Dave Randall - 3 July 2017.
Dave Randall, a guitarist, producer, composer and author of the book ‘Sound System – The Political Power of Music’ gave an intriguing talk to the sixth form students of the Camden School for Girls.
Trying to encourage us to be involved in politics, Mr Randall began his talk by addressing us with two key questions about society and politics: What is going on right now? What is to be done about the things we worry about? His book, and the talk, was focused on the ways in which music as a cultural tool has been used historically both to uphold the Establishment and to challenge it. He brought us into the tunnel of time, exploring the history and development of music. He told us that in medieval times, a very specific musical sound, the tritone, also known as the diminished fifth, was banned in musical compositions because it was believed to be associated with “devil”, and to encourage the pursuit of bodily pleasures rather than spiritual ones.
Mr Randall then moved on to talking about the influence that popular music can have on people as a form of distraction, so that people will be less likely to engage with political concerns.
He emphasised the power of music as a medium that everyone can access, no matter how rich or poor and he then outlined how music had influenced him. When he was young, he heard a song at a music festival by the Specials ‘Free Nelson Mandela’, a protest song against the policy of Apartheid in South Africa. After listening to this song, although he did not even know who Nelson Mandela was, he really wanted him freed!
In his book ‘The Political Power of Music’ Mr Randall gives a historical tour of music and its influences starting in 380 BC and finishing with his own involvement in the recent anti-austerity demo in London.
In conclusion, I personally really enjoyed this talk because he linked music to politics and history; he gave us a different perspective on the use of music as a cultural weapon with enormous political influence but also as a medium which unites people.
Hugo - Sixth Form Senior Prefect