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Negative Music and the Effects on Human Behavior

Essay by review  •  November 14, 2010  •  Research Paper  •  1,514 Words (7 Pages)  •  1,653 Views

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I have chosen to write about negative music and its effect on human behavior. I will trace the history of this type of music and discuss some studies which point out effects of listening to it.

What is negative music? Negative music is music that has a negative effect. One form of negative music is music that is used to express or to stimulate negative emotions. A Viennese classical composer named Arnold Schonberg was the first person to openly create negative music early in the twentieth century. His music was rejected by European concert attendees of the time and sometimes caused near riots. Based on discords, Schoenberg's music caused listeners to feel uncomfortable and irritated. However, he became the pivotal composer of the early twentieth century and today he is considered one of the greatest composers of that century. The music ushered in an era of negative music in Western classical music that lasted for over fifty years. His theory was eventually accepted by composers throughout the Western world and was taught in the finest music schools. The result of all this was the incorporation of negative music into TV programs and movies. Negative music is used to create emotions of suspense, terror, anxiety, and fear. It is the music that accompanies crime programs and horror films. The same kind of music that concert audiences rejected because of the feelings that the music invoked became standard TV fare, and for the very same reasons (5).

I never thought about the idea that scary and suspenseful music was a break from the norm. It is obvious though that it changes behavior in people. Just watch a horror flick with a friend. You will both know when something horrible is going to happen.

The learned behavior from the music stimulus ranges from sliding back in your seat, to covering and closing your eyes. The music tells you something bad is coming and you know how to respond to it.

Western classical music was the first style of music to incorporate negativity. The next step in the evolution of negative music was its introduction into rock music in the late 1960s. The first hard rock and heavy metal music was produced by the rock group called Blue Cheer somewhere around 1967. Their music was angry and had a noticeably heavy beat.. At this time, the music of the Rolling Stones, too, became harder and angry, with a negative accent. Many other groups sprang up during this period. In truth, hard drugs, mixed with psychedelics were having an effect. The world was witnessing a new phenomenon: musical groups of young men - opening doors to the psychic world through the use of drugs - were using electrified instruments to bring in a new music that was harmful to the human psyche, destructive, and angry (2).

The turning point for the new music came when the group Led Zeppelin was formed. As the book "Hammer of the Gods" points out, the members of this group were constantly high on every kind of drug imaginable. When they toured, they vandalized hotel rooms, throwing TV sets and furniture into the streets. Very young girls were tied up and sodomized, group members taking turns, and a photographer from Life magazine, assigned to photograph Led Zeppelin as they toured, was nearly raped by band members in a hotel room. Yet Led Zeppelin became the most popular group of its time. In fact, a whole generation was raised on its music. Throughout the 1970s, the music of Led Zeppelin was the anthem of American high school kids.

For many people raised during this period, demeaning the music of Led Zeppelin is a desecration of a most sacred cow (3).

The last three decades of the twentieth century saw negative rock music spread and popularized throughout the entire world. Heavy metal music became an accepted culture and is now almost an ancient music when it is compared with the newer forms of negative music that have since emerged. It is unfortunate and sad to say, but the children of the 1990s have been spoon-fed on the most negative and insolent music imaginable. Please consider what is taking place, and who is being affected.

If you listen to the radio carefully and use your powers of discernment to gain a sense of the degree of negativity in the music that you hear on the radio and TV today, you will find a great deal of the music that is lacking in positive influence. Pop music has gone down hill so much since its heyday in 1954 that the difference is shocking. In 1954, the songs of the top forty were positive, reinforcing, and romantic. There are some great singers today, but there is also a lot of really inferior, mediocre singers and music that expresses little in the lyrics, and nothing emotionally - except perhaps for anger and hatred. And so many people have gotten used to mediocrity and ugliness in music that it isn't even noticed anymore (2).

Hard rock, heavy metal, trash metal, hardcore, death metal, gangsta rap, and the like have repeatedly been proven in experiments to have a detrimental effect. David Herrel, a 16 year old at Nansemond River High School, conducted an experiment that sharpened his theory that hard rock taints the brain. Using 72 male lab mice, he separated the mice into 3 groups of 24: a control, classical, and a hard rock group. After weeks of putting them through the same maze at an original average time of 10 minutes, the control group shaved 5 minutes from the beginning time, the classical group knocked 8 minutes off, but the hard rock averaged 30-minute completion time, a considerable difference. The fact that 72 mice were tested makes his results more valid because of the larger

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