Date of Award
Bachelor of Arts
Art is important because it sensitizes people and makes them aware of important issues and events. '[M]usic can reveal the nature of feelings with a detail and truth that language cannot approach." (Pielke 1986) It has the capacity to reach a huge audience. It is a "language understood by all without instruction ... Music is a way of holding off time, making the present fill all space. It joins us with others yet defends our privacy. It lifts the spirit, assuages grief, and sometimes teaches as well. Above all, music creates values, along with a social structure that nurtures, defends, and celebrates those values." Rock and roll performed this role in the 1950s and 1960s. It rallied the younger generation together behind a new set of beliefs and values and encouraged them to adopt new perspectives. The music became an important form of culture and means of expression. Rock and roll was not just a new kind of music, "but a whole youth-led politics that challenged the institutions of the entire society." (Ennis 1992)
Despite the significant impact that popular music has on society, it is continually overlooked, questioned and dismissed as insignificant. In reality, "the study of American popular music is important, if not essential, to our understanding of who we are and have been as people. Popular music offers a unique view into the people's beliefs during particular time periods." By studying music, one can gain insight into attitudes, ideas and fears of people. (Bindas 1992) Music has a vital connection with society. A study of music can provide an increased understanding of how society operates. I have chosen to study rock music and its impact on the younger generation of the 1950s and 60s. I hope to show how rock music acted as a cultural context for change in creating new values, beliefs and world views for the youth of the 1950s and 60s. I intend to show how it led them into and prepared them for life in the 1970s. I will examine the relationship between rock music and politics, with a focus on the Vietnam War and how protest music shaped popular opinions toward this event. I hope that my research will demonstrate the power and influence of music on society and politics.
Toraason, Sarah, "Music as a cultural context for change : a study of Rock Music of the 1950s and 60s" (1996). Honors Theses. 1169.