Music As an Expression of Identity

Music As an Expression – Since the beginning of time, music has been used as an expression of cultural identity. Ancient tribal societies used music as a foundation for gatherings and to express their history, ethnicity, and cultural beliefs. Music has changed throughout the ages, but the use of music as an essential part of cultural and individual expression has changed very little.

Music As an Expression

Music’s integral connection to identity is often difficult to recognize, especially in today’s society where music may not be viewed as being as message-oriented as it once was. There were times when entire generations or cultures of individuals each knew the same songs. During World War II, entire nations of people sang songs that expressed their national identity with their cause and their connection to their fighting forces.

Again, with the protest songs of the 1960s and 1970s, the people of the nation explored their feelings about war, youth, and racial unrest. And, as music as a form of expression has grown, different individuals within the same society have come to identify with varying forms of music as their own individual expression of self.

Although music may not be as blatantly descriptive as the songs of decades past, music speaks to the individual in the same way that the individual speaks through music. A nation of parents sat perplexed as their children became entranced by the sounds of rock and roll, and now there are as many types of music to identify with as there are generational cliques to adapt the musical message.

Parents are still perplexed by youth who dress like Britney Spears and Eminem and who use language expressed in song. The addition of music videos has also added a note to self-expression through music that wasn’t present until the last few years. Unlike past generations, today’s youth can see how the music is being expressed and can identify visually with their chosen genre. Television and the internet have also allowed international peoples to share their cultures through music.

music as an expression
Music As an Expression

Whether music is viewed as being an influence on youth or as being influenced by youth, is still secondary to the fact that it has always been present as a socializing factor. Whether that socialization takes place as a part of a group membership or as a way to express individuality, there is no way to ignore the fact that the influence and expression of music expand as the world community shares more of its musical styles. (Music As an Expression)

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People may find that music speaks to them in a certain way, moves them in a certain way, or that they identify with its message. People may also find that they can use music to express themselves as individuals as well as to conform to a group. Doubtless, music and its connection to individual and group identity will take on new forms as people continue to be exposed to varying forms of music and culture.

The art of playing or singing with a personal response to music is known as Music As an Expression.

On a practical level, this involves bringing the music to life with proper dynamics, phrasing, timbre, and articulation. In the notation of a musical score, composers might describe these aspects of expressiveness to a greater or lesser level.

Throughout the history of classical music, the notion of musical expression has been debated on a theoretical level. Music, according to one popular viewpoint, both conveys and generates emotion, acting as a channel for emotional communication between the performer and the listener. (Music As an Expression)

This viewpoint has existed throughout the history of music, but it was most strongly represented in musical romanticism. However, individuals like Igor Stravinsky, who consider music as a pure art form and emotions as an unimportant distraction, have questioned the function of emotion in music.

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