Friday, December 16, 2011

Plato on Greek and Modern Music

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Dance, poetry, and music seem inseparably associated in the early history of music in ancient Greece. The Greeks considered music a very important aspect of their culture having mathematical and cosmic significance. Music was described as an art exerting great power over human beings, meaning that the sound and influence of music often controlled and assisted in forming the human soul. There were many great philosophers of the time whom believed this theory to be true especially Plato. Plato thought music along with gymnastics should be a central aspect of education of the rulers. Plato was one who heavily believes that music is a potent force in forming the soul and impacts the character as well as the virtue of all humans. This theory forces one to think of the impact of modern music on people today, in a society where there is constant controversy surrounding certain popular music genres such as rap and heavy metal. Music lyrics have undergone dramatic changes since the introduction of rock and rap music more than 50 decades ago. This issue of interest raises several questions that I will address and discuss, pertaining particularly to rap lyrics and videos.

One of the most important questions surrounding this topic is what images and values or understandings about ourselves as humans can be derived from this redesigned form of music and what can be done to prevent this foreseen problem. Well, most teenagers and even myself tend to interpret their favorite songs as being about love, friendship, growing up, life’s struggles, having fun, cars, religion, and other topics that relate to life and the life they wished they had. The lyrics of these songs along with the videos portray an ideal life for any young adult. Most rap videos include beautiful males and females living in luxury, the houses are huge and always have anywhere from -5 cars parked in the garage. These videos portray a life fit for a king, and never include how these items were gained or what type of jobs these people hold. These particular types of videos make youngsters very materialistic and greedy. In fact, I was one of those teenagers who deeply admired those lavish items I viewed on T.V. I mostly desired the clothes, jewelry and cars, and I wanted them immediately. I would sometimes sit and wonder while watching one these videos, why am I in school going to classes I hate? And doing homework that I don’t want to do? and also getting very frustrated because I was unable to work due to the time consumption and demands of school. It took me about two years to realize that I need to complete school, and I have all my life to work and earn money so that I may buy the things I want in life, but all teens don’t come to this realization. Most teens are beginning to place money and materialistic items over the importance of their education.

Some teenager’s music preference is highly significant in others ways a lot more harmful than just desires and hopes. Many young adults pick up bad habits from the lyrics and videos used to portray a particular lifestyle. Rock, heavy metal and rap music have become significant markers for alienation, substance abuse, psychiatric disorders, suicide risk, sex-role stereotyping, or risk-taking behaviors during adolescence. For some teens the lyrics and videos of modern music is the first exposure they have into the dangerous world of drugs and violence. The song lyrics of today range anywhere from explaining how to make illegal drugs to killing another person and how to get away with the crime. Today young adults and even some children can more readily recite these violent lyrics with less mistakes and feeling than the national anthem.

But what is being done to stop our nation from following the violent lyrics of modern music that is meant solely for entertainment purposes? Well there are several things that can be done. First, there should be higher parental monitoring. Parents should take an active role in their child’s life, taking note of what music they are buying and what radio stations they are listening to. Secondly, there should be a continuous use of warning stickers letting parents and listeners know that an album contains explicit lyrics. Without these warning stickers parents and consumers would not truly know what was contained in the music being purchased. Thirdly, artist should begin to take responsibility for their works. I am not saying that they are responsible for every child that listens to their music, but they do need to realize that they are role models to countless children of varying ages and they should not target their marketing strategies at a younger crowd if the lyrics are not meant for their ears.

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In closing it is crystal clear that lyrical content of modern music has had a noticeable affect on the actions of all society. Therefore, the theory of Plato has some validity to its argument. It is indeed true that the genre of music that humans choose to listen to will affect their soul as well as their character. If Plato were alive today he would not agree with contemporary music, it goes against all that he believes. According to his theory all of the teens of today would have corrupt souls and never reach a justice life. The nations youth would be and are today committing crimes, drinking alcohol, using drugs, and forming racist or sexist opinions. These actions are learned actions, and are based upon the words written for obscene music.

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