rhythm and sound. Such as the ABCs or for the people who didn’t know how to spell bananas, Gwen Stefani could answer that for you. All in all, music is much more than to give a message to individuals. Music has more to offer each and every year.

  37. Great article, I feel that music can be a tool of power for artist to connect with people and create social change because it can be the voice of the people, music has the power to influence society with messages and meanings. For example, in the past, Hip-Hop groups such as N.W.A. shed light on issues happening within inner-city Los Angeles such as police brutality, the rap group brought the topic to listeners across the United States during the 1980s all through music, this shows how music can be a tool to spread a powerful message through music.

  38. I play music and up until I took sociology I had no idea how much music really reflects the time period that it is made in. In the 1960s, as you mentioned, it reflected how the youths wanted to bring about social change. I do not think that all music has such a deep message. It takes a lot of song writing skills to write about something meaningful. U2, in particular, is a band that produces influential music. However, I do not think a lot of artists are able to reach that level.

    1. While I respect your opinion, I believe that all music has meaning. Sometimes the meaning is obvious. Take for example U2’s song “Sunday Bloody Sunday”. Clearly it is a protest song against the U.K. for the violence of Bloody Sunday. Other songs may appear to have no meaning, but might actually have a meaning. The artist themselves might not know it, but there is a meaning. What meaning comes out of a song is what you perceive. It is opinion based. There isn’t always a clear cut answer.

  39. I agree that music can make people have different feelings. Learn to play an instrument is also great because people can make their own music. Some songs can make a person happy while others can make them sad and I think that the great thing about music is that you can chose what song to hear and it can bring memories whether they are good or bad. The other great thing is if someone becomes famous they get money to sing and they can travel and see the world. People could also relate more to each other because they could recommend songs.

  40. Chris I agree with you that all music does have a meaning and Vanessa I like how you mentioned the freedom that learning an instrument can provide. It was Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers that said, “everyone has a song in them that they need to get out, whatever their gig is”. Some songs are just deeper than others.

    1. That quote you mentioned is one that resonates with me. One fact that we often neglect when listening to music is the amount of passion and emotion that the artist put into their songs. Sometimes, they are telling you a story, other times they are telling you how they feel.

  41. While not everyone can make their own music, I think that there is a song out there for everyone. The beauty about music is that there are many songs out there that capture many different moods. They can help us express our human feelings of sadness, anger, joy, and so much more. That, in and of itself, is power. The power to make us feel.

    1. I agree with you. Not everyone has the ability to produce music. It takes talent to produce music that is actually good. It takes a very special talent to produce something that can make you feel a certain way or flood you with memories of something similar to what is being sung. It takes power to do that. The ability to connect with the listener is an art in and of itself.

  42. I agree with that statement as well. Musicians have a lot of talent to compose a musical score. With musical background, I understand how much time is put into creating a song. Besides that, just getting the perfect notes and chords to convey a message is not simple. It is interesting to me how emotions are directly correlated with the make up of a song.

  43. The best part about music is that there are songs from different genres and people can listen to all of them when they want to. The other great thing is that there are songs from different time periods and people can still listen to those. Who knows maybe a person’s favorite song might be from the 70s or earlier?

  44. I am in complete agreement with you that music is power. Music has been a part of my life since before I was born, my mom used to put headphones on her belly and play baby Mozart for me. When I was born and onto this day, music has played a significant role in my life. I have always been a singer. But better yet, music can be used to express oneself in so many different ways. Music is also a remedy for people. To cheer you up when you’re down, or to cheer you up even more when you’re in the mood to party, music is there. I learned an entire language because of music. At the age of 12, I grew an obsession (that I still have) with the Spanish-Singer Enrique Iglesias. I began to listen to his Spanish songs, and just learned Spanish through his songs. By the time I got to high school, they put my in Advanced Spanish, and by my senior year, I was the only non-Hispanic student in AP Spanish Literature. There were only 12 of us in the class. I speak fluent Spanish today. This was all thanks to Enrique Iglesias and his Spanish songs. Through the years, I obviously began listening to many other Hispanic artists, and one of my favorite musical genres is reggaeton, due to its nice beat to dance to. Altogether, music is power, and it has taken over many aspects of my life.

  45. I can agree that music definitely is extremely powerful, it helps bring unity together and change like you said. just like in the early seventies when Jimi Hendrix and the Beatles were popular, they literally shaped a whole generation with just their music. In addition to them, their have been multiple musical artists that have used their talent to talk about political issues, such as racial issues. Music hold so much power to shape the world and everyone around it.

  46. I believe that music is therapeutic. Not only is it powerful. But I believe wholeheartedly that is also has the ability to heal. Human beings find solace in many ways, but I have a difficult time thinking of another art form that has touched so many, over the course of history. I agree with many posters on this thread that say music has literally helped define the times of generations past. When I’m feeling down, I turn to music to lift me back up again. Throughout my life, as I’ve dealt with depression and anxiety, I’ve found peace through instrumentals and strength through lyrics. Music is truly a universal language. I cannot imagine a world without it.

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