So Music is Neutral? Rock's Performers Say No

A German rock band whose "stark and violent" lyrics emphasize hate and incest is making a big splash on the American music scene, according to the August 21, 1998 Wall Street Journal. The odd thing is that the lyrics are in German and the English translation was not given on the initial albums.

The Journal quotes a 19-year-old who heard the album first at a party.

He had no idea what the lyrics said but "It sounded really, really good..." But he admitted: "I don`t know what the message is." Such testimony flies in the face of those who claim that all music is neutral, it`s the lyrics which carry the message. Such arguments grow weaker and weaker as the evidence mounts that the music, indeed, stimulates the animal and sensual in its listeners.

In fact, Rock`s performers are the first to admit this. The following quotes are taken from Pop Goes The Gospel by John Blanchard (Available from They leave little doubt about the intended effect of the music.

"Rock music is sex. The big beat matches the body`s rhythms." — Frank Zappa, rock star.

"Rock`n roll is pagan and primitive, and very jungle, and that`s how it should be." — Malcolm McLaren, punk rock manager.

Other voices add their testimony:

"Listen, rock`n roll AIN`T CHURCH. It`s nasty business. You gotta be nasty, too. If you`re goody, goody, you can`t sing or play it..." — Secular rock bad girl Lita Ford.

"Rock is the total celebration of the physical." — Ted Nugent, rock star.

"Rock`n roll is 99% sex." — John Oates, Circus Jan. 31, 1976

"In a sense, all rock is revolutionary. By its very beat and sound it has always implicitly rejected restraints and has celebrated freedom and sexuality." Time Magazine January 3, 1969

"...rock music has one appeal only, a barbaric appeal to sexual desire..." — Alan Bloom, The Closing of the American Mind.

Overlayering the sexual stimulation of rock music is its urging to violence and aggression. Blanchard quotes an extensive study by Drs. Daniel and Bernadette Skubik. They found that the driving, drum-driven rhythms delivered at ear destroying decibels alter the body`s hormone levels specifically related to sex and aggression. Their conclusion: "Thus, irrespective of the lyrics of the song, rock music communicates aggressive sexuality."

Blanchard points out that tones of music can be neutral just like the letters of the alphabet are neutral. But music is more than the tones, it is the arrangement of the tones which moves the human soul. He quotes comments from Plato to modern psychologists.

Dr. Max Schoen in The Psychology of Music sums it up: "Music is the most powerful stimulus known among the perceptive senses. The medical, psychiatric and other evidence for the non-neutrality of music is so overwhelming that it frankly amazes me that anyone should seriously say otherwise."

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