“The Business of Bluegrass”

Music and Politics

“They [music and politics] are not to be seen as separate entities whose worlds collide only occasionally, but rather are extensions of each other.”

Deciding whether music and politics are directly related is a difficult judgement to make.  In his book Music and Politics John Street states that the boundary between music in politics is merely illusionary. I’d say that it’s also hard to make the assumption that the line is illusionary because there are many songs that may incite some kind of emotion but nothing that would make one want to make a political stance.  When the Taliban placed a ban on music in 2002 many folks linked music to power and freedom. And when the violence in Rwanda between the Hutu and Tutsi tribes erupted the question was raised: are song, lyrics, and melodies able to create enough emotion within a person to compel them to commit genocide?  We know that many retail stores, car dealerships, and any type of business often use music in their lobby’s and stores to create a certain atmosphere that causes the consumer to feel comfortable and want to buy what the business is selling.  Obviously music has an impact on our emotions but this is not to say that every type of music is carrying a political message behind it to try to persuade listeners. If this were the case it could be argued that everything someone does and every way that they express themselves is a political statement.  Music that is to be considered political it must cause a group of people to feel strongly enough about the topic to take some type of action, not solely personal contemplation.



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