Lecture 8: Music and Politics/Protest
• Newspaper articles for assignment
o NYT, Rolling Stones
• You can cite Wallace
“Music is partisan; it is always for someone or against someone else”.
“What’s political music? All music is political, right?”
• That music can be political is quite often clear in text or imagery…
• “A lullaby is a propaganda song, in the opinion of the three-year-old who doesn’t want to
be put to sleep”.
• When you don’t like the politics of something, it’s propaganda. When you do, it’s art.
“Which side are you on?”
• Written in 1931
• Beyoncé standing on top of a New Orleans Police car
• Political commentary
• How can WAM have political undertones?
The ideology of Absolute Music
• Political texts are imagery are one thing…but how can purely instrumental music—
absolute music—be political?
• Music costs money to make—it is often a symbol of power and prestige
• Even the orchestra has roots to politicized power
• Wrote during Louis XIV reign
• Known as the 24 violins du Roi, Lully supplemented the strings w winds and perc which
he borrowed from the military
• Militaristic discipline carried over; all bows had to move in the same directed • He conducted with a large staff by pounding on the floor, he died on gangrene after
smashing his own foot doing this
• Le Roi dance
• Origins of the orchestra
o Idylle sur la paix
o A short piece for entertainment
o A divertissement, to show off Louis’ skill as a dancer
Council of Trent (1545)
• Church music had become too decadent
• Decadent opera halls of the 18 -19 century
• Music in shopping malls
Ideology and Absolute Music
• Marx and Althusser
• “A coherent set of ideas brought together not for some strictly intellectual purposes but
rather, in service of some strongly held communal beliefs of values”.
• How is classical music ideological when there’s no text?
Eduard Hanslick: On Beautiful in Music
• “Music consists of succession and forms of sound, and these alone constitute the
subject…it speaks nothing but sound”.
• Argued for the separation of music from everyday life following the revolutions of 1848
• “changing to a new form of music” threatens the whole system
The music itself—absolute music—is an ideology.
• Role of literature is private
• Art is small gat