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The Times, They’ve Been A Changing—the Evolution of Protest Music in America

From Bob Dylan to Kendrick Lamar, music has always been foundation for protest and resistance.

Dating back to the early days of colonization, American protest songs have shifted in style and form.

The earliest protest songs were written in an era of oral tradition, where simplicity and familiarity were required to make music the music catch on.

The invention of sound recording subsequent mass distribution on the radio changed the way that society interacted with protest music. Now the songs didn’t necessarily need to be so catchy, or based on melodies that people already knew. That thread led to an explosion of the art form, with artists from jazz, gospel, folk and many other backgrounds contributing to the protest music canon.

In the 1980s, the advent of music video on television opened up a new medium of artistic expression. Now there was a visual element to add to a video—the filmed content as potent as the music itself in directing discourse.

In the modern era, interactivity reigns supreme. Whether it’s a clever deliverance of a hashtag, or multiplatform virality, protest music has adapted to the era by using modern tools to boost the point of views of artists.

(from Vox)


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