APPENDIX 1: APPENDIX TO INTRODUCTION
THE POWER OF MUSIC
Dr. David G. Such
MUSIC AND RELIGION
What are the two biggest uses of music in the modern world today? Entertainment and advertising. However, before CDs as well as mass production and marketing, the biggest use of music in cultures around the world was for religion. Like God, music is non tangible, something that cannot be seen, but can still be sensed. Often times, sacred music tries to evoke the qualities of God and lift people out of the mundane, bringing them spiritually closer to God. For that reason, the Church views music and chant not as music, but as prayer. Whereas, music connotes sensual enjoyment that benefits the individual, music as prayer functions to bring people closer to God.
THE GOOD IN SECULAR MUSIC
I assume most of you would agree that good music can alter a person's mood, perhaps uplifting the spirit or relieving the tensions of a bad day. In that sense, music demonstrates power, something that affects our lives. I can forward several more examples of the beneficial power of music. A few years back a student told me about her husband who went into a coma after a traffic accident. The doctors said that if he came out of the coma, the chances were likely that he would be a vegetable. Unwilling to go along with that, this student brought her husband's favorite CD's into his hospital room and played them for hours on a boom box. A few weeks later he came out of the coma with all his faculties intact. She swears it was the music, while the doctors scratched their heads, unable to take credit.
NOW FOR THE BAD
If you agree that music wields power, then ask yourself if it can also work in negative ways? We touched upon music as sound, and loud volumes of sound can damage hearing. Just ask Pete Townsend who suffers from tinnitus. Hitler skillfully used music to prime large crowds of people about to hear his oratory. He knew how to incorporate music to help sell hate. Can listening to Ozzie Osbourne turn a normal, healthy kid into a depressed, anti-social psychotic who plans suicide or bites the head off of bats (or was it a pigeon?). Probably not. However, I would go as far as to say that if someone is already predisposed toward violence, depression or suicide, music could reinforce these tendencies. It makes simple sense. However, I am certain that some of you will argue that you listen to music with negative lyrics or anti-social messages but do not go around bashing in car windows with a baseball bat. My point is that some people are more vulnerable, more at risk. For them, music becomes the straw the breaks the camel’s back, normalizing negative or violent attitudes that may ultimately lead to violent acts.
MUSIC IN ADVERTISING
Then there is advertising, a 500-billion-dollar industry in this country alone. Advertising folk do not make products, such as automobiles, furniture or electronics. They simply want to step inside your head and plant a little voice that says, “buy this product. It will make you sexy, important, happy, fulfilled, cool or meaningful.” Their methodology is simple genius mixed with a touch of insidious psychology. Attach a simple, catchy little jingle to a product, and people will remember it. It works. If I were to play the McDonald’s five-note jingle at this moment, it would be instantly recognizable, causing some to think “Big Macs, hunger, lunch, fast, cheap, and now.”
That’s a powerful message, and music becomes a powerful tool. I worry a bit about music used in this way. It is like fishing for a hungry trout in a small aquarium. Things get too boring, too quickly; and I walk away with a sense that billion-dollar corporations want to manipulate me, the poor consumer who likes “good” music. Also, I could argue that all the music used in advertising simply clutters the environment, making it more difficult to find good music. I could certainly go on, but you probably get a pretty good sense of where this thread leads.
A REMINDER ABOUT LISTENING TO THE MUSIC USED IN THE COURSE
Do spend time with the listening examples. Follow along with the text and note what events the text discusses as these occur in the music as you listen. In any given piece of music, there are many things to listen for, such as the instrumentation, compositional ideas, rhythm, tone qualities of the instruments, lyrics, harmonies, texture, and forth. Actually, the listener is not able to focus on all of these in one listening, which is why you should listen to the same musical example more than once. It takes time and effort to get to that level, but when one does, I guarantee that your appreciation for music will be enhanced in ways that will surprise you.
From: Music Connects With Culture, David G. Such (2017) Online
course, community College of Spokane,