"Politics and music? That's an odd combination." - Or is it?

When people ask me what I am studying in school I respond, "music and politics" to which they always say, "That's an odd combination". I usually simply said that the (now former) Secretary of State trained to be a classical pianist and supposedly practiced every Sunday regardless of the political affairs that demanded her attention 24/7. However, there are many other points (which I present within this entry) and examples that rush through my head whenever someone asks if I will be a singing Senator or manipulate foreign Heads of State through entertainment.

1) Many people (teachers, musicians, researchers) speculate that music study enhances a person's mathematical and analytical abilities.

2) Many politicians, historians, scientists etc. were trained or indulge in creative activities. It is said that engaging in such creative activity allows for "outside of the box" thinking, critical thinking, and innovative problem solving.

Richard Nixon and Harry S. Truman were pianists.
Ansel Adams, one of the most famous photographers of the 20th century was a virtuoso, a surefire success had he decided to become a concert pianist, but instead, he chose photography and was incredible.

A list of "famous people in arts, science, and sports who played an instrument". Includes Einstein, Edison, and Louise Braille.

She is not the only secretary of state to pursue amateur music-making. Thomas Jefferson, the first to hold the office, was an excellent violinist who played chamber music, especially Baroque trio sonatas, throughout his political career. But back then, playing music at home was commonplace.

3) Music is quite frequently used to make political statements (propaganda, forms of protest, offerings of peace, pleas for help, personal campaigning).

Music as Propaganda (Interesting blog entry- not entirely where I was going but fits in differently. Instead of a piece of music being made with propaganda as the intent- this entry speaks to how different societies can use the same piece of music (Ode to Joy) as propaganda based upon the internal grandeur and popular connotations with the music.)

Music as Propaganda: World War I

Songs issued in The People's Republic of China/ Music of the Cultural Revolution

Protest Music
Arab/Israeli Rap as protest music

Songs of Protest in the US
"There may never be another Bob Dylan..."

4) Throughout history music and other forms of art have been banned for political reasons.

WHY IS MUSIC CENSORED?You may wonder why music is being censored. Why have musicians been tortured, jailed, exiled and even killed. Why have certain forms of music been silenced?

It may be as simple as South African musician Johnny Clegg has said: "Censorship is based on fear." Music is a free expression of the ideas, traditions and emotions of individuals and of peoples. It may express musicians’ hopes and aspirations, their joys and sorrows, their very identity as a culture. Yet these expressions may conflict with those of people in power. The ideas themselves may simply be unpopular or outside the current thinking or practices of a regime or special interest group. For there are those the world over who are threatened by the very nature of a free exchange of ideas. There are those who will stop at nothing to stifle them.Music censorship has been implemented by states, religions, educational systems, families, retailers and lobbying groups – and in most cases they violate international conventions of human rights

An example from North and South Korea: Google Yoduk Story

5) Music can be used to bring people together in hopes of hsaping and changing a particular political environment.

Intercultural music initiatives such as Arab/Israeli youth symphony -(http://www.monstersandcritics.com/music/news/article_1023402.php/Barenboim_to_conduct_youth_symphony_in_Ramallah)

An Indian and Pakistani singer delivering a concert together-

Interesting Project
Peace Through Music: Playing for Change

1 comment:

  1. I think that it's so interesting that you point out the link between music and politics. Honestly some of the greatest political/artistic minds are both at the same time! I'm SO glad you love Ansel Adams too, he's FANTASTIC but now that I know he is musical, I think I'll look at his pictures a little differently and love them even more. And you are completely right that music is very commonly used as propaganda, and it really works! We sometimes overlook the real uses of music in our country. It's not just for pleasure... really!