Consider these four quotations:
“And it came to pass when the evil spirit from God was upon Saul that David took up a harp and played with his hand; so that Saul was refreshed and was well and the evil spirit departed from him.” Bible, Samuel, Chapter 16, verse 23.
“The sociological significance of music at this time, when regarded from certain aspects, is horrific…We know that in its sinister aspects, jazz is doing a vast amount of harm to young minds and bodies not yet developed to resist evil temptations. Perhaps this is the explanation of America’s enormous crime rate at present.”
Editorial in Etude magazine, 1925
“When I felt badly I asked [the organist] to play Buxtehude’s Passacaglia. Then I would sit in the dusk-filled church completely involved in this unusually intimate self-absorbed music, music that seemed to listen to itself, that comforted me each time and prepared me more and more to heed my own inner voices.” Hermann Hesse, Demian, 1919
“Some rock artists actually seem to encourage teen suicide. Ozzie [sic] Osbourne sings ‘Suicide Solution.’ Blue Oyster [sic] Cult sings ‘Don’t Fear the Reaper.’ AC/DC sings “Shoot to Thrill.” Just last week in Centerpoint, a small Texas town, a young man took his life while listening to the music of AC/DC. He was not the first.” Statement before Congress, Parents Music Resource Center, Rock History Reader, p. 218.
In the mid-1980s the Parents Music Research Center again raised the question of the power of music to affect the behavior of young people, in this instance negatively. A similar concern was raised in 1925 about jazz. But the other two quotes from the Bible and the author Hermann Hesse view the power of music in positive terms, claiming that music refreshes and comforts the spirit. The concern of the members of the PMRC in their testimony to Congress extended to music that was sexually explicit and also to the music that expressed the darker thoughts of human existence. It is not uncommon for issues of sexuality and suicide to occur in literature, the theatre, and the visual arts, but music is often singled out as having an unusual power, affecting behavior either positively or negatively.
Several of the songs address social, economic, and personal issues through their lyrics: sexuality, gender equality, racial equality, suicide, anarchy, drug use, murder, satanic powers, economic inequity, etc.
Please address the issue of how music affects human behavior—your own and that of other people.
Using the songs Prince, “Purple Rain,” (1984) and Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, “The Message” (1982) answer:
What issues do both songs address? Do the musical features of pitch, harmony, rhythm, dynamics, and timbre (i.e. distortion or other instrument effects, instrumentation, use of voice i.e. scream/grain/strain) enhance or detract from both song’s message? How does both music achieve this? Be specific—cite particular features and parts of both songs of the music and the times they occur.
How do both songs affect you personally? Do you think music has the power to negatively and/or positively change behavior and why? Be specific in reference to how the two songs had a positive or negative change in behavior.
Are there any songs that you have found particularly powerful over the last couple of months (say, since our semester began)? Do you think they affected your own personal behaviors?
Make sure to –
a) State and present your position and b) the extent to which you refer to the musical features of the songs you discuss and use musical terms and concepts correctly.
please use these songs to answer questions 1 and 2:
Prince, “Purple Rain,” (1984)
Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, “The Message” (1982)
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