tv DW News LINKTV February 11, 2016 2:00pm-2:31pm PST
from worship to work, from politics to play, ♪ i would like to reach out my hand. ♪ it mobilizes, it tranquilizes, it heals, and transforms. boswell is supposed to have said to dr. johnson, "i'm greatly affected by music. "some music will make me weep. "some music will make me feel so brav "i could march into the thick of a battle and not be scared of anything." johnson says dryly, "if anything could make me act so foolish, i would not have anything to do with it." [low hum and sticks clacking] [cultural music montage]
(man) music has got an incredible power, presence. you know, sound is something that you can't escape when you're in its presence. [chanting and drumming] with music, there's no looking away. [spirited clarinet and guitar playing] that is part of the power of music. when you're near it, there's no escape. it can focus your attention on a particular ceremony for example.
it can act as a kind of social glue that helps a ceremony to go on over the course of several days. it keeps people's attention focused. music can be used in a work situation. you can find examples of that in africa where people are working in a field. let's say that they are planting millet or they're threshing. any kind of situation where you have got large numbers of people, you need to coordinate their efforts, you can use music to do that. [folk music] (man) music is something that people can dance to. it can move them out of one frame of mind into another. it can move them from being separate people to being one group of people. it can remind them of who they are. it also can get them out of the state
that they're in now into some other state. it transforms them. why it's powerful we can't say. we just know that music moves people. in the middle of a church service, somebody will fall out, and a lot of that has to do with the build-up that's been achieved through the music. there are many ways in which it's powerful. it's not necessarily powerful in a good way. [drum roll] [trumpet fanfare] hitler used music brilliantly to organize people ,, so the power of music is not exactly something we can put our finger on scientifically.
but we can observe it, and we can talk to people and have them tell you what it feels like to be in a music situation that does something important. (narrator) music plays a strong role in ceremonies and rituals of all kinds. in southern africa, the medicine dance of the kung is a ceremony that is usually held once a week to heal the sick and ward off evil. (brown) among the kung, music itself is a medicine which heals people physically. it heals their ailments, and that is testament to the power of music. [chanting and wailing]
the kung are also known as bushmen. they are a people who live in namibia and botswana, in southern africa. they live in a semi-arid or desert region. it's a very tough environment in which to survive. and they are hunter-gatherers. they are people who live off the land. people survive really on the margins in that environment. it's very easy to go across the line and to get into real trouble through sickness. so the alleviation of sickness and suffering is a regular need that has to be addressed. the healing ceremonies that the kung perform are one way of addressing those needs of restoring balance and harmony and health.
the sound of the music itself is a healing sound. the music comes to people on a subconscious level. it gets right to the core. and it has a way of transforming you. one of the most interesting things about the healing ceremonies of the kung is that there aren't any words. there's no text at all. yet that music is very powerful, very moving, very, very emotional music. and how does that work? you know, you hear people singing, and they're yodeling. you hear this wonderful melody, little fragments sung by one person put together with little fragments sung by another person, and together, you get a kind of composite melody that's not sung by any one person. it needs a community.
there is no audience who is sitting and watching. everybody is performing some role. you can be involved by singing. you can be involved by clapping your hands. you can be involved by dancing. but the important thing is that everybody is connected in the musical experience. [abrupt shrieks] there's a close connection between music and trance. among the kung, the men in particular, at some point in there lives, usually become healers and become capable of entering into trance. the state of trance is something that is brought about in part by the music and in part by the whole social occasion that is going on. and in that state of consciousness,
a human being leaves his own body, or his consciousness leaves his body and another consciousness comes into that body and is able to heal in that state. so the music helps the human being to bridge the gap between the natural world and the supernatural world. that's why the music itself has power. the music itself is medicine. (narrator) life cycle rights and rituals mark important moments of transition in people's lives. music often plays a vital role in elevating these events from the ordinary to the extraordinary. (cohen) i did a film in greece and in astoria queens
about this terrific community of epirot musicians. every time they have one of their celebrations-- it could be a wedding or it could be a feast day-- they have to have music. [tambourine, drums, and clarinet playing] you can't have that ritual unless you have that good music. and the best musicians are up there in the mountains of greece, and they'll fly into athens for that one festival. the issue of money isn't important-- that he's there. [music continues] you know, most places, when you want to get excited, you go faster, but somehow with the epirots, they go slower when they want to show how intense they are and expressions of agony and pain and ecstasy-- slow-moving, exotic things... it's crazy.
and they dance, and they kind of outdo each other. and they lead each other around doing these slow, slow, slow things. it's very elegant. well, by the time you get involved in that, everybody's sweating and pouring on the energy and slowing down. they're no longer where they were when they came into the room. it's a different place, and i think it's magic. ♪ on my way. (narrator) the power of music itself can be the force that draws people together. ♪ i would like to reach out my hand. ♪ at rock and roll concerts world-wide, musical performance often facilitates the creation of community.
large concerts such as those by the pittsburgh-based band rusted root are highly interactive and transformative events that bring participants together in ways that often transcend the performance itself. ♪ send me on my way. ♪ on my way. ♪ send me on my way. (man) i think the question of what is powerful about music or musical experience is very interesting, because i think it goes beyond the scales that are being performed or the particular rhythms or even necessarily the execution of it. i think that the environment that's created between the band and the audience provides some sort of emotional venue in which many magical moments happen. ♪ i may tell you to run. ♪ no ba de say no ba de ohm. ♪ from the stage to the audience, you can see how the sound pulls people together into a collective because they're all moving to the same pulse. the music is providing something for them to move to,
and they're in agreement with us on stage, and somehow, some way, we're all in this together. [music continues] (man) they'll come and watch the show, and they'll dance together, and afterwards, they'll go outside and get their drums out of their trunks and play drums in the parking lot. it's a way to bring people together in an age where it's really hard to do that because in this society, it's increasingly not set up that way. [lilting flute plays] (dispirito) i think the performance of music is very cathartic even for the people performing it. i know that i get into a very meditative space myself when i'm performing. you get lost in the music.
during the service, music acts as a catalyst that draws the whole congregation together in active participation. it comes from the word evangel, and the evangel is the spirit of good news. and so when we speak of evangelism in the new testament, we're speaking about the good news of god's love in jesus christ. all who are able, stand to your feet, and let us call ourselves together for worship and celebration. technically, what happens with the music in our service is, it begins with a prelude, and from that point on, music is almost analogous to the old steam engine. it starts rather slow, but as it builds up speed,
it increases its energy. we call our service of worship, a service of celebration and jubilation, primarily because of the good news. when you hear good news, you are celebrative. but i also recognize that on any sunday gathered in the pews of this sanctuary are persons who have not had a great deal to celebrate during the week. and so music serves not only as a rallying point, but it also serves as a therapeutic means. (man) this music has one message. you've got to feel something. you leave here, you should feel better than when you came in the door. tom dorsey was the godfather, if you will, of gospel music.
who was he? the blues musician, jazz musician, playing in the honky tonks and all that. and then one day, according to tom dorsey, god spoke to him and said, "no, no, no. "you're going to stop playing this music. we're going to bring this into the church." now, at that time, i mean, gospel music was resisted. who are these people bringing this boogey-woogey music into the church? there was a lot of opposition to it. but slowly, over time, you know, cream rises to the top. and you couldn't hold back this avalanche, this feeling, this desire, because it does speak to the people in a way that, you know, no other music form in our church really speaks to us. [choir singing] the lyrics of gospel music being scripturally based do give a message of hope. but gospel music in and of itself has its power from also the musical accompaniment.
there is a beat. there is a cadence--a rhythm. so the music must connect with people's interior. ♪ if you get there before i do, ♪ ♪ the angels up in heaven done signed my name. ♪ (woman) when you walk into a service, you may feel down, you may feel troubled, you may be distraught. ♪ the angels up in heaven done signed my name. ♪ but then the music begins, and it's soothing, and it's uplifting, and then you begin to feel you have strength. ♪ i know i've been saved.
you know you've come home. ♪ i know i've been saved. ♪ the angels up in heaven done signed my name. ♪ i'm a kid of the '60s, so for me, i came to this gospel music not through the church, but really through the movement. i mean, whenever we were in demonstrations, or i'd see demonstrations, there was always music being played. ♪ we shall overcome. (narrator) music has the power to unite people in common cause. it is often able to convey a political message in stronger and more emotional ways than speech. ♪ we shall overcome. in the 1960s during the civil rights and anti-war movements, music became a driving force in the struggle for social change. (seeger) there wasn't a single meeting that didn't have singing. "we shall overcome" was the most famous song,
but there were hundreds of others. they'd change over a gospel song, put new words to it. very common technique. it's been done for centuries. "we shall overcome" was originally a fast song. [clapping] ♪ i'll overcome. ♪ i'll overcome someday. ♪ we shall overcome. when you sing "we shall overcome," your shoulders are touching because you're crossing your arms in front of you, and swaying across from right to left. [softly] ♪ we shall overcome. well, a month after the founding of sncc, this song was sung throughout the whole south. it was the song; it wasn't a song; it was the song. in it's own quiet way, it was taking confidence. you can kill me, you can beat me,
but i know we shall overcome. (scott-mclaughlin) in the prisons, they would sing songs. when they we're being beaten by the dogs, they would sing songs. and you'd have to ask yourself what was this thing about, why were they singing these songs as they're being beaten? and the reason why they sang the songs was just like when the priest chanted gregorian chants or when a buddhist has a mantra. or when you say, "hail mary mother of god" in the catholic religion. it was a means of going inside of yourself to find the strength within to deal with the outside world. one of my mentors was bill kunseler. there was one scene he told me about when he was in birmingham where he was representing dr. martin luther king. and they had come from a demonstration or rally, and king had been told that there were men looking to kill him that night. and they drove up to a house,
and bill and king were staying in the house together with a group of other people. bill told the story that people were petrified that night. i mean, they thought that the house was going to be bombed, and they darkened the house so there were no lights at all. and he was afraid for his life. and king must have sensed this fear in the room. and he walked over to a piano and started to play "this little light of mine," and the whole group just started to sing this song, and they sang songs all through the night. and bill said at the end of this time, it was like there was nothing to be afraid of. i mean, he himself, a non-religious person, was moved by this music and himself strengthened by it. [light piano music] [explosion] [folk guitar strumming] ♪ it was back in 1942,
♪ i was a member of a good platoon. ♪ (seeger) plato was supposed to have said, "it's very dangerous for the wrong kind of music to be allowed in the republic." there's an old arab proverb-- "when the king puts the poet on his payroll, he cuts off the tongue of the poet," and when people ask me, "can songs really change people's minds?" and i say i can't prove a darn thing. all i know is that the people in power think so 'cause they keep songs off the radio and off the television that they think are dangerous for the people to hear. especially during the vietnam war, my song, "waist deep in the big muddy" [plucking banjo strings] ♪ waist deep in the big muddy, ♪ the big fool says to push on. ♪ it didn't mention president johnson by name, it didn't mention vietnam, but everybody knew what i was singing about. ♪ the captain told us to ford the river. ♪
♪ that's how we all begun. ♪ we were knee deep in the big muddy. ♪ ♪ the big fool said to push on. ♪ it was a song which was inspired by seeing a photograph showing american troops wading through, waist deep in the water of the mekong delta probably. ♪ we were waist deep in the big muddy. ♪ ♪ the big fool said to push on. ♪ i was asked to be on the smothers brothers program, and the first time i sang it, it was scissored out of the tape, in october of 1967. but the smothers brothers took to the print media and said, "hey, cbs is censoring our best jokes. it censored seeger's best song. what's going on here?" and finally in january of 1968, cbs said, "okay, okay, he can sing the song." ♪ all at once, the moon clouded over. ♪
♪ we heard a gurgling cry. ♪ a few seconds later, ♪ the captain's helmet was all that floated by. ♪ a friend of mine was working in the distribution office for columbia records in denver, colorado. he says, "pete, you know, my boss took one listen to this record and exploded." he says, "those people in new york must be nuts to think i could promote a record like this." he said, "pete, your record did not leave the shelf." so as i say, i can't prove that songs do anything, but people in control of the country think they do. ♪ another stream had joined the big muddy ♪ ♪ about a half mile from where he'd gone. ♪ ♪ we were lucky to escape from the big muddy ♪ ♪ when the big fool said to push on. ♪ ♪ i know i've been saved.