How Music Can Reflect and Change Society


Listen to the music on the Youtube links provided below. Then write an essay incorporating the following prompts:


– Critics say that Hendrix displayed both “patriotic pride” and “commercial corruption” in his performance. Do you agree? Why or why not? Be specific about which parts of the Star-Spangled-Banner you reference. For example, how does Hendrix depict “the bombs bursting in air” in his performance?

– When was Woodstock and why was it significant? What other musicians performed at Woodstock?

– What was happening in the United States at the time of Woodstock in terms of both foreign and domestic affairs? Consider the fact that many of the nation’s leaders like Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, President John F. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy had all been assassinated that decade.

– Did you know that the Star Spangled Banner has been a source of controversy since at least the 1960’s? Tommy Smith and John Carlos raised their fists for human rights while on the medal stand at the 1968 Olympics during the playing of the Star Spangled banner. Have you ever thought deeply about the song and its origins? Be sure to include historical facts about the Star Spangled Banner’s composer, Francis Scott Key in your answers. 


 How would you describe his performance of “America the Beautiful”? Was the performance matter of fact? Serious? What musical factors led you to this conclusion? Consider tempo, performance venue and his behavior after the music stops. What do you think McGill is trying to get across in his performance? Consider recent events in this country. McGill is the first African American principal musician in the 178 year history of the New York Philharmonic. Do you think this prestigious position enhances or detracts from the performance?  

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