Case Studies in the Cultural and Political Uses of Popular Music Essay

Case Studies in the Cultural and Political Uses of Popular Music Essay

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For most people, music allows you to showcase your personality and individuality in ways that words or other means of communication cannot convey. There are a variety of methods this can be done through the eight functions of music: political functions, social functions, to block unwanted sounds, create an emotional state, sell products, make money, religious functions, and martial functions. While each one of these functions is important and valuable, the political function of music is by far the most powerful and controversial. The best explanation of this musical function can be found in Music Opposition/ Music of Solidarity: Case Studies in the Cultural and Political Uses of Popular Music: “Music allows them to stand and be counted, it nurtures and sustains a sense of belonging to an oppositional subculture rooted in rejection of unequal power relations” (3). In other words, the political function of music is a form of social protest that also helps to establish ones identity. The country of Brazil exemplifies very well how the political function of music works and how its culture has changed because of it- such as it’s different styles of music and how they show social protest to establish Afro-Brazilian culture in Brazil.
Brazil is known for its beautiful music, unique dances, shantytowns (also known as favelas), and annual catholic festival known as Carnival. What many people don’t know is all of these things that have shaped Brazil came from an African population that was forced into slavery around 1433 to work on the rapidly growing sugar plantations (16). Back when Brazil was first “discovered” by Portuguese explorer Pedro Cabral, many others were sailing around the world as well in search of riches and spices. In the be...


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...it expresses their deepest values and provides them with a sense of their life’s worth, of where they come from and of where they’re heading. Music gives many of us a way of being heard. We identify with it as a way to locate ourselves within the cultural matrix that surrounds us” (McMurray 3). The African-Brazilian slaves faced a lot of hardships through trying to maintain cultural identity and tradition. However, they did not surrender to the Portuguese; they fought and rebelled to keep their traditions alive. By doing this, they have managed to not only keep the African culture alive, but also bring along with them an entirely new development in musical history for Brazil. Their rebellious ways have helped to shape Brazil into what it is today – just by fighting against all others to remain to true to themselves, they have established their identity in history.

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