In my last post, I responded to an important question my friend Andrew asked. In continuing discussion around thoughts provoked by his questions, I thought this one equally important, especially as it is in concert with our values here at the academy. Andrew asked,
“Should/does music reflect ethics or morals?”
All art reflects ethics, values, and often even a worldview or religion. This includes music. Whether the artist, painter, composer, singer, or musician does this intentionally or not may be a separate issue. But the bottom line is that you cannot create art that doesn’t do this one way or another, either directly or implicitly. This is inescapable, and because of this, all musicians should be considerate of and intentional about what I call the triple “S” factor in their music.
Every song preaches a sermon, serenades someone or something, or tells a story. It is the responsibility of every songwriter or musician who would write, record, teach, or present the song to fully understand and evaluate this factor.
Most musicians and artists today are intentional about how they express these matters in their art. In fact, often the most controversy over art hinges on the “S” factor. It is something that we as musicians and music-educators must wrestle with, and of course, this includes all artists as well.
You probably already know this whether you think about it or not. When was the last time you heard about an artist making major headlines? Chances are it had to do with an ethical, worldview, or religious statement they made with their art. Perhaps like this one. I have no intent of addressing this particular instance here; I simply offer it as an example. The “S” factor speaks loudly. And people listen to it and hear it, even if they don’t realize they are.
- If you do not already, my challenge to you is to begin thinking carefully about the “S” factor in your art.
- If you have children, or you teach music and art, my challenge to you is to consider the implications of the “S” factor in the music you teach, because you essentially sanction it by teaching it.
- If either of the above is true, my challenge to you would be to consider carefully what you value, because this ideally should shape your “S” factor. Here at the academy we have considered this carefully.
Finally, if you would like to explore this more I would ask that you consider picking up a copy of The Tuned In Musician, because I discuss this at length in the book. It will be available by the end of the month and all proceeds go to provide scholarships for student tuition to the academy