Words, sounds combine for profound effects on society
Music is more than just beautiful noise — it has the power to change society through lyrics, titles and sounds employed within the work by those performing it. The combination of these resonates strongly with its listeners and encourages them to take action in their lives to change the status quo.
If you’ve ever listened to any song that made you feel happy, sad, nostalgic or hopeful, you can probably guess how it has resonated with others and stirred them into taking action to change the world. In ‘Say it Loud’, an in-depth article by Jamie Atkins, all can be summed up with, “Outspoken artists… are spreading awareness of gender fluidity, reaching audiences and breaking down preconceived ideas. Just like music always has – and always will.”
Music doesn’t need words to alter or change society. The change can be influenced by the performers as well as the people who hear it.
Looking back at our country’s despicable times of segregation, the music created by people of color captivated the nation, changing part of an era to one we could be proud of. Performers like Duke Ellington, Billie Holliday, The Supremes and others all made music that brought society together to be a part of something greater than themselves.
Music is made with love, but can also be manipulated and used as a tool or weapon. In essence, we take away from music what we want to feel, and the performers bring to music what they want to spread. The people who determine the changes brought upon by society are the performers and you — the listener.
Music is meant for an audience; an audience that will be influenced by it, who in turn will alter society. Music helps us along the paths of transformation into movements and expression whether it be a tool for change: for better or for worse.
Bruce Springsteen’s song, ‘Born in the USA’ was infamously embraced as positively patriotic when in reality its lyrics expressed the difficulties of Vietnam veterans and the marginalization they had to face returning to their country. I will argue though that songs and their writers have adapted to focus more upon contemporary issues faced today, and most are not misinterpreted.
Performers like Prince and Madonna experimented with music, artistically exploring more taboo subjects which were on the minds of the public and swiftly embraced by society as well. Songs such as ‘Like a Prayer’ or ‘When Doves Cry’ are enjoyed by listeners today on classic rock and pop stations despite being highly controversial in their time.
Those songs and their performers pushed boundaries and made statements, which has transcended to many more songs exploring controversial themes today like sexuality, identity, politics and abuse. We as an audience must determine how music motivates us and how we in turn can change society by the feelings music has brought forth in us to benefit others.
To this day, music seems to express movements of change, acceptance and pride of all kinds and will continue into the future. However, that last part can only be determined by the listeners, and what you look for in music that determines its influence on your life.