10 March 2013

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How Music Unites: Examples Of How Music Influences Social Change

Music is a universal way of connecting people. If you put the right sound with the right beat you have yourself a hit - but it seems that the musicians that created this work do not stop at an auditory influence. Some have gone on to change the world using not just their tunes but also their talent of bringing a crowd together for a common purpose. Usually that purpose is dancing or rocking out but occasionally it can create a real social change. Here we will look at some of the most powerful ways that songwriters and bands have used their fame.

Guitar

Music is a universal way of connecting people. If you put the right sound with the right beat you have yourself a hit - but it seems that the musicians that created this work do not stop at an auditory influence. Some have gone on to change the world using not just their tunes but also their talent of bringing a crowd together for a common purpose. Usually that purpose is dancing or rocking out but occasionally it can create a real social change. Here we will look at some of the most powerful ways that songwriters and bands have used their fame.

Live Aid 
Possibly the most notable global event in recent history to involve the work of musicians is the Live Aid festival which was created by Bob Geldof of The Boomtown Rats and Midge Ure of the band Ultravox. The concert, created to help raise money to aid famine in Ethiopia, was held at two venues - Wembley Stadium in London and John F. Kennedy Stadium in Pensylvania, United States. It was attended by nearly 200,000 people in total and was one of the largest television broadcasts to date, watched by nearly 2 billion people worldwide. A fundraising concert had never been done on this magnitude before and it was intensely powerful, a fact echoed in the $150 million that was donated. All the biggest bands in the world at the time were there and it served as one of the greatest television events in history. The musicians who performed were influential at the time - artists such as Queen, U2, Sting, Madonna, Eric Clapton - and therefore so was the event. Using their much-loved music, these artists highlighted an incredibly serious issue which had previously gone overlooked which generated further donations to the cause long after the concert had ended.

Woodstock and the 60s 
If we look further back through the decades, we can see that Live Aid was not the first festival atmosphere to inspire social change. In fact, Woodstock was the culmination of much underground social tension and is now the benchmark of the peace and love era. It was attended by over half a million people and some of the greatest artists of the time performed, including Jimi Hendrix and The Who. It was 1969 and the hippies had been in full swing for a few years and this festival was a chance to show a country that faced war a message of peace. 

The Vietnam war had a huge influence on musicians of the time and Bob Dylan became a famous advocate for a deeper social recognition of the problem. His song The Times, They Are A-Changing was released when he was already a cultural influence and his metaphorical message about social upheaval was recognised and it became the soundtrack to the era.

Global Influence 
It seems that all over the world music has the power to raise awareness in a big way and can often be more powerful than the words of any politician. In the 1980s Burkina Faso, president Thomas Sankara recruited a publicly funded band to engage people to hear his policies. Cited as Africa's answer to Che Guevara, Sankara was one of the most charismatic social powerhouses of the age and was an advocate of feminism and national health. He used music as a way of reaching people who others felt could not be reached, again showing the real power it has to unite. It can also, however, have a more serious effect as seen recently in Russia. Two members of punk rock band Pussy Riot were jailed for two years for hooliganism motivated by religious hatred after a series of songs and concerts criticising Vladimir Putin's political regime. The story received worldwide attention from human rights' groups such as Amnesty International and several politicians but also sparked many musicians to make protests on stage, these included Madonna, Sting and Yoko Ono.

It really seems that music has something that emotionally binds people. Everyone is different and yet millions of us listen to these huge, influential artists so it is no wonder that, when brought together for a common cause, musicians and the art they create can raise awareness, attention and perhaps even a global social change.
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License: Creative Commons image source 
About Today's Guest Writer:
Lucy understands the power of music.  If you want to learn too, try these guys for great inspiration!

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