The History of Hip-Hop Music and its Relation to Sports
A famous Danish author and poet once stated, “Where words fail, music speaks.” Behind this quote is the idea that despite its intangibility and abstractness in form, music carries with it a shocking power that captures emotions words can hardly express. More specifically, it illustrates that music has accomplished so much more than spoken words could have ever done. This relates directly to the world of sports, emphasizing the strong relationship between music and athletics, especially the athletic component of training. Music and sports are interconnected not only in the aspect of sounds while playing the sport, but also through performance enhancing techniques such as training, acting as synergistic agents in the construction of great athletics. Most people conclude that music and sports act separately from each other, but this paper will help to prove that the two connect on a wide variety of levels, predominantly focusing on the history of the relationship between sport and exercise.
In the hotbed of competition, where professional athletes are very closely matched in ability, music has the potential to elicit a small but significant effect on performance. Before I dive into the relationship between the music and sport, it is important to elaborate on the central term of sport itself. Sport has been a term that has seen several different meanings throughout history as emphasized by David Andrews, a well-known professor from the University of Maryland, when he wrote, “there is no guaranteed or essential manifestation, experience, or indeed definition of sport” (Andrews 395). He argues that although physically based competitive activities are common in most human civilizations, “the myth of sport as a fixed and immutable category is little more than pervasive” (Andrews 395). He believes that it is unfair to subject sports to one small category, as it sometimes is, because it can be stretched into so much more. Instead, he would side with Giardina, a renowned ethnomusicologist, who believes that sport should be a collective noun suggesting the “diversity and complexity of what are temporally and spatially contingent expressions of physical culture” (Giardina 395). In this sense, the term refers to a much broader array of activities rather than just the few many would turn to such as football, baseball, and basketball. Although it may be helpful to broaden the term to encompass more aspects of sport, Ellis Cashmore argued that sports are fluid and ever changing, so “rather than seeking to develop some universal definition of sport, a more productive interpretive strategy is to locate particular sport forms and physical cultural experiences in the sociohistorical context within which they came to exist” (Cashmore 395). In this essay, it is productive to compare the array of sport forms to the musical culture and see how the two influenced each other throughout history.
Sports and music have had a long history that many people do not even know exists. The link between athletics and music in Western society “is founded upon the ancient Greek notion that the union of strength and beauty is the hallmark of the ideal man” (McLeod 8). In contrast to our contemporary Western notion of the two spheres existing in isolation from one another, in ancient Greek culture, sports and the arts, including music, “were intimately bound together in the cultivation of a complete individual” (McLoud 8). They would hold festivals, most notably the Pythian Games held in Delphi in the sixth century that encouraged music just as much as they did athletic competition. If the events themselves did not incorporate actual musical competition, they would at least be accompanied by music. For the ancient Greeks, “the athletic body—though this was limited to the male body—was held to be the aesthetic ideal of symmetry and proportion” (McLoud 10). Recent aesthetic analysis of the athletic body...
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