Trace Of The Spirit Analysis

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Traces of the Spirit, by Robin Sylan, New York: New York University Press 2001. 221 pages. Reviewed by Taylor S. Towers.

Traces of the Spirit was chosen for review due to how it’s study of religion in modern western cultural music relates to our classes study of other culture’s music and how religion strongly influences them. Throughout the course many of the articles we read discussed how music in other cultures, such as Balinese or African, differs from western music in the fact that in our culture music is purely aesthetic or for entertainments purpose while in many other cultures it is used in worship and therefore becomes a much more important part of these people 's lives. Traces of the Spirit challenges the idea that modern western
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Throughout section one he sights studies that discuss the way music affects us scientifically such as, “Neher found that at certain frequencies and speeds electrical activity in the brain was affected, unusual perceptions were produced, and muscular twitching occurred”. (Sylvan 22) He then uses this study to tie into the way that African possession music and rituals have the same affect on people 's bodies. Throughout the sections where he explores his four designated subcultures of popular music he cites experiences fans have had. Most of the quotes discuss how the music gave them a sense of unity or healing. They often described it as spiritual which lends to his argument that these music genres are having the same spiritual and psychological affect on their fans that religions have on their followers. He also discusses how, especially in EDM, these subcultures of popular music can be very ritualistic which is a trait many religions share. One example discussed is the way and EDM get together is put together, “‘During the day, organiser would prepare the secret venue… In the evening, via a mobile phone, they’d dial a computer that would record their spoken directions to a special meeting point..Party goers would ring this number to get directions to the meeting point...A member of the Rave organizers would be at the meeting point with instructions on how to get to another one”. (Sylvan 123) Sylvan also explores how the way today’s youth come to find rap music as a part of their life and how it parallels the way people come to christ. Traces of the Spirit also looks into the way idols evolve in popular music. It discusses how in heavy metal the band members often become jesus like figures and how the Grateful Dead’s album covers became symbols for the deadhead movement, similar to things like the cross. All of which are strong arguments to support his

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