Music: song lyrics | Do you beleive in backmasking ? | ELT: speaking skills – topic for discussion

Music has been and continues to be an integral part of our lives and culture. Dating back many thousands of years, the earliest humans played rudimentary forms of music with very crude instruments. Over the following centuries, music, its content and the instruments used to create it evolved.

Depending on where you lived in the world, music had different significance and was used in different ways. For instance, in Ancient Greece, music was associated with the theatre and special ceremonies. In the Middle Ages in Europe, music was strongly associated with the Church. This began to shift to more secular areas as the Europe entered the Renaissance. In tribal regions of the Americas and Africa, music was integral to spiritual events and story-telling.

In the 20th century music around the world began to change rapidly. New technologies in making music, combined with improved methods of travel and communication brought areas of the world and their musical tastes closer together. The rise of Rock and Rap, notably in North America, coincided with a boom in the music industry and expansion of radio and television services related to music. This was a period of great experimentation and expansion. If you had a particular taste in music, odds were that there was type that was perfect for you. Of course, not all people agreed on what constituted ‘music’ and there was a noticeable generational clash between the youth and the older generations concerning musical tastes.

The 1950s started the rock and roll revolution and this ‘movement’ gained steam throughout the 60s and 70s. New bands emerged and new stars were born. Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, KISS, Ozzy Osbourne – just a handful of the bands and performers who shaped the music industry and caused controversy with parental and religious figures. While kids loved the new music and innovative sounds that made this music different from their parents’, the older generation grew concerned. We look back on this period and laugh because the older generation at the time believed this music was evil, degenerate and corrupting the youth. There were people who thought these bands were delivering satanic messages. In short, this new wave of music and their musicians were destroying the fabric of society.
A lot of the criticism that was aimed at the music industry 40 or 50 years ago continues to be seen today. Music and musicians are often labelled as corruptive forces and bad role models for our kids.

They dress controversially, their music sounds different and, importantly, the lyrics in their songs send messages that parents don’t want their kids to hear. Yes, the message, often hidden within the song has been upsetting uber-conservative adults for generations. With old school rock, people looked for a message that could only be heard when the record or tape was played backwards. Called ‘backmasking,’ parents of the 1960s, 70s and 80s all got their torches and pitchforks when they heard what sounded to be satanic messages coming from their kids’ vinyl records. Satan aside, hidden drug and sex references have also been popular to find, whether playing a song backwards or just translating the lyrics that are hidden in plain sight.

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