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Cultural Diversity in Music and its positive and negative effects on Society Essay

American music is a melting pot of various genres of music. From the times when the country was colonized American music has come a long way. Rock and Roll, Hip-hop, Rhythm and Blues, Jazz and Country are among the internationally renowned genres. The more indigenous genres include Gospel, Louisiana tejoles, and Hawaiian music and American Folk music. Music intertwines with various aspects of American identity such as race, ethnicity, gender and social class. Of these race is perhaps the biggest driver of any particular genre of music.

Hip-hop, jazz, soul and R&B have long been considered as an African –American tradition as has the country music genre been the tradition of whites in America. The mixing of cultures from has permeated popular culture in an unprecedented fashion. Because of its crossover appeal, music is a great unifier of diverse populations. It has gone from the fringes, to the suburbs, and into the corporate boardrooms. Over the last forty or fifty years music has been one of the biggest influential factors in teenage society.

So, there’s no problem in assuming that our present adult society is built with some of the ideas taken from the music industry of the yesteryears. Positive Effects: Music in America has and continues to play a very positive role in the society. The emergence of folk music during the 20th century, and particularly the rise of popular folk music of the 1960’s, is probably the best example of music affecting society. The Civil Rights Movement was in full swing and the largely unpopular war in Vietnam was well underway.

Folk music is, inherently, music played and sung by and for everyday people—music for the masses, so to speak. Naturally, when a culture becomes aware of radical changes that awareness gives way through expression. Folk singer and songwriter Woody Guthrie began writing “protest music” and songs in support of popular movements of the day. Other folk singers such as Bob Dylan and Joan Baez followed suit. For the first time, music was not only a vehicle for expression, but it was also a way to mobilize and inspire listeners to think differently and take action.

Country music typically embodied idealistic thinking, shunning capitalism and material comforts. It is about everyday people doing everyday things-the bars they go to, the people they have lost, their dreams, their loves, and their friends. Country gives people something to relate to besides urban hip-hop, rap, heavy metal, and pop. As far as society as a whole, for the most part country singers are considered fairly wholesome-they aren’t in the tabloids for drugs and explicitly wanton behavior (not saying they don’t & they are all perfect!

) but their images tend to be cleaner than musicians belonging to other genres so it gives the younger generations people to look up to. Both Hip-Hop and R&B have impacted society in many ways, mainly well. R&B and Hip-Hop have, in their own way, addressed the challenges of African-American individuals, provided help and strength, and left an impact that has been widely debated throughout the years. Many people equate gangsta rap and other isolated artists or songs with all rap and, even worse, Hip-hop in general.

This is a huge fallacy because 90% of rap is either something that helps society or at least something that doesn’t hurt it. Consider, for example, feminist rap. Feminist rap goes against any misogyny in other types of rap and forces society – especially men who objectify women—to take a step back and see that what is going on in the cases of gangsta rap is wrong. Another example of a form of rap that helps society is political rap. Political rap from artists such as Public Enemy encourage the black community to stand up for their rights and to become politically active so that they do not get taken advantage of.

Rock musicians too have sometimes attempted to address social issues directly as commentary or as calls to action. During the Vietnam War the first rock protest songs were heard, inspired by the songs of folk musicians such as Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan, which ranged from abstract evocations of peace Peter, Paul, and Mary’s “If I Had a Hammer” to blunt anti-establishment diatribes Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young’s “Ohio”. Other musicians, notably John Lennon and Yoko Ono, were vocal in their anti-war sentiment both in their music and in public statements

Negative Effects: The introduction of rock and roll music in the 1950’s brought with it the fear that its lyrics and new rhythms would adversely affect young listeners. That fear has carried over into the twenty-first century, but now the criticism is focused primarily on heavy metal and rap. It has been suggested that the lyrics in these types of music promote aggression, bigotry, deviant sexual activity, suicide, violence, drug use, and homicide. This issue also arises in the field of medicine.

The American Academy of Pediatrics fears that rock lyrics are potential threats to the health and well being of adolescents. These concerns include pregnancy, drug use, sexually transmitted diseases, accidents, and suicide. Rap music is infamous for its inflammatory remarks towards women. Thus the two most popular forms of music for adolescents revolve around themes of disrespect and sexual imagery. Furthermore, the effects music lyrics have on mood, suicidal ideation, aggression, and stereotyping have been questioned.

The massive popularity and worldwide scope of rock and roll resulted in an unprecedented level of social impact. Far beyond simply a musical style, rock and roll influenced lifestyles, fashion, attitudes, and language in a way few other social developments have equaled. From its beginnings, rock and roll has been associated with youth, rebellion, and anti-establishment. The blend of black influences, suggestive lyrics, and wild response by the younger set made rock and roll appalling and threatening to the older generation.

The ability to shock the elders in turn became part of the appeal of the music to young generations. The rock and roll lifestyle was popularly known as being associated with sex and drugs. Many of rock and roll’s early stars (as well as their jazz and blues counterparts) were known as hard-drinking, hard-living characters; during the 1960s a decadent rock lifestyle became more publicly known, aided by the growth of the underground rock press which documented such excesses, often in exploitative fashion.

Conclusion: The impact of American music on society is definitely a positive one. An artist’s music can be positive through lyrics by saying all the things the person listening wants to say. It can also inspire other people to do good things such as the song Imagine by the Beatles. Music enhances creativity. Writers block, it is said, can be cured by a bout of music listening. Although there has been a great deal of negativity that has centered on music, the positive far outweighs the negative.

The negative effects of some genres of music, which are the commercialization of music, the loss of creative edge, and the sex, violence and misogyny, are over shadowed by positive effects like political awareness, societal awareness, anti-sexism, and racial awareness. References: 1. How Music Affects Society http://www. musicguidebook. com/articles/how-music-affects-society 2. Cultural Diversity in Music http://www. areditions. com/rr/index/set_musa. html 3. Effect of Rap and Heavy metal http://library. wcsu. edu/dspace/bitstream/0/35/1/tropeano. pdf


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