New Avid Listener Essay! Justin Patch, “The Power of Sound: The 2016 Presidential Campaign”

I realize that we are all sick of the presidential race by now. But the primaries aren’t over. Quite a few states head to the polls tomorrow, and we want you to have every possible bit of information possible before you vote. As editors of a music blog that offers the best in public musicology (data based on recent exit polls), we take our social responsibility seriously. So in the spirit of Civics education, we offer you this essay about music and presidential candidates who have already dropped out of the race. Yay!

More seriously: this week Justin Patch shares with us his take on music and presidential campaigns. What kid of music shows up in campaigns? Why? Why are there sing-alongs at some presidential rallies and not at others? Ok, Justin doesn’t cover all of this, but he makes a dent in the broad discussion.

Here’s a teaser: “The modern political campaign is an emotional and sensory affair. It is not rational or reasonable, nor is it concerned with presenting best policies and practices for governance, fostering the greatest good for all, or sensibly managing the world’s largest economy. Instead, campaigns appeal to pathos, optimism, nationalism, and fear. They use stereotype and caricature, level unverifiable accusations, present policies and platitudes devoid of possibility, and deal in clichés and sound bites. Campaign ads stimulate emotions and provoke strong (partisan and intra-party) reactions rather than laying the groundwork for deliberative debates on policy, process, purpose, or vision. The modern campaign, as the founders of democracy in the New and Old Worlds feared, is an appeal to humanity’s basest instincts: fear, hatred, paranoiacompetition, and hope. The power and profundity of sound make it an essential but dangerous element of political campaigns.”

You can read the entire essay here, and if you love this topic, you should then head over to Trax on the Trail (created by my friend Dana Gorzelany-Mostak!) and dive into the rich resources. Party on, and GO VOTE!

The Avid Listener: Listen. Write. Discuss. Repeat.

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