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Listening from the soul

Page history last edited by Shaun Hicks II 10 years ago

Shaun Hicks II

English 1020

Conor Shaw-Draves


Listening from the Soul

Music has always been a way for generations and cultures to express themselves.  Music is a language that has been spoken throughout time to help pass down history, to tell stories and to help get messages across to members of society.  In its own right, music is the wind that caries life from one place to the next.  It carries the significance and importance of life from generation to generation.  Music helps people connect with one another vocally and instrumentally without even meeting one another face to face.  Music essentially unites the world into one voice of understanding, compassion and hope.  Throughout time, like many other things, music have evolved and changed and formed into something completely different than what it started out as.  It has taken on many new faces and voices to convey messages from unity and love, to division and war.

“Music is one of the greatest facets of society and is purely an amazing form of art and history and should be revered as such.  Like many of the arts, music is timeless and help people of different back grounds relate and connect to one another.  Music has illustrated the voice of the people of its time through its lyrics and instrumental quality by helping the artist and listener convey their message.  Music also provides an outlet for the current generation to express themselves and tell their story.  Lastly, music in itself becomes a template or timeline for history, helping people essentially to understand their roots and ancestors.  Doing anything to music, such as censoring or banning any content, would only diminish and hinder the progress of society and stop so many amazing things from being accomplished.  Unlike any other form of expression, music can be enjoyed by any and everyone.  Music can virtually reach out to many people, and throughout time, it has.

With America well on her way into the Era of Revolution and great change of societal importance, music followed suit and began to change as well.  As said by Jim Galloway, “As America grew up so did the music from the innocents of the Turtles with "Happy Together" and the Association's "Windy" to new music releases from Bob Dylan and Peter, Paul and Mary with "The times they were a Changing" and "Blowing in the Wind.”  The War was on…”  (Galloway)  During this time, popular music or the music in which society listen to today began to take shape and form.  People began to tune in and listen attentively. 

While there has never been accurate origin music, as long as people could remember music has always been around.  People have always been known to just listen to music and enjoy the benefits of it.  However the origin of modern day music is quiet known.  As the twentieth century approached, music became more and more prevalent in the lives of people.  The old style of music began to die out and as the industry began to grow, so did the sound of music.  Many forms of entertainment were just being invented and people all over were enjoying them.  Some of things consisted of plays on Broadway, motion pictures, gramophones and animated cartoons were developed in the early century.  The public was indulged into the new ideas of the new century.

Almost half a century later, an old music began to emerge from the ashes and rise and hit the air waves.  During the 40’s/50’s, there was a genre of music leaving the south and stretching across the nation.  Race music, what the sound was called, was predominately a genre listened to by African Americans.  Great artist began to emerge and become legends and really began getting the message out into the public of what was going on in the black community.  This music helped the nation see the issues and social economic problems that happened in the industrial city.  It told a story of humble roots and beginning and America as a nation began to listen.  It began to inspire America to listen to the messages and listen from within.  Race music as it became popular took on another name, blues.  “As a writer for Billboard magazine in the late 1940's, Mr. Wexler coined the phrase "rhythm-and-blues" to replace "race music" as the generic label for black popular music.”  (Sacks)  By doing so, Billboard gave identify to a genre of music that helped pave the way for so many future artist.  Iconic artist began to mold the world of music.  So many up and coming new artists became passionate with Blues that they began to find their own sound.  Blues artist began to influence others to spawn an entire new generation of music.

 As stated by Tad Richards, “Rhythm and Blues was the urban popular black music of the 1940s and 1950s.  Its antecedents were the jazz and blues of the 1930s, especially Kansas City jazz; in the 1960s, it turned into soul.  R&B, as it is often known, was the precursor and the vital center of rock 'n' roll.”  (Richards)  As soon as the foundation was laid by Rhythm and Blues, a new form of music began to rip through the air ways and began to captivate the youth of America; Rock and Roll and many people began to take note of it.  With the up beats of past generations but with more electric guitars and vocal variety, rock and roll was booming.  People everywhere were catching onto rock and Roll.  From artist like Elvis Priestley and Chuck Berry to the Beach boys, Rock and Roll really began to influence the way music was played.  “Rock and Roll affected musical cultures in the West and beyond.  Other musical discourses have tended to focus on their own relationship with rock because it was so powerful and because genre discourse by nature renders other kinds of music exterior…”  (Fabian 55)  Essentially, rock and roll became international and sparked a movement around the world.  In the U.K, Bands such as the Rolling Stones and The Beatles, two legendary icons in rock music, emerged and carried the genre even further.  Officially, rock music was there to stay.

As time began to change, so did the music once again.  By time the 60’s/70 have occurred, a new era of music materialized, more so out of the rebellion of the rebellious rock and roll.  This form of music was more dance orientated and focused more on the loving and peacefulness of the time during/post civil rights era.  This form of music was known as Disco.  By definition according to article writer Espie Estrella, “Disco comes from the word "discotheque;" a term used to describe the nightclubs people went to during the 1960s and 70s.  Disco music is meant to be danced to or to entice listeners to get up and dance.”  (Estrella)  Disco music was more in tune with the peaceful movements of the hippie sixties.  A lot of people during that time period were shifting their views form the conservative times to a more liberal time.  Just as Rock and Roll was used as a way to rebel against the political system, disco was more of a style of music that united minorities into one unified voice.  Disco also bought together people of different nationalities.  Disco music was popular by the African American, Latino, European, female, male, gay and many more cultures and backgrounds to form one peaceful movement.  “By the mid 1970s, disco music dominated the airwaves with songs like "If I Can't Have You" by Yvonne Elliman and later, "More Than A Woman," "Night Fever," "Stayin' Alive" and "You Should Be Dancing" by the Bee Gees being played.”  (Estrella)  The disco bought music closer and closer to the modern day image of what many see today.  Disco officially marked the integration of the radio and brought countries together in dancing and happiness.

Even though the times and music changed, the messages behind each genre continued to be strong and convey their messages.  The music continued to tell the stories of oppression and rebellion that our ancestors take in ordered to make music what it is today.  While each genre have branched off into a newer more modern form of music that is enjoyed internationally, the music culture still hold its foundation strong in history.

The main foundation of music was set in the past century by visionaries who built an empire out of ideas and a few simple beats with lyrics.  Music has since then evolved into a movement that connects people together and still it is evolving.  Since then, new genres of music have filled the ears of the millions of listeners with pure bliss.  Music is a universal language that has for decades brought generations together in song and dance and have continued to encourage peace, tolerance and love.  Classic songs are still listened to today and they remain to teach future artist where their roots are in music.

 The music industry has become the Mecca of the current generation to express their ideas and their individuality to the world.  Music is an important part of society and millions of people listen faithfully, filling their hearts and souls with the messages and stories that songs tell.  According to crunchworld.com, iTunes, one of the largest online music retailers have reported to selling six billion songs in 2008, having over 10 million different selections available in their library, and the number still continues to count.

            For generations to come, children can look back and experience what previous generations went through.  No book can rival the serene melody of Sam Cooke, “A change is gonna to come”, a song that captured the entire essence of a generation of oppressed men and woman tired of racial discrimination and hate.  No photo caption can capture the feeling of the first ever Woodstock unlike the songs of that generation.  Lastly, no painting could show “Love” the way John Lennon had on his hit song that brought serenity and peace to the world.

“Music is one of the most phenomenal things to happen to in the World.  Music collectively brings people together.  Music is indeed a form of art and no doubt about it, a huge contributor to the success of society.  Without music, people would have little to no outlet to express their true feeling.  With music, people can be themselves and finally take pride in something that encourages them to do their best.  Music gives talented people the opportunity to be the voice of something bigger than fortune and fame and allow them to be leaders.  By engaging in history by listening to music, people get a feel and sense of accomplishment.  Music has help pave the way for other forms of creativity to emerge and thrive to better society.  Furthermore, music truly becomes the historian to record the tales and stories of our ancestors to continue many years down the line.  Music will live on forever and still continue to remain within the hearts of generations to come.  In closing remarks, I will conclude with a quote said by a man who captured the entire essence of the purpose of music in a few simple lines, “Music is the hardest kind of art.  It doesn't hang up on a wall and wait to be stared at and enjoyed by passersby.  It's communication.  Its hours and hours being put into a work of art that may only last, in reality, for a few moments...but if done well and truly appreciated, it lasts in our hearts forever.  That's art.  Speaking with your heart to the hearts of others…”  Mr. Dan Romano




Work Cited

  • ·         Popular Music Then And Now

From Smokey to Chris Brown or 45's to Online, Hit Songs Are Timeless

Jan 31, 2010 Jim Galloway



  • ·        


Erick Schonfeld

Jan 6, 2009




·         The Soul of Jerry Wexler

By Leo Sacks;
Published: August 29, 1993




·         Rhythm and Blues

St. James Encyclopedia of Pop Culture, Jan 29, 2002 by Tad Richards



·         Holt, Fabian

The University of Chicago


The Univeristy of Chicago Press, Chicago 60637


·         What is Disco Music?

By Espie Estrella, About.com Guide




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