The Importance of Music in a Democracy

By: Mario PAGANO

Do moments when the rich and the poor share common social spaces still exist?

One of the possible answers to this question is Music. There are few things still capable of building up a sense of integration, friendship and love in our society like Music does. In the last few years, I realized how important Music is in a democracy (and also here at the College of Europe), but let me tell you why.

First, Music is powerful: a confirmation of its qualities can be found in the terroristic attacks in Paris, in particular in the one at the Bataclan, where people got shot during a Music concert.

Terrorists killed people in their everyday life, during one of the happiest and most peaceful moments of their existence. What victims were doing was the very opposite of what they suffered, and it is probably also for this reason that they were murdered: because they were experiencing a moment of pure freedom.

Indeed Music is freedom: freedom of expression, of feeling rebellious, of being creative, of dancing, of screaming, it’s one of the few real moments of escape that our existence allows us.

Because of this feature, Music keeps us human. I find it essential to underline this aspect, especially here at the College. Music reminds us that we are not robots, that we have feelings, and even if we sometimes forget how human and imperfect we are, Music pushes us to deal with those feelings and with the dark side of our moon.

Moreover, Music really is a universal language: musicians who have just met often seem like best friends when they start playing their instruments. Furthermore, Music is one of the rare things in life a person cannot dislike, and it definitely is capable of reaching everyone (raise your hand if you don’t know Hey Jude!).

Music removes inequalities: it unifies people from different social classes under a common roof. It may seem strange, but do we really care about how well we’re dressed during a concert or while we’re playing Music? Our outfit may seem to be worth looking at during an Opera at the Theatre La Scala in Milan, but that has nothing to do with Music: that’s social acceptance, no one is going to notice your tie when Music starts playing.

Music may bring positive and constructive messages to people, and is useful for social awareness on crucial topics. Let’s think about what Punk Rock was in the 70’s in the UK, what Bob Dylan did with Blowin’ in the wind, what the Woodstock festival meant in the 60’s, and what the Blues was for the African American Community of the US in the 19th century. Sometimes a few notes may express our ideas or our thrills better than thousands of books.

Finally, I wanted to say a few words about our band here at the College, Le Repas Froid. I feel so lucky to have found, here in Bruges, this bunch of crazy and talented people who allow me to share such great moments with them doing what we love the most. I love the fact that every member of the band has a different European nationality, and that we live our different roots as a positive addition to our Music. I also personally want to thank all the students for their support and love: we consider the opportunity to play for you a huge privilege.

This is to underline the last feature of Music I would like to tell you about: Music is an expression of beauty, and beauty, in the end, is the only thing that we are looking for in our lives and the only thing that really matters.

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