Music and Politics
Since the February 1, 2021 military coup in Myanmar, Burmese musicians have been creating and circulating anti- coup songs. This article describes a representative sample of these songs, explaining how the lyrics reference important tropes in Burmese life and history. Further, the article argues that these anti-coup songs, while they can be understood as protest music, do not fit precisely into categories previously delineated for protest songs. Nor do these songs provide a neat answer to the question that scholars so often pose of protest music, to wit: do these songs work to persuade listeners to take an anti-authoritarian position? Depending on ethnographic findings derived from interviews with musicians, disseminators and listeners, I argue that Burmese anti-coup songs are intended to support those already involved in resisting the military regime. The songs’ reception is complicated, suggesting that scholars must be cautious about making liberatory claims for protest music, even in cases such as this, where the lyrics of the songs are unambiguous and well-understood by listeners.
Copyright © 2023, Heather MacLachlan
MacLachlan, Heather, "Revolutionary Songs from Myanmar: Reconsidering Scholarly Perspectives on Protest Music" (2023). Music Faculty Publications. 38.