The Danger of Music and the Case for Control

Richard Taruskin

in The Danger of Music and Other Anti-Utopian Essays

Published by University of California Press

Published in print December 2008 | ISBN: 9780520249776
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520942790 | DOI:
The Danger of Music and the Case for Control

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This chapter discusses how music was treated in different countries for example by the Taliban and in Afghanistan. In Afghanistan music was totally banned, whereas in other countries music was under rigorous censorship. After taking power in 1996, the Islamic fundamentalists who ruled most of Afghanistan undertook search-and-destroy missions in which musical instruments and cassette players were seized and burned in public pyres. Wooden poles were festooned with great ribbons of confiscated audio- and videotape as a reminder of the ban. Musicians caught in the act were beaten with their instruments and imprisoned for as many as forty days. In Utopia, puritans, and totalitarians have always sought to regulate music if not forbid it outright. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, probably the Taliban's immediate model, banned it from Iranian radio and television in 1979, because its effects, he said, were like those of opium, “stupefying persons listening to it and making their brains inactive and frivolous.”

Keywords: totalitarians; puritans; Afghanistan; Taliban; Islamic fundamentalists; Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini

Chapter.  6256 words. 

Subjects: Music Theory and Analysis

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