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Music History and Its Influence on America

Music History And Its Influence On America Rodriguez Pg. 1 Seven o’ clock strikes on my alarm clock, causing it to ring its silver bells, rudely jolting me back to reality from another wonderful dream. Groggily, I manage to carry my body to the shower, still upset that i won’t be able to find out if I had kissed that cute girl or not, and still wondering who the man in the peacoat was that was following us around on our date. Thirty minutes later, I’ve gathered my books, I’ve dressed myself, I’ve eaten, and I’m on my way out the door to my car. I’m still tired and still upset about the deleted scene from my dream.

I put the key into the ignition, and i immediately feel better as My Love by Justin Timberlake blares on the radio. First, as i put the car into gear and start to drive, i begin to hum along to the tune of the chorus. Soon after, I’m singing right along with the famous singer, completely in sync, ( no pun intended, seeing as how the singer started out originally with the group N*Sync ); our vocals are harmonized, and my foot taps to the beat. Now, I am motivated, fully awake, and looking forward to the long day ahead! My morning can be compared to millions around the world, because music an be a big influence in any human beings life, and a representation of a person’s personality! Music is the one form of human expression that heavily influences the way we talk, the way we dress, and how we can relate to one another. We can dedicate music to a loved one, or indulge ourselves in to change change the mood we might be in at the time. People listen to their favorite songs while exercising to pump themselves or, after a long day at work, one might turn on some classical music, or jazz, while drinking a glass of wine, just to “unwind. ” Some might o to a dance club looking for a potential mate, but I go to show off the years of dancing skills i have accumulated, just because of the adrenaline it gives me at how smooth and crisp my moves are, hitting every beat of the music! According to The American Music Conference, a valid connection between the human brain and music making have been found by music researchers. It has been found to help with language development, math skills, improved school grades, better social behavior, and has improved spatial temporal reasoning ( AMC. ) Music has always been an expression of the human race.

Artifacts from every culture show people playing musical instruments. The oldest findings came from Asia, dating back four thousand years. Music has been used to perform religious ceremonies, performed in front of Royalty, and even to find spiritual balances, and centers. Whatver its uses, its main purpose has always been used to bring people together. Although there is no exact date for the origin of music, in my opinion, music was born when men were created. When the first caveman grunted in unison with another, and clubs were banged against rocks, a flame was lit, and the rest is history. As any music lover will tell you, usic comes from the heart. As long as man was able to think, there was always a tune to be hummed, or a beat to tap your foot to. The influence and history of music has been classified into six major eras;The Middle Ages, The Renaissance, The Baroque Era, Classical, Romantic and the 20th Century ( Essentials of Music. ) The Middle Ages (450-1450) is when Christians and Christianity were persecuted, then accepted shortly afterwards. It became the official religion of the Roman Empire, even after its fall. Music was a major part of Christian worship, each verse or the daily liturgy was sang in what we all Gregorian chant. The Christian church was a major influence of the arts, especially in music. Major composers in that era were associated and supported by the church. Music also did not have a system of notation until late in the Ninth Century and was conducted mainly by the members of the church because it was such a time consuming lengthy process. ( Essentials of Music. ) The Renaissance Era (1450-1600) was called by historians The Early Modern Era. The redicovery of writings by the Ancient Greeks and Romans was referred to as a sort of rebirth of the feudal system of the Middle Ages.

The rise of music printing increased access to books on music, and viewed as an equal to rhetoric. Travel became a main source of music exchange, a driving force behind creating more music with international flavor. ( Essentials of Music) The Baroque Era (1600-1750) brought about new questions by scientists and philosophers as to why things happened and how things worked. Influential leaders such as Kings, Queens, and Emperors began to gain immense wealth and power, but lands started to form their own alliances and began control of their independence. Musicians started to believe hat songs could move people physically. People began to expirement with music, and opera gained popularity by moving its audiences with its blend of music and drama. This was also an important source of entertainment to social classes. New instrumental forms, such as concerto and sonata took form. New forms of instruments were created ( especially wind instruments,) and the violin became the most important part of the opera. It was the most popular, among other instruments, that had become equal to the human voice. ( Essentials of Music) The Classical Era (1750-1825) brought new developments in production and led to ncreased wealth, and goods. Emphasis on people’s rights and the ability to shape the environment was sought out. The American and the French Revolution were momentous events during this period. People’s view of the world and their relationship to it began to go through major change. Music was viewed as an innocent luxury, and composers had to react to an increased demand for songs. Many people started to express their emotions in their songs. ( Essentials of Music. ) The Romantic Era (1825-1900) was formed by a clearer understanding of the world and human’s place in it, which changed the way people thought of everything and everyone. Many parts of Europe tried to free themselves from its foreign rulers. Music started to tell stories, represent people, express ideas of philosophy, and to highlight national identities. Composers began to incorporate ethnic influences in their music, and musicians looked at it as a calling rather than an occupation. ( Essentials of Music. ) European music is where the search for American music’s beginnings would be found. Louis Charles Elson, author of The History of American Music states that when the Pilgrims and

English settlers found their destination ( New England), they had their religious songs that they sang, but made no attempts to change them. They would not accept any alterations to establish any new music to adapt to their new surroundings. All they did was mimic what they had learned in England. As history has proven, the migration of foreign settlers coming to America, different ethnicities religions, and customs slowly began to take its toll, and make its mark in helping music, and our way of life grow. ( Elson) One example of such influences is the arrival of Africans, brought here to our country.

During and after years of slavery, African Americans showed their unique style of song and dance, singing African folk songs, and their outstanding ability to improvise brought about ragtime and blues, which gave birth to jazz in the beginning of the Nineteenth century. Rhythym and Blues followed soon after in the 40’s, Soul in the 60’s, Funk and Disco in the 70’s, and Rap in the 80’s. Americans fell in love with these rich and enthralling styles and made them a big part of our culture, and lifestyle. Along with many other influences, such as social unrest, civil rights njustice, and violenc in the homes and streets, these innovative styles helped shape our once clean cut wholesome way of life. ( Norment) Society’s example of its apparent influence from music showed its face in the 20th Century, particularly during the 60’s. Folk music singers began writing “protest music” to express their thoughts on political choices and the war in Vietnam. Young people took a real liking to the music because it strayed from the squeaky clean image of the 50’s. It demonstrated intolerance of societies control and taught people to speak out. People embraced their new sense of freedom, xpression, and their ability to show their individualism. From Doo-Whop to Rock, from Jazz to New Jack Swing, and from Rhythm and Blues to Hip-Hop music continues to shape American influence. ( Hicks) Music has many other abilities besides changing courses of history, and influencing lifestyles. Music is also a great way to relieve stress. According to Bill Rheddie, author of Human Conditioning, Stress Management and Music, music must promote and sustain a therapeutic ambience and provide a calming influence that opens the door to reflection, corrective action, and ultimately inner peace.

I agree with Mr. Rheddie because it does not matter how old you are, or what religion or ethnicity you come from, all human beings share the same sensations of emotion, so everyone at one point does become stressed. Alot of people have ways of coping with their stress, or anger, or their sadness, and alot of people will turn to music for relief. Musicians have always told tales through song of their opinions, of their emotional battles, or of situations that they have been through. The result of such inspiring lyrics is that it helps shape our human conditioning, becoming a part of who we are ( Rheddie. I have a few friends that are not able to express themselves emotionally, so when they have a problem or are going through a tough situation, they bottle it up inside. The only way they can express themselves is through music, by choosing a song that truly expresses their state of being, or their emotional state. So in a way, they make the artists do the talking for them. Now here is some food for thought. If music is such an important part of human expression, and is influential to society, and human expression, why do some people blame the negative occurences in the media on certain genres of music?

For instance, Elyse Marie Pahler, a 15 year old California native, was gruesomely murdered in March, 1996. ( Wikipedia) The convicted killers admitted to having choked and stabbed her to death, then returning to have sex with her corpse, having done so by instructions from lyrics of the Heavy Metal Band Slayer. A lawsuit soon followed, but was thrown out because of the inability to sue them for freedom of speech. Also, the Rap community has taken alot of criticism for influencing criminal activity ( Spiecha. ) Many rappers have been accused, and/or sued for contributing lyrics that pertain to iving the ” Gangsta ” way of life, resulting in drive by shootings, drug peddling, etc. Singers, rappers, and songwriters are all protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution, so they voice their freedom of speech how they see fit. Unfortunately though, alot of artists don’t mean alot of the things that they say. Their music has such an impact on their fans, that some people take it too far. i believe that music does have an enormous impact on how we talk, think, and even dress, but people of sound body and mind are responsible for their own actions. Not to digress rom the subject, but at one point my girlfriend was physically abused by her ex-boyfriend, but she tells me that she was to blame because she would strike him when she was mad, instigating the fights. My response was simple. ” It may have been you who influenced the fighting, but in the end, he crossed the line when he chose to hit a woman, and there is never an excuse for that! ” That same statement could be said the same for those who use music as an excuse to justify their actions. Now let’s get back on track to the upside of music and its positive influence. Music has alot to do with different courses of education.

It is mathematical because it is broken down into numeric sequences, to make sure the timing is right. It is physically educating because it demands exercise of the vocal chords, and in some cases different parts of the body. Music even has a positive influence on plants and animals. Plants that are placed near classical music seem to grow faster, and it even causes animals to produce more of the essential needs that we thrive on. (O’Toole) The National Commission on Excellence in Education ( NCEE) states that schools should provide programs in the Fine and Peforming Arts. According to the NCEE music most otably contributes to school and community environments, makes the day more interesting, making learning more fun, encourages teamwork and cohesiveness, and fosters creativity and individuality, just to name a few. Statistics taken by the Music Educators National Conference found that students scored 25-45 points higher on verbal, and mathematical scores than students that took no music courses at all. Taking music courses not only helps in your education expansion, but it also helps get into great colleges and universities, because they look for students with that level of energy. (Shoemaker)

Music also seems to have a direct relationship with memory. It has been said that a person could hear a song once, and not hear it until years later, yet it would trigger what that person was doing at the time he heard that song. We were told in our Psychology class by Mrs. Dose that if you were listening to music when we were studying for a test, then it would be a good idea to listen to music when taking the test because it would help us remember alot of the facts we were studying at the time. It triggers the sub-consciences and makes us do what we would not do normally without music. ( Rizzardini)

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