The Future and Role of Music in Modern Society

Submitted by: Cal State University, Northridge

by Amy Izushima and Alicia Ramirez (mentor: Diane H. Roscetti)

In response to The Savvy Musician Challenge #1 

Are Musicians Truly Important? Most people immediately agree that doctors, farmers, and teachers provide essential services to our communities.  But what about musicians?  Is our work vital?  What kind of important differences can we make?

Every era in time is accompanied by music of its time, almost like an imprint that reflects a cultural reality always striving for aesthetics. Music is truly a narrator of what human beings have gone through and are still evolving to become. We would imagine that, without music, the human life span will be shortened because without music, our ability to emotionally express will be limited and that would be directly linked to our mental and physical health. Music can be enjoyed, created, and played by virtually anybody. But, to sustain, create, and spread music that can be appreciated by the mass is a difficult thing to master.

Music can be made and played by virtually anybody, but only up to a certain level. Not anybody can play a piano like Elton John (pop); Bill Evans (jazz); or compose an emotionally riveting song like “Imagine” by John Lennon; or a triumphant masterpiece like Beethoven’s 5th Symphony. To master an instrument, a person would have to dedicate a big portion of their life to the instrument to play music. Hence, the profession: Musician.

Are musicians truly important? Some answer no, and we know there are people who would say that because of the image of certain musicians who are just lazy bums, who have addiction problems and do music because they just love being a “rock star”.

Then, we would say this to these persons, “Imagine your life without music”. Because, without a musician, there is no way to preserve music and to have music performed and be heard by people. Imagine yourself without lullabies sung by whoever cared for you when you were a baby; no birthday song on your birthday; no song to learn your alphabets; no songs to go along with the games you play with your classmates in school; no music in the Disney movies you watch; no songs to sing at high school football games; no music to listen to when you fall in love or when someone breaks your heart; no music to dance to; no music to accompany your graduation; no music to your wedding; no music to go along with your funeral. By listing all these events, you can tell how much music is integrated into our life.  The lullabies and birthday songs were probably sung by people who did not make music a career, but those songs were created by musicians and the song played on your graduation and wedding were played by musicians (whether it was a live performance, midi-recording, or a instrumental recording).

Our emotions and the feeling we get during certain events are important to us because that is what makes us human. The emotions of joy, sadness, anger, fear and anticipation can be enhanced when paired with the “right” music, and can also manifest emotions by just listening to the music that is paired with it. Music affects and manipulates emotion and the brain tremendously.

Music, as we’ve seen, is certainly a true companion of humans as it works quite efficiently in mirroring behaviors, needs, emotions and, therefore, the essence of a sub-culture within a bigger culture all over the globe. Music provided by musicians is generous, never discriminatory; rather a friend of every single human on earth, regardless of sex, age, social status, preferences or diagnosis. Music, then, has many functions, like the energy, that gives birth to what is almost a soundtrack to life. It is the social, emotional, and cognitive vehicle of society, reflecting the imprint of our present identity and the always-evolving identity.

Understanding music and some of its functions includes music as a container of emotion. A lot of our music preference taps into our deepest, most genuine, emotions and eventually affects our state of mind and, therefore, our behavior. Music has been an efficient carrier of information that has been used for centuries as a vehicle to communicate and teach, because it effectively taps into memory. Just imagine the ABC’s at school, or the array of lyrics in millions of tunes that influence people’s minds with a message consciously and unconsciously. Music behind commercials and movies move alarming amounts of money, and provide the element of entertainment as well as consumerism. As Plato reaffirmed, music needs to be treated with care, as it shapes our character. 

Just as importantly, rhythm within the creation of music is a crucial aspect imbedded in our daily life, not only in the music we listen to, but in the way we are with ourselves and others. Rhythm is present and consistent in our dialogue, in the way we carefully and unconsciously coordinate social interactions. Rhythm is an organizer that acts as a physical structure and energizer. Think of the many ways in which rhythmic music can be used, when exercising, dancing and while working on other daily tasks (Hodges and Sebald). Studies have shown that rhythm and melody affect bodily responses altering blood pressure and heart rate, just to mention a few physiological responses. It’s important to keep in mind that all these changes affect the state of mind and that, without music and musicians to provide the music, the world would change dramatically.

There is much more regarding music and musicians that makes a difference around the globe. The study of music, as well as the psychology of music, has become increasingly more extensive, allowing new appreciation of the recurring presence and power of music. Disciplines such as Music Therapy, which, after careful assessment, strategically uses music to address a specific goal; cognitive, social or emotional for a specific client. This shows the overwhelmingly powerful effects of music and a few ways in which it is used today for the benefit of people.  

Musicians create and perform music that enhances and manifest emotion; is used as a carrier of information, a method used to teach information by all cultures; is also effectively used in science and therapy. We all have our lives to live, and we all usually devote most of our time and life to one specific aspect which usually is related to our career. Musicians devote most of their time creating music and to perfecting their artistry with an instrument. Music itself requires these kinds of artistic and dedicated people to sustain and spread its creation.  

Music Entrepreneurship is one of two courses used to fulfill a requirement for Music Majors at CSUN.  Our mentor, Prof. Roscetti is a vivacious and passionate professor who teaches us how to be a successful entrepreneur in the field of music. Our class consists of students who are open to discuss every matter relating to music and entrepreneurship.

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