Excerpt from: Dr. Dennis Cuddy — Conditioning by Music, Part 1
In Plato’s Republic, he [Oliver Sacks (Professor of Neurology and Psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center)] stated that “the introduction of a new kind of music can alter the character of a nation.” The modern assault upon traditional American moral values began with the permissiveness of the Roaring ‘20s (e.g., look at the lyrics of the popular 1921 song “Sheik of Araby”). In previous columns, I have quoted from Antonio Gramsci, John Dewey, and Edward Bernays concerning their roles in altering societies and values, and in this column I’ll focus on the role of music in this regard.
After the Roaring ‘20s, in 1934, the bisexual Cole Porter introduced a popular musical and song by the title “Anything Goes,” which was about a shift away from restrictive codes of conduct. And in 1936, Irving Berlin composed the music and lyrics for the motion picture “Follow the Fleet” starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, in which she sang “Let Yourself Go.” In that same movie, Harriet Hilliard (later to be Harriet Nelson of “Ozzie and Harriet” TV fame) sang a song with the following lyrics: “Get thee behind me, Satan… but the moon is low and I can’t say ‘no.’… Get thee behind me, Satan, but the moon is low and I may let go. Get thee behind me. Someone I’m mad about is waiting in the night for me, someone that I mustn’t see. Satan, get thee behind me. He promised to wait, but I won’t appear, and he may come here. Satan, he’s at my gate. Get thee behind me. Stay where you are. It’s too late.” The message is clear – resistance to temptation is futile (also look at the lyrics of the popular 1942 song “That Old Black Magic”).
Two years after “Follow the Fleet,” in February 1938, Theodor Adorno (formerly of the Frankfurt School in Germany) was made chief of the music division of Princeton University’s Radio Project, which was funded by the Rockefeller Foundation. Adorno believed that repetition in music and other areas could create popularity, and that one could change the culture away from “the authoritarian personality” (belief in traditional authority) toward the “revolutionary,” liberating individuals from traditional values. He also believed that the mass media could be used for “opinion management.”
… Adorno also theorized that an emphasis on fractious music could help destabilize society.
Excerpt from: Dr. Dennis Cuddy — Conditioning by Music, Part 2
With the undermining of Biblical values through music, it was therefore not surprising that the year after “Age of Aquarius” was released as a single in 1969, Perry Como in 1970 recorded “It’s Impossible” which became very popular despite its lyrics, “I would sell my very soul and not regret it.” Similarly, in 1977 Debbie Boone recorded the popular “You Light Up My Life,” with the lyrics, “It can’t be wrong when it feels so right,” intimating that how one feels about a female-male relationship is more important than whether it might otherwise (e.g., morally) be wrong.
In the late 1960s and through the 1970s, rock music was followed by “hard rock.” Writing about this in Crisis in Christian Music (2000), Dr. Jack Wheaton explained that “the repetitive, constant loud backbeat” of the drummer, “the pulsating (at an ear-splitting level), low-frequency vibrations, and the soaring, wailing, crying sounds of the amplified guitar trigger major subconscious emotional responses in the body, primarily stimulating aggressiveness, as well as providing increasing, but difficult to control, energy.” He further related that when this music triggers the listener’s fight-or-flight syndrome, “the body is actually getting ‘high’ on its own internally-produced drug (adrenaline), resulting in… an increased tendency to aggressive and anti-social behavior.”
According to Dr. David Noebel, this type of music has harmonic dissonance and melodic discord, which violate man’s natural body rhythms. And Dr. John Diamond, a New York City psychiatrist, some years ago studied beats of over 20,000 recordings and concluded “that a specific beat (‘stopped anapestic rhythm,’ which is contrary to our natural body beats and rhythms) found in over half of the top hits of any given week can actually weaken you…. It interferes with brain wave patterns causing mental stress.”…
Kimberly Smith in Music and Morals (2005) has explained that what is going on in music today is about “control.” Traditional music, including traditional Christian music, is characterized by self-control, but rock music, including “Christian rock,” causes a loss of self-control.
Music has been used to destroy our traditional Biblical values, conditioning us to abandon self-control over our emotional impulses. And often the conditioning mechanism isn’t obvious. Click on the highlighted phrase “hidden, sometimes illicit message” in the ABC News report, “Lewd Lyrics Hidden in Hit Songs” (March 24, 2009), and it leads you to “Drug Drenched Lyrics No Music to Parents’ Ears” by Carla Williams (ABC News Medical Unit). The news report quotes “Coke and rum; got weed on the ton,” and says “So chime the lyrics of one of rapper 50 cents top singles in 2005. And such provocative messages, including those about alcohol and drugs, may well constitute a dominant theme in popular music.” The report then indicated that Brian Primach at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Prof. Lisa Merlo in the Division of Addiction Medicine at the University of Florida “agreed that these messages have potential to sway behaviors in younger listeners.” The report revealed that 77% of rap music songs mentioned the use of illicit substances and 37% of country music songs studied made such references.
Excerpt from: Dr. Dennis Cuddy — Obamacare?
[NOTE: There has been some interest in my earlier series “Conditioning By Music,” and one point I want to make is that the examples I gave were just a few of the many that exist. For example, in addition to songs like “That Old Black Magic,” there are other similar ones like “Witchcraft” released in 1957 and made popular by Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley and others. Look at the lyrics to the song and ask yourself why would it be so popular? The words say:
Those fingers in my hair
That sly come hither stare
That strips my conscience bare
And I’ve got no defense for it
The heat is too intense for it
What good would common sense for it do?
‘Cause its witchcraft, wicked witchcraft
And although, I know, it’s strictly taboo
When you arouse the need in me
My heart says yes indeed in me
Proceed with what you’re leading me to.
It’s such an ancient pitch
But one I wouldn’t switch
‘Cause there’s no nicer witch than you.
In addition, one can see conditioning by music today in such things as TV ads for certain medicines with possibly fatal side effects. The announcer recites the benefits of the medications in a slightly positive tone of voice, and then as the possibly deadly side effects (e.g., heart attack, stroke) are described, a soothing music might be played lessening the apprehension of the viewer/listener.