Music, The Litmus Test for an Era

Essay by courtsheppCollege, UndergraduateA, April 2010

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A Litmus test is method that chemists use to find out specific chemical properties of a solution. Its results tell the chemist whether the solution in question is of acid or basic pH. This might not sound all that significant, seeing as though it does not give any deep incite to what the solution might contain or the chemical structure or properties of said solution, but it does allow the chemist to know exactly how that particular type of solution will react with other solutions. Well, this same type of theory can be used when thinking about music. Over the ages, many different types of musical expression have been used to describe an individual or groups emotional state of mind. In the same context of the Litmus test, if one was to dissect the different types of music that were produced in a particular time, it would be possible to get an idea of the overall attitudes of the people creating that music. Again, like the Litmus Test, it would not necessarily reveal exactly what a particular family might have been doing on a particular day, but it allows the listener to have an idea of the overall interaction between the way life was going and how those that were living it reacted to it.

It is easy to just "hear" music, but more often than not, we don't actually "listen" to what the music is telling us. It is much easer to "hear" the music of previous eras and generations, than it is "hear" the music of today. Only when we look back at the whole picture, of everything that was going on at a particular time, is when we can understand what the music is describing. This fact holds true in many different venues, but of some of...