Imagine the world without music. Or imagine a world where we are told what to play, what to sing and even what we may listen to in the privacy of our own homes. That world already exists. In more countries that you might imagine, musicians and composers are under threat. And that threat is growing.
In countries like Sudan, Afghanistan and China, violations of musician’s rights to freedom of expression are commonplace. In the USA and Algeria, lobbying groups have succeeded in keeping popular music off the concert stage, and out of the media and retail. In ex-Yugoslavia musicians are often pawns in political dramas, and the possibility of free expression has been aversely affected.
WHY IS MUSIC CENSORED?
You may wonder why music is being censored. Why have musicians been tortured, jailed, exiled and even killed. Why have certain forms of music been silenced?
It may be as simple as South African musician Johnny Clegg has said: “Censorship is based on fear.”
Music is a free expression of the ideas, traditions and emotions of individuals and of peoples. It may express musicians’ hopes and aspirations, their joys and sorrows, their very identity as a culture. Yet these expressions may conflict with those of people in power. The ideas themselves may simply be unpopular or outside the current thinking or practices of a regime or special interest group. For there are those the world over who are threatened by the very nature of a free exchange of ideas. There are those who will stop at nothing to stifle them.
Music censorship has been implemented by states, religions, educational systems, families, retailers and lobbying groups – and in most cases they violate international conventions of human rights.