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Berlin - Whissen: Welcome

Music and a City

By Morn the Gorn (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 / Wikimedia Commons

More than just Music

       Amidst the popularity of today's music industry not many can deny the effects that music has on a person.  It is designed to rhythmically unify people by invoking feelings and thoughts that pertain to our most basic desires, and fears.  Music was, and still is, a means of storytelling and message delivery. The use of war drums in a pitched battle, spoken verse tales of lineage passed down from parent to child, a crowds taunting chants to their opponents at a soccer game.  As a means of communication music can serve to divulge information through subtle tempo changes, or by direct lyrical articulation.  Almost without effort, music is capable of inspiring action within people that, for better or worse, can have drastic outcomes. "Through music making we so easily exhibit, manifest, or even advertise our sense of belonging and clarify to ourselves who we are (or think we are) or would like to be, no performance can exert universal appeal.  That is why music does not help us all feel like brothers in humankind.  Music is partisan; it is always for someone and against someone else.” (Keller, pg. 101) 

Music and Politics of 20th century Berlin: Summary

Throughout much of the 20th century Berlin, and Germany as a whole, went through a great deal of political and economic instability.  Two world wars, several changes in governing power, and division of the city between the west and east had left Berlin battered and shaken, but still standing.  As in modern times, music of these time periods often reflected the sentiments of people and government alike.  Music would quickly become a means of inspiration and a bearer of messages that otherwise could not be conveyed by words alone.  The ability music had for instating feelings in the masses was not lost on the politically powerful; in many cases they used the sweet and rich tones of national and international composers alike to spread feelings of pride, unity, fear, and hatred, whatever was deemed necessary and appropriate at the time.  This often only accomplished goals as would any double-edged sword, by leaving vulnerable the wielder, giving just as many chances for music to undermine authority as it simultaneously was used as a means of control.

 The world would firsthand learn of the power music held on the masses as propaganda reached its height during World War II.  The unstoppable swell of music as a means of conveyance for political manifesto would reach its zenith within the 1980’s and the fall of the Berlin Wall.  It is for this reason that music had the ability to transcend genres, labeling that was only deemed fit for recreation.  Those who understand the true nature of music during most of the 20th century know that the messages and feelings portrayed could not be confined to the labels producers saw fit.  Once in motion, like a runaway truck or an avalanche, music had its way of running its own course, delivering messages deemed important with very little in its way capable of stopping it.  Berlin, with its rich musical history, was in perfect position to become the setting for the utilization of music as a tool amidst all the political strife the city would endure.