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Music as a Nationalistic Tool

Uploaded by wonder_boy on Mar 03, 2002

Music has been a powerful force throughout history. Its power has affected all aspects of people’s lives. The ideas and attitudes people have toward their country can easily be seen in their music. While music in the early part of the modern era (1400-1900) served to promote patriotism and nationalism, music’s role in the late 20th century seems a reversal and has been a deconstructive force challenging nationalistic feelings.

The origin of all music is cultural (Nettl 940). Folk songs tell a story of one’s culture (Nettl 940). The traditions of a nation and the feelings of people towards that nation are first displayed in folksongs. (Nettl 76). “Culture grew from everyday life of the people. It was made up from all that was specific to a particular nation: their native speech, their folklore, their religious deviations, their idiosyncratic practices.” (1). The origins of modern European nations can be traced to ancient folksongs and lore.

The folk songs and the musical style reflected the inner characteristics of the culture (Nettl 7). Epic songs were the earliest of musical stories (Nettl 93). These songs were told by traveling minstrels about the history of an area (Nettl 93). “The Song of Roland” typifies the epic song as they impact folk culture and feelings of nationalism (Nettl 93). In “The Song of Roland”, the main character extols the people:

Says Oliver: “Pagans from there
I saw; Never on earth did any man
see more. Gainst us their shields
a hundred thousand bore, that laced
helms and shining hauberks wore:
and, bolt upright, their bright brown
spearheads shove. Battle we’ll have
as nev’ was before. Lords of the
Franks, God keep you in valor!
So hold your ground, we be not overborne”
Then say the Franks “Shame take
him that goes off: If we not
die, then perish one and all” (2)

In the minds of the Franks a nationalistic spirit was already forming.

From the folklore and myths emerged some of the greatest modern operas of Europe (Davies 20). These operas promoted nationalism by appealing to national pride insuring their popular success (Grout 411). Operas appealed to pride by utilizing the ancient folktales known by all (Grout 411).

During the Romantic Era many new composers utilized their nation’s folksongs and music (Romantic Era np). One example is Felipe Pedrell (1941-1922), a Spanish composer who used folksongs and folk music of the past to compose his most famous opera, La Celestina (3) (Grout 482). Pedrell was a hardened nationalist...

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Uploaded by:   wonder_boy

Date:   03/03/2002

Category:   Art And Music

Length:   8 pages (1,807 words)

Views:   1823

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