Music as a Controversial Medium of Communication

Topics: Advertising, Culture, Music Pages: 10 (3828 words) Published: April 9, 2007
Music as a Controversial Medium of Communication

Society has perfected the ability to make a connection between multiple things. Through association many are able to trigger thoughts or ideas that are somehow related to the initial statement or idea that was presented. Music is a prime example of how society has directly connected subcultures to the capitalist world. There are soundtracks that trigger movies, theme songs that remind people of television shows, there are even jingles that remind people what radio station they are listening to or those that infer which product is best suited for personal use. By using music to associate thoughts and ideas, it has both directly and indirectly resulted in the use of music as propaganda.

No one can dispute that the singing commercials of radio and television belong to an art of persuasion, if not rumor. Songs of protest, praise, satire, or scorn from all times fall into the category of music as propaganda. A prominent example of this is Yankee Doodle, with which the American colonists adapted an English satire against themselves. However, such use of music is scarcely archaic. Vocal styles are simple and the singer's ideas are assimilated effortlessly (Cooper, 1973). Often music announces one meaning while intentionally or inadvertently evoking a different response. When people hear an old or familiar song that is identifiable because it is part of their culture, even a fragment will arouse the established meaning. Words are not necessary, not even for a title; they come to the mind at once.

Music is not necessary for survival. It does not shape our daily lives. It is not a profound social issue, such as public health or military expenditures, that is to be judged and commented on by the people. It has nothing to do with the government of nations, with the exception of Pomp and Circumstance on national holidays. We certainly could live without it, but we choose not to. No society yet studied has been without music. It serves a necessary function to the people of the world. We are continuously addressed by music, though we are often only loosely aware of its presence. Music reaches us from home stereos and radios in our vehicles, it is piped into banks, office buildings, and supermarkets, and it sounds behind the action of films and television, playing subtly with our emotions and our will. We use music to work by, to jog by, to quiet the baby, for exercise, for ceremonies, and for religion. There is music for the President of the United States and for the Queen of England and for parades and for religion. We would respond to any of these situations whether there was music involved or not. However, the occasion, the intended information, and the response would be much duller, less vital, and would convince fewer members of society. There is no other device that can be used for the purpose of transmitting messages. It is in this manner that music is a tool for propaganda through advertising. Music is an outlet for individuals to express themselves, a way to interact with society, and perhaps most importantly, as a form of communication. Culture is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as "a system of shared beliefs, values, customs, behaviors, and artifacts that members of society use to cope with their world and with one another, and that are transmitted from one generation to the next through teaching and learning." The fundamental element of culture is the culture trait. Traits assume many forms varying from material artifacts (such as: tools, art, architecture) to behavioral regularities (to include: family interrelationships, economic changes, and legal sanctions) to abstract concepts and beliefs. All of these diverse and complex manifestations share one feature in common; they are symbols and as such, they express meaning. Ultimately, it is the "…magic fusion of personalities and ideas…" (Richter, 1979, p.12) that creates the opposition...

References: Bodendiek, G. (2001, July). The History of Advertising. Retrieved January 2,
2007 from:
Cooper, P. Perspectives in Music Theory. Harper and Row Publishers; New York,
NY: 1973.
Duncombe, S. Cultural Resistance Reader. Versos Publishing Company; New York,
NY: 2002.
McNeal, J. Kids As Customers. Lexington Publishing Company; New York, NY:
Richter, H. Dada: The Art and Anti-Art. Thames and Hudson Publishing Company; New
York, NY: 1979.
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