An Introduction to a Democracy in Demise - a lyrical sonata in 3 parts
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However, it should also be remembered that any such narrative and its archetypal personalities, props, scenarios and patterns of action were elicited by instrumental music alone and that it would be highly unlikely for a similar test based on a comparable series of, say, photographs, paintings or short poems to produce the same results. Because tall grass, rolling hills, shampoo, a light breeze, sea swell in the sunshine, long hair, Austria, flowing dresses, slow motion takes, cornfields, couples caressing, billowing sails etc.
However, all those verbally and visually incongruent associations are highly congruent in terms of emotion, touch, gesture etc. Thus The Dream of Olwen elicited a set of associations which the respondents heard, either directly or indirectly, as representing emotional, tactile and corporeal qualities of slow, smooth and pleasantly wavy motion in culturally specific sonic terms.
The question is how to combat manipulation in this field without depriving music of its intrinsic ability to influence our thoughts, feelings, attitudes and behaviour in its intrinsically direct, non-analytical manner. Combating manipulation through education. It is possible to identify four main interrelated areas of education and research that can help combat media manipulation through music: the epistemology of music, semiotic music analysis, musical creativity and ideological critique.
Epistemology of music. The Emmerdale Farm example gave proof of a clear epistemological gap: listeners understood the music by responding in a culturally competent fashion to the different music tracks set to the same visual sequences while exhibiting embarrassment at their inability to grasp the mechanisms underpinning that competence. A similar kind of epistemological contradiction emanates from the reception test results discussed above: while respondents formed clear ideas about the difference between the cultural spheres of male and female merely by listening to particular pieces of instrumental music, the ideology of gender is rarely discussed in its musically mediated guise.
This conference has provided ample evidence that our understanding of music as a means of influencing and manipulating our fellow humans can be radically improved when existing disciplinary boundaries are radically transgressed. In this epistemological context of combating manipulation I can do no more than highlight two interrelated questions calling for particularly urgent attention: the defalsification of our own music history and the anthropological relativisation of our own music culture s.
By the defalsification of European music I mean combating such phenomena as its misrepresentation as an ethereal and suprasocial phenomenon. Of course, such reductionism is historically false and can easily degenerate into various types of racism. The semiotic analysis of music. Depending on the grain of analysis, these simple and well-tried analytical procedures allow for varying degrees of awareness into the mechanisms underpinning musical communication in the modern mass media.
Such insight can in its turn make all the difference for listeners between manipulation and affect, for example between, on the one hand, just feeling, thanks to some discordant music, that the Native Americans shown on screen are savage villains and, on the other, knowing that what the music has told you to feel about them may not be what you really feel or think.
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Such insights allow you to reject other musically mediated ideological stereotypes, for example those described in the reception test summary; they allow you to object when heroic music tells you to side up with a macho slob, when those romantic strings ask you to get involve in a claustrophobic on-screen relationship, etc. This kind of insight can also be useful when making music too: it makes it much easier to identify whether you want to go with the standard use of musical structures or to opt for something different, either in terms of musical structure or with regard to how music relates to the images, words or actions it accompanies.
Now, it would hardly be realistic to envisage an immanent return to live communal music-making, and inadvisable to advocate the introduction of compulsory violin or classical singing lessons. It is however, hardly unreasonable to consider recent developments in media technology and in some popular music cultures as indicative of a democratic potential in music making. And yet educational provision of music-making skills has been slow to realise this potential, being still largely restricted to those considered musically talented in conventional terms, with far fewer institutions using the new technologies to provide music-making education for all.
Just as Mozart or Beethoven relied on existing musical idioms and forms to create their own music, just as Charlie Parker relied on established harmonic formulae to construct his improvisations, just as Frank Zappa relied on pop stereotypes to create his innovative musical and social critiques, and just as Morricone is often able to juxtapose everyday sounds against orchestral texture and both of these against moving images in a highly original fashion, there is similarly no need to believe that anyone using samples or other prerecorded soundbytes as compositional building blocks is automatically innovative or derivative.
After all, it is not the novelty of building materials that constitutes innovation but how the building blocks are organised into patterns of simultaneity, sequence, repetition and variation, i. As audiovisual digital technology becomes increasingly affordable, and as the music business in its traditional sense becomes an increasingly peripheral part of the global entertainment industry, music will become increasingly treated as just one of several ingredients in film, TV, games, etc.
Ideological critique. This article has attempted to illustrate ways in which manipulation may occur when music accompanies moving images. Proposing changes in music research and education constitutes a more obvious form of ideological critique: if nothing was wrong, no change would be necessary. Indeed, the whole concept of manipulation and the formulation of means to avert its risks involves, as stated earlier, an ethical dimension that includes the notion of unjust coercion and the abuse of power.
Klein , but manipulation by advertisement, including its music, is just the tip of the iceberg. Under such circumstances it is all the more essential to actively seek out alternatives with which to challenge the clearly unjust world system in which we live. More than ever before, critical thinking needs to play a central role in education and it is in that context that the kind of music teaching reforms sketched above can play a small but important part.
Indeed, twenty years of teaching Music and the Moving Image as well as the semiotic analysis of music have demonstrated that there is broad interest among young people in general not just among music students in understanding how they are affected by music, both duly and unduly the latter constituting manipulation. This interest, combined with considerable everyday experience of music and moving image, acquired ever since TV and the video player were first used to baby-sit them, has produced a remarkable competence in distinguishing nuances of connotation brought about by nuances of structural difference in the music they hear and of the context in which that music is heard.
In my day-to-day work I try to provide these young people with some sort of anti-manipulative first-aid kit which will, I hope, at least allow them to understand the basic mechanisms of communicating moods and connotations through music. I also hope that they can empower young people to make their own choices about which emotional messages, musical or not, they want to create, accept or reject. Like it or not, it is they, not we, who will be bombarded by media messages in the unjust and manipulative future that we seem to have prepared for them.
Musical references. Abba Fernando. Epic EPC Beethoven, L van Sonata quasi una fantasia Op. The Man with the Golden Arm.
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