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Here is how one student responded to a journal assignment for a Queens College anthropology class on "Music, Culture, and Society":

Reflect about writing + describing music:

   I've never had to describe music to anyone before - I've always described concerts I had been to or something related to that, + I always described my reaction + the crowd's reactions to the songs + the performers. It seems easier to describe how you feel when you hear a certain kind of music - whether it uplifts you or depresses you, or if it reminds you of something or someone from your past, than actually describing the song itself. I guess that's because music is personal, even if it's "universal." Some songs can affect some people very strongly, while doing nothing to others. S how can you describe the" Unless you break the song down into certain terms + categories, but that's like overanalyzing a poem - what's the point? It loses something when it's broken apart, rather than being whole.

   When the class was asked to listen to a song + describe it I tried to concentrate on the the music. I barely heard the lyrics, the words, except for the "abominable snowman" parts - I even closed my eyes to try + feel the music, so I could describe my actual physical reactions, so I could better describe the song to the other half of the class - + it was way more difficult than Ithoughth it would be. I guess I also assumed,prejudiciallyy, that since its an anthro class, you'd play some music from an "alien" culture (Not to say the "anti-punk" culture isn't alien from us 90's folk, but you know what I mean).

—I also found it very interesting that all of the descriptions you read focused mainly on the lyrics -theactuall words. What does that say about our culture? + the power of music w/in our culture? I guess the 60's brought about writing songs that had meaning + forced knowledge to be spread, + we've continued that. Nowadays, if a song doesn't havemeaningg, or argues a point for a cause of something, it has no stayingpowere. Which actually, is kinda cool-but I think we've lost the meaning of music. Beats + sounds are supposed to evoke strong feelings as well as the words = Original music was most likely just music - then I guess it evolved into lyrics.

Personally, when I really need to feel something from music, I usually put on instrumental stuff. It lets your mind paint the pictures, instead of the lyrics doing it for you. Nothing aids the human imagination greater than music.


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