Besides the oft-used Copland (or Copland-esque) music for evocation of Americana, music is an intrinsic tool during the political campaigns, and let’s face it – the 2008 campaign practically started directly after the 2004 presidential election. It is amazing that the only time that classical music is used by politicians is to punctuate dramatic points or for documentaries. Just as a start, let’s look at the American Political Conventions:
Democratic National Convention – Live musicians performing music at the rallies for the headliners like Clinton, Biden & Obama. You had pop artists such as Stevie Wonder & Sheryl Crow perform at the convention. When documentary videos were played, the soundtracks featured sweeping symphonic scores.
Republican National Convention – After a number of country music stars (Gretchen Wilson, John Ritch & Joe Nichols) coming out to perform at the convention, was it just me, but the documentaries on candidates such as McCain featured synthesized music. For the headliners, we have only recorded music – no surprise there, since both parties used specific tracks for emotional & political effect at rallies & on television. I would at least have been more impressed, musically speaking, if they would have done the video game soundtrack trick: use sample libraries to create a symphonic score & have a few real performers record tracks & voila! (Not ‘viola’ as my auto spell check changed it to!) A recording that will fool the masses but not most of us here reading this.
What does this tell us about the candidates &/ or parties? ‘Classical Music’ has only a utilitarian function for both parties really. It is amazing how much of the electorate’s emotions is manipulated by musical choices, with very little understanding of that music. I don’t see political parties discussing the value of arts or culture on the campaign trail. How does it fit into education in American life. That’s something we’ll explore later.I will not make some sort of endorsement here & you can look to past administrations to look at arts funding. That has been an issue dear to everyone involved in the arts. There are a lot of issues that people are concerned about during this American election cycle.
The most important issue in presidential & local elections is the one YOU care about. As citizens here, we have an obligation to do our patriotic duty & vote – & vote passionately. Be informed on issues, and especially about ones you care about. No matter who you support, get out the vote & make sure your colleagues, friends & family do as well.
A few Links for American Politics & Music:
Let’s use our art to make a difference. One policy trend we DO need to change: the obliteration of arts funding in schools across the country. This is eroding an already weakening emphasis of the arts & culture in favor of testing and a remedial focus on reading, writing & math. More in the Culture Wars Series soon. Upcoming topics include ‘The Value of the Arts’ & ‘Performer’s Thoughts on the Essential Mission of Music Education.’
Disclaimer – These opinions expressed here are those of Phillip W. Serna and are not necessarily condoned or reflected by DoubleBassBlog.org or the ArtsAddict Blog. To contact Phillip Serna, visit www.phillipwserna.com or www.violsinourschools.org.