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About Positive Music
by Don Robertson

Negative Music

We probably wouldn’t use the term positive music at all except for the fact that negative music has become such an issue. Traditionally, in most societies, people have played only positive music. What is negative music? It is music that stimulates the negative emotions: anger, frustration, depression, hatred and fear.

One form of negative music is music that is used to express or to stimulate negative emotions. A Viennese classical composer named Arnold Schönberg--whom I call the father of negative music--was the first person to openly create negative music early in the twentieth century. His music was rejected by European concert attendees of the time and sometimes caused near riots. Based on discords, Schönberg’s music caused listeners to feel uncomfortable and irritated. However, Schönberg became the pivotal composer of the early twentieth century and today he is considered one of the greatest composers of that century. Schönberg’s music ushered in an era of negative music in Western classical music that lasted for over fifty years. His theory of twelve-tone music, where all notes assumed an equal identity and the principals of harmony on which the world’s music were based were rejected, was accepted by composers throughout the Western world and was taught in the finest music schools. The result of all this was the incorporation of negative music into TV programs and movies. Negative music is used to create emotions of suspense, terror, anxiety, and fear. It is the music that accompanies crime programs and horror films. The same kind of music that concert audiences rejected because of the feelings that the music invoked became standard TV fare, and for the very same reasons.

Arnold Schönberg opened the door to negative music: music that employed discordant intervals and harmonies. Many composers during the twentieth century followed in his footsteps and produced a body of music that was either fully negative, or incorporated negative elements into the music that they wrote. Any person who is aware of how music effects them, will feel the effects that negative classical music has upon them when they listen to it.

Western classical music was the first style of music to incorporate negativity. The next step in the "evolution" of negative music was its introduction into rock music in the late 1960s. The first hard rock and heavy metal music was produced by the rock group called Blue Cheer in about 1967. Their music was angry and had a noticeably heavy beat. Shortly after this, a group called MC-5 came out with a recording of early "hard-rock" music. At this time, the music of the Rolling Stones became harder, angry, with a negative accent. Many other groups sprang up during this period. In truth, hard drugs, mixed with psychedelics were having an effect. The world was witnessing a new phenomena: musical groups of young people were using electrified instruments to bring in a new music that was harmful to the human psyche, destructive, and angry.

The last three decades of the twentieth century saw negative rock music spread and popularized throughout the entire world. Heavy metal music became an accepted culture and from it other forms of negative music, such as punk and 'grunge' emerged. 

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