Music and Politics: The Voice of the People

The very nature of politics is, like music, rooted in conflict and harmony. The heart of music is the interplay of the physical and the mental, as the compromise between them forms a cohesive whole. Compromise is also the heart of the political process, trying to find common ground and consensus solutions to problems of society through open communication. Both seek to inspire their targets, and both have made great use of the other to advance their ideas. With a hotly contested election on the way this November, we thought it would be a fine time to examine the way music and politics have become strangely entwined.

The relationship between music and politics has existed for centuries, sometimes harmoniously, and other times not as much. Historical records are full of examples of songs that laud the achievements of nations, dating all the way back to ancient Egypt. On the other hand, however, songwriters have turned to their craft when confronted with social and political unjustness, and give birth to songs that seek to shine a light on the perceived inequities of the day. From protest songs to voter campaigns, campaign rallies to musical endorsements and musicians campaigning, there’s been no shortage of love between music and politics.

Music is a great way to create a bond between people and make them act as one. It is also the unofficial voice of resistance. An intriguing case study is provided by Peter Wicke, who argues that rock musicians in East Germany were the catalysts for collapse of the East German regime. He states that government’s repression of rock turned it into a resistance, which was more or less impossible to control (Street, 2003). A local example from Turkey, a protest rock group named “Grup Yorum” had released countless recordings which created conflictions with government, and often resulted in group members ending up in jail. All of these happened because of the group’s political stand, but these events made them the #1 protest group in Turkey. In addition, Woodstock music festival was the biggest event of its time, showing youth’s resistance to government, while uniting the general young population. Bennett stated that Woodstock ’69 is remembered as much for its “bringing together” of counter – cultural generation, as for the music performed. The festival was a milestone for the political use of music and it opened the way for events (Williams, 2009). Woodstock ’69 festival spread to the world the concepts like free love, civil rights and anti – war stance. Just like this, summer of 1967 was called “Summer of Love”, due to the events going on in that summer, as freedom or anti – war thoughts, similar to Woodstock. Music was one of the main parts of these events, it helped to re – shape the community, united youth and resisted to the existing reactionary thoughts. Music created a better way of living for us, starting from these events.

For many times, music was used to inform the society about various issues. Soul music in 1930s demonstrated the hardships of anguished Afro – Americans. Folk singer Woodie Guthrie wrote many songs about the lives of black people, especially in rural areas, where black people were used as slaves. An example for this, is the song “I Ain’t Going to Be Treated Like This Way”. His outspoken lyrics caused him to be labeled “un – American”, but his work informed the US society and influenced many artists to follow his way (Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum, 2012). There are also much more peaceful attempts, just as the “USA for Africa”. Many famous artists including Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen etc. founded this group and recorded “We Are The World”. It made the community aware and raised millions of dollars to stop the growing famine in Africa. Some artists wrote a song called “Sun City”, criticizing the Apartheid in South Africa. Bob Geldof can be considered as the father of charity concerts, such as Live Aid, which was also started for the poor living standards in Africa. These concerts raised hundreds of millions and created conscious in society, while giving immeasurable pleasure to its audience.

In conclusion, political use of music is being done by the governments, protest groups, literally every single group in every society. Music is a reflection of people, and the political issues at a certain time, as seen in the examples that were mentioned. Music brings support to various causes. Plus, it connects people and opens a way for a better future, also raising money and consciousness in societies. It is being said that music is irrelevant with politics, but people define themselves with music and search for same political views in artists, as written here in examples. All these points emphasize that music is an effective political tool, and the political use of music should be done strongly and continuously.

SOURCE: Thomson, R. (2016) “Live for Live Music”


Maestra Celeste S. Sanchez, MT
Ms. Maricel G. Morales, Viva Artist
Prof. Shedy Dee C. Mallari, RPm, LPT
Ms. Karen M. Atendido, Seiko Artist
Ms. Maria Blessilda M. Bascon, RN, LPT
Maestro Conrado Manuel N. Del Rosario
Dr. Peter Charles Kutschera, PhD, LMSW
Dr. Homer J. Yabut, PhD, RPsy
Prof. Alain Bernard A. Andal, MA, LPT, RPm, RGC
Pastor Robert Albios
Atty. Francisco S. Yabut
Instructor John Vernon Nuguid
Instructor Manuel S. Cordero
Instructor Dareen L. Bonzon
Prof. Jose Maria G. Pelayo III, MASD, MP-MT

Music Psychology Research (2010), Angeles City, Philippines, aims to update empirical data that is essential for music psychology research. This group of academic researchers are committed to ensure creative and dynamic approaches that utilizes music in any form of program development and psychotherapy. The Advisory Board Members are academic professionals contributing their specific expertise in Psychology, Neuroscience and Music.

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