The Fate of Civilization Depends on Music

by Scott McRae and Ryan Rapsys of Music for Liberty

While the political makeup of the attendees at FreedomFest is about as diverse as the face of America, the core principle that ostensibly unites us is a reverence for Liberty: people should be free to pursue whatever they perceive as the Good as long as they leave others alone to do the same. Those of us who understand this, also grasp that the degree to which civilization will succeed or fail depends, in large part, on the degree to which societies around the planet embrace this ideal of liberty – when individuals have the moral space to transact peacefully, voluntarily, to every person’s mutual benefit, society flourishes and progresses; when the energies and resources of individuals are coerced and forced to conform to the arbitrary authority of statists, progress is crippled and societies struggle and suffer.

We can easily assert, then, that the future of the world rests upon the shoulders of those of us advocating for this idea of liberty and our ability to persuade others of its merit.

There is growing recognition within the world of liberty advocates that intellectual arguments for the importance of liberty, while clearly necessary, are not sufficient to dramatically move the needle toward an embrace of this critical idea. White papers, treatises, lectures and analysis, however compelling, MUST be complemented and completed with media that reaches into individual hearts and souls and pulls them emotionally toward a holistic understanding that unadulterated freedom is the rightful and natural fulfillment of the human condition. While the broad spectrum of artistic endeavor is vital for bringing the world to a deep and passionate commitment to the ideas of individualism and liberty, stories told through visual media (narrative films, documentaries, web videos, etc.) are particularly well-suited to piercing the veil of cognitive resistance and opening minds to a profound appreciation of human freedom. The growth of the Anthem Film Festival over the last years – the number of attendees and the quality of the content – is a clear testament to the notion that moving and engaging STORIES are an essential component in the spread of freedom.

We can further assert, then, that the future of the world rests, in part, upon the shoulders of quality, compelling media that celebrates freedom.

Music is an integral aspect of human existence. It is admittedly mysterious, ephemeral and quite personal. But it has been a persistent aspect of humanity throughout recorded history and has served to intensify the drama of ritual in countless societies across the world. This role of supporting drama in ritual has reached a zenith in music for film. It is substantially more than mere background – it drives the emotion and influences the very fabric of how an audience processes and comprehends the events on the screen. Imagine Jaws without John Williams’ ominous theme; it would read almost like a spoof of the frightening film it succeeded in being. Would Inspector Clouseau have the same comedic panache without Henry Mancini’s iconic Pink Panther theme? The music that supports visual media plays a pivotal role in defining the tone and impact of a piece of media; it is one of the core elements that determines whether a film will succeed or fail. Music is like breath – we often don’t notice it when it’s there, but it’s such a critical ingredient that if it’s absent or poorly rendered or inappropriate, the consumer of media knows that something is not right, even if they can’t identify the specifics of what is off-kilter. Good music has the potential to elevate unexceptional media; bad music will most certainly undermine media that is otherwise of the highest quality.

So, put in stark terms, if human flourishing can only occur to the degree that liberty is understood and honored, and if compelling stories are an essential ingredient for moving the world toward liberty, and if engaging, high-quality music is utterly critical for good story-telling, the fate of civilization rests on good music used well in the service of powerful stories.

This is the mission that animates Music for Liberty. We conceived it in 2014 out of our shared conviction that the world desperately needs exciting media that celebrates ideas of individualism and freedom, and that such media desperately needs well-crafted music. We have worked with some amazing filmmakers over the last several years; and yet, we have observed that content creators often place insufficient importance — and thus insufficient resources – on the musical content of their projects. Unfortunately, this short-sightedness often marks the difference between a great film and a mediocre one. Through this process, we discovered that writing music for liberty-oriented projects, while deeply engaging and rewarding, isn’t sufficient to fully satisfy our mission; another crucial component is sharing with filmmakers and content creators our understanding about music’s key role, and educating them in the specifics of how to more effectively use music to increase the impact and success of their projects. We would invite you to join us in bringing this mission to fruition. If you resonate with our vision, we would love to hear from you at [email protected]. There are a number of ways that you can collaborate with us to save civilization one note at a time, as we continue to craft the soundtrack of freedom!

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