Musical Functions

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  • Topic: Music, John Mellencamp, Religious music
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Unit 19: Music & Society
Assignment 1:
Musical Functions

Music in everyday life
Music and society have always been intimately related. Music reflects and creates social conditions – including the factors that either make it easy or can obstruct social change. All kinds of music are available to most people, 24 hours a day, at the touch of a switch. Never before in the history of humanity have so many different kinds of music been so easily available to so many people. The development of the electronic media in the latter part of the 20th Century revolutionized access to and use of music in our everyday lives. We can turn on the radio, play a CD or tape, or listen to music on video or TV with very little effort. This has not always been the case. Prior to these developments, music was only accessible for most people if they made it themselves or attended particular religious or social events .The down side of this easy availability of music in the Western world is that there is a tendency for it to be taken for granted. Music is a very powerful medium and in some societies there have been attempts to control its use. It is powerful at the level of the social group because it facilitates communication which goes beyond words, enables meanings to be shared, and promotes the development and maintenance of individual, group, cultural and national identities. It is powerful at the individual level because it can induce multiple responses – physiological, movement, mood, emotional, cognitive and behavioral. Few other stimuli have effects on such a wide range of human functions. The brain’s multiple processing of music can make it difficult to predict the particular effects of any piece of music on any individual. Probably, the most significant development in music in the last century was the development of the technology which enabled the recording of sound. This has made music easily accessible to everyone. As a result of this music has become a major industry worldwide. In the USA and the UK music is amongst the top economic generators of income. There are currently 13,159 radio stations in the USA. The average American is exposed to more than 1600 commercial messages in each 24 hour period through one type of media or another. Most of these advertisements are accompanied by music. In the UK, in 1998, the British Phonographic Industry annual trade figures indicated that sales of music reached an all time high of £1,118 million. Album sales exceeded 210 million units. In 1997, total domestic spending on music in the UK was valued at £3.7 billion. Gross overseas earnings were valued at £1,332 million compared with payments of £813m. Net earnings were estimated at £519m. The domestic music industry also had a value of £3.2 billion with the equivalent of 130,00 full time jobs. In 1999, the UK was ranked 3rd with only the USA and Japan higher in relation to world music sales. Music is of major importance to the UK’s economic health. In 1993, 98.5% of teenagers in the USA claimed to listen to music. In the region of 70% of students report listening to music while studying. This degree of exposure and the evidence indicating the importance of music in adolescents’ lives suggests that its influence may be very powerful. But it is not only adolescents who listen to and enjoy music, a recent US survey of musical tastes indicated that 75% of mature citizens listened to music for at least one hour every day. Their preferred music was classical, show tunes and country music. In the UK, recent figures suggest that in the order of 11.3 million people listen regularly to BBC Radio 1, 10 million to BBC Radio 2, 6.2 million to Classic FM and 1.9 million to Radio 3. In addition there are over 300 commercial stations and almost 40 BBC local stations which spend a considerable amount of air time playing music. People not only listen to music, they actively take part in making it. In 1993, in the USA, 62 million people said that they sang...
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