Protest songs and the music of the deaf
Syn og Segn 4/2019
‘What kind of music would Beethoven have composed had his hearing stayed normal throughout his life? It is an impossible but thought-provoking question. The only certainty is that it would have been another, a different kind.’ Syn og Segn focuses on musical expression and its capacity for articulating emotion.
Eurozine review 1/2020
Ord & Bild 5/2019
Revista Crítica de Ciências Sociais 120 (2019)
Syn og Segn 4/2019
‘What kind of music would Beethoven have composed had his hearing stayed normal throughout his life? It is an impossible but thought-provoking question. The only certainty is that it would have been another, a different kind.’ Espen Aspaas quotes the composer: ‘I am doomed to be misunderstood … Wordless, isolated from conversation’, and ends with responses to Beethoven’s Apassionata, composed during the early years of his deteriorating hearing.
Jan Lothe Eriksen, a cellist and musicians’ trade unionist, stresses that the music of protest exerts a powerful unifying force. Those in authority know it: the lethal danger run by performers of protests songs in Chile prove the point. The Vietnamese singer and guitarist Mai Khoi is also at risk: ‘All she wants is to be free to be an artist, but the situation in her homeland forces her into political activism.’ Europe is not immune: ‘In 2018, Spain imprisoned more musicians than any other country – fourteen rappers were sentenced for choosing subjects like Catalan independence and the absurdity of national symbols.’
Diplomat and political speechwriter Øyvind Søtvik Rekstad praises the power of words: ‘Writing is becoming a lost art. The written language is a wizard’s toolkit that enables us to create power as if through magic. Why don’t our politicians spend more time on writing good speeches?’
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Published 24 January 2020
Original in English
First published by Eurozine