The approximate reading time of this post is 12 minutes, not counting any audio media.
We’ll begin this online discussion as you might expect: listening to a piece of music inspired by violence. The Croatian town of Vukovar had been decimated during the Yugoslavian Civil War in 1991 (pictured above in the slideshow of Getty Images). In 1999, American composer Laura Kaminsky visited Vukovar on a peacekeeping mission, unprepared for the level of destruction she saw 8 years after the war had supposedly ended, and the devastation weighed on her so heavily that the next time she sat at a piano, the beginnings of this piece emerged. She dedicated her Vukovar Trio to the victims of ethnic cleansing. It’s performed in one movement of connected but contrasting sections, each of which has a vivid subtitle in the score: A Sky Torn Asunder; The Shattering of Glass; Lost Souls; Revenge/Retreat; Death Chorale; River of Blood and Ice; Ghost Chorale; Dance of Devastation
The online music journal New Music Box interviewed Kaminsky and asked her about this work in 2013:
The relationship between music and violence isn’t always so straightforward—it’s not just about how violence inspires musical sounds. Music has the power to convey messages—through its words, because of the context where it’s played, because of who’s playing it, and because of our associations with similar musical sounds. (The study of how music is able to convey messages, imply ideas, or communicate subtleties to nuanced listeners is called semiotics.) This week, we’re thinking about how violence is enhanced by music, inspires music, and allows music to take on new meaning. The focus will be on 20th– and 21st-century wars (World War II, Vietnam, Iraq/Afghanistan post-September 11th), and we’ll think about four different ways that music intersects with violence (click on each to skip to that section):
I. Nationalism and patriotism: Music to unite the people
Nationalism (celebrating one’s nation) was a common political and musical theme in the 19th century. Nationalistic music was composed and celebrated all across Europe as the nations that populate the map as we now know it were being formed: Italians rallying around the king of a newly unified Italy (Vittore Emanuele II) and using the operas of Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901) to do so, Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904) composing music that celebrated his homeland of Bohemia (now the Czech Republic), Edvard Grieg (1843-1907) doing the same in Norway, and Jean Sibelius (1865-1957) doing the same in Finland.
The same thing happened in the United States, particularly in the form of local town bands that played marches in parades after the Civil War. John Philipp Sousa (1854-1932), for example, made his career composing 137 marches and serving as Director of the US Marine Band and later his own professional band, the Sousa Band. One of his marches, The Stars and Stripes Forever (1896), was named the national march of the US in 1987.
Nationalistic music is often simplistic, with clear, obvious, and steady rhythms—things that can get a crowd of people clapping along, making them musically united as long as the music sounds. In music of this style, melodies are often clearly differentiated in the texture and are characteristically rousing, encouraging, or uplifting. The form of a Sousa march always concludes with a polyphonic texture [3:58 in the above video], allowing the composer to add depth and nuance of the idea he’s celebrating (i.e., America) by simultaneously layering different melodies on top of each other. On top of that, marches like these were played as part of larger patriotic displays, with flags waving, veterans marching, and stirring speeches—all things that resonated with and amplified the music’s message.
The last piece of nationalistic music I’ll leave you with is Toby Keith’s Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue (2002), a song written during peak post-9/11 fervor that captures the ideologies of American protectionism, American exceptionalism, and anti-foreigner sentiment. It encapsulates everything we can expect from propaganda-music: it’s catchy and simple, it leaves no room for subtlety or nuance (“We’ll stick a boot in your ass / It’s the American way”), and it spreads a particular idea among a group for political purposes. The imagery of the video (gently billowing American flags, cowboy hats and cut-off sleeves of the southern working class, US soldiers in battle fatigues, and guns) reinforces the propagandist message.
These are all examples of propaganda: music that conveys a political message, and this makes sense in wartime. In a time of crisis and stress on the population, anything that leaders or the military can do to build resolve and support for the long road ahead is a smart strategy. Music’s effectiveness as propaganda (i.e., manipulation towards political ends—the composer Christian Wolff (b. 1934) goes so far as to say that “All music is propaganda music.”) is based on the power of music to incite particular feelings and thoughts in your mind, especially when coupled with context, power, or a threat.
II. The human toll of war
Europeans have been fighting over the Middle East and fighting the people who live there for centuries. The Crusades were a series of wars fought by Europeans on behalf of the Catholic Church and the Western world for nearly two centuries (1095-1291).
These wars resulted in thousands of deaths, great tales and fables of bravery, the exchange of goods and ideas from East to West and vice-versa, and, of course, the capturing of prisoners. One such prisoner was the King of England, Richard I, aka Richard the Lionheart (1157-99). He was captured while returning home and held for ransom by Duke Leopold of Austria (1192-94). His traveling and captivity in the Crusades are part of the story of Robin Hood—his brother Prince John held the throne while Richard was away, overtaxing the people of England and generally being an inept ruler (with the help of the Sheriff of Nottingham).
While in captivity, Richard I wrote a song about his sorrow, resolve, and homesickness, “Ja nuls homs pris” (No man who is imprisoned).
No man in prison can tell his tale true
Lest he himself has known what I’ve been through
In writing song he may comfort renew
I’ve many friends but their gifts are few
They’ll bring dishonor for my ransom’s due
These two long winters past
My noble barons and men surely knew
England and Normandy, Gascon and Poitou
Ne’re would I forsake or be untrue
To any friend; noble, commoner too.
I do not mean to reproach what they do,
Yet I remain held fast
World War II
Olivier Messaien (1908-92) was a French composer trained at the Paris Conservatoire. When World War II broke out, he served in a medical unit in the French army but was captured in 1940 and sent to prisoner-of-war camp in Poland called Stalag VIII-A. One of his German guards recognized him and provided Messaien with everything he needed to continue to compose: sheet music, pencils, a piano, and instruments that could be played by the other professional musicians in the camp (clarinet, violin, and cello).
Messaien wrote a work that he called Quatour pour la fin du temps (Quartet for the End of Time)—an ominous and heavy title that reflects the feeling of the entire world coming to an end as much of France was destroyed by the German occupation, as winter settled on the camp, and as the prisoners couldn’t find out whether their families were still alive. Two important factors shape the sound of this piece: (1) the instrumentation, and (2) Messaien’s religious faith.
There were three other professional musicians imprisoned in the camp, a clarinetist, a violinist, and a cellist. The guards were able to procure instruments for all of them that were, by all accounts, terrible but playable. Messiaen’s quartet is special partly because no composer had ever previously combined these instruments—this piece is driven by the limited resources available to the composer.
In addition, Messaien took great comfort in his faith—he was Catholic—and his inspiration for the piece came from the Book of Revelation in the Bible that he experienced in a dream:
“And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire…and he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth… And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up his hand to heaven, and sware by him that liveth for ever and ever… that there should be time no longer: But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished.”
—Revelation 10:1-7, King James Version
Messaien regarded death and destruction on Earth not as a terrible end but as a hopeful beginning, the chance to begin eternal life in heaven. Here is the end of Quatour, in which you’ll hear very long notes in the violin reaching ever higher, on top of chords, two at a time, in the piano—the violin calm and graceful no matter what the piano does underneath, and the symbolism of ascending to heaven is pretty clear. The premiere, held outdoors in the middle of winter, was attended by the guards and inmates of the camp, who were already weary of the war and held in rapt attention for the entire work. Describing the experience later, Messaien said, “Never have I been heard with as much attention and understanding.”
World War II, continued
Polish composer Krysztof Penderecki (1933-March 29, 2020) composed the next work without a title or inspiration in 1960, and only after he had written it and grasped how intense, emotional, and catastrophic the piece sounded did he give it a name: Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima.
A threnody is a kind of song, hymn, or ode for someone who has died; it has a wailing quality and is often performed as a memorial. Hiroshima was the site of the first atomic bomb detonation in wartime, on August 6, 1945.
III. Music as protest: Giving voice to those not in power
Music played a large role in American anti-Vietnam War protests in the 1960s, expanding protesters’ message beyond just disagreement with a specific war to a broad, public polemic against all violence. Woodstock (August 15-18, 1969) was the capstone of ongoing protests by young, often white and middle class Americans against the use of violence generally, the Vietnam War specifically, and other ideas that they associated with “the establishment” (their parents’ and grandparents’ generation who were in charge of the social, political, and governmental structures that led the country into this morass in the first place) and all things the establishment stood for: the American Dream, being uptight or “square,” capitalism, anti-drug use, monogamy and heterosexuality, and—of course—anti-rock music.
The power of Woodstock and the music by rock and folk musicians who performed there lay in uniting a large group of people (400,000 attendees plus more who sympathized but couldn’t attend), articulating a message contrary to that espoused by people in traditional positions of power, and doing so in a way that was pleasant, persuasive, and enticing for a certain group: young people liked this kind of music and were drawn to it, whereas older Americans were not.
Performers included rock bands (Grateful Dead, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Janis Joplin, The Who, Jefferson Airplane, Joe Cocker, Crosby Stills Nash & Young), world music and fusion groups (Santana, Ravi Shankar, Sly & the Family Stone, Blood Sweat & Tears), and folk singers (Joan Baez, Arlo Guthrie).
Here’s Country Joe McDonald performing Vietnam Song which he wrote specifically for the festival:
Jimi Hendrix played the last set of the festival (approximately 130 minutes long), and his solo performance of The Star-Spangled Banner (the US national anthem) was particularly powerful because it was both an extraordinary display of his skill and creativity as a guitarist as well as a musical protest—it audibly and prominently distorted the melody and form of national anthem, and in the process re-purposed it from a bland, patriotic gesture into a personal claim: “There is room in America for me, for people like me, for my ideas, and for me to shape America into the country I want it to become.”
Coming on the heels of the Civil Rights movement (1919-68), the assassinations of Malcolm X (1965) and Martin Luther King, Jr. (1968), and in the middle of general dissatisfaction with the country, Hendrix’s performance made a powerful statement.
US football player Colin Kaepernick’s protest of the national anthem during the fall 2016 NFL season can be seen in the same context. As a racial minority in the US, Kaepernick listened to the anthem, saw the display of celebration and pride that it encompassed, and found those to be in dissonance with his experience as an American and the experience of other Americans. Rather than stand during the playing of the anthem at San Francisco 49ers games, he took a knee on the sideline, causing uproar for viewers who took his gesture to be a direct affront and insult to members of the military. The fact that his gesture could be interpreted so differently speaks to the powerful place that the anthem occupies in people’s imaginations and how strongly they associate the musical sounds with political ideas.
Kaepernick’s gesture also encouraged a broader re-examination of the Banner itself, which was written by Francis Scott Key following the Battle of Fort McHenry in Baltimore during the War of 1812. (It became the US national anthem in 1931.) The song has four verses, but we typically only sing the first in public events today. The third verse, which celebrates the deaths of slaves who were promised freedom by the British if they defected to the Royal ships in the harbor but were killed by American fusillade, makes the song problematic.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
Because the national anthem is a powerful symbol of the nation it represents, a person who questions it or seems to lack complete faith in that symbol can be interpreted as disrespectful, not just of the song but of the nation itself. This conflation is an example of false logic, obviously, but also the fact that such a reaction is possible shows just how effective the song is as a piece of propaganda. Kaepernick’s career seems to be over as a result of his protest, further underscoring the weight people ascribe to the anthem as a patriotic symbol.
IV. Music as war
Armies have been using music in battle as long as there have been battles. Drums keep armies in step, trumpet fanfares signal which units should advance, and the enemy can hear music of an approaching army long before they see them—allowing fear to set in if the approaching army sounds big and powerful.
During the Ottoman-Habsburg Wars (1526-1791), Turkish armies made use of psychological warfare by having their Janissary bands perform outside the walls of a city under siege, psyching up their own troops and intimidating the citizens trapped inside. For Europeans, the Turks’ use of percussion (especially metallic percussion) and nasal-sounding wind instruments would have been frightening because of its unfamiliarity, and large, coordinated ensembles of musicians can have an intimidating effect. (Also recall that many of these percussion instruments migrated into the European orchestra and are part of its standard instrumentation today).
Music as psychological warfare continues today, and Jonathan Pieslak’s book Sound Targets: American Soldiers and Music in the Iraq War (2009) explores how American troops and interrogators typically use heavy metal and rap to pump themselves up for battle and to rattle prisoners during interrogations. I strongly recommend that you read Alex Ross’s excellent article “When Music is Violence” in The New Yorker (2016), which summarizes Pieslak’s book and other instances of music being used to inflict harm on others and shows how broadly you can approach the idea of listening to music: Ross – When Music Is Violence – The New Yorker
It’s difficult to talk about war without also thinking about censorship, the control of the spread of ideas. Music is a powerful means of conveying messages, and the potential flip side of this power is the rejection of that message (and the messenger/musician) in the form of boycotts, commercial failure, and censorship.
Art is a way to express ourselves at our best, or at our most profound, or ourselves in our best image. And it’s a way for us as listeners to explore, empathize with, and experience other people’s lives and perspectives. The arts and literature are among the first targets of tyranny and censorship because they open people’s eyes – to different ways of life, to different perspectives, to alternative realities. We humans are by nature inquisitive creatures, and when confronted with something new, we ask ourselves how it could exist, what has caused it to come into being. We imagine what sort of person might have come up with a piece of art, what kind of world a person who writes a certain song could live in. And if we start imagining other people and other perspectives, we might be tempted to change our own, and that is the wonderful danger of art.
58 thoughts on “Music and violence (Online discussion Mar 30-Apr 5)”
Hello guys, this one was certainly an interesting one. I often wondered how the music came to composers, how what they saw or heard inspired them to write music. I don’t know why it stills astonishes me, I guess it has to do with the beauty that comes from such tragedy. I really enjoyed the Vukovar Trio it is really beautiful and sad. I wonder what we would write if we were composers? The lives that we have lived? The tragedies we have seen, been through? I wonder what music we would make if given the chance?
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Vukovar Trio was indeed beautiful and sad, smoothing yet frighten. I wonder too at times too, what we would write as a composer if we ever had a chance. Definitely the tragedies that we have seen, or with such misfortune being in one. Along with the music of loves one, memories of such, and so on.
Music and Violence! I especially like this topic because of how debatable it can be. What someone might consider to insinuate a violent message, someone else might deflect and call it art, or freedom of expression. One thing that I did not know was the 3 stanza of the national anthem, almost like Francis Scott was giving props to the soldiers for finally getting rid of the African Americans, through death. It’s disturbing and disgusting, but it’s just like America to not consider the damage they have done in the past, and to brush past it since it’s “diversified” now, and we are all free. As well I appreciate Dr. J for also mentioning censorship as well. Since we are talking about the past, this makes me think how many African American music was also censored as well. Our voice where censored, yet our music often stolen and became popular through mainstream media, played by white musicians and known by them.
Hi Widnie. I too was surprised about the national anthem. Not by the words exactly, but that I didn’t even know that it existed. I say that I am not surprised because America has always been a racist country (as long as the white man has been here). That will not change, at least not in my lifetime and maybe ever longer.
We all know that music can be used in so many different ways and we all hear music differently. I dont think we should entertain violence. The last essay that was due i even spoke about certain artists who think rapping and producing violence is the best way. Why do we have to listen to violence ? Music was not created for that. It was created for people to learn their culture, to relax and to be enjoyed in my ears and others.
What do you guys think ?
After listening to Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima I was very shocked! It was not at all what I expected to hear for a “funeral”. I expected that sad violin and piano music that we are all used to hearing in music and society. This blew my mind, and made me realize how even in music we can be ignorant, especially when we are use to hearing stuff one way, then become exposed to a sound that’s “unfamiliar”. After listening to this what did you guys think? did it shock you too? where you guys amazed or disappointed?
It’s great that music is so useful in so many different ways, but I really dislike the use of music in condoning violence, even if some of that music is merely pro-nationalistic. It leaves a less than spectacular taste in my mouth to think that violence could ever be associated with something meant to be beautiful and enjoyable.
What are your opinions, everyone? What do you think about the use of music in uniting people during periods of conflict? Does it similarly displease you? Or do you think it’s something necessary? What are your thoughts?
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Hey cardiqcc, not all music and violence are band there are some bright side with that music help soldiers to do the commands if they can’t hear their officer shouting them out loud and it was mainly used to help soldiers to march in step in massive formations.
I agree. I dont condone music and violence and I feel like music was not created for that.
Hey cardiqcc, i think having violence in music is a way to express themselves. People may not like it but it’s a way to show another side of them.
I don’t really like pushing people to a certain view I always think they should be given a chance to interpret something in their own eyes and ears. At the same time it’s still a media and if there’s a certain audience they want, the music and lyrics they write will bring in different people, so I am guessing it was more profitable at the time. I can’t say for sure but there are songs that have come out from violence and they are still equally good to the next song like Jeremy by Pearl Jam and Another Brick in the Wall by Pink Floyd are results of strong images of violence and protest and they are really done.
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I believe using music to unite people is a good thing regardless off the use of violence. For example Toby Keith wrote Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue post 9/11 when Americans were angry and afraid. His song was very nationalistic and supported violence against foreigners. While I don’t support that message, his song did bring Americans together and provide them with a sense of unity and hope.
Hey everyone! I found the reading this week really interesting, especially the part about our own national anthem. Before today I had no idea that the anthem was four versus and was shocked by the third verse. Our country claims to be so progressive and accepting, the “land of the free…” How could our country use this song as a reflection of what our nation represents and still allow this song to be our national anthem?
Hey Isabelle the part about the national anthem caught my eye right away. I was shocked about the third verse in that which celebrates the deaths of slaves who were promised freedom by the British if they defected to the Royal ships in the harbor but were killed by American fusillade. This was really interesting to me.
Anyone else got goosebumps from the Vukovar Trio and the Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima? I was so drawn into it as if I was actually there during the Yugoslavian Civil war and the bombing of Hiroshima. The start of the music felt heavy further on it just got heavier with a few frighten thumps and booms, with the sound of drums in the background, horns, and string. Like a scene of a scary movie, where the wounded victim hides, running away from the murderer, the cold chill laying upon the neck and back. Interestingly a composer’s work is similar to a writer, where music is made from tragedies seen or experienced, not for us to read but to feel and listen and of a writer, we read and understand yet probably interpret the text differently. Would you agree?
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Hi Jenniferwei1212! I definitely agree with you. That piece stood out a lot to me. It was very intense. I also do agree that a composer’s work is similar to a writer. They’re all expressing themselves vividly and we somehow get a clear ‘feel’ of their work.
I 100% agree! The music made me feel as tho I had felt the feelings of the war myself.
I would definitely agree because just like writing in books or stories, composers write in different layers of depth each one having their own meaning up for individual interpretation.
Hi Jennifer, I completely agree with you. Gave me that halloween kinda vibe honestly, like being in a haunted house and all you hear is Penderecki music in the background as you walk through it. Also I agree with you that we all interpret what we hear or read differently from others. We all express ourselves differently as well. Like one would say music makes them feel at peace and another would say they feel relaxed.
The relationship between music and violence is an interesting one. I never thought in my wildest dreams that violence can be enhanced by music or that violence inspires music. ‘Music as war’ stood out a lot to me. Armies using music as a way to instill fear into the enemy is somewhat weird but probably creative lol. Overall, I think it’s amazing how music can be used in various ways and not just for entertainment purposes. What are your thoughts on composers that are inspired by violence ?
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Hey Cassie! I agree, the fact that music was used as a scare tactic for the opposing side was very interesting. And yeah, music definitely is used for multi-purposes, other then our enjoyment. I think composers that are inspired by violence have been affected by it,so they make a song about because it helps them release they’re emotions, and as a result help them to heal!
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I think being inspired by war is unusual, but probably just like being inspired by other things to make music. Inspiration itself can come from anywhere; violence and war seems to invoke some feelings that can be expressed musically.
Good day Cassie, how are you girl? Hope you safe and doing good! So to answer your question of the composers that are inspired by violence, I think it has it’s ups and down for me. Again, it all comes to intentionality. Some composers intentions are to spread awareness on the issue, or to provide a sense of a time period in the music they produce. Others might have the intention to produce music to perpetuate hate, racism, and use violence as a way to justify these real issues. So it’s definitely debatable. Really good question Cassie!
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I think composers who were inspired by violence were letting out their feelings and thoughts through music.
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Hey Cassie I do agree on the point you made on how amazing music can be used in various ways not just for entertainment purposes I totally agree with that. Music can be used for literally almost anything you can listen to sad slow music or in this case music causing fear to the enemy.
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Hi，From this article, I learned that most music creation comes from life, or from the composer’s mood.I think music can cause violence because people feel excited and motivated when they hear some kind of concert, or it can arouse people’s desire to do something. When they hear more uplifting music, they want to resist, leading to violence
hey, i think i said that before but i agree with you because people can use this type of music to just express themselves.
Music and violence is an interesting topic to talk about its never common for people to talk about war and music at the same time. But music and violence go hand and hand especially when armies are marching. Music sets the cadence of the march and plays each step a soldier should take. Also, music help formations to do commands such as when to shoulder your weapons, aim, fire, reload and do the whole process all over again. Music can also help when the other armies are retreating. Even today music helps soldiers to march I remember when I was in the Army and when we have to do giant formations for our higher-ups the band will play music to help us march in step in front of them. what do you guys think would rather play an instrument during a war back then or now?
hey guys. In this article i learned that Armies have been using music in battle as long as there have been battles. This article shows how music is powerful enough to influence people and to influence fear. For example in the battles the enemy can hear music approaching army long before they see them which allows them to fear. Also Turkish armies used Janissary bands perform outside the walls of a city under siege to intimidate.
My questions are
what did you guys find interesting? what stood out to you the most?
Hello everyone, this topic is honestly really interesting. I remember hearing in my history classes and Youtube videos about how even is wars, there were certain regiments that had a band. Specifically in WW1, where there was a certain regiment called the “Harlem Hellfighters” which had a marching band. The band was even credited for bringing jazz to Europe.
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I’m very familiars with music during war, especially from WW2. It gave those without power a voice expressing what’s happening around them.
what are some of y’all thought?
Hey everyone while reading that interview it shocked me a little bit. They were going into different cities playing concerts for them and then they realized the destruction of their cities. As I was reading I was very surprised to hear the news on the national anthem. I didn’t know the song has four verses, but we typically only sing the first verse when we sing it today. The third verse of the song celebrates the deaths of slaves who were promised freedom by the British. This discussion was very interesting going back in time seeing how music went along with War. What does everyone else find interesting in this reading? What caught your attention right away?
I found this discussion very interesting! Especially the part about the Star Spangled Banner. I liked the video clip of Jimmy Hendrix playing it, it’s interesting because he did not play it the traditional way, he added his own spin on it. Which was considered musical protest. This interested me because usually when people protest they use their voices. He was able to protest by just playing a electric guitar to get his point across. So sometimes I think,actions speak louder then words do! Does anyone feel otherwise, or agree?
Music, how it has evolved since its creation. Music could help bring peace to one’s soul, but it could also help bring about the destruction of a nation. It is fascinating to see how its power has been turned, twisted and harnessed in so many ways throughout history. I was very intrigued by how the Turkish armies used music as psychological warfare to intimidate the citizens trapped in the city under siege. How could someone come up with such a strategy? What made them think that music could be used in such a way?
Hey guys, This discussion was an very fascinating for me to read about. People see music in different ways. In one of the video, it sounded so intense and frightening in a type of way. The other video was very upbeat calming. What do you guys think about the violence in music?
it brings a darker sense with the music the intense sound making you feel how horrible war is, the sadness that soldiers and people are going through during the war. but it can also happiness hearing the victory sounds knowing that you won also that hearing the up roaring beats when marching making the soldier proud forgetting about the sadness and death only caring about his fellow soldiers. Music and violence can bring both sadness and happiness.
Before I started reading everything else, I was hooked by the photo of a soldier playing a piano. First, I noticed that the color and design of the uniform worn by the soldier looked very much like the uniform that was worn by the Japanese during World War II, so I personally think that the setting of the photo is during the mid-1900s. Then, I saw the piano, which triggered my second thought. To me, it’s quite an unusual site because you don’t see pianos during war. Most of the time, you only see drums and horns during war. After that, I noticed that there was a link to a website. I clicked on it, expecting it to contain more photos or information based on the photo of the soldier playing the piano. As the website loaded, I was astonished at what I saw. I felt sympathy for the people that experienced the Yugoslavian War. In that photo gallery, I saw buildings that were torn apart into pieces, literally, and sad people. The one photo that stood out to me was the woman crying. You can see the grief on her face, and her background seemed very empty. Since this week’s discussion is called “Music and Violence”, I had some sad anime music in mind when I looked at the photos after the Yugoslavian War because I watched some anime with war scenes that had really heart-touching music. As I decided to go back to the discussion to read, I listened to Laura Kaminsky’s piano pieces that she composed after she visited the Croatian town of Vukovar. I totally did not expected her music to sound like the way it sounds. I was expecting some slow, sad melody that could make you cry. Instead, her piece sounds very dark, grim, mad, and unpleasant. Some parts of her music sounded like it could be used in a horror movie. Although it didn’t meet my expectations, the dark music somehow still fits the photos of Vukovar because the town of Vukovar in the pictures looked like it’s not a place you would want to be in. It’s very sad and dark.
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This week’s discussion is very interesting, as most of you guys I never thought of music during war but every war movie that I’ve watched I remember that music was present and that the tone of the music, the words or just the instruments playing a sad or suspension song… made me feel all these sad emotions and relate to the situation in the movie. Therefore I think is very accurate to state that music is an expression of the soul. Even though we perceive music as something beautiful and entertainment… is the artist, the song and the intention of the musician what really directions our attention to have certain emotions when we hear a piece of music. What you guys think?
i had the same reaction listening to Vukovar Trio because it reminded me about a horror movie, i wounder if anyone else though the same?
This week’s discussion feels so different than any other weeks discussion for me because it shows the real negative sides of how music influences people. Before it was more the hardships of music and its process not being easy. This really shows the after effects of the music that affected the artist and will move an audience. The quote by Christian Wolff “All music is propaganda” is something I don’t agree with because there are whole songs dedicated to love, death, and joy not pushing a people to a certain view politically. I loved Dr.J’s interpretation of Jimi Hendrix’s playing the Star Spangled Banner as it really does feel like he is proving how different a people could interpret a piece of music. My question to my classmates is if you were an artist would you push your beliefs (political, religious, etc) on your audience?
No if I were an artist I would not push my beliefs on my audience because people very judgmental and quick to not accept something. Also I wouldn’t want to produce music that people will not like. I would definitely take their opinions into consideration in order to produce the best type of music for them.
i dont think i would push or force my beliefs on my audience because everyone has the right to believe whatever they want, but i would make it clear to my audience what I believe in, and they get to choose whatever they want to do with that.
Hi guys I agree with a couple others that this discussion is not quite like the others . Music definitely adds a certain suspense to a situation depending on wether it’s good or bad . The type of music played by a specific person may have a message behind it so I feel like the twist behind the spangled banner by Jimi Hendrix was a creative way to protest that would catch the attention of many others just as it did my own . I think using music to put fear into others without directly speaking is very creative and just as powerful as direct speaking . Does anyone feel as type of music produced by an artist for violence purposes raise crime rate ?
this discussion was one of the most interesting ones to me because it shows how you can transport your emotions into a piece of art that others can view and take a message from. My favorite one was Toby Keith Courtesy Of The Red, White And Blue because it had a powerful message and i love that he performed for the soldiers.
People are influenced by music in different ways and one of the ways happens to be violence. In this article It says “Turkish armies made use of psychological warfare by having their Janissary bands perform outside the walls of a city under siege”.This is a good tactic because it makes the enemy fear when they know you are coming. In shows like Game of Thrones they played music during war mostly drums, these shows are mostly about war and kingdoms. The U.S. probably never played music during the war. Nowadays there is a lot of music that is gang related and that causes lots of gangs to do harm to each other. How can gang related music become more peaceful? Art there any ways music can be more graceful and less violent?
music was used in many different ways during many different time periods but one theme I saw in each section of reading was that music was a popular way of expressing emotion, whether its happy or cheerful, or in pain or sorrow, either way, people used music to communicate feelings and emotions that they were feeling. above I read that, “music was used by those without power a a way to vocalize their concerns” but I disagree and say music itself gave these people the power to express how they felt. with the music, they were no longer powerless because the music gave them an opportunity to speak up and share a message, in a way everyone understands, how did you feel about that quote?
This is an interesting topic here “music and violence”, I believe music and violence always tend to come together. Even back in ancient times when their were Vikings sailing the seas they would have battle cry chants which could be interrupted has music in my opinion. Or even in movies when their is about to be a massive fight or any act of violence they tend to play music in the background to bring more excitement into the fight. Another show of violence in music is the rap group NWA they shook most of the world with their music, creating protest and sometimes riots in their shows. I believe music and violence tend to link up with each other.
It’s ironic that Composer would think of making music out of something so horrible like the Yugoslavia war and the bombing of Hiroshima. Maybe it’s a way of record keeping like how people write stories about history, these people turn it into a historical symphony telling a story with each note. There has to be a significance in recording history through song we just have to find out what it is. What is the importance of composers using history as the basis for their symphonies?
There always will be history and history is considered a pretty great teacher. What better way to utilize music as a form of propaganda then to use it propagate the messages we learned in times of crisis, violence, and tragedy so that we could learn from it and make sure to avoid it in the future.
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Music will always relate to everything. music will always be use as a form of propaganda as many things in this world are. throughout time, music was used to promote war. that connects with peoples feelings in a way that makes them think war is a bad thing but they are not wrong war is horrible. some of the sounds that heard from the videos also relate to Beethoven’s harsh sounds in some of his music. in the end violence will always exist and music will be use in a way to promote it or take it down. what part of this discussion was your favorite guys??
It is definitely intriguing how music and violence are related to each other; how music can be inspired by violence and how violence can use music as a threat and inspiration. I feel like at this point, any emotion can be translated into a piece of music. It can bring peace to someone, sadness, hype, and now even violence. What else can it do? Who thought of all of this?
Hi Everyone. Hope everyone is well. Can we just start off by saying Penderecki piece “Threnody for the victims of Hiroshima” had me feeling like I was apart of what was going on. It also gave me horror movie vibes which felt like it wasn’t getting better or coming to an end. Hearing a couple of these pieces in just silence really makes you appreciate music more. They say violent music lyrics or rhythm can increase aggressive thoughts and feelings but I guess that just depends on what that person has been through in life. For someone who’s never been part of any world war, I could only imagine what everyone else was feeling or thinking. Im sure there are some experiences music is unable to capture being that music can capture emotions most of the time and then there are the lyrics which could capture visual descriptions of what’s going on to kinda give you an in-depth of what’s going on. To me personally its really interesting to learn that music is not at all innocent and how it seriously is a form of expression that words and actions can’t do.I feel like music can capture anything from the daily life of a human being. It can capture our moods, feelings, thoughts, sceneries and experiences from every aspect our lives.But it would be all dependent on perception of the individual. I know music can have a healing motive as well as an encouraging motive down to a negative motive but can it be healing? Do you think its possible to heal from music? If yes how so?
Hey guys, I thought this was really cool thinking about how certain composers got their gears and cogs turning, and how anything can really serve as inspiration. Especially ones own interpenetration of a scenario such as war and how it played the part of violence in music. It truly is terrible that patriotism when composing can be used as a way to mask racism. Censorship is still very alive and prevalent today with military composers through their cadences(chanting). where all though these are meant to be patriotic songs have under lying layers that up vote misogynist tendencies and killing. Music is subjective and all though some may find this beautiful i do not.
Music and patriotism have always gone hand in hand throughout the ages, with the music rousing up feelings of nationalism and pride within the general populace. As music goes hand in hand with patriotism, patriotism, especially extreme nationalism, has always gone hand in hand with violence. Throughout the history of the U.S, whenever the U.S has gone to war with any other nation, Americans whose ancestors come from those nations have always been discriminated and attacked as a result of U.S conflict with their ancestral homelands. Toby Keith’s song “Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue” is a great example of propaganda in music and American nationalism during times of war, with cases of racially motivated attacks against Arabs and Muslims being on the rise after 9/11 which wasn’t directly a result of Keith’s music, however the sentiment he roused in his song is the same sentiment bigots have when they carry out acts of violence in the name of nationalism. Within the last century, with the rise of popular music, such as rock or pop, music has become an even greater tool for propaganda. During the Vietnam War, the song “War” by Edwin Starr was extremely famous, that even I heard about it decades later. Music during that period was known for being very anti-war and anti-establishment as a response to the violence of war, which is unique compared to other times in history. Do you guys believe music will always be a more powerful tool of propaganda to promote violence or is it more effective as a deterrent to violence?
Music has multiple uses. Music being used as a protest is very interesting. Jimmi Hendrix’s performance of the Star Spangled Banner was both moving and sent a clear message. His rendition most likely had people feeling a wide range of emotions from outrage to unity. It’a beautiful way to send a message. Collin Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem as a protest. That’s another example of music and protests. Music is a way to give a voice to important causes
Reading this, I learned about how soldiers used rap and rock and roll to get themselves hype before a battle. My question would have to be does hip hop music instill violent behavior?
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