Can Music Be Evil?

Author: ethang5 ,

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  • ethang5
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    We all know that music alone can make us feel a certain way. That most of us associate certain key sequences as eerie or weird. The horror movie industry works on this truth.

    In tests done all over the world to different cultures, "scary" music seems to be scary universally. There is something in the music, overriding culture, that prompts feelings of "wrongness" or "evilness".

    So my question to you is, can music itself be evil? Are certain note structures wrong in and of themselves?

    If your answer is no, then why do we see some music as weird or evil?
    And why does this view seem to be consistent across cultures and ethnicities?
  • Smithereens
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    --> @ethang5
    It's illegal to incite violence, presumably it's evil as well.
    Using music to incite violence would be evil. 

  • Smithereens
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    if you're talking about why discordance is discordant across cultures, that's because perception of pitch is biological and completely irrelevant to your upbringing. The human brain does not naturally consider a diminished 5th aesthetically superior to a perfect 5th.
  • ethang5
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    --> @Smithereens
    But why would we perceive it as "evil" instead of just discordant?

    From whence comes the willies? The heebie-jeebies? The goosebumps?

    How would one use music alone to incite violence?

  • Smithereens
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    --> @ethang5
    The unpleasantness is why many cultures associate it with evil. It's ugly and undesirable. Why would anyone associate it with their ideas of good?
  • Greyparrot
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    --> @ethang5
    The source of all evil is religion.

  • ethang5
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    --> @Smithereens
    Good point. But I wonder, do we associate all unpleasantness with evil? Are ugly people thought of as eerie? Evil? Do tummy aches make us feel like something wicked this way comes?

    Also, not all "scary" music is discordant. Some of it is quite nice, and a few bands have made a living from it.

    Though that answer has some truth, I can't help but feel it misses something.
  • ethang5
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    -->@Grayparrot

    The source of all evil is religion.

    So since music preceded religion, was music not thought of as scary until religion?

    If the source of all evil is religion, what does that say about the human apparent love and attraction for religion?

    Are non-religious societies less evil than religious ones?
  • EtrnlVw
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    --> @ethang5
    We all know that music alone can make us feel a certain way. That most of us associate certain key sequences as eerie or weird. The horror movie industry works on this truth.

    In tests done all over the world to different cultures, "scary" music seems to be scary universally. There is something in the music, overriding culture, that prompts feelings of "wrongness" or "evilness".

    So my question to you is, can music itself be evil? Are certain note structures wrong in and of themselves?

    Well there is a difference between scary, weird and "evil" for example many things can sound and look eerie, scary or weird and not be evil or inherently evil. There might be a night sky or eerie looking weather and clouds that look menacing but they aren't evil. Same with tones, sounds and noises....minor notes tend to sound darker than major notes and so they have an eerie feel to them but I wouldn't say evil and so I don't believe music in and of itself could be evil. Even when say an "evil" person is composing music and wishes to portray the music as a representative of the dark side the composer is just using universal notes in an arrangement of its choices that come across as dark. Tones in themselves are just vibrations, movement there's nothing malicious about them.

    If your answer is no, then why do we see some music as weird or evil?

    I think there are two factors, one in which I've stated is that certain notes have an eerie sound to them, and two you have the composer which has the ability to arrange those notes.....he may want to convey something dark, and we see and hear that in the final product but the material (tone) is indifferent, inanimate and has no quality of awareness IMO. And again, there is a big difference between weird and evil, which makes this confusing to answer. If you just stick with evil, and not weird and eerie the answers are black and white.

    And why does this view seem to be consistent across cultures and ethnicities?

    Because like I said, certain tones (which are inanimate, they have no conscious nature) which are vibrations have an eerie sound to them and then on top of that a composer can use a compilation of "eerie" sounding notes to create a final product. To me, pipe organs sound eerie and yet it's played in Churches lol, as well as horror films. Thunder sounds scary but it's not evil.....fog looks creepy but it's not evil. I think you get my point music is just an arrangement of universal notes, the composer is free to arrange those notes but the notes themselves aren't evil.

    A Composer or musician can have evil intent but the notes in which music is arranged is neutral. 



  • ethang5
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    --> @EtrnlVw
    I get you, but I'm not the one conflating eerie and evil. Horror movies all deal with evil and are almost always eerie and spooky. So is Halloween. It is people who associate evil and spooky.

    I know music is just vibrations, but it still can elicit certain emotions and perceptions in people. Could music that elicits feelings that it is evil be because it is evil?
  • EtrnlVw
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    --> @ethang5
    I get you, but I'm not the one conflating eerie and evil. Horror movies all deal with evil and are almost always eerie and spooky. So is Halloween. It is people who associate evil and spooky.

    Yeah I get it, but the nature of what we are discussing calls for specifics and it's getting in the way of a clear cut answer. As I said, things can appear and sound eerie but that doesn't always mean that its evil. I think you get that so no need to harp on it.

    I know music is just vibrations, but it still can elicit certain emotions and perceptions in people. Could music that elicits feelings that it is evil be because it is evil?

    No, I don't think so because notes have no conscious nature as we discussed....Yes it can elicit emotions and perceptions because of the composer not the tones necessarily, because the same notes one were to use in a horror song, I can use for a romantic composition. Notes have that quality about them, they can be used to invoke many things, all with the same tones being used. I think you would have better luck targeting the composition or the composer, not the tones.
  • EtrnlVw
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    --> @ethang5
    Could music that elicits feelings that it is evil be because it is evil?

    Here is the interesting thing, the final composition could inherent the energy of the composer, and in that light of evaluating this, you may have a more precise point being made. I'll give you the composition but not the notes or tones in themselves. 
  • ethang5
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    --> @EtrnlVw
    So you're saying a musical composition could be evil?
  • EtrnlVw
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    --> @ethang5
    So you're saying a musical composition could be evil?

    Let me ask you this, so I know that you are getting the distinction.....let's say an "evil" composer put together a song of his choice of notes/arrangement......and let's say that I played the same tune with the same notes.....would you say that both of those performances were "evil"? 
    I guess what I'm saying is that music and tones in and of themselves are not evil, but negative energies can be transferred through artists or composers. I can play an eerie sounding song and yet I would not classify it as evil, do you get the distinction I'm making or is it irrelevant? I can take the same instruments and the same notes and use them to create something completely different. In a nutshell it completely depends on the composer, much in the same way guns are not evil, but they can be used by someone of evil intent. 
  • EtrnlVw
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    --> @ethang5
    In your OP you asked this....
    "So my question to you is, can music itself be evil? Are certain note structures wrong in and of themselves?"

    I'm just making the distinction between certain note structures and the composers themselves. If we make that clarification we can have a more precise communication. 
  • EtrnlVw
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    Ethang do you play any instruments, guitar or something?
    Not that you aren't aware but all composers pull from the same universal selection of notes with different instruments and they arrange those notes in a way which conveys what they to want convey. But, I could use thunder and an eerie sky scene to convey something dark as well but neither the sky nor the thunder are evil or even "dark". I could even use the same instruments and even the same notes of an eerie song and convey something majestic and divine (again this is all the obvious).
    If I were to play an A chord (major) on the guitar it would sound like a bright happy note, on the other hand if I switch that note to an Am (minor) it sounds creepy, or eerie, it has a more dark sounding tone to it. Now I can do many things with that note, I can use it with other minor notes and have a really dramatic sounding piece.....on top of that I can take an Am or an Em and add distortion to it, I can play it really heavy and crazy. I can add any effect to that note and emphasize the emotion or feel of my creation. But again, this is all playing with inanimate notes, creating the illusion of something "scary". On top of me selecting darker sounding tones I can add lyrics, and those lyrics could portray anything I wish. But again, are the actual words I'm using evil in and of themselves? or is it just the intent behind it?

    Anyways it's an interesting topic, I just think it would help to make the distinction between certain notes, music and note structures and the actual intent of the composer or the nature of the composer. As I said already, the final composition could carry/transfer the musicians energy but the material used to compose it is neutral. Someone just having fun could create a Halloween song making it "sound" creepy or "evil", but it's not really evil in and of itself, it just gives the impression of something creepy. Am I answering your initial question lol? I can be a bit anal in my responses but I usually have a point to be made. If you're asking me can negative energies in a composed piece of music have a negative influence I would say yes, but it's not the tones or instruments. If you're asking me if I think certain vibrations and tones are inherently evil then my answer is an obvious no.

  • ethang5
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    --> @EtrnlVw
    I get the distinction between the music and the composer. There is even a further distinction between key structure and particular keys used. For example, Beethoven's 5th can be done in D-minor  or E-sharp. 

    Just as some arrangement of words would make most agree they are evil, and some arrangement of paint could do the same, (even getting the painter arrested), could the evil/offense ever be in the arrangement (of the words/music/notes) themselves?

    When a painter is arrested for a vulgar or inappropriate painting, he is arrested for the arrangement of the paint. Had he arranged the same paint differently, he would have escaped sanction. The offense is in the arrangement, not the paint.

    But music, unlike paintings, is dynamic. An arrangement of notes is supposed to "move". Each note has a relationship to the others. This is not the case with paint.

    Could those relationships between the notes be what is/brings about evil?
  • ravensjt
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    --> @ethang5
    I assume your talking about instrumental music (as opposed to lyrics)?

    I know that music certainly helps with depression and isolation with certain people......same thing with art


    I think that would all agree that music does communicate through emotions, evoke images, etc.......  But we would not all agree what specific emotions or images a certain piece of music might evoke though.....

    Kinda leaves me to believe that music, like any art, awakens something  inside of us, its like religion (imo) in that way to me
  • EtrnlVw
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    --> @ethang5
    Could those relationships between the notes be what is/brings about evil?

    Nope, the only thing "evil" that could come through music would only be through the composer in the form of energy. No music, no notes and no tones have a conscious awareness so it's impossible for any relationship between notes to be evil, in any arrangement or even have a negative energy without the transfer of it from the composer. So again it has nothing to do with music itself or notes but the energy of the composers intent.

    Can't I make an eerie or scary sounding piece of music that's not evil? of course I could, I could make a Halloween song for fun that sounds scary....I could use scary music with lyrics that portray something else. Dark sounding music is not always evil either, many of the songs I love have a darker tone to them but they certainly are not evil. This kinda goes back to what I wrote above, that eerie and scary don't always mean evil. So it's the intent behind the composer that transfers any negative vibes or influence that could be tangible.
    Would you classify "evil" as being a moral element? if so how can tones and notes have any morality? that's kind of what I've been saying, tones and notes have no morality or morals......they have no intentions or desires and therefore cannot be evil.

224 days later

  • NoodIe
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    --> @ethang5
    Of course not. Evil does not exist.

  • TheRealNihilist
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    --> @ethang5
    Depends on your definition of evil.
    Personally no I don't consider music evil. 
  • mustardness
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    --> @Greyparrot
    The source of all evil is religion.
    False.  Altho the word evil may have its source in religous texts.

    The words of music have power. As does  the intonation of  words.

    Music is not evil. A particular aspect of an ego is the source of so called 'evil'.

    Ego is the greatest danger to humanity.

    The Aborigines pass on the history via a trinary set of narrative, theater and music.