The Three Sound of Revolution
There has always been a connection between music and demonstrations, including revolutions. Protest songs are important both in terms of their stance against power and social injustice, and as tools that create a common memory among a great number of people. In other words, a song used at a demonstration can only be called a protest song if it is performed or delivered by a big group of people. Protest songs can be both newly-written compositions, pre-existing music that is customized for the needs of a specific protest movement, or existing songs that are repurposed into protest anthems. All of these forms play with people’s popular consciousness and enable a large number of people to participate and connect with a movement.
The songs used in protests and the songs used in revolutions have different meanings, and yet have an interesting connection. Protest songs tend to focus on opposing and objecting to current power and authority, as well as fostering the participation of demonstrators, aiming to build movements and coalitions for social change. Hence, they are part of a broader category of thematic songs connected to current events. Revolutionary songs are political songs that advocate for or praise upheaval in a government or nation-state, focusing on the people’s ongoing protest and struggle against a larger power and the need for great change. They are often used to boost morale, as well as for political propaganda or agitation.
The common ground of these two types of songs is the opposition to current power structures and the status quo, in order to lead to better societies. Many protest songs can be considered revolutionary or later become canonized as revolutionary songs following a successful revolution. On the other hand, once a revolution is successful and leads to a new establishment, some of the protest songs that initially supported the movement may suddenly be considered as counter-revolutionary.
The sounds, rhythms, and melodies of protest have been connected across the world in each era. Music is an important component in protests, spanning a diversity of languages and nationalities involved in similar struggles as it is able to absorb and reflect variations and nuances within widespread movements according to specific localized contexts. Creating songs about protests or revolutions in order to communicate with the public must be consistent with any given era, for example using a neutral and easy-to-understand language of the time, and melodies that are suitable for the target group of people, which are easy to listen to (and to learn). In this spirit, songs talking about the new generation tend to use music that is popular among young generations of a respective time; songs about the plight of farmers would be those that farmers could understand and recognize immediately; and emotionally-driven songs for all groups of people must have an understanding of the the mood of society (or a specific segment of society) during a specific era.
The “Three Sound of Revolution” project is made up of three sub-projects, each named after the three-finger salute in Thailand, calling out for SOLIDARITY, EQUALITY, and LIBERTY;