Changing Connotations in P/CVE Through Words in Music

Similarly-sounding words, or the same terms, put in a different context, could be key to helping vulnerable persons stay away from harmful texts, videos, or audio. When we listen to music, for instance, and when we hear an artist use an image, metaphor or simile, the whole rhyme, sentence, or stanza will affect the attentive listeners.

Thus, a word with a positive denotation in the glossary of a social group, small or large, but which is seen as negative by society, can have a more negative connotation, by consequence. Conversely, a word seen as negative in an in-group belonging to a subculture can become more positive in meaning.

Two notes of caution

Some members of a group, to be cautious, choose to live in a bubble – either not consuming mainstream content or only the kind which subsumes in their larger group’s set of permissible media. It is, however, likely that their families or friends are not caught in the same bubble. When instances of frustration prompt a person to rejoin a family setting, then, that which music conveys, and that which a moderate social group – and society as a whole – prefers, can have the power to change certain beliefs.

Again, to be cautious, it is crucial that the content of the musical track or song be truthful. One will not convince an extremist of things that he or she deems completely nonsensical – even though a moment of alienation can cause that person to call established self-truths into question. The better way is honest, credible, and authoritative content, whereas one single term can make a difference. If this is combined with sound or melodic acoustics, on the emotional level, the effect can be considerable.

Thorsten Koch, MA, PgDip
25 July 2021

Author: author

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