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The Power of Music

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Essay title: The Power of Music

Music is the expression of emotion through the medium of sound. From the very first moment a human heard a songbird and endeavored to recreate that beauty, or

beat on a hollow log and found the rhythm compelling, music has become the most powerful freedom given by God. Music, in itself, is a characteristic common and

unique to all cultures throughout the world. Every culture in history includes music as an important part of everyday life. Music, as a part of culture, will most often

have more roles to play than a source of auditory pleasure. According to anthropologist, Raymond Firth, “They have work to do, to serve as funeral dirges, as

accompaniments to dancing, or to serenade a lover.”(p171) However, the music’s form, style, texture, and system of harmony, is a s varied as the personalities

found on any given New York City subway train. From simple folk songs, to religious chants; from Carnegie Hall, to the Red Light District in New Orleans; the

range and diversity of human music is almost incomprehensible. It has been said that the best way to learn about a people, about its culture, is to observe and listen

to it’s art and music. Music is the most powerful of all the arts because it stimulates, manipulates and dissipates our moods through the emotions. Music, in our

culture, functions in many ways; it can make work more enjoyable, create a fraternity among men, encourage a spirit of worship, and be an expression of emotion.

Music can make hard work seem easier, or rather, make it tolerable. In the days of slavery in the united states, the birth of the blues, singing while working in the

fields was a good way to make the day go by. “Singing about your sadness unburdens your soul.”(King and Ritz,p110) This same tendency occurs today. Next time

you drive past a house that is undergoing construction, or anywhere people are doing hard manual labor, stop and listen for music. Often there is a radio blasting

some rhythmically driving “Rock and Roll” song. (Rock and Roll is a direct offspring of the blues) A friend of mine, who is a carpenter, explained to me this way;

“You’re just out there workin’ and gettin’ all sweaty, and listnin’ to the music, and pretty soon you’re still workin’ but you don’t know it cause’ your mind is

somewhere else.” Music can create a tight fraternity among groups of people. Music is often used in the military to organize and coordinate the movements of large

groups of people. Short rhythmic melodies, called cadences, are sung by soldiers as they are marching in order to keep a common time and a constant beat. Music

has even been used as a form of secret communication in small groups. B.B. King, a legendary blues singer, recalls stories passed down from his great-grandmother,

who was a slave. “ They [the slaves] were also delivering messages in musical code. If the master was coming, you might sing a hidden warning to the other field

hands...that was important to the women because the master could have anything he wanted.” (King and Ritz,p110) A societies music is what holds it together as a

group. According to Edward O. Wilson, a Harvard socio-biologist; “Singing and dancing serve to draw groups together, direct the emotions of the people, and

prepare them for joint action.” (p564) In many tribal cultures, ritualistic singing and dancing precedes many important events, such as; the hunt, war, marriage, birth,

and death. Many of the social events in our culture are accompanied by music also, such as dances and graduation ceremonies. Even when shopping at your local

grocery store you can hear the soothing sounds of music. To observe the uncanny socially adhesive property of music, attend a modern “rock” concert. The

transformation of thousands of individual personalities into one unified mob, bouncing in unison to the pounding rhythms and loud chords, is almost instantaneous.

Arthur William Edgar O’Shaughnessy describes this power of music wonderfully in an excerpt from “We Are the Music Makers.” “One man with a dream, at

pleasure, so go forth and conquer a crown; and three with a new songs measure can trample a kingdom down.” Music throughout history has been used to

encourage a spirit of worship and to communicate with God. In fact, until the renaissance, music that wasn’t written for or about God was strictly forbidden and

punishable by death. All music was said to come directly from God to help us to worship, so composers never put their names on their songs. They never received

credit for their work because to take credit for “Gods” music would be blasphemy. The first recognized composer in history was a nun named Hildegarde. This early

“sacred” music was

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