Courtney Brown, Ph.D.
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Published in 2008 by Farsight Press. From the book cover:

Politics and Music Never has there been a more pregnant opportunity than now to examine the political content of music. If politics is the blood that feeds our societies with the energy to evolve, then music is an essential ingredient to political transformation. We listen to music not only to be entertained. We listen to music to understand ourselves both individually and collectively. Yet it is precisely because music is so entertaining that it carries such great potency for political expression. With rhythm and tone, music becomes a powerful link between the emotionally rich ideas of a political thinker and the listeners. We are both political and musical creatures. This is, indeed, one of the things that makes it so fun to be human, and this is also why it is so crucial to understand the potential of music to help transform society. Employing a wide-angle view, from Beethoven to hip-hop, Courtney Brown identifies and discusses the political content of music as it has manifested in Western society for approximately 200 years. And as Brown writes, "I can see the arrival of no intermediating factors that might possibly diminish the urgent relevancy of political music as an essential element in our collective human destiny, however mundane or sublime that may be."

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Hear what others are saying about
POLITICS IN MUSIC: Political Transformation From Beethoven to Hip-Hop

"Politics in Music is a fascinating and wide-ranging exploration of the growing role of political activism in music. Starting with Beethoven's politics and the political battles in Germany to exploit Beethoven's legacy, Brown explores the growing understanding of the political power of music as shown in the nationalist fervor of Verdi, the philosophical and political goals of Wagner and Bob Marley, the legacy of the union struggles of Joe Hill, the 60's era of protest music embodied by Bob Dylan, and on to the modern juggernaut of hip-hop. There are so many interesting facets of music history presented here that are never discussed in traditional music study programs. An easy and engaging read, the book shows clearly the theme of political awareness that has developed in modern music. This book is essential reading for those interested in understanding where music is
today and where it will be heading in the future."
Albert Ahlstrom, D.M.A. (from The Juilliard School), Director of Music, Holy Spirit Catholic Church, Atlanta, Georgia.

"Professor Brown has produced an interesting and provocative book. It should appeal both to fans of music and students of politics. It will prove a valuable resource for those interested in the intersection of both domains."
Timothy J. Dowd, Ph.D., Professor of Sociology, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1. Music as a Conveyor of Political Messages

  • Representational vs. Associational Music

Chapter 2. Beethoven

  • Beethoven's Music and His Contemporary Political Environment
  • The Re-invention of Beethoven During the Second Reich
  • Beethoven and the Weimar Republic
  • Beethoven and the Nazi Peril
  • Post World War II and the Fall of the Berlin Wall

Chapter 3. Political Manifesto Music: The Cases of Bob Marley and Richard Wagner

  • Robert Nesta Marley
  • A Prelude to Wagner
  • The Essential Plot and Allegory of the "Ring" Operas
  • Alberich, Wotan, and the Babylon System
  • Life without Fear, Siegfried, and the Rastas
  • The Connection Between Love and Revolution
  • Love as an Engine of Political Change

Chapter 4. Nationalist and Patriotic Music

  • The Period of European Nation-Building
  • Italian Nationalism
  • Russian Nationalism
  • Finnish Nationalism: A Nation Musically Transformed
  • Spanish Nationalism
  • Musical Nationalism in England
  • American Nationalism
  • Modern Nationalist Hybrids
  • Nationalist and Patriotic Elements in American Country Music
  • National Anthems and Pseudo Anthems
  • The Psychology of Nationalist and Patriotic Music

Chapter 5: Industrialization and the Emergence of Labor Music

  • A Selection of Songs by Joe Hill
  • " The Preacher and the Slave" by Joe Hill (1911)
  • "The Rebel Girl" by Joe Hill (1914-5)
  • "Casey Jones—The Union Scab" by Joe Hill (1912)
  • "Down in the Old Dark Mills" by Joe Hill (1913)
  • "Everybody's Joining It" by Joe Hill (1911)
  • "There is Power in a Union" by Joe Hill (1913)
  • "Workers of the World, Awaken" by Joe Hill (1914)
  • "The White Slave" by Joe Hill (1912)
  • "Stung Right" by Joe Hill (1913)
  • "Should I Ever Be a Soldier" by Joe Hill (1913)
  • The Subsequent Labor Music Inspired by Joe Hill
  • "I Dreamed I Saw Joe Hill Last Night" by Alfred Hays (1925)

Chapter 6. Protest Music: Movement and Non-movement Motivations

  • The Vietnam War and Its Effect on the Development of Protest Music
  • Protest Music of the Late 1960s and Early 1970s
  • Comic Satire:
  • Calls for Peace, and Warnings Against Taking Protest "Too Far":
  • Psychological Portraits of Profound and Personal Inner Conflict:
  • The Fusion of Political and Spiritual Change:
  • Protest Music and Other Wars: The Chilean and Northern Ireland Cases
  • Protest Music with Non-Movement Motivations

Chapter 7. Politics and Hip-Hop

  • The Emergence of Socially Relevant Hip-Hop
  • The Radicalization of Political Hip-Hop Rhetoric
  • Class Warfare and the Rise of Ghetto-centric Gangsta Rap
  • The Transformation of Hip-Hop into a Vehicle for White Rebellion

Chapter 8. Political Music and the Transformation of Civilization

  • The Underground
  • The Future of Political Music



You can freely download the Table of Contents, the Preface, Chapter 1, and the Index of this book. Click on the download button and your browser will automatically open up Adobe Reader (version 5 or greater). You will need to save these pages from the book from within your web browser after it finishes downloading. (Click "File" and then "Save.")

You can also purchase the entire book.